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The Dawn Of A Glorious New Day

Feature Article Head of APC Caretaker Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni
OCT 18, 2021 LISTEN
Head of APC Caretaker Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni

Nigerian politics is a huge enigma. The more you try to grapple with its essence, the more it eludes you. The more you try to influence its course, the more it moves away from your vision, leaving you with the impression of one who is obviously embarking on a wild goose chase.

Part of the reason, and the problem, is that many Nigerian politicians are scarcely goaded by any form of ideology. I have been witness on occasions when Nigerian politicians were advised by well meaning professionals and pundits to evolve an ideology that would guide their decisions as state actors. But no! Such advice was always like water poured on dry stone. The water would never stick. And by the same token, Nigerian politicians have continued to be driven only by financial gains, by how fat their wallets can balloon at the end of their tenures. And there is usually no place in their plans for service to their constituents, which is the primary reason they were voted into public office in the first place.

Part of the intrigue of Nigerian politics is that a good number of the politicians keep making money fraudulently. The system covers them up as it were. They make negative history. None of them would of course want to be remembered when they die for defrauding their country, which is why the history they make is negative. They are not usually proud to own up their means of income publicly. But let's not make any mistake about it. Appropriately, in politics, some make money and some make history, even by American standards.

During Donald Trump's tenure as President, his Republican Party had their eyes on money, possibly because their leader was a business man and an estate realtor. The party which principally comprised of the rich and mighty in the American society was more concerned with how much money was coming in? How much was going out? How much was actually given out for war or for charity?

On the contrary, the Democratic Party which was basically made up of working class families was busy making history - producing the first black African-American President, chunking out the first black female Vice President, introducing General Charles Brown, the first black head of the American Air Force to the world, and possibly working towards producing the first female American President, and all of that. Their party identified with and was committed to making history, reshaping the America narrative.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any one deciding to either make money or history during one's life time on earth. It is all a matter of choice. But it is necessary to distinguish the fact that in public office, those who go for the money are the selfish ones. When they are voted into public office, they make that money for themselves and for their families and friends. Most times, they do not actually care about the welfare of the constituents who voted them into public offices.

Those who make history are more liberal and more humane because they think of, and take responsibility for, everybody's welfare and plan for the younger upcoming generations. And so, it is important that in Nigerian politics, these two categories of politicians are discovered and separated easily by the voting masses as the sheep and the goats of the country's political arena.

It is against this backdrop that I want to view some of the recent defections of Nigerian politicians from the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In actual fact, many of them did defect but just a few examples will do to illustrate my point.

There is the most recent case of the Deputy Governor of Anambra state, Dr. Nkem Okeke who defected from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to APC on Wednesday, 13 October 2021. He has been quoted as claiming that the APC promised to offer him a plum job in Abuja. But that promise is not relevant here. Nor is the contention that many of those who defected did so because they were afraid that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would come after them for mishandling public funds going to be the issue here.

PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus

If there is anything we need to know about the contentions and the leadership of the Federal Government of Nigeria, it is what the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, once pointed out: that there is a difference between a state governor and a state government. By the same token, there is a major difference between the President and the Federal Government.

Those who had skeletons in their cupboards before defecting would sooner or later discover the stuff of which President Buhari is made because they will never get him on their side - for his own security. When the time comes, General Buhari will remind them that he is not the Federal Government and that he is only the President.

Even as I watched the video clips where the defectors were introduced to the President in Aso Rock, his gentle, confident smile and his body language as he received them spoke volumes about him and the "possibility" of him forgiving their sins in the wake of the gospel according to Adams Oshiomhole who propagated the idea that if any politician misappropriated public funds, let him cross over to the ruling party and his sins would be forgiven.

Of course, Father Buhari can possibly forgive sins committed against his person or office, or sins committed even against his party. But would he forgive sins committed against the country over which he presides? Would he compromise or betray the country he swore to defend and uphold? For now, no one can claim to know, for sure. Only the future will tell.

Indeed, all the defectors had one story or another to tell Nigerians why they had to deflect. Former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode defected from the PDP to the APC on Thursday, 16 September 2021 and claimed he was led by the Spirit of God to join the APC after all the embarrassing statements he made about President Buhari and the APC when he was a PDP kingpin. Many Nigerians were so disappointed that he spat and went back to swallow his sputum. It is never done in our African society.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his cabinet members defected from the PDP to the APC on Tuesday, 17 November 2020 claiming that the southeast had suffered so much in the hands of the PDP. No one exactly knows what Umahi's plan to salvage the southeast is, but hopefully, time will unfold his plan, if he has any.

Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs defected from PDP to APC on Wednesday, 8 August 2018. Akpabio insisted he was pushed out of the PDP and that he did not defect to APC. Nigerians wondered how a former state governor could possibly be pushed out of his party. And they asked if his supporters were also pushed away with him into APC.

The former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah defected from the PDP to APC on Friday, 27 August 2021 according to her, "to change the political narrative in the southeast." How she plans to do that will definitely unfold itself in the days to come.

The current governor of Cross River state, Professor Benedict Ayade defected from PDP to APC on Thursday, 20 May 2021. Professor Ayade said he defected in order to help President Muhammadu Buhari deal with the challenges facing the country. And Nigerians wondered at what point President Buhari applied for his assistance.

The governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle defected from the PDP to the APC on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 together with three Senators, six members of the House of Representatives and 24 members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly. The Governor said that he dumped the PDP in the best interest of the people of Zamfara, claiming that his defection would bring greater development to the state and that the issue of insecurity in the state would receive better attention. He noted that now that Zamfara had joined the ruling party, it would be easier to get the federal government’s attention on issues affecting the state. But in a contradictory statement he also said: “The issue of security is not just for APC or PDP. We have to put all hands on deck so that we can solve that problem.”

Chief Ralph Nwosu, National Chairman of ADC

One thing Nigerian politicians must understand is that these spates of carpet crossings, especially from the opposition party to the ruling party, have very serious effects on the ability of the country to attain true democracy.

It is an open secret that every performing government in a real democracy must nurse and rely on its shadow government to feel the pulse of the masses and consequently get to deal with national issues the right way. It is the responsible opposition that makes for a listening government. It is the responsible opposition that understands the pains and anxiety of the masses out there on the busy streets of the cities and the ever dusty village roads and energizes government to be responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of its people. The responsible opposition, as I have said elsewhere before, is the oxygen the government needs desperately to infuse life into governance. But how can the government access a responsible opposition if, because of the lust for financial gains, everyone is joining the ruling party, believing that it is the only way to escape justice for crimes committed against the country?

When the international community looks at the typical Nigerian politician, they are quick to buy into the idea that he is a huge joke. Many of the politicians don't even have constituency offices but they take huge allowances for the rentage and maintenance. They don't consult their constituents before they take decisions that are supposed to affect the lives and well being of those they represent. Their primary concern is to get the Abuja allocation and share out the money to their family and friends.

Go to their constituencies. The roads are a total disaster. In many towns and villages, there is no clean drinking water. The electricity supply can be best defined as epileptic. The medical clinics, if they are available, lack drugs and fundamental facilities. In one instance, there was no generator in a major hospital and patients who were due for surgery died on account of that. Workers are not paid regularly, even medical officers. The police are not well paid. Everybody is destined to hustle because government failed to take care of everybody. Yet, the country insists on keeping and paying two legislative chambers whose duties are similar. They insist on having duplicates of every parastatal of government as in the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

Nigerian politicians give the impression that they are not even conversant with the compass they need to ferry their people across turbulent political waters when it becomes necessary to do so. Otherwise, why are Nigerian governors unable or unwilling to contract major companies like Julius Berger, MCC and their like and engage them on contractor-finance projects? If you take a state like my native Imo for example, about six roads lead into the state capital. They are the Owerri-Aba, Owerri-Umuahia, Owerri-Okigwe, Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Onitsha and Owerri-Port Harcourt Roads. These roads can be comfortably negotiated so that the contractor can finance a solid job that would last the test of time, install toll gates and over a period of 20 years recover the money the company spent building the roads. Why can't Nigerian governors think along that line?

But lest I digress: what I was saying is that the frequent crossing of carpets from the opposition party to the ruling party has made the Nigerian people very conscious of the need to move on to new and higher grounds, especially with the youths across the 36 states of the federation. They now know that the PDP and the APC are two sides of the same coin. They are fast losing faith in the ability of any of them to deliver the youths to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, otherwise known as oil and gas.

TBAN in America discusses the future of Nigeria

The vision of the youths and their commitment have inevitably created the need for a Third Force political party that would wrist political power from the two parties that have more than less misused such powers since 1999 to suppress the very people they were supposed to protect. Among those new parties that have fascinated Nigerian young-adults is the African Democratic Congress (ADC). ADC is working really hard to become that Third Force party. The ADC is backed up by "To Build A Nation" (TBAN) which is a think-tank organization set up by Professor Kingsley Moghalu not too long ago. That notwithstanding, the organization has established the wide-range support of young Nigerian adults in all the 36 states in Nigeria, in the UK, in Europe, in America, Japan, China, Asia and some other African countries like South Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia where TBAN has very active branches.

Believing that most Nigerians need to be politically educated about their rights, such as their right to withdraw any politician who is not effectively representing his or her constituency, TBAN was set up to sensitize the Nigerian people on their rights and privileges as citizens of Nigeria. On 10 May, the ADC was adopted by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, a brainchild of former Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Inside the party are well educated men and women who are determined to get to the grassroots level to put politics on its right pedestal in the country.

The amazing thing is that most youths across the country are enchanted by their youthfulness, their level of education and exposure, the burning desire to save Nigeria from self harm and most importantly their determination to help ease off analogue and "expired" politicians who have nothing to offer the youths of the country except to create conditions of official corruption that make the very rich families in the country richer while the very poor families are made poorer. In the past twenty years, they kept widening rather than bridging the yawning gap between the rich and powerful and the hoi polloi of the Nigerian society.

With the tacit support of most of the enlightened youths across the 36 states, and with the touted merger of six or seven other parties with the ADC, it would possibly take a miracle for either the PDP or the APC to produce the next President of Nigeria, in the absence of rigging and official corruption. The reason is that while the APC and PDP are busy accumulating money for their family and friends, the ADC is determined to change the narrative and go for making history - a respectable history that will make this and future Nigerians proud to be identified and known as Nigerians.

This approach is basically why they have enchanted Nigerian young-adults across all the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja and ultimately become a strong Third Force party. Just as they joined hands to demonstrate against police brutality in the country a few months back, so are they joining hands once again to dismiss the two dominant parties that have given them nothing but misery over the last two decades. Thanks be to God that today, Nigerian young-adults in both the north and the south of the country are joined together, like Siamese twins, to reclaim their future and the future of their children. The narrative is the dawn of a glorious new day.

By Emeka Asinugo, KSC

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