Among the reactions to my column last week on the diatribe by the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, against defectors from his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the new formidable opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) were a few who said I was biased. Some of them said I should’ve equally criticized the defectors from PDP to APC. Others said I should’ve considered the merit or otherwise of why the defectors from APC to PDP defected before condemning them.
I plead guilty to both counts, but only partially. I plead partial guilt on the first count because my silence on the defections to APC can be easily and seemingly justifiably construed as a blind endorsement of the opposition party. It was an endorsement, alright. But it was not a blind one; no Nigerian who has witnessed and/or experienced PDP’s brutalizing misrule of the country in the last 15 odd years – a misrule which has made Nigerians much poorer today than they were in 1999 and which has also made their country much more insecure today than it was since then – would not shudder at the prospects of four more years of same under the behemoth, never mind the 60 more years of same it has been threatening Nigerians with.
The huge turnout in the membership registration of APC a couple of weeks ago which prompted the PDP to accuse the party of preparing the ground to rig next year’s election – a strange accusation coming from a ruling party which prides itself as being the largest on the continent – was a clear testimony of the desperation of Nigerians for something, anything, to rescue them from PDP’s misrule.
However, as a journalist and political analyst I have a responsibility to point out to the public that it is not just anything that can rescue them, obvious as this is. Obviously anything which lacks the virtues necessary for good and transparent leadership can only lead to a change of guards, so to speak, rather than to a change from the misfortune of the people.
The way the APC has carried on since it emerged as an amalgamation of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), it stands the distinctive risk of becoming PDP, with all its ingrained “garrison democracy,” in all but name. For the sake of itself and of Nigeria, the APC must do everything it can to have internal democracy.
In defecting to the PDP from APC, both Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, former Kano State governor, and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, his former Sokoto State counterpart, accused it, in effect, of being no better than PDP which it wants to replace. This was precisely why I thought it was strange that the two would defect to the PDP which is obviously too set in its undemocratic ways to transform itself and offer the genuine article.
However, both governors were justified to have felt exasperated with the way the top party hierarchy at the centre simply asked them to subordinate themselves to the governors of their states. The right thing the party should have done was to have provided a plain level field for congress elections of its officials from the ward level to the national within at most six months of its emergence. If it had done so most of the internal crisis the party is currently facing in several states would have been avoided. Certainly its defectors would have had to look for other excuses.
I say excuse because, in my view at least, the defectors should not have given up so early in the fight for entrenching internal democracy in the party, especially when they are unlikely to make any serious difference in the way the party they have defected to is run.
It is not too late for APC to avoid creating itself in the terrible image and character of the PDP. It can avoid this pitfall ideally by first of all dissolving its interim executive organs at the ward, local government and state levels before the congress elections. These interim executives have generally constituted themselves into obstacles in the way of internal democracy.
However, if dissolving them sounds impractical, the least the interim leadership at the national level should do is to bar them from contesting in the congress elections. It should also bar its own members likewise. Not least of all, it should send large enough teams of members with high integrity to conduct the elections.
For example, for Kano that has 44 Local Government Areas (LGAs), the APC should send a 46-man team of outsiders to Kano, made up of a chairman and secretary and one person per LGA to conduct the elections. And for a state like Bayelsa that has eight LGAs, they should send a 10-man team, also of outsiders, with a chairman and secretary to conduct the elections. If this looks unaffordable the party should send teams larger than those it sent for the membership registration, say at least one member per two LGAs.
Of course, all this would cost a lot of money which APC is not as well endowed with as PDP. However, with proper organization the party does not need the huge outlays the PDP has been using to keep itself in power.
If the well-endowed and the comfortable members of the party sincerely wish to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of what looks like an unreformable PDP, they should selflessly give their all, including their money and time, to ensure they create and sustain internal democracy in their party. The time to do so is not on their side.
RE: Makun and the defections from PDP
I agree with you that politicians are looking for shelter from the typhoon called poverty. Blame the social system which protects big business at the expense of the people. The truth however is that the Alice in Wonderland world awaits the politicians the day their charming promises fail to send the hungry and the homeless to sleep.
Amos Ejimonye, Kaduna.
Are you surprised at any politician or Nigerian politicians and their comments? They all cling together when ‘the goings are good’ AND vituperate when their ‘goings get sour’. Not only Maku, not only Bafarawa and not only Shekarau! They are spread across all the political parties.
It is surprising how you condemned Shekarau’s and Bafarawa’s defection from APC to PDP, while keeping mute on the defections of many governors and legislators from PDP to APC! To you any defection from the PDP to any party is like a blessing to the nation (or north), while defections from any party to the PDP is a curse to the nation (or north). The truth is: APC treated Shekarau, Bafarawa and many other members just like the PDP treated the five defecting governors and other members too. Please always be objective in judging peoples actions and inactions.
Habibu Hamisu Ibrahim.
Dr. Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe (God bless his gentle soul) was once asked, why he joined d then NPP, and not NPN, UPN, GNPP, PRP, or any of the parties, so called then) in Nigeria’s Second Republic. He retorted, among others: “…I reserve to myself, the prerogative to pick and choose, those who will travel with me, comfortably in d same ‘boat’ … and I will not complain (about) the ultimate fate of the ‘canoe’!”
Defecting politicians (either in APC, LP, APGA, PPA, PDP, whatever called) in Nigeria today are enjoying this prerogative of jumping into any ship or canoe they feel comfortable with and/or may guarantee them electoral success. So it’s a question of time, for us to see the ultimate outcome of these defections. For now let us watch, pray and wish them well/bon voyage!
Chukwuma Dioka. Owerri, Imo State.
RE: ‘Babangida’s triumph of hope over reality’
I think Malam Mohammed Haruna purposely published the two responses to his above article for many of his readers to see the jaundice perception of that article by the two respondents. No one has IBB’s permission to deride a person he has helped who has opposing position to his views. The man is actually embarrassed when people attempt to humiliate others on his behalf for holding contrary views to his publicly or not.
I read Malam Haruna’s article too but did not see any bad thing he said in the article or against IBB to warrant attack on him. I adore IBB, but even God everyone cries out to Him for not doing what (one thinks) He should do. Christ too cried ‘My Father why are you forgetting me?’ What is wrong with Malam Haruna telling the Father of Nigeria, IBB, why is he abandoning us with the present bad rubbish?
People who respond to your patriotic opinions as Mallams Hassan Jallo and Lanre Oseni did are stooping to docility, cowardice, servitude and sycophancy, if not plain stupidity. If someone is afraid of the dark to walk at night and you provide him with a lamp, his appreciation is not a kind of favour.
RE: The return of Chinweizu and all that
I went to Amazon to check on the book, The Anatomy of Female Power by Chinweizu. A used copy is $305.28. Please hold tight to your copy.