FIRE ON THE APC MOUNTAIN
“A man cannot gradually enlarge his mind as he does his house.”
Alexis De Tocqueville, 1805-1859, in DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA.
America whose presidential system we borrowed and have bastardised has endured for so long and has achieved its manifest destiny of being te greatest country in the world by having substantially good leaders at all levels – Federal, State and County. Nigeria, by contrast has so far failed to even become the acclaimed leader of West Africa – not to talk of the African continent. If one is asked to point to one thing that makes the difference, it will have to be leadership. I know you have heard that a thousand times before. I am afraid you will be confronted with it again. We have a serious problem. It took one Hitler and his gang of thugs to set the world on flames. He started by wrecking the political structure in Germany and replaced it with a ruling party based on hoodlums. So destroying a country does not require a long time. In fact, it can be achieved speedily by having the wrong people in the ruling party.
Because most of our readers were either unborn in 1963 or too young to know what was going on – except those at the front lines – my Fellow Nigerians need to be reminded that the WILD WILD WEST or the mayhem which the Western Region experienced during the period resulted from power struggle between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his successor as Premier – Chief SLA Akintola.
There is no need to give a detailed account of what occurred then. The chaotic situation in the West was later a remote precursor of the first coup in Nigeria.
“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana, 1863-1952. VBQ p 93.
If the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, don’t take urgent steps to restore peace within the party in general and Edo State in particular, the country might be heading for more bloodshed that would make the “wetie” battles in Yorubaland appear like child’s play. For one thing there are more guns and explosives around now than in 1963. The scale of destruction will be monumental if Edo gets out of hand.
The similarities between 1963 SW situation and 2019 Edo cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand. The transfer of state power from a leader to a successor often creates a testy situation if the successor, after getting a firm grip on power, refuses to obey instructions form his predecessor who had installed him. When new power and old power dig in for supremacy in a potentially violent conflict, blood must flow – unless wiser heads prevail before the homicide starts.
The problem with Edo APC conflict is made more difficult and threatening by the fact that the Chairman and leader of the party, who should be mediating disputes is at the centre of the confrontation. Oshiomole has placed himself in a a situation in which he cannot be a judge over a matter in which he is directly involved. Yet, he cannot willingly step down and allow others to take over that role. More than anybody Adams is aware that there are too many knives out for his blood within the party. Chairmanship remains his coat of armour stripped of the title and he becomes a sitting duck. Duck pepper soup usually follows in violent political conflicts. So, more than anybody else he needs a peaceful resolution of the matter.
“Character is destiny”; that is according to a sage whose name escapes me now. When a man has built a reputation for being combative and has succeeded largely on that image, compromise threatens his macho man image – even if that is what is required at the moment. The stubbornness which had taken him so far, if not discarded, might take him too far.
Ordinarily, there would have been no reason to shed tears that a politician in embarking on voluntary deletion. What makes this an exception are the likely repercussions of the outcome of this conflict. In the absence of any credible opposition, the APC remains the only “game in town” Even if we don’t like it (and I don’t) we must pray it does not just disintegrate because the consequences for all of us are just too horrible to contemplate. Many of us can now voice our opposition to soldiers’ demand for identification. If 1963-6 mayhem repeats itself, the first decree passed will legitimize “show your ID.”
History is replete with instances in which one man or two people can set a whole nation ablaze in their quest for power over a territory. That is one fate we must avoid at all costs. Buhari and the other top leaders of the APC need the wisdom of Solomon or Suleiman to deal with this matter. They cannot ignore it because they stand to suffer collateral damage if the situation gets nastier. One of the possibilities could be the declaration of a state of emergency. State of Emergency would appear far-fetched now. But, none of the actors in the 1960s thought it would escalate as it did. Each side just wanted to win without consideration of the consequences. Once emotions take control and the mobs on both sides get moving the instigators invariably lose control.
I was tossed over the fence of our family house at Inalende Road, Ibadan in 1963, when a mob led by the Deputy Premier (name withheld out of forgiveness) came to attack the house of late Chief Lanlehin – an Awolowo supporter. He had miraculously escaped. But, shops were looted; women and girls were assaulted with impunity. The leader, sitting in a Land Rover, was satisfied with the result.
A mob is beast without brains. That is what violent political conflicts breed.
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