Nigeria The president’s executive orders and true federalism in Nigeria

By SOLA EBISENI   

True as Solomon said: “The race of men under the sun is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong….but time and chance happen to them all.” Yet that was conventional wisdom before the days of John the Baptist from whence and until now, even the kingdom of heaven and greater so for the earth, suffers violence and only men of violence take it by force -a declaration by He who is unquestionable. 

Whether by chance, as preached by Solomon who had everything, fighting no war like David his father, but nevertheless got a blank cheque from God after sacrificing his assets which today would make him a billionaire, or by Christ whose sacrifice is his precious life, no glory comes without taking a step. 

To Moses, Joshua, David and all men who were or felt called upon to lead, the most fundamental instruction from the Lord is to be strong, be of good courage and move. Whether at  the call on Moses to deliver the message of redemption of his people to Pharaoh, the daunting obstacle at the Red Sea, the fearful territory of the Anakin at Jericho, the fatal confrontation of the most dreaded Goliath,  the experience with King Nebuchadnezzar’s sentence by fire, the courage to dare is the secret of glory.

In Deuteronomy 1:6-8, Moses said to the people he was leading:  “The LORD our God said to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country.. in the mountains,..and along the coast,..Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers'”.

At the outset of political contest by early nationalist, Awolowo chose a different route from that charted by Herbert Macaulay which had made him and his successor, Nnamdi Azikwe, dominant, particularly in the Lagos area which was then the home of nationalism and its politics. Through courageous, painstaking, discreet grassroots engagement with resolve to jettison the available comfort zone, set Awo apart and the rest is history.

In contemporary times, men like Obasanjo, Jonathan were initially moralistic and hesitant and would have lost glory if they had stayed put. Obasanjo was saddened by the assassination of Murtala Mohammed in 1976 and as the second in command unwilling to take over, yet he did.

If Obasanjo had chosen like Ogundipe to travel abroad, no one would have stopped him, and heaven would not have fallen if Yar’Adua had taken over as the Commander-in-Chief. Heavens continue to blaze for Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, Western Region Governor, who chose to die while no comet is seen for Brigadier General Ogundipe who would have either been Head of State or died. You might say Obasanjo and General Ogundipe did not face the same challenges. There’s always an excuse.

Jonathan, a public servant made Deputy Governor, saw the position of Governor as the ultimate and already prepared his blueprint to govern Bayelsa State when his principal, Governor Alamieyeseigha, was impeached. In that comfort zone, he had begged President Obasanjo to leave him alone when the latter initially offered him the PDP Vice Presidential ticket pairing with the late Umaru Yar’Adua. The rest again is history.

Not many still remember that Atiku Abubakar was already comfortably elected as Governor of Adamawa State and waiting only to be sworn in when he was called upon to move and be the running mate to Obasanjo as presidential candidate of an election there was no absolute assurance of victory.

Since his eight- year tenure as Vice President, he has left no one in doubt about his resolve for the office of the President. The focus is on the ball and the goal. To emerge now the best footballer ever, Ronaldo has traversed all clubs. In like manner, in the quest of the Waziri Adamawa, it is the personality rather than the party which is only a vehicle of fate. Thus, from PDP to AC, to PDP to APC and back now to PDP, it is the end that justifies the means.

Olusegun Mimiko never allowed himself to be struck by vicissitudes of fear and doubt. Before he dashed out of the Alliance for Democracy as Commissioner in the Adefarati government in 2003, he had told me of his desire to be Governor at 50. I considered his journey, particularly the choice of the recluse Labour Party in the face of the gargantuan presence of PDP as not only audacious but reckless.

In retrospect, it is clear that in all his political career, the only party he ever joined as a decampee is PDP. He was a co-founder of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and literally created, in the real electoral sense, the Labour Party and its Zenith variant. 

General Muhammed Buhari’s ambition to be President of Nigeria took him through the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, his own CPC until he struck fate in APC. Most of all who have been governors across the country have one time or the other taken their destinies in their own hands, migrating and transforming from one party flag and colour to the other or others.

Tinubu presents a spectacular scenario. From the SDP where he cut his political teeth under the Babangida transition in the 1990s to the Alliance for Democracy midwifed by the Afenifere/NADECO, BAT has consistently remained the Capone in charge of planting parties to change  the game. Emi lo kan is surely the apt epic of a well scripted political drama desperately drawing curtain in 2023.

Peter  Obi’s exit from the long predicted outcome of the PDP Convention was most strategic, dynamic and dramatic. The end of a convention predicated on the lopsided and arbitrarily gifted local governments where the South-East has only 95 of 774 is a forgone conclusion where only a formidable Northern aspirant was in the race. 

Even if Tambuwal remained in the race, the mind-set of an average PDP member is to regain power and they have since narrowed it. They did it in 2019 even when the Waziri Adamawa only returned to the party on the day of the Party Convention in Abuja.

If Obi had remained in the saddle, he would have today become history. Even if Atiku had re-appointed him the running mate, he would not have been the toast he is today. Obi ported, seized the momentum of destiny and today has become the terror of established permutations. 

Last week, in the words  of  Bob Marley, I called him Buffalo soldier, coming from the Eastern cold, giving hopes to millions who no longer give Nigeria a chance. His song of equity resonates with the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, with the Afenifere being unapologetically the lead orchestra. The Middle Belt and far North finding a new rhythm of rediscovery. The Niger Delta taking steps cautiously but steadily and assuredly. Ndigbo, pleasantly bemused but outwardly reticent lest this national phenomenon be given the red cap connotation.

As we launch into this world in which only the redemption song of Nigeria may heartily be echoed, the inspiration of the hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr soothes the soul pleasantly in ‘Pressing On the Way’. 

Thus: ‘My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay; Though some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.. Lord, plant my feet on this higher ground, to constantly hear songs of Obidient Angels.

Nigeria, we hail thee.

Ebiseni is Secretary General, Afenifere.

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