Heavily Pregnant In Abuja
Information reaching Naija News House says that there is Heavily Pregnant In Abuja
This past week perhaps the worst kept secret of the Fourth Republic finally became public knowledge. The rumour mill had been abuzz. The president himself had dropped broad hints of a favoured dark knight among those jostling to succeed him but declined further disclosure on the grounds that the poor fellow might be assassinated thus inadvertently suggesting that his party has become a camarilla of assassins.
Many are the pundits who concluded that as plodding and unhurried as the retired infantry general may appear on the surface, he is too alert and strategically minded to leave the question of his successor to mere chance. He was merely waiting for the right moment to deliver the killer blow. All military generals are masters of subterfuge and ambuscade.
Last week as if reading from the horoscope of political turmoil, this column actually went as far as stating that Nigeria is about to witness another spectacle of a retired general joining battle with the civilian faction of his hegemonic party in another do or die duel of political supremacy which will alter the complexion of the political landscape. The column bears quoting at length.
“In 2007, the departing General Obasanjo singlehandedly imposed Umaru Yar’Adua on the nation. And heavens did not fall. Fifteen years after, another retired general is trying to repeat the same spectacular stunt…. Here is wishing the general from Daura the very best of luck as he takes the nation on an ambiguous adventure”.
Forty eight hours later on Tuesday, and as if reading from the same manual of military subjugation of civilian subalterns, the general from Daura struck. In a carefully choreographed political ambush, the former infantry general read the riot act to twenty two governors serving under the auspices of the ruling party.
In a tersely worded statement redolent of blackmail and psychological intimidation, President Buhari urged his subordinate colleagues to grant him the same courtesy of choosing his successor that he had extended to them in choosing theirs. It was an irrefutable and unanswerable riposte. It was payback time after all one good turn deserves another. Tyranny and misconduct at the sub-national level can be replicated and even surpassed at the federal stage.
Mum was the word from the governors. They had immediately gone into a face-saving brainstorming session which was reportedly deadlocked. It was not the first time the old Sahel cheetah in Aso Rock would be having the governors for lunch. Readers will recall the events leading to the summary imposition of the party chairman by the president after enduring their self-important tomfoolery up to a point.
The president’s plea was quite revealing and it spoke to the structural anomaly bedevilling the country as well as the peculiar peccadilloes of the Buhari administration which have led the nation into a sorry pass. Since when has it become the norm for the federal government to take its cue from state administrations? In the beguiling oxymoron known as unitary federalism it is a classic manifestation of political dysfunction for the sub-unit tail to wag the federal dog. It destroys the very basis of unitary formation and the argument for its overbearing proclivities.
The problem really is that it takes more than minatory violence to rule a nation, particularly a conglomeration of diverse cultures like ours. Real power, in all its persuasive force, flows from the might of example rather than the example of might. Old unitary nation-states that have survived and weathered the storm of implosion have done so by the force of persuasion rather than the persuasion of force. Nigeria has chosen to learn its lesson the very hard way.
General Buhari’s style of governance is particularly dangerous for the nation at this perilous point. It is not a hands-on mode of governance. It would not have greatly mattered in peaceful and sedate times. But in a country perpetually on the boil, a lackadaisical attitude can actually compound the problem by not acting when it matters most or by leaving things unaddressed until it is too late.
It is obvious that the former infantry officer prefers to watch critical events unfurl in wry phlegmatic humour while quietly plotting the comeuppance of those who underrate his resolve. How else can one explain the belated and rather tepid nature of the federal authorities to the plot to foist Goodluck Jonathan on the party and the nation once again by extension? Not even when some shadowy principalities bought a nomination form for a whopping 100 million naira for the Otuoke man did the federal government deem it fit to raise an eyebrow.
Not unexpectedly, the well-heeled and well-oiled plot was traced to some serving governors in the ruling APC who appear hell bent on truncating the zoning arrangement. That Mr Goodluck Jonathan, a prime beneficiary of the zoning arrangement, should be complicit in the plot to scupper the arrangement that has catapulted him from backwater obscurity to national prominence speaks volume for the quality of leadership recruitment in this country.
This column will spare the former president further obloquy in recognition of his position. Suffice it to say that his conduct on this matter has been most reprehensible. His attempt to defame the entire political system having failed to benefit from it combines the worst form of cynicism with uncharitable malice. Had he succeeded, mum would have been the word. But if had succeeded, that would have disabled the delicate armature which powers the Fourth Republic and the Obasanjo Settlement of 1999.
The Fourth Republic and the Obasanjo Settlement of 1999 are not short of a legion of undertakers. The PDP has just beaten APC to the tape in the race to scuttle the project of consociational politics which requires structured elite consensus. The irony of the just concluded PDP convention is that however its outcome is lauded and feted for its orderliness and discipline, the victory is enacted on the funeral pyre of zoning and equitable allocation of offices.
By jettisoning and abjuring the vision of their founding fathers all in a bid to secure victory at the next presidential polls, the PDP betrays a power desperation which is the bane of postcolonial politics in Africa. But who can blame them? Power is the shortest route to economic parity in Africa. Sadly demoralised and dispirited having been driven out of power in humiliating circumstances the surviving power hegemons are no longer in a position to brook any political idealism.
PDP has lost all visionary impetus. It is a poor shadow of its former self. This is no longer the original party of Alex Ekwueme, Lawal Isa Kaita, Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi, Solomon Lar and the early Atiku. Shorn of its energy and predatory courage, it reminds one of a torpid and senescent crocodile stranded at the bank of a river while waiting for easy prey.
Now chaired by a man who has divested himself of the idealism of his youth for power pragmatism and retrograde hay-making, the less said about the former “comrade” the better. On his road to political Golgotha, Ayu was famously described by a former Marxist colleague and mentor as exhibiting an increasingly brittle temperament and an irascible mien. The call by Chief Edwin Clark on Ayu to resign his position is unnecessary. As the Yoruba will put it, it is the biting cold of the Harmattan that will dissuade a scantily clad woman.
This is not the party that will lead Nigeria to the altar of inclusive politics or the egalitarian distribution of resources. Consociational politics and the elite consensus which led to the formation of the original PDP are made of sterner stuff. They require discipline , forbearance and extreme patriotism on the part of the political elite. It is not about capturing power at all costs. There must be a nation first before any other thing can fall into place.
It is a shame and a major political tragedy that the two state parties have not demonstrated these virtues of discipline, forbearance and extreme patriotism. This is where it is most appropriate to return General Buhari’s marching order to the twenty two APC governors.
When the president stressed the need to strengthen the internal cohesion of the party to power it to victory, he seems to have forgotten that the APC is not an organic party but an unstable amalgam of contrary and mutually countervailing legacy parties. The best it could achieve was a dynamic unity based on dialectical tensions.
But in the unhappy circumstances it has found itself the APC stands the risk of disintegrating into its component parts. The president, a cultural hegemonist of the most fearsome order, has been unable to manage diversity both at party and national levels.
Instead of unifying the party, the cabal that holds him willing hostage has been at its most appallingly polarising and divisive. Rather than making use of the emancipatory progressive politics the dominant tendency in the South West has brought to the table, the president and his antediluvian honchos are more interested in a project of medieval triumphalism.
This is the badly destabilized and politically demoralized party that the president hopes will make electoral hay in the coming elections. But nothing is impossible in Nigeria. Party identity has since lost out to personal identity and the politics of name recognition. But while this can play out at the local level, everybody will have to bear their ancestor’s patronymic at the national level.
As we say in this column, you cannot step into the same river. When General Obasanjo unilaterally imposed Yar’adua on party and the nation, many things were working in his favour. First the opposition parties had been rendered hors de combat by Obasanjo’s relentless destabilization. The AD has suffered an implosion from which it never recovered and the APP was about to die under the military scalpel of the master-surgeon. It was a blood-splattered canvas indeed.
Second, the National Question had not become so intractable and neither has the mismanagement of the nation’s diversity occasioned such a nightmare. Despite his incarceration and the lingering unease and suspicion over the June 12 debacle, Obasanjo continued to treat his former military subordinates and top members of the northern establishment with wary affection and regard.
He did not show his hand until he had fully recovered the initiative. It is useful to recall that the Yar’Adua plot later blew in Obasanjo’s face with the impeccably principled Katsina nobleman refusing to play ball while an irate Owu general would dismiss him as an “ungrateful wretch” in his memoirs.
Fifteen years after, history appears to be repeating itself but the circumstances could not have been more inauspicious. The benign collusion and complicity of events which allowed Obasanjo to have his way have now been severely curtailed by further developments. The falcon can no longer hear the falcon.
Under General Buhari’s watch, the National Question has so badly deteriorated that the resulting fissures cannot but impact any national election or presidential nomination. The ruling party under Obasanjo was far more cohesive and organically structured.
The opposition parties these days, unlike the induced somnolence which pervaded the atmosphere under Obasanjo, are a lot more vibrant and rampart. They have been joined by new party formations that appear bent on having their pound of flesh making the APC look increasingly like a bear at bay tortured and tormented to death by a hundred hounds.
To compound the problems of the ruling party, the advance of technology and the advent of electronic voting have made the kind of egregious rigging which characterised the 2007 presidential election technically inconceivable unless INEC goes completely rogue. The tide is high indeed and there is time for everything.
A surly and sullen mood now pervades the political landscape. With the ruling party, ambushed by its own perfidies and treacheries, still dithering and quarrelling about its choice of presidential nominee this late in the day and with one of its leading stakeholders openly chafing at the shenanigans, something nasty is afoot. One must pray at this point for Nigeria’s legendary luck to intervene and save the greatest project of the Black race this past century from self-inflicted ruination.
But the omens are not very reassuring. At this point given the rancour and disaffection that pervade the nation, Nigerians must prepare for the possibility of a “hung” presidency a situation in which no party is able to convincingly prevail at the presidential polls, presaging a descent into anarchy and chaos given the dismal state of elite consensus. On a more positive note, it may well be that a dramatic miracle of national emancipation may be loading.