By Casmir Igbokwe
That popular photo of Adams Oshiomhole and Godwin Obaseki relishing corn together a few years ago vividly describes the nature of our politics today. That was when both of them campaigned together for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. Then, Oshiomhole, the just sacked National Chairman of the ruling party, was a delight to watch on the campaign stage. With the traditional APC broom in one hand, he pranced about in vigorous campaign dance for his beloved candidate. He would raise Obaseki’s hand as if to say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Now that the two gladiators are sworn political enemies, their corn episode has become a good pun to describe the selfish conmen masquerading as politicians and leaders in Nigeria today.
Recall that Governor Obaseki’s closest rival then was Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While Obaseki pilloried the PDP, Ize-Iyamu pooh-poohed the APC. Today, the two candidates have swapped positions. Disqualified from contesting the APC governorship primary, the incumbent governor quickly moved over to the PDP. He is now the governorship candidate of the party in the September election. Ize-Iyamu had earlier defected to the APC and is now the party’s governorship candidate. Now, they will begin to say glowing things about their current parties and throw jibes at the new opposition. No ideology; no principles; no shame!
Ironically, Oshiomhole was still engrossed in his mockery dance against Obaseki when the drumbeat dramatically changed. The Appeal Court upheld his earlier suspension by his ward in Edo State. His supporters cried foul. But before they knew it, three acting National Chairmen had emerged: the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Victor Giadom and Hilliard Eta. President Muhammadu Buhari gave his initial support to Giadom. But events moved so fast that disgusted protesters had to besiege the national headquarters of the party in Abuja. Police stepped in to seal the premises.
To restore sanity, the National Executive Committee of the party, led by President Buhari, dissolved the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC). A caretaker committee headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has been set up to organise a national convention for the party. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, turned himself to APC’s Commissioner for Oaths as he swore in the caretaker committee.
Interestingly, angry members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole said the NEC meeting held in Aso Villa last week was illegal. But in their protest, they failed to realise that Oshiomhole-led APC was the father of illegality? The last general elections showcased this fact in great measure. Ballot-box snatching and intimidation of voters were rife. In different parts of Lagos, for instance, hoodlums loyal to the party attacked innocent voters suspected to be PDP loyalists; drove them away and burnt ballot papers.
Just as the 2019 presidential election approached, a national leader of the party turned his private residence into a mega bank with two bullion vans stationed without qualms. The government of the day didn’t find anything wrong with it because it was in their own interest.
In a manner reflective of dog eat dog syndrome, the APC in Lagos dealt with one of its own, Akinwunmi Ambode, in the last governorship election in the state. Ambode had performed relatively well in his first term as governor. But apparently because he did not satisfy the personal wishes of some power brokers in the party, he was denied a second term. He went back to lick his wound knowing that no condition is permanent. Today, some of his traducers are the ones bearing the brunt of the latest crisis in the party. Little wonder, the APC and its leadership are riddled with over 37 court cases by aggrieved members.
It is worthy to note that hubris is one of the greatest causes of the downfall of man. In its heyday as the ruling party, the PDP boasted that it would rule Nigeria for 60 consecutive years. The electoral successes the party recorded then swirled its head. Like the biblical Goliath, it beat its chest and showcased its oppressive armada against the generality of Nigerians. Sixteen years after, a David emerged in the APC and cut the perceived giant to size.
Barely five years after its ascendancy to power, the same bug has bitten the APC. It is very doubtful if the party will survive after Buhari. The signs are there already. In any case, the measure one gives is always the measure one gets. The chronic ambition of some of them to become Nigeria’s President in 2023 will sharpen the knife that may finally cut the peace of the party into pieces.
The ultimate question is: when will Nigeria be blessed with good selfless leaders? This is a nation of great men and women. But since Independence in 1960, it has been one leadership misfortune or the other. These leaders are foisted on us by major political parties. The smaller parties that usually present credible candidates never get to power. And so Nigeria remains quarantined with leaders whose major interest is how to feather their nest.
Even when they leave power, they still want to control affairs of the state. That is why they put their protégés in power. And that is why they con the rubberstamp legislature to pass laws that will enable them to receive life pensions and double salaries and allowances.
We are gradually losing our relevance in the comity of nations. Forget the ‘Giant of Africa’ sobriquet. It was in the past. The major advantage we have is population. But that alone cannot guarantee us leadership on the continent. The recent invasion of Nigerian High Commission in Ghana symbolises the abyss into which our image has sunk.
We desperately need political and electoral reforms in Nigeria. I don’t see the present leadership in the country initiating that because that will mean upsetting the apple cart. We had a chance to do part of it in the Electoral Amendment Act. But Buhari refused to sign it into law. That was why we witnessed massive rigging that dogged the last election. Until we are able to effect a smooth change of government through free and fair election, our political pains will fester. Let’s hope that one day a selfless leader will emerge to put a stop to all these nonsense.
Re: Anambra, COVID-19 funds and other stories
Once again thank you for exhibiting uncommon courage to broach an issue which many for inexplicable reasons have glossed over – the façade in Anambra State. The rot in Anambra is deep. The sum total of the state of affairs in the state and what outsiders are made to believe is that what we have in Anambra state is government by the social media. Most of the achievements they push forward are creations of Photoshop. All is aimed at covering up a vacuous, unfocused and wasteful style of governance never seen before in the state. Not even the “dead woods” government of Odera (Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju) tried the suicidal spiral descent course the State is treading in now.
All round the state with the exception of the flyovers in the state capital, one cannot vouch any significant people oriented project. But for Covid-19 intervention, no single hospital or even health centre was face-lifted. Same applies to schools; then there is erosion eating up the state. The streetlights and traffic lights which the acolytes of the government celebrate are at best picturesque projects with no direct benefits to the citizenry. Traffic lights on pothole-filled major roads and streetlights powered with generators and the consequent daily energy drain on the public purse.
Yes, the government has done well in security as it relates to curbing of robberies and kidnappings but its responses during clashes involving the indigenes and itinerant herders from the North leaves much to be desired. In altercations reported so far in the State, the state government had tended to favour the herdsmen over the indigenes.
Perhaps the area where history reserves its worst verdict on the current government of Anambra State is on the system of Local Government administration in the State. It is precisely four years since the government sacked the duly elected local government officials it inherited from its predecessor – the Mr. Peter Obi-led government. Ever since that action in June 2016, the 21 local government areas of the state have been administered by appointed caretaker committees. This has rendered the local governments insignificant, moribund and near non-existent in the affairs of the State. Most worrisome is the appropriation of the federal allocations to these 21 local governments by the state government and the seeming collusion of the State House of Assembly. Please when next you are writing about Anambra State, which I believe will not be far, do help us to ask the state government about “The Bitter Leaf Revolution”. The state direly needs the $3 – $5m it purportedly generates annually. Keep up the good work.
– Hon. Aloy Uzoekwe, 08038503174, firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the noise about the management of COVID-19 fund when the Commissioner for Health has said “Drugs had been procured and more would be purchased for the management of COVID-19 cases?
– Chinedu Ekwuno, 08063730644
Dear Casmir, it has always been a disappointment whenever an outgoing leader attempts to groom a successor. It didn’t work in Anambra, Edo, Abia, etc. The best is for us to legislate against grooming of successors.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Casmir, I hope the saying in local parlance that “monkey dey work baboon dey chop” is not the order of the day in the war against covid-19? Misapplication of covid-19 funds is exploitative and an act of wickedness and should stop now.
–Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
Leadership is about wisdom, understanding and focus. Graft agencies should go after Nigerians who used Covid-19 to enrich themselves.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Peter obi should be celebrated for his probity, accountability. He is a role model.
– Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884
Dear Casy, Obiano has joined the type of leaders whose homes are on fire and they resort to hunting rats. The latest siege in Onitsha by Obiano boys is akin to Boko Haram and banditry in the north.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, June 29, 2020