“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.”
Dr. J Arbuthnot, 1667-1735. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTES p 191.
It took the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, sixteen years to demolish itself. The All Progressives Congress, APC, has created a new Nigerian record by becoming the first ruling political association to disintegrate within three and a half years. It is no longer a political party because, by definition, a political party deserves to be called that only as long as it fulfills the aspiration of the people. At the moment, the APC is not only failing to fulfill the aspirations of most Nigerians, it is does not even satisfy many of the leading members of the party. Yet, those were the people who worked to provide the majority of votes in the presidential and other elections. From the Presidency to several states’ houses, the sense of betrayal stemming from several broken promises is pervasive.
Let us start from the Presidency to understand how the people of Nigeria have been short-changed.
Most people blessed with good memory would recollect that one query raised by the PDP during the campaigns was the issue of Buhari’s age and his ability to withstand the strains of a twelve to sixteen hour job. That is what the job of a President entails in the twenty-first century given the possibility that hundreds of Nigerians might be under attack anywhere in the world at three in the early hours of the morning. Buhari first of all answered for himself. He told us that as President he was not expected to be lifting weights. That is correct. He also challenged his traducers to a game of squash to prove that he was physically fit to be president. His statements were backed up by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Less than two years into the first term, and we have on our hands a president who in 2017 has spent more time on a sick bed in London than at Aso Rock; and there is no end in sight to his sojourn in that city. Irrespective of how one assesses Professor Osinbajo’s performance as Acting President, the fact remains that Nigerians did not vote for him. In fact, if he had run for President in 2015 on his own, it is doubtful he would have received 100,000 votes throughout Nigeria. APC and Buhari, just like PDP and Yar’Adua, have robbed us of the services of the President we elected. Two questions arise immediately.
Was Buhari aware of his infirmity during the campaigns and kept Nigerians in the dark about it? If he did, all the finger-pointing about alleged corruption directed at other people pale into insignificance compared to acquiring the highest political office in the land by hiding material information.
Politics without principles, Mahatma Ghandi, 1869-1948. VBQ p 245.
The Father of modern India has placed on record the things that would inexorably destroy a nation including “Wealth without work” among others. But top of the list of seven, he placed “Politics without principle” believing that a nation whose politicians don’t believe in anything other than winning elections is doomed. In that connection, the second question about Buhari’s health challenges is directed at Alhaji Lai Mohammed who made a spirited defence of Buhari during the campaign period as the National Publicity Secretary of the APC as if he had privileged information not available to the rest of Nigerians on the man’s health situation. Before the Action Congress, AC, for which Lai, was National Publicity Secretary, went into alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the man was on record asking late President Yar’Adua to resign as president when the stricken man went to Saudi for his second and last trip abroad. He also categorically declared that the president’s health problem was a public not a private affair. That was in 2009-2010. Talk is cheap. Action is different.
Lai as the nations Minister of Information(?), last year was most prominent among those who said that Buhari was “hale and hearty”.
Government’s spokesman altered the age-long and universal meaning of “hale and hearty” to now mean a man flat on his back, receiving blood transfusion and intravenous fluids in both arms. Incredible! That was before Buhari returned from his first trip to reveal the truth. Instead of leaving bad enough alone, Lai was “on song again”, to use the term borrowed from football, to “reassure” that Buhari was “hale and hearty when the president failed to report in the office for days before being shipped out again. The question is: when does cheap propaganda become plain lying?
With the current Minister as spokesman, it should have been clear to the Buhari administration that nobody can believe anything they say. According to the Babylonian Talmud, (VBQ p 127), “This is the punishment of a liar; he is not believed even when he speaks the truth.” As it is, the messenger and the message are increasing becoming inextricably linked.
And, it is not only on matters that can be indisputably proved that Mohammed is exhibiting the new face of APC, now in government. Recently, the party which in opposition had argued forcefully for the rule of law is now openly violating it and Mohammed who voiced their position until May 29, 2015, is arguing just as strongly in support of the government’s disobedience of court orders on the grounds of “security” which only the Executive branch is aware of.
About a week ago, Mohammed dropped another bomb on a nation which is increasingly feeling the hoax which the APC Manifesto and campaign promises represented. According to him, the APC government is so busy working on defeating Boko Haram, fighting corruption and fixing the economy that it has no time left to address restructuring which was a massive vote-getter for the party in 2015. Those of us who supported the party and canvassed for votes for it, based on the perceived need for restructuring, have been told in clear terms to “get lost”. No repudiation of principle can be made clearer.
“The most obstinate illusions are ultimately broken by facts.” Trevor-Roper, in THE LAST DAYS OF HITLER. VBQ p 100.
As we move towards the last nineteen months before the 2019 elections, the curious thing is that Lai and the Aso Rock gang, all badly infected, still talk and behave as if the sand house – called APC – they built on a sea shore is still intact. In their group-think, they collectively ignore the growing disenchantment with the government and the widening gap between it and those who now clamour for restructuring. Instead of exercising leadership and organizing the debates and meetings that would facilitate an organized nation-wide discussion, they hide behind the walls of Aso Rock like clowns. But, was it not one of the best professional clowns, Red Skelton in the US, who in 1971 told the world the innermost fear of the clown. According to him, “A clown is like a man sitting on a throne of ice wondering when it will all melt away.” It seems as if the APC’s throne of ice will all melt away in 2019.
Some among the dwellers and most frequent visitors to that Rock, which a former inhabitant has told us is full of evil spirits, have even declared that Buhari will be granted a second term if he wants it. That is purely satanic talk which might indeed prove that the Devil must have occupied some of the rooms in the nation’s most famous rock. The authors of that devilish idea must assume that simply because they have pebbles where brains should be, the rest of Nigerians are also brainless. Who in their right senses would want a President who will spend half his tenure enriching doctors in London while impoverishing Nigeria with deficit leadership and deficit budget spending? Who wants to continue with a former political party which has disintegrated into factions and which is not in any way responding to the aspirations of the people of Nigeria? Who?
The sooner the remnants of what used to be APC, mostly in the Executive branch and party headquarters, realize that the party is over the better for all of us. Sensible individuals must now urgently start to form new political associations which will hopefully become large political parties by 2019. They are all facing time constraints. The 2019 elections are only nineteen months away. That is not a lot of time.
One thing each of them must address is how to restructure Nigeria. It is an idea whose time has come. There is nothing more powerful than that.