The biggest fraud we may witness in the forthcoming elections may be the foreseen exploitation of General Muhammadu Buhari’s coattail effect, already being espoused to hoodwink overexcited electorate by disadvantaged members of his party. We’ve built a dangerous political culture, with a thing as cheap as political education scarce, where partisan sentiments blur objective analyses of, especially, political aspirants. Ours is a nation of bandwagons. Bandwagons that fail to understand that the beauty of a model democracy is the availability of a diversity of options. In their desperation they also fail to remember that Nigeria falls into this pit as a result of exactly what they’re agitating for: a seeming one-party political system. Having PDP entirely replaced by the APC, with the latter becoming dominant, is a predictable disaster. I do not advocate this climate of change. What I advocate is a system in which these two major parties are almost of the same strength and structure, such that an underperforming member of any party can be easily defeated by a promising candidate of the opposition. Even with my agitation for a new central government, I’m not hoodwinked into accepting everything offered by APC at other levels, knowing that the only virtue some of them can boast of as a reason to be voted for is appearing on the same campaign posters with Buhari.
My first confrontation with a member of this one-party bandwagon, known in my part of the world, in these past days of anti-Jonathan advocacies of which I’m a part, for their frequent chanting of “APC Sak!” – a vow to vote for just APC – was on the day Malam Nuhu Ribadu was declared winner of Adamawa State’s PDP Gubernatorial primaries, in which I wrote to congratulate him on my social medial platforms, observing that the former EFCC Chairman was indeed a strong and desired personality, and a blessing for whichever institution or people he’s tasked or elected to lead. The anti-Ribadu critic contacted me, sharing a commonplace sentiment that a support for Ribadu is a validation of the PDP, to which I responded, with a hint of mischief, that in a State messed up by an APC-led government, isn’t it hypocritical to still advocate an APC Governor? He caught my mischief, and of course, despite his expressed partisan sentiments, he couldn’t defend the testifiably corrupt administration of the impeached Governor Murtala Nyako.
While, in our interaction, I highlighted that ideology isn’t yet in practice in our democracy – or whatever we refer to as that form of government – and that strong personalities ought to be of our collective interest, his unwillingness to accept that was an emphasis on the strength of partisan sentiments. And, thus, I understood that partisan sentiment, like religious, is an indoctrination hard to overcome, and for some it’s an obvious loss of the ability to be rational and even less obnoxious in political analyses, debates and interactions.
Their portrayal of Ribadu, once their idol, as flawed, was a typical syndrome of the bandwagons. His offence was defecting to another party, and they even predicted that he was only exhibiting political naïveté and that he won’t even win the primaries to represent his new party in the general elections – a prophecy that has already failed. But there’s no way any partisan critic would dismiss Ribadu as a hypocrite without rubbishing all the members of the APC. Ribadu isn’t a personality one would describe as incautious opportunist, because, unlike many prominent figures of the APC, he didn’t win an election under the platform of one party before defecting to another, betraying trust and personal integrity. Any partisan critic whose parameter of judging Ribadu as opportunistic or hypocritical for merely leaving a party without any trust or mandate must retain the decency to be harsher on Governors Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), for walking out of the party that brought them to power, with the mandates and trust of that party. That, of course, is asking a double-speaking, partisan critic too much!
Similarly, while the partisan critics praise the defecting G-5 Governors as heroes, Ribadu, also a hero of theirs while in APC, has been caricatured in their bid to portray him as the shadow of that man, as sentiments aggregated in adopting an amnesia that deletes the bits of memories that hold Ribadu as that highflying firebrand of a dysfunctional country in a PDP-led government. We forgot that he’s the same man who brought down his boss, IGP Tafa Balogun and some of the most powerful political overlords of that administration, even rejecting a $15 million bribe, a record no Nigerian has beaten, from one of them, thus becoming a bogeyman to kleptomaniac public servants.
Perhaps the most amusing trend of the bandwagon is their attributions of anti-Jonathan or anti-PDP remarks, long expressed or fabricated, to Ribadu just to justify their portrayal of him as dishonest, while at the same time promoting a presidential candidate that had, about four years ago, vowed not to run for the Office of the President, which he does now without an apology, and even being promoted by fellow politicians who had dismissed him then as “unelectable”! If, as I told this fellow, we don’t blackmail Buhari with his contradictions and dishonesty, applying that parameter to ridicule Ribadu is a manifest hypocrisy.
Sadly, not many are willing to “forgive” Ribadu for what they call a betrayal of the movement to emancipate Nigeria, which amplified last week with the President’s “stopover” in the capital of Ribadu’s home State, Yola. Again I read what the bandwagon wrote about his membership of the PDP, and how, pandering to an absurd illogic, that diminishes his personality. Strangely, nobody has bothered to compare Ribadu with his APC opponent in the Adamawa Guber race to truly determine their competence and capability. As anti-Ribadu sentiment intensifies for hobnobbing with his President, one has to observe that as a presidential candidate of his party, it’s only mandatory for him to host Jonathan, and this doesn’t matter whether or not they share the same ideals.
We may be doing ourselves irreparable injustice if we insist on having PDP entirely replaced by APC, ushering in a rebranded misrule of another dominant party. In Lagos last week, for instance, I met some good friends who, despite being supporters of Fashola and volunteering as publicists of Buhari/Osinbajo presidential ticket, are furiously campaigning for PDP’s Guber candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, citing the man’s antecedents and dazzling political foresights and placing him above his APC opponent, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. Ours isn’t an ideology-driven political system. Every ideal here revolves around the personality of our leaders, and thus a Buhari candidacy would’ve still been endorsed even if presented on PDP platform.
We need to calm down with our uncritical quest for change, and desperation to “kick out” every legacy of the ruling party. As a northerner, in this time of escalating security challenges, it’ll be my pride to see our political system peopled by the Nuhu Ribadus, who despite their shortcomings, are still one-eyed kings in this nation of the blind. As a former police officer remembered for vast accomplishments and model public servant with limitless connections in the international community, it’s not hard to see that a Governor Nuhu Ribadu is an asset in our quest for a new Nigeria. I advocate a new Nigeria with competitive political culture; a Nigeria in which it’s easy to have APC’s Muhammadu Buhari replaced if, but may the good lord intervene, he finally gets to lead and couldn’t fix Nigeria as promised. I want there to be a credible Nuhu Ribadu in the PDP willing to do better, keeping the opposition on their toes. We need a civic education to demand for a better country, not just anger to demand change!
By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda on Twitter