By Dele Sobowale
“If I join APC or PDP, I have gone to take care of myself. But, the vision I have for the people, I do not think these parties are able to accommodate it; I don’t think they are able to execute it.” Kingsley Moghalu, ex-Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
I was extremely happy when Moghalu announced the merger of several political associations a few days before the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held their Congresses on Saturday, October 18, 2021. Congresses which, in civilised countries and among principled politicians, would have been conducted peacefully were marred by violence and protests virtually everywhere in Nigeria.
It was a disgraceful show for which we should be ashamed and feel insulted that these are the people leading our country in 2021. More than ever, we need a new party or two which will lead us away from the visionless APC/PDP conspiracies to seize power in order for the party leaders to loot the treasuries of the Federal, States and Local Governments. However before going further into the need for a new party and fresh leaders, there is a lot of political garbage to be swept off.
BEHOLD THE LEAGUE OF VOMIT EATERS
“He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to [eat his words].” Confucius, c551-479 BC, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 162
The lack of principles explains why it has been easy for politicians to decamp from one party to another without feeling embarrassed. Femi Fani-Kayode, never one to speak with modesty, is not the only politician ready to eat his vomit; and he will not be the last. Femi was just the loudest of the members of the League of Vomit Eaters – who gravitate towards where their bread will be well-buttered without qualms. At any rate, ask anybody who lived in the Old Western Region during the days of the Wild Wild West; and you will know that he is a true chip of the old block — unless he wants to disclaim the old man.
Meanwhile, go and revisit what Governors Ayade and Umahi told voters about the APC in the months leading to the 2019 elections. Then go and read what Governor Obaseki said about the PDP before he was forced out of APC to seek refuge in the PDP. And you will realise that the Nigerian “suffer-heads” who actually believe these people deserve their fate as the poorest people in the world. And, they will remain in that position as long as we still have to choose between those who led us into intractable poverty.
With the way things are going within the two parties, hundreds of “party chieftains” (read charlatans) are already preparing their exits from their current political gang. Naturally, their next port of call is the party they have spent the last several years denouncing.
CONGRESSES MADE IN HELL
“If you have tears prepare to shed them now.” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, in JULIUS CAESER
The news reports from the two political parties Congresses must strike every objective person as the most direct invitation to anarchy by Nigeria’s political elite which we have experienced since return to civil rule in 1999. Obviously, the politicians cannot rule themselves effectively. That principally explains why we cannot have good governance with them in charge. Just as clearly, there is a distinct lack of internal democracy within the two parties.
Factions exist within each party whose primary objective is to gain control of the party for their own benefit and the exclusion of others.
When Mohandas Ghandi, 1869-1948, the Father of Modern India, listed seven things which will eventually destroy a nation, it was as if two of them were addressed to Nigerians (see VBQ p 245):
•Politics without principles
•Wealth without work
Nigerian politics is basically without ideology; and most people are in it for money. To be sure there are party constitutions and manifestoes. But, even the drafters of those documents don’t expect their members to respect and uphold them. Two examples will illustrate the point.
First, the ambivalence on whether Congresses will be conducted by direct voting or by consensus has created a great deal of the problem within the parties. The two apparently approve both methods for selecting delegates – depending on which state or who are the contenders for control in the constituency.
Furthermore, the same individual can support direct voting or consensus at different times. For God’s sake which principle are they upholding?
Second, the Governor of the state is inevitably acknowledged as the political leader of the party in the state – despite the presence of an elected Chairman of the party recognised by the party’s constitution as the leader. Ultimately, the Chairman becomes a glorified cheer-leader for the Governor and serves in that capacity at the mercy of His Excellency. I have seen a party Chairman prostrating full length to greet a Governor!
That is not all. A former Governor who becomes a Minister returns to his state and actually contests the leadership of the party with his successor. The same thing occurs when someone is appointed to a top party position – Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, National Publicity Secretary etc. He immediately arrogates to himself the position of party leader – directly challenging whoever in the state occupies the position. The result is always violence and disruptions as a few reports from the Congresses have informed us. Among them are the following:
“Violence, Protests Rock Congresses”, APC,PDP elect state excos amid confusion and protests”, “Parallel leaders emerge in Osun, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Kwara, /Ibom, Niger”, “CONGRESSES: APC, PDP crippled by crisis”, ”APC convention under threat, aggrieved party members cite ruling against Buni”.
THIRD PARTY OPPORTUNITY
“Opportunity once lost can never be regained.”
Most of us had that age-long bit of wisdom drummed into our heads early in life. And, there are, indeed, several occasions when opportunities present themselves for David to upset Goliath only once. In Nigerian politics, this might be the right time for a third party to emerge and shake the country out of its slumber. There are reasons for my optimism in this regard.
With less than sixteen months left to the General Elections, it is clear that the two major political parties are risking having their candidates – including presidential — disqualified for the elections for various reasons. If that happens, a third party candidate might just win against all odds. But, in my view, that can only happen if the party can take care of five basic things.
First, gather the youth – North and South — under the party’s umbrella. The votes are there. The difficult task is how to get them.
Second, recruit members nationwide in order to get the national spread.
Third, develop a party manifesto written in simple language focusing on solutions to problems of insecurity, joblessness, poverty alleviation, food security and education. Summarize and translate it into several some key languages
Fourth, make your presidential candidate known everywhere quickly. Voters don’t troop out for unknown people. This is easier than most people realise. Try me if you doubt that.
Five, get help from anywhere; not just party members. I worked for Buhari in 2021 and unfortunately again in 2015 without carrying party cards. The third party can get peoples’ support even when they don’t join the party. People like me just want Nigeria saved from the imminent disaster unfolding.
THANKS OCHEREOME NNANNA
“Peter Obi should come out.” VANGUARD, October 20, 2021.
It has been a long time since an article written by any columnist got me dancing. Nnanna article of October 20, 2021 did just that. I was almost getting discouraged as a lone voice in the wilderness asking for Igbo candidates to step forward. We need a candidate to promote. Peter Obi is a good one. I hope he listens to Nnanna. And damn the Pandora Box!