THE APC LEADERSHIP TUSSLES: PRESIDENT BUHARI MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN COMMITMENT AND OPPORTUNISM
The recent leadership summersault of the All Progressive Congress (APC) threw up some vital and very noteworthy issues of concern to followers and lovers of the party, which among other things includes the present rumoured tussles, between the National Leader of the Party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Turaki Atiku Abubakar, for the control of the leadership structure of the party. In my opinion and I beg everyone’s pardon, whatsoever and whosoever is factoring such motivation to continue with the scramble for political positioning in the party at this stage is at best infantile in ambition and undeservedly selfish.
The APC is a political party that has managed its affairs under public scrutiny from July 2013 when it became a political party platform recognized by law till date; and I am sure the party would not have attained the historic political victory it is presently enjoying as governing party without a dedicated, committed and trusted party leadership. I therefore find the news of a leadership tussles in the party so troubling, especially because the APC is the political platform that has given Nigerians unparalleled hope for the socio-political reinvention and techno-economic (technology-driven economy) advancement of Nigeria since the entrance of the present democratic dispensation.
Having followed the emergence of the APC from its years in the thoughts and meditations of its founders in 2010 to its birth as a political party in 2013, I can say authoritatively that the party has up till now not had a time of reprieve, a time to settle down and re-delineate its roadmap, strategies and the human resources available to it for governing Nigeria for “the next 60 years”, as its main opposition, the PDP, day-dreamt until it was awoken from slumber in its 16th year, when their roles switched. This much I know to be true about the APC: that it is a party that has hardly had the time to retract and consider seeming pressing and prevailing situations it needs to tackle in order to re-energize itself for the tasks ahead.
I believe that any government, particularly under a democracy, should be all inclusive, comprising the governing party and the opposition parties working together for good governance and the collective gains of common people. For me therefore, a political party’s victory or loss in an electoral contest is only one side of the coin of democratic performance; the other side is managing the victory or loss for the optimum benefit of the governed.
While electoral victory or loss indicates a political party’s acceptance or non-acceptance by the governed, this acceptance or non-acceptance must be cultivated to produce the benefits expected by the governed. This is why I am startled by recent negative and the anti people developments within the APC, with the unfortunate active and deliberate collaboration of the PDP.
The primary motive that led to the merger of the former opposition parties was to oust the PDP from power for the sole purpose of rescuing Nigerians from the corrupt grip of selfish political pirates who actively hijacked the then ruling party for themselves and for their self-interests. Otherwise, why is it that amongst 32 men and women who founded the PDP, though some have died, we only hear about Atiku Abubakar, who himself has lost face and dignity in the party?
I am very sure that at the point of merger, the former opposition parties agreed on the path to follow on the issue of leadership especially in the face of the fact that at that time there were no immediate political offices to take, rather they nursed the believe that whatever electoral victory will avail subsequently, they trusted the leadership would equitably apportioned every benefit. This is what bonded them as one entity even in the face of the present “divide and rule” character of the PDP members among them, who have proved to be chronic political colonialist. They are always quick to accuse others of what they are most guilty of.
Time limited the APC from electing its leadership before admitting the colonialists from the PDP. This delay led to these men from the PDP finding accommodation in the party leadership, and I think they should be grateful to God for this. I have no historical precedent of decampees to the PDP getting such access to political privileges following their admission except for electoral expedience. So the PDP members in the APC appear as exploiters of the business of the APC, no wonder they systemically divided the party into two: they, the PDP and the others, the APC; forgetting that before they came, others were already around.
In view of the above facts therefore, I opine that it was unfair for any PDP member in the APC to feel importune or ill-opportune in the APC, to warrant such open confrontation and deliberate divisive inclination the party leadership suffered from the outcome of the now rested National Assembly elections. Nevertheless, it should not surprise ordinary Nigerians that these things happened, what else should we expect from PDP handouts?
The trouble makers in the APC are known effectual trouble bows and arrows wherever they are found. These troublesome men have always been driven by self-interests. Unfortunately for them, Nigerians these days are far more politically enlightened than they were before the emergence of the APC and we are all watching to demonize them as they deserve; and except they embrace personality ‘Change”, we will sweep them out of political relevance with the brooms in their hands.
I decided to write this piece to settle my troubled conscience. I could not endure having trails on two politicians, who are seemingly war-tugging with the APC, a party I have so appreciably followed with an unfailing hope.
I have followed these men’s political antecedents and what they are good at. Of course, they are the two men who are in the news for struggling to possess the soul of the APC: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former Executive Governor of Lagos State and Turaki Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of the Federal Republic. I started following these men from their days as members of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), upon which platform Chief MKO Abiola contested and won the annulled 1993 Presidential elections conducted by the government of Gen Ibrahim Babangida.
Unlike what obtained since 1999 till date: in 1992, the government made it possible for elected executives in Local Government Councils and States to be sworn into office; and members of parliaments at all levels inaugurated while the Presidential election pended.
I knew Atiku Abubakar as one of the lieutenants of the Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the national leader of the SDP and at that time one of the Vice Presidential hopefuls of the party. Nevertheless, there was Babagana Kingibe, a man with more political finesse than him, whom the party and its leadership preferred, and who on the long run became the Vice Present-elect in that annulled election. Atiku Abubakar lost out of that contest but remained, as I suppose, the most trusted all time ally of “Shehu”, as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whom he served as Chief of Staff, used to call him. This relationship is what, in my opinion, qualified Atiku Abubakar for his political ascension as Vice President in 1999.
I did not get to know about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu until the SDP, as the party with majority members in the National Assembly at then was angling to elect presiding officers of the Senate and Bola Tinubu appeared as the candidate to beat for the Senate Presidency.
At a time when the family of MKO Abiola was reluctant to release him for national service, it was then not clear if Abiola will fly the flag of the SDP, but “Shehu” was optimistic that Abiola will run as Presidential candidate, and so persuaded the “Asiwaju”, being also from the South West, to drop his aspiration and handed him the privilege of anointing Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who subsequently became the Senate President in that short lived administration. Today, Atiku Abubakar is adverse to what his political benefactor and economic godfather enjoyed as a party leader, tagging it as “interference”. Is he really honest? This is my first point of view.
My views of the years between 1991 and 1993 saw Atiku Abubakar standing politically behind Shehu Musa Yar’Adua while Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stood by his side. While Atiku Abubakar had no political privilege to negotiate with “Shehu”, Bola Tinubu found persuasion with him to approve who represents the SDP as Senate President.
It was this same characteristic that threw up Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the current Vice President of the Federal Republic. President Muhammadu Buhari reserved the office of the Vice President for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, until men who have and always will live to envy his political savory for lack of theirs used an infantile campaign of an all Muslim ticket to rob him of the opportunity to be the current Vice President. It was primarily to “cut him to size” but did he mind them? He rather forged ahead with his vision of rescuing Nigerians from the PDP.
The “Asiwaju” and the “Turaki” both have nurtured different political platforms, both joining others at the inception of the present democratic dispensation to fund the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Later events led both men to found their own political parties at one time or the other.
The “Asiwaju” raised the Action Congress (AC) in 2005 after his compatriots sold the AD out to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was upon this political platform that “Turaki” flew his first and only flag as a Presidential Candidate in this country, by the singular approval and patronage of the “Asiwaju”. This is clearly a testament of selflessness, classiness and patriotism by a seasoned politician. This is my second point of view.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu resisted Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s political interference in the South West and retained the mandate of the AD over Lagos State. He went on to found the AC, grew the party into the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), snatching the political power of the South West from the PDP, and took the party into the merger that made up the APC.
While the “Asiwaju” was doing this, the “Turaki” was gallivanting from pillar to post like the political nomad that he is, serially applying for waivers from the PDP just to enable him show his face at the party’s conventions. In my view, he was most pitiable.
I dare to say that Atiku Abubakar would perhaps have been our President since 2011 if he was a stable politician. He was the hope I had for our redemption from the grip of the PDP.
I was sure that the 2011 presidential election would have resulted differently if Atiku had not left the AC to embarrass himself in the PDP. Losing his place in the ACN for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was the most ridiculous loss any politician can suffer because of political greed. In my opinion, he was extremely naive.
That was my point of departure with him, when I noted him as a political opportunist. Not that this man did not found a political party, as the “Asiwaju” did, I suppose he only refused to invest himself in his party as the “Asiwaju” did. He found the Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM), a duly registered political party in this country, which he unfortunately treats as a colony of lepers.
He can be whatsoever and whosoever he wishes to be in the PDM. It is in his powers, in my opinion, to manipulate his lieutenants who are custodians of his party as he likes. It was in his powers also, as I wish to believe, to choose to bring the PDM into the APC merger and share in the pains and struggles of the party, but he saved his party in his personal account, awaiting the right political investment.
He left his party to covet the party the “Asiwaju” raised from vision, to mission, to success, and he is now dragging the party with its founder, while he leaves his own to hibernate for him, until when he can politically trade with it, like he did with Goodluck Jonathan just before the recent elections. In this regard, I think Atiku Abubakar is in politics for business and not for service. This is my third point of view.
When President Buhari lost all hope of realising his presidential ambition after attempting and failing at the 2011 elections, it was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, with the support of Mallam Nasir El Rufai who revived Mr President’s hope. While this was ongoing, Atiku Abubakar was nursing his wounds of humiliation in the PDP, dreaming for the opportunity to fly the presidential flag of the party. When it was clear to him and his gang that PDP will not broker the presidential candidacy of Goodluck Jonathan, he left the PDP.
When Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Mallam Nasir El Rufai propped President Buhari to become APC presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar withstood and opposed him. It is interesting when people talk about those who contributed to the victory of Muhammadu Buhari in the last Presidential election and mention the PDP political colonialists in the APC.
I am not contesting the fact that these men gave much to President Buhari’s presidential campaigns, but I must also reiterate that before President Buhari won his nomination to represent the APC in the Presidential election, the men who habitually enjoy “consensus” and “unopposed” victories spent more to oppose him before his emergence as the APC candidate than they spent for him during the electioneering campaigns. It was clear from thence that they came into the APC to colonise the party to achieve their narrow minded imprudence of the continued used the heads of Nigerians as their dining table.
They claim all the accolades for President Buhari’s victory because they all love been relatives of successes than been orphans of failures. This was the reason we saw them prominently following Muhammadu Buhari about after he won the Presidential elections, taking impressive but loudspeaking pictures with him.
Today, while Bola Tinubu is satisfied with guiding the party appropriately, Atiku Abubakar runs errands for President Buhari, while politically eyeing ripe fruits in the party to shoot down. President Buhari must be careful to distinguish between political commitment and political sycophancy. This is my fourth and final but not exhaustive point of view.
I will therefore advise President Buhari to beware the “Ides” of political nomads. There are those he can trust and those he should not dare to trust. There are those who have shown political commitment, political leadership and personality stability, while there are those who are clear political opportunists, sycophants and men driven only by their political desires and pecuniary interests.
If Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would not give Atiku Abubakar any credit after working closely with him for 8 years, then President Buhari must beware not to join Julius Caesar in crying “even you Brutus”, by been back stabbed politically. Mr President must use his hindsight, insight and foresight as he administers this country.
I understand he cannot see Bukola Saraki face to face because of a painful political stab he suffered. He must learn his lesson with the PDP political up-brought around him, habits die hardly. This is a very sincere advice given free of charge.
As it stands today, while Bola Tinubu’s Twitter account is barely dormant, Atiku Abubakar’s is loudly calling for support for Mr President, and in each of his tweet I responded by reminding him that he should be advising himself based on his deliberate attempt to divide the APC for himself as he targets the 2019 presidential election. In my final analysis, I wish to call “Turaki’s” attention to his present ambition of becoming the Chairman of the APC Board of Trustee and to advise him to kill the idea.
If he is honest, he should be hiding his face from been ambitious. At the risk of sounding immodest, and been called a regionalist, ethnical and even a bigot, I will make my point here and now: that Atiku Abubakar, the Turaki Adamawa is one of those Northern Nigerians who think Nigeria is North’s booty of war.
I dont know where and how he got that from, but I am certain that neither him nor any northerner has any heritage in Odot Nsit, Akwa Ibom State where I come from, except by the spirit of the Nigerian constitution. Therefore, neither him nor any northerner should take the provisions of our constitution for granted because I am matured enough to know when one calls for a war.
As it stands today, nobody is asking why a northerner is the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representative, neither is anybody asking why an undone Senator, who was awaiting the proclamation of the National Assembly would call a sitting Vice President “a mere Commissioner”.
Does it mean anything to the North that of all principal positions in the polity, the South only enjoys one foremost office – that of the governing Party Chairman and three deputed positions – that of the Vice President, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives? Does this mean anything to anybody? If it does, then I am expecting ALL Northerners, especially President Buhari to advise Atiku Abubakar to kill his ambition of becoming the Chairman of the APC Board of Trustees.
This will be in the interest of national cohesion, minimum equity (if there is anything like that), respect for our brotherhood, our democratic development and in the spirit of Federal Character as enshrined in our constitution. If the “Turaki” had not connived with his co-nomads under darkness to rob the South of the Speakership of the House of Representatives, as I had cried out much before the National Assembly election, when I said “it will be robbery for the north to covet the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives”, I would have given him a chance to take the office of the Chairman, APC Board of Trustee.
For once, let Atiku Abubakar make a sacrifice and refuse a political contest. It is obvious that except for his victory in the gubernatorial elections in Adamawa State in 1999, in my views, he lost every political contest in which he participated. He will lose in this one too if he attempts to contest.
As it seem, we Southerners are asking for the office of the Chairman of the APC Board of Trustees as minimum compensation to discountenance the imperative that the North desires to subjugate the South to play the second fiddle because political power has returned to the north.
It is absolute to think along regional lines now, because as Aristotle postulated “any rule is unjust when either equal have and are awarded unequal shares, unequal, equal shares”. Atiku Abubakar MUST be forced to submit to the principle of justice, equity, fair play and national cohesion as provided for in the Nigerian constitution. On this I rest.