By Ikechukwu Amaechi
PROFESSOR Wole Soyinka once described the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as a “nest of killers”. That was at the height of PDP’s power when former President Olusegun Obasanjo held sway and prominent political personalities were routinely murdered. Many, including the Nobel laureate, construed those killings, rightly or wrongly, as politically motivated. He was particularly incensed after the brutal murder of his childhood friend, Chief Bola Ige, who, as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, was the country’s chief law officer.
Soyinka is yet to put a sticky tag on the All Progressives Congress, APC, a political party he helped catapult to power in 2015, although he seems to have put some distance between him and the party’s alter-ego, President Muhammadu Buhari, in recent times. In 2017, I argued that if the PDP was a nest of killers, then the APC was at best a nest of liars. “The party like the swashbuckling United States President, Donald Trump, came to power by serving the people cocktails of lies, and it has sustained itself in office for 21 months by upping the ante, feeding the people more egregious lies,” I wrote then.
I concluded that such tendency should be expected of a political party of APC’s inclination because: “Unlike truth that stands on the parapet of facts, realities and evidence, and therefore needs no further propping, lies stand on nothing. And because lies stand on nothing, for sustainability, they must be hoisted on an effigy of more invidious lies.
“That has been the story of the country’s current ruling party since it happened on the political space six years ago. Its high priests take pride in worshipping at the altar of mendacity.” But beyond the mendacity, APC, in the last five years, has demonstrated another uncanny capacity. It has become a nest of idiots and tribesmen. As defined by the ancient Greeks, founders of modern civilisation, there are three kinds of people in any society – the idiots, tribesmen and citizens.
The idiots, who are by no means fools or mentally deficient, the Greeks elucidate, are utterly selfish, always out for personal gain, and do not have any public philosophy. They are all out for personal pleasures and treasures. The idiots, the ancient Greeks insist, are just upgraded barbarians who look for personal gain and self-interest in everything that they do, lacking in public philosophy, knowledge and skills that contribute to the greater good. And like the idiots who are not necessarily fools, the Greeks expounded that the idea of tribesmen do not necessarily mean belonging to a certain tribe, which in itself is not bad, but having skewed mentality.
The tribesmen are those not able to think beyond their tribes and ethnic groups. For them, the ultimate allegiance is to their tribe. The only people they know and can trust are their tribesmen. Tribesmen are always suspicious of the motives of others and deal with different people and difficult situations with intimidation, force and violence. Unfortunately, these are the two categories of people who presently populate the APC when Nigeria needs citizens.
In a lecture titled: “Of leaders, the idiots, tribesmen and citizens” to mark the 15th anniversary of Bridge House College in July 2019, Mr. Austen Okere, founder and executive vice chairman, Computer Warehouse Group Plc., beautifully captured recognises that he or she is a member of a commonwealth and thus strives for the common good.” He knows his right as well as responsibility to society. The citizen can fight for his right but always with an awareness of, and with the respect for the rights and interest of others.
If APC leaders make a conscious decision today to be citizens in the true sense of the word, rather than at worst idiots living only for themselves or at best tribesmen unable to think beyond their tribal affiliations, Nigeria’s developmental curve will be dramatically different from what it has been in the last five years. Democracy, rule of law and peace recede in any society led by idiots and tribesmen rather than citizens because common good is an anathema. Idiots and tribesmen in power are motivated by greed and elephantine ego.
As the entire global community battles a deadly pandemic and the catastrophic downward economic spiral, Nigeria, which at the best of times is a socio-economic mess, is asphyxiating politically with the knee of an idiotic and tribal elite on its neck. Today, APC, a party that produced the president and has majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly, is in a mess because its leaders have refused to become citizens, preferring instead to be tribesmen. And they have infested Nigeria with the deadly virus just because of a standalone governorship election in Edo State.
The consequence is that today, Nigeria is tottering on the democratic cliff because of the inability of those who call themselves leaders to answer to a higher, ennobling call of common good. As you read this, there are well over 37 cases in court, instituted by APC members against the party, its leadership and individual members.
A party that adorns itself with the tag of progressivism is yet to inaugurate its Board of Trustees, BOT, the organ of the party that ought to be its conscience, five years after it was constituted. Article 25(B)(i) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) states: “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than fourteen days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.” This article has been observed in the breach.
Last week, the party’s dance of shame spiraled out of control after the Court of Appeal affirmed the suspension of the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, by his ward in Edo State, and stripped him of his duties and privileges. His suspension was the fallout of the crisis of confidence between him and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, which culminated in the governor’s disqualification from the party’s governorship primary and his defection to the PDP.
Almost immediately, a bitter power-grab ensued among contending tendencies in the party, leading to the emergence of three acting chairmen – Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Victor Giadom and Hilliard Eta – within 24 hours of Oshiomhole’s suspension and police took over the national headquarters of the party in Abuja, briefly preventing the National Working Committee, NWC, members from gaining access.
The battle grounds have since expanded with Lagos, Rivers and Ekiti states also becoming epicentres. It is a proxy war for 2023 where the gladiators take no prisoners. In a country wracked by insecurity, failed economy, extreme poverty and all manner of social convulsions, it would have been great if this was about good governance and the promotion of common good. But expecting such from a nest of idiots is illusionary.