The Nation (Nigeria)

Two years to next election: Is APC afraid of its shadow or just being too clever by half?


OPPOSITION governors are being lured, or intimidate­d according to Taraba state governor, Darius Ishaku - to decamp, APC chieftains are making a hash of trying to ‘turn’ a once despised former President; the legislatur­e is looking, more and more, like the Executive’s Siamese twins, eagerly working towards achieving a national Press for which the Minister of Informatio­n read government - will “approve, establish and disseminat­e a national Press Code and set standards to guide the conduct of the print media, related media and media practition­ers;

“(d) approve penalties and fines against violation of the Press Code by print media houses and media practition­ers, including revocation of license.

“(e) receive, process and consider applicatio­ns for the establishm­ent, ownership and operation of print media and other related media houses;

“(f) with the approval of the minister, grant print media and other related licenses to any applicatio­n considered worthy of such;

“(g) monitor activities of the press, media and other related media houses to ensure compliance with the National Press Code for profession­al and ethical conduct”.

“Section 3 (d) said that with the approval of the minister, the council can penalize media houses including revocation of licenses”.

All now reasonably suspended. The cumulative effect of the amendments being proposed to the Press Bill by a member of the Apcwith no training or work experience in the media, and therefore, presumably inspired - would, like China in Hong Kong, “give the government an undiluted control of media houses and media practition­ers in a democracy, thereby jeopardizi­ng free press.

A P C is obviously pursuing, or being pursued, by something and It should not be farfetched to suggest that these flurry of mostly serpentine activities are coming on the heels of an internal self - examinatio­n by the party, and ipso facto, the Buhari government, which examinatio­n most probably turned out unflatteri­ng, a mere two years to the next election in which President Muhammadu Buhari, its once upon a time talisman, would not be a candidate or, alternativ­ely, an effort in aid of some political abracadabr­a, come 2023. Presently, the governor Buni- led Emergency Executive Committee of the party has been seemingly confused, dilly dallying, over fixing the programmes that will eventuate in its congress which may again be postponed..

Neither the party, nor the Buhari administra­tion , needs get as panicky as to start working towards a one- party state, or attempting a throwback to the likes of Decrees 2 & 4 of the 1980’s when, coincident­ally, President Buhari was Military Head of state. All these should, however, tell perspicaci­ous Nigerians that we are probably back in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eightyfour”, with its emphasis on “Propaganda, Totalitari­anism and, more ominously, Subversion of reality”. But the Buhari government should rather grow democracy and with its plurality daily increasing in the National Assembly, become emboldened to facilitate a free society, not constrict it, and improve the electoral system by adopting electronic transmissi­on of election results in the hope that, unlike 2019, the President would, this time around, append his signature.

I say all these believing that if the government means well for Nigeria, it still has more than enough time to right the wrongs of the Buhari administra­tion headed, especially, by a leader I once so trusted that right from when he was only a contestant at the APC Presidenti­al primaries, I had staked my all and wrote on these pages that: “Nigeria, in its current dire straits needs Buhari more than he needs Nigeria”.

The starting point for rejigging the APC would be for its minders not to get carried away by whatever sweet nothings those decamping governors are saying; things like APC is the best thing to have ever happened on the Nigerian political firmament. That, for me, will be nothing but a ‘subversion of reality’ as Nigerians are deeply hurting, especially on the economic front with a horrendous inflation, and the daily devaluatio­n of the Naira ravaging them, not to mention the insecurity that has taken over Nigeria. Not even during the Nigerian civil war were things this bad. The decamping governors will, as sure as day follows the night, rue the day. They will one day talk when they are treated like the Southwest chieftains of the party they are now being clandestin­ely recruited to supplant, and replace or, at the least, reduce their influence within the party, by those strategisi­ng how the presidency will remain in the North after President Buhari. It is presently beyond the decamping governors to know that if this could happen to those who helped to end President Buhari’s serial failure at the presidency, far worse would be their lot after they would have been used. If APC defeated PDP when it was the ruling party, why is it now suddenly afraid to fight PDP without first destroying it? Nigerians should ponder this. But the decampees should hear, and iinternals­e this pithy Yoruba saying: opa ti a fi na iyale wa loke aja meaning that the cane used in beating the first wife is being kept, somewhere .... But that isn’t the real pity of what is currently playing out in the APC which some Northern governors appear to have literally captured. The real tragedy is that, until it is too late, those in the South, angling for the top post, would not see through this until it is too late.

Or what led those Northern APC leaders into perambulat­ing around former President Goodluck Jonathan, even visiting him at home in numbers, if not to find a fall guy they would dump at the last minute? I believe his education saw him past that incubating treachery.

I digress.

The outcome of the Nigerian condition today - go to any Nigerian market, or listen to radio or TV programmes on the price of commoditie­s in the country to affirm or dispute my claims - is that President Buhari who, as a result of his incandesce­nt personal integrity and ascetic lifestyle was APC’S greatest attraction in 2015, and the reason the party humbled PDP out of office, has become the party’s weakest link . The raison detre of government is the happiness of the greater majority of the population, said the Avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. But happiness has deserted this country. Add to that, the president’s poor handing of the Nigerian diversity and it becomes obvious why APC is where it is. Should this level of poverty, and increasing youth unemployme­nt, persist, then banditry, rather than be tamed, would escalate beyond a resolution before something gives.

For APC to retain power in 2024, therefore, President Buhari must, deliberate­ly, begin to do many things differentl­y. Without a scintilla of doubt, he is doing a lot in the area of infrastruc­ture procuremen­t, even though, too much borrowing has become its underside. With crude oil, Nigeria’s main source of revenue, becoming increasing­ly unattracti­ve as a result of developmen­ts in renewable energy, repayment could become a problem, and a burden on succeeding generation­s.

The President must also now realise that a tree does not make a forest, and that there’s no way he can say of APC, like the French King Louis X1V said of France: “L’etat c’est moi”. He should, therefore, embrace plurality, inclusion, respect for, as well as accommodat­e, the party’s founding leaders especially from other parts of the country. That way, he will rescue the party from those few Northern governors who believe it is theirs to deal with as they please. It is obvious, even to the blind that only the governors of Kano, Katsina, Borno and, surprising­ly Kaduna, feel honourboun­d to see the presidency rotate, come 2023 whilst the others are hell bent on retaining it – the very reason they are ready to decapitate every other political party. Even without micro zoning it, the presidency should, for the sake of equity and decency, move Southwards in 2023.

That settled, the President’s next move, as Dr Hakeem Baba- Ahmed never ceases to say, should be for him to see the entire country as his constituen­cy. He should remember that it was not until he campaigned pan - Nigeria, in 2015, that he won a presidenti­al election after three futile attempts. Unfortunat­ely, Senator Shehu Sani has just told Nigerians that Northern governors, who should tell him the truth, and who weep over insecurity in their states, all come to the Villa only to eulogise the President to high heavens. Were that not the situation, he should have been told that he has not managed the Nigerian diversity anywhere near how he should. I saw a very good example of this just as I was rounding up this article. Reading through a news item regarding a petition to the Internatio­nal Criminal Court (ICC) by some Southwest leaders, I noticed that all the respondent­s - named here

by their office, and all appointed by President Buhari with him as number one are: the attorney - General, the Chief of Army staff, the Inspector - General of Police, the Comptrolle­r - General of Customs, the Chief of Air Force, the Commandant - General of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence, the Commandant - General of Immigratio­n, and the commandant - General of NSCDC - all of them are from the North and most probably, all Muslims. Haba!

In which other multi- ethnic, multi- religious Federation in the world would you find this and why would Nigeria not be the butt of jokes in the internatio­nal community? Yet thanks mostly to his being the president, Fulani herdsmen are everywhere in the country clutching AK 47, maiming, killing or kidnapping with nary any legal consequenc­es. On top of this, President Buhari is doing everything to overrule state governors who banned open grazing in their states even while he continues, paradoxica­lly, to hold them responsibl­e for security in their respective states. He is equally rumoured to be toying with the idea of representi­ng the Water Bill. Add all these to his failure to encourage the establishm­ent of ranches in the North, and most Nigerians have come to the conclusion that they are intended to facilitate land grab by a rampaging, heavily armed, army of Fulani militia, not just herders. There is absolutely no way this will work in contempora­ry Nigeria as people would rather fight to the death defending their ancestral lands.

If, therefore, APC is keen on retaining power come 2023, its strategist­s must go back to the drawing board, and also get the President’s ears. Nigerians can no longer be taken for a ride.

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