To My Friends in the Dining Hall of APC

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Let me start with a reference to the political brotherhood that binds us, and for which we struggle, day in, day out, these past days, to defeat a marked monster. We’ve no disagreement, whatsoever, in our understanding of the Jonathan-led government as a tragically failed one. This realisation is what has instigated our agitations for its replacement. I loved the passion exuded in doing so, it’s motivating, despite the frightening chaos.

I, also, understand that a thinking head is necessary to have a sound body. This is the basis of our alliance, a quest for another head, and this, for me, isn’t because it’s Buhari. Any other morally advantaged aspirant presented on a structurally, yes not ideologically, defined platform would’ve earned my solidarity. But, my friends, many things escaped our critical eyes in these five years of maladministration, in our obsession with the head alone.

We practice a version of federalism for a reason, and in this arrangement it’s not possible to blame the head for the failures of the component units, the federating units, the state governments, which also have measures of fiscal autonomy, to at least play their roles highlighted in the residual list and, to a certain extent, the concurrent list elaborated in the constitution. I’ve seen some outstanding Governors who, even while in PDP and under a non-performing President, built impressive public service records. Kano’s Governor Kwankwaso was one!

This awareness is the reason I dissent with you, my friends, who advocate voting only candidates on APC platforms. Constitutionally, there are limits to a President Buhari’s interference with the administration of a state, except he’s expected to organise another constitutional reforms jamboree to have our administrative system reverted to a perfect unitary arrangement. Absurd as this is, it’s the logic of many of you, dear friends, in the dining hall of the opposition party.

A recent encounter with a friend of Kebbi State descent further justified my stance that this country needs strong and morally advantaged leaders, and while APC’s existence is to offer us a diversity of options, we should be wary of frauds perpetrated in the name of opposing the ruling party. As pointed out in an earlier piece, the only virtue some APC aspirants have is having the image of Buhari on their campaign posters.

With an untypical quietism, my friend informed me that APC’s governorship candidate in Kebbi State is the infamous Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. If you don’t know this billion dollar criminal, who may easily go down in history as one of Nigeria’s luckiest tools of corruption, one proud of his achievements in the looting of this country, then a return to history book or a review of the Oputa Panel to understand his role in Abacha’s government shouldn’t be a tough task. Having worked at global financial institutions, Bagudu mastered the art of money-laundering and was thus the palm oil with which Nigeria’s yams were eaten – apology to the late novelist Chinua Achebe, for his proverb and President Goodluck Jonathan, for a shared logic. That Bagudu even made it to the Nigerian chamber, to the upper legislative chamber, highlights the depth of gullibility that possesses the Nigerian electorate!

Yet you say that change is voting every clown fielded by the APC? At all levels of government? Across the 36 states of the federation? Regardless of their antecedents and personalities? Well, I’ve no trouble with this exhibition of parochial viewpoints and dangerous partisanship, knowing that, one, you won’t be with me at the polling unit and, two, you’re not capable of bullying me to lend my voice to any cause I consider deficient. We’re desperate, but not every aspirant on APC platform is Buhari, and neither should APC, to which most of us are sympathetic, be embraced with our critical minds deactivated!

One factor that also brings to fore your hypocrisy, my friends, is in your defence of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The same people who once castigated Nuhu Ribadu’s alliance with Bola Tinubu, including an important friend of mine, are the hypocrite now loudly defending Muhammadu Buhari’s romance with that most influential political entrepreneur in the southwest.
I do not fault such alliances, knowing quite well that our version of third-world democracy isn’t being levered on defined ideology. What I do fault, however, is our overblown sense of selective patriotism—our projection that a man is a criminal only when he’s not in our team. Such crèche partisanship is disturbing and, of course, petty!

I respect people’s choices as much as I never apologize for holding on to mine, even when confronted by combative dissenters. All I’m saying is, it doesn’t cost a lot to be reasonably and intelligently coherent in our participations in public discourse. This week, I “excavated” a ton of anti-Tinubu op-eds written by a social critic friend who now promotes Tinubu as the best political phenomenon in Nigeria since the independence! A supposed public intellectual shouldn’t be seen promoting facile causes just to appeal to the sentiments of the “vast majority!”

We shouldn’t write to appeal to the sentiments of anyone or a group, but to exhibit and highlight our differences and perceptions in this market of ideas. Be sure you’re doing the wrong thing if the world always endorses your viewpoints, patronizing even your most obnoxious outbursts. And while I’m unabashedly sympathetic to the APC, I’ll remain on the porch, critical of its deficiencies. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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