Nigeria

By Rotimi Fasan

IN the end, the convention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the election of its officers into various positions of the party was hinged on a so-called Unity List that may yet turn out to be a document of infamy. The auguries that emanate from the horse-trading that went into the drawing up of that document and its eventual outcome should be disturbing to Nigerians who are discerning.

More of that later, but first to the run-up to the convention that is held on the last Saturday of March. It was as if that day would never come going to the controversies that had preceded it, leading to several postponements of the convention date and accusations that the interim chair of the committee set up to midwife the event, Mai Mala Buni, was self-seeking and had been compromised.

This led to a major revolt among some governors of the APC, led by Nasir el-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu, the respective governors of Kaduna and Ondo states who, gloves off, got into a bare-knuckle fight with and rechristened some of their colleagues, yahoo-yahoo governors.

They were sure they had the support, if not the express permission, of President Muhammadu Buhari, to act and break what had turned into something of a deadlock, an embarrassing tug-of-war of APC faithful in their quest for the control of the party. Both governors El-Rufai and Akeredolu sounded triumphant and hailed President Buhari who was then out of the country on his now-regular medical holiday.

It was easy for every interested party in the APC convention imbroglio to invoke the name of the president for their action. And Buhari himself allowed everyone to speak and behave in the way they thought fit.

He neither said a word nor reprimanded anyone. Up to that point, he appeared to be living up to the promise in his inaugural address that he belonged to nobody and to everybody. The president’s silence throughout the controversy was just in character: it was typical of what he does when a point at issue does not directly impact him or his office. That’s when he would be relaxed, totally unperturbed and appearing to take some quiet joy in observing the infantile antics of his subordinates and associates who drop his name for their own purpose.

Mai Mala Buni himself took his time and was prepared to follow his own counsel in the matter. He was completely unruffled and sure of how things would and should go – until El-Rufai and Akeredolu shot out of the blue and for a moment took the wind out of his sail. But that was just for a moment during which the duo appeared to have finally carried out the unspoken wish of all party members, particularly the apparently indulgent President Buhari, the father of the APC, who didn’t seem to know how best to respond to his bickering party children.

While on his own medical trip to London, the president’s favourite medical destination, Mai Buni called on the president and that was when the tune from within Aso Rock Villa, then on temporary relocation to London, changed.

The President put his weight behind Mai Mala Buni, endorsed his position as interim party chair of the extraordinary committee handling the now-concluded convention. El-Rufai and Akerdolu were thrown under a moving vehicle. They got what was the equivalent of an open-palm slap in the face as they were made to look like incompetent coupists.

Yet, it can be argued that their drastic attempt at removing or bypassing Mai Buni as chair of the organising committee of the convention did achieve a purpose. It probably forced President Buhari to take a closer look at whatever was in the way of the convention and got the party to fix a date for it. What part did Mai Buni’s visit to Buhari play, the fact that he was the last person to speak to him before the convention date was determined – what has this got to do with Buhari’s decision to back him in the polarising debate about the convention or who should have been in charge of it?

No matter, March 26 was chosen for the convention and the Unity List threw up a crop of new leaders that had in the position of the chair a former member of the PDP and two-time governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu. The question on the lips of Nigerians is: how the APC led by President Buhari could directly midwife a convention that would produce a party chair and other key leaders that were former members of the rival PDP.

Let’s be minded that Alhaji Adamu only defected to the APC in 2014 after his indictment in 2010 for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. What is the point of choosing between the APC and the PDP or justification for the claim by the APC that has in the last seven years blamed the deepening economic and political woes the country has found itself in on the PDP?

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What’s the whole point in claiming to be fighting corruption if alleged corrupt politicians can easily switch allegiance from one party to another? But the voluble presidency with the facility of a ventriloquist has through Garba Shehu assured us that the new APC converts (we might as well adopt a religious register in the fashion of Mr Shehu’s press release) are repentant sinners, apparently have now been absolved of and forgiven their sins.

All without restitution! How long ago was it that Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu’s predecessor, Adams Oshiomole, said all a former recriminated member of the opposition has to do to be whistle-clean is to switch membership to the APC and their sins would be forgiven.

Abdullahi Adamu was a direct pick, the anointed candidate, of President Buhari for the position of chair of the APC.

Whatever informed Adamu’s choice is not in the public domain. But he has unresolved corruption cases hanging over his neck, say Nigerians. President Buhari as father confessor has, however, offered him remission and whoever he pardons remain forgiven. Is this a version of his exercise of the prerogative of mercy? The president is fighting corruption but romances politicians are alleged to have corruptly enriched themselves.

A case of the chichi dodo bird that hates faeces but feasts on maggots. He and other fashioners of the Unity List that gave birth to the consensus candidates of the last APC convention are complicit in Nigeria’s drift towards a one-party state.

The point is that the PDP is the only constant in Nigeria’s present political arrangement and any attempt by the APC to distance itself from and point accusing fingers at it is henceforth a waste of breath.

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