As stated on this page last week, PDP has defined itself as a party that wants to hold on to the disproportionate share of our resources its members have cornered. Stealing government money, they have said is not corruption. Exploitation of our innermost fears, promoting ethnic and religious divisiveness to win election is acceptable. While most Nigerians feel a sense of shame that our Chibok girls are still marooned in the forest after four months, the party junkets around the nation celebrating decampees, followed by series of carnivals in some selected cities by TAN at the end of which it presented Jonathan as its star for 2015. They just don’t give a damn.
Unfortunately, unlike PDP, even with the exit of Ali Modu Sheriff, Tom IKimi and Femi Fani-Kayode until recently the public face of APC which has pulled all the stops for the greater part of the year to be a carbon copy of PDP, the party has yet to clearly define itself. The public declaration of Atiku Abubakar who shares a PDP vision of power, a vision that has driven him from PDP to AC, back to PDP and now APC, for the party’s presidential ticket has only reinforced the impression that the two parties are the same side of a coin. And even for the core supporters of APC, it is not unlikely that for the fear of having their ears jarred by Atiku’s declaration, many might have not cared to listen to his familiar tone. And unfortunately for APC, while the electorates know what President Jonathan and his PDP represent, they cannot say the same of Atiku Abubakar whether clothed in the cloak of PDP or APC.
It is equally depressing that preparation for Buhari’s declaration is in top gear with the party behaving as if there are no lessons to be learnt from our recent history. The problem is not just that the duo have contested several times, labelled serial losers by PDP or that Buhari is over 70 in a world run by those in their thirties and forties. Or that nearer home, Zik, Ahmadu Bello, Awo, Bode Thomas, Rotimi Williams, Enahoro, Akintola, Fani-Kayode, Osuntokun, and Ikoku made their major contributions to our national development in their thirties and early forties; it is just that the duo are unelectable looking at our geo-political configuration.
Buhari, unarguably is about the best Nigerian leader to face our nation’s daunting problems. He is the answer to PDP corruption, Jonathan indecision, society’s indiscipline and his party endless squabbling. Buhari has proved our problem is leadership and corruption. During his short stay as Head of state, our refineries worked. We earned foreign exchange selling refined petroleum. We did not import grain. Our problem became how to store what was locally produced. He rejected IMF-inspired SAP which was later accepted by Babangida. Buhari was vindicated as Babangida’s indiscretion and unpatriotic act led to the collapse of all our industries.
But Babangida, David Mark and Gusau, Buharis’ nemesis, along with other greedy politicians who wanted Buhari out of the way to run the country in their own image along with their laboratory-incubated ‘new breed’ politicians have been in charge in the last 15 years. Now Jonathan with his exploitation of our fears and anxieties that have found expression in ethnic suspicion among our multi ethnic groups, mindless killings of innocent people in the middle belt states of the country by yet-to-be-identified so-called Fulani herdsmen, it is leaders like Buhari, a Fulani who is deeply committed to his Islamic religion no less than president Jonathan, an Ijaw is to his Christian fundamentalist beliefs, that suffer the collateral damage of the exploitation of our ethnic and religious differences. The forces against him today are as potent as they were in 1985, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Buhari shares a common fate with Awo. He was the most qualified Nigerian leader in terms of achievements, preparation and commitment to the poor in our nation at independence. But within two years of independence, the parasitic political and economic elite across the land unjustly sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment, installed Akintola, a man who had been constitutionally removed by his party, without election, went ahead to rig the 1965 regional election in his favour while keeping Awo in Calabar prison.
He was brought out of prison by Gowon to make useful contribution to the successful prosecution of the civil war caused by the greed of the political elites from the north and east. When in 1979, he wanted to bring his expertise to solve some of our nation’s problems, Obasanjo said the most competent man didn’t have to win. The erstwhile enemies, the parasitic political and economic elite from the east and the north who derailed the first republic once again went into a coalition which predictably collapsed over sharing of nation’s booty. In 1983, during Awo’s last attempt, the forces against him and by extension against Nigeria almost ensured he did not get a running mate from the north and east. Once again, it was the greed of NPN, an umbrella body for political and economic parasites that led to the collapse of the second republic which heralded Buhari as head of a military junta in 1985.
With Awo’s ‘adventure in power’ between 1962 and 1979, he had no business contesting the 1983 election. He ought to have sat back to tender the UPN which he was a major investor. Buhari today is faced with similar option. The reasons are obvious. For 2015, the greedy PDP northern political elite fearing Buhari presidency would drive them out of town, the middle belt, victims of recent mindless killing by yet-to-be-identified so-called Fulani herdsmen has been programmed to believe the fear of a Fulani man is the beginning of wisdom. The South-south and South-east, contractors and importers of sub-standard goods that enjoy government waivers, hiding under the banner of ethnicity and religion while sucking the blood of the dispossessed in their midst, have proclaimed Jonathan as the liberator of the Igbo and the long awaited Ijaw messiah. They have, without proof, declared Buhari, who secured no votes in the area in 2011, a ‘Boko Haram sponsor and leader of a ‘janjaweed party’. In the South-west, he is haunted by his role as a military dictator among the old and those below 30 who were never taught history at school have become captives of prosperity prophets, backers of Jonathan. How does those nudging Buhari on expect him to walk this ‘tight rope’ over a sea of greedy and selfish Ijaw and Igbo sharks with injured anti-Fulani predators impatiently waiting at the beach?
What then are the options for APC if they are to avoid the mistake of the past? In a liberal democracy political parties are owned by oligarchs who have stakes in the survival of society. In the US, the Republican and the Democrats pursue the same objective. Social change is evolutionary. Buhari, Tinubu Audu Ogbe and other party oligarch should take control of their political party and set up a presidential committee to screen young men for the party’s presidential ticket. Buhari like Awo has nothing else to prove. He, like Awo has been vindicated in his life time by history. With his goodwill, any candidate he endorses and sells to the nation along with his fellow APC oligarchs will be acceptable to Nigerians who feel diminished by PDP’s clueless response to our domestic problems.
Edward Kennedy from the records of his achievement as second longest serving American senator was the best president America never had because he was haunted by his July18 1969 Chappaquiddick bridge accident which led to the death of his female passenger trapped in his car when it plunged into a river. After his last encounter with Jimmy Carter, he moved on to mentor two great American Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who have already earned their places in American history. If he along with his colleagues in APC succeeds in liberating Nigeria from PDP, he can then also sit back like the late Senator Edward Kennedy and say:
“For all those whose cares have been our concern; The work goes on, the cause endures, and the hopes still lives; And the dream shall never die”