This week seems to signal the end of David Versus Goliath polls in a decade and a half as Nigerians welcome a much-anticipated political development that sharply highlighted the naiveté of President Goodluck Jonathan. As agreed by many, Jonathan has just sealed his place in history as Nigeria’s most uncharismatic head. Ever. Yes, ever. The only time the office of the president had ever been undermined, and unsurprisingly became a space for incubation of cluelessness, was in the last days of his predecessor, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, whose syndrome was attributed to his failed health – though, like Goodluck, his then deputy, he came into power through a political permutation of opportunisms and sentiments in which he had almost no power to influence!
Expectedly, this development, the defection of five of the seven PDP governors who made up the G7 rebels antagonising their president to the opposition party, roused mixed reviews among analysts, with the harshest dismissing APC as an asylum of victimised rogues, a party with no definable ideology to redeem the mess that has become Nigeria under PDP. While cynicism is already a part of our political culture, having lost our faith in any process designed for change, however practicable, some citizens have taken condemning the merger of G7-2 and APC as merely being objective, as though there is another alternative to launching a formidable opposition to check the excessive and criminal manipulations of a people’s intelligence and resources in these fourteen years of a dysfunctional democracy!
This merger is laudable for one obvious reason – for invigorating the race to winning the trust of the public, knowing that, at last, both sides are capable of replacing each other and if any is ever found wanting a recall is now a convenient exercise. I have been on the front line of Nigerians challenging the oppositions to understand the psyche of Third World politics where mainstream media-centred electioneering is ineffective. Nigeria is not an America where sentiments woven around a politician’s tweets and newspaper interviews are likely to earn him the sympathy and solidarity of the electorates; here parties need structure and appreciable relationship with the masses, because even rigging is not possible without a structure. PDP has been a leader in all the major polls in Nigeria because it understands the psychology of Third World electorates, which is presenting your physical selves to your supporters to assure them of intended policies, and how the other person squanders their resources. The people need a sense of assurance, a structure that a party actually exists. As I told an APC-basher elsewhere, APC’s biggest illusion will be being hopeful of victories at the 2015 polls, without these G7 governors, without structures, without crisscrossing the minds and thoughts of the grassroots, without planting their flags on parts of Nigeria where even MTN’s everywhere-you-go masts are unavailable!
On the quality of its membership, let’s all agree that everybody is corrupt in the absence of rigid laws, and that it’s enforced ideology and manifestos that will uphold the discipline of a party. Parties are built on ideology and manifestos, not individuals’ private interests. This applies to APC. Sadly, PDP has violated that onus. And of the two members of the defunct G7 who refused to defect, a PDP stalwart Professor Jibril Aminu, in his interview with Daily Trust, opines: “Already, two of their pillars have changed their minds and left the group, I understand (Mu’azu Babangida) Aliyu who was thought to follow them where ever they were going has left them and (Sule) Lamido who claimed to be the pillar of the group developed cold feet. He can abuse me again if he likes but I will tell him to his cheeky face, there is nowhere he will go and do what he did in PDP, to get (sic) foreign affairs minister and governor of a state” (Daily Trust newspaper, 28/11/2013). In this attempt to protect the ruins of a house on fire, Professor Aminu exposes PDP as a house where internal democracy is missing, a fraternity where private interests are served – which is what he clearly painted with his allusion that Lamido’s ministerial and gubernatorial s(election)s were scams he can only ‘get’ in PDP. If APC must set itself apart, nobody’s private interests should be served, no individual should be an overlord, and internal democracy should never ever be compromised to please any overlord!
As for Governor Aliyu, a politician who couldn’t deliver his state to PDP in the last presidential election, one whose re-elections was as the results of open financial inducements, defection may be a dangerous miscalculation. CPC not only won the presidential but also the national assembly elections in Governor Aliyu’s backyard in the last election, so I wonder why we’re going berserk over his, and Lamido’s, betrayal of their of colleagues.
As 2015 approaches, Governor Aliyu’s political future is on the edge of a cliff. First, his senatorial ambition will be mortally shattered by the Gbagyi voters who are very ethnically united, especially in their aversion to a Hausa man’s candidacy, and there will be no more previously neutrally involved Zone A voters and their Zone C counterparts to save him this time. And there will also be no more zoning formula, which has brought him this far in politics, to manipulate. Second, Aliyu’s refusal to defect may be to play PDP’s northern strongman in the rush to 2015 in exchange for “presidential” support for his declining political relevance, but Governor Lamido, who’s a more popular candidate, is a threat to that dream. Third, being a poor-performing Governor, one who has created too many portfolios obviously to “settle” his boys and to justify Niger state’s inflated recurrent expenditures, unlike Kano’s Governor Kwankwaso’s managerial prudence, he has every reason to be afraid of the presidency over possible witch-hunt.
And so? Well, if APC needs a gamesman in Niger state for 2015, they don’t need its governor’s moral supports, they only need to rush to court the zonal strongmen of the three senatorial districts in Niger state, with special interest in the very influential Nupe-speaking people of Zone A. Governor Aliyu may be a loser, he’s not a fool. He’s a politically sage schemer. This is why I love him. May God save us from us!
By Gimba Kakanda
Blueprint Newspapers (29/11/2013)
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)