Once The Sword Is Out…By Garba Shehu

Garba-Shehu1-580x340The Yoruba gave the nation this proverb: If you pull out the sword in a quarrel, it no longer matters if you used it or not. Nothing can be reversed. The fight is on; you go on, strike with the sword!
The proverb captures the political trajectory of the “G7+Atiku”. I can’t imagine them going back on their “new PDP” considering who they are dealing with.
When Timipre Sylva broke from the camp of the President in the run-up to the 2011 governorship election in their Bayelsa State, the then undivided Nigerian Governors Forum, all 35 of them went and “begged” the President to forgive Sylva. He reportedly said he did. That did not, however, stop the President from barring Sylva from the State PDP primaries. Sylva is currently a victim of selective trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the type that governors have been complaining about. A rough translation of an Igbo proverb says that if you see the members of the community using a wooden shovel to bury your neighbor, you should know that that is what they will use to bury you when it is your turn.
Nigerians in their large numbers have concurred on the fact that one of the best things to happen to Nigeria since independence is the on-going reform effort with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But they always follow up with a proviso: will the splinter group hold together and fight to the end?
These are two strong reasons why this development is good.
One, this country is in need of real democracy not a fake one and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is not ready to answer that call. The PDP has become just like a commercial corporation; a limited liability company or a family enterprise. Its shareholders are a group of urban, high class and richer people. Whoever joins the party or votes for its candidates is being adulatory.
This group has no insight into the real Nigerians. They make no attempt to even pretend that they understand Nigeria as essentially a country of rural majority, urban poor and jobless youth who see no future for themselves under the current national dispensation.
Two, Nigeria is equally a socially diverse nation. Any leader in a country like this must be committed to pluralism to bind it together. We have a government today by a man who even his ardent admirers say he was good but has fallen victim to manipulation by evil men who surround him.
After the civil war and all that in the 60s, Nigerians thought that they had cast away tribalism. But since the election in 2011, the President’s tribes people, have seized control of his presidency and have accomplished the feat of making him lose much of his pan-Nigeria appeal. His Ijaw supporters have drank the poisonous drink of power and have brainwashed their masses into following the cabal surrounding the President into a journey of misery and isolation.
Arising from this, this is the picture we now have (adaptation from a blogger): a President who is zero in politics; zero in religious integration; zero in political wisdom; zero in compassion; zero in truthfulness; zero in moderation; zero in patience; zero in compromise and zero in making amends.
Confronting change in the ruling party he can’t stall forever, the President has chosen to dig in his feet rather than seek settlement. He fired nine Ministers a week ago, some of them being the most performing in his cabinet, based solely on their links and real or suspected affiliation to the so-called “rebel” governors or their associates. Reports say that he has began scouting for “cowboys” as replacements who would act the “Wike script” in states such as Kano, Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto and Kwara.
What the G7+Atiku need to start doing is making serious investments in building a pan-Nigeria alternative to PDP. The PDP will survive in half and only an ostrich will imagine that the President will not win its ticket for 2015 in a primary. Jonathan and his group won’t allow competing party members slug out their differences energetically and publicly characteristic of presidential party systems as you have in the United States. Under those situations, candidates go through bruising primary elections but rally around whoever emerges candidate as loyal party men are required to do. Governor Jang and his break-away faction of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF have the numbers to return Jonathan as PDP candidate in a PDP-style primary. What they don’t have is what is required to win a general election.
I can say with certainty that states such as Bauchi, Katsina, and Kaduna can give Dr. Jonathan nearly all their delegates at the party primary but none among them can deliver the President in a general election.
There are a number of ponderables for the G7+Atiku, including one, an alliance with the already registered All Peoples Congress, APC, which in my view is the best that they have got. This won’t be a bad idea considering that the APC has many well-performing governors casting tall shadows of their own.
The other options include the faction joining the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM or forming a brand new political party of their own, which are equally viable. What they need to do after sorting out the issue of platform is to project a leader for the country very soon and then spend the next few months clarifying what they stand for.
There is nothing wrong in trying something new, call it change if you like, for the good of the country. Many such experiments happen in the life of a nation. The current President offered us a change when he campaigned on giving the nation a breath of fresh air and it worked for him. Let us have another breath of clean air of development, sound economy, peace and security, not air that is polluted with corruption, tribalism and the stench of stolen crude oil.

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