By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, these are not the best of times for the ruling Party, APC. It was a prophecy long foretold by me, though. As you all know, the trending news is that the serial “decampee”, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has done what he knows how best to do, decamping from one political party to another. Let no one say it is not a big deal. And even if it is not, it is still big news, and an even bigger embarrassment to a Party that coasted to victory on the wings of a major alliance of strange bedfellows and an unprecedented conspiracy that succeeded in unseating a sitting President in Nigeria. I therefore, wish to disagree vehemently with my brother, Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State, who said yesterday that Atiku’s exit from their embattled Party is a non-event.
If truth must be told, I believe this is just the beginning of a mass exodus from a fledgling Party that is certainly on the road to perdition, unless drastic measures are taken to stem the rot in the Party, seriously and sincerely heal wounds and massage miffed egos. Let no one fool our dear President Muhammadu Buhari into thinking naively that he would win the 2019 election like he did in 2015, on a platter of gold. The masters of the game are already goading him on by pretending to be endorsing him and telling him he is the best thing ever to happen to Nigeria.
All you have to do to expose their hypocrisy and charade is to go back in history to see how previous Presidents had been praised to high heavens whilst these praise-singers were actually sneering and collaborating in their downfall. We saw how some people misbehaved and mis-jived during the draconian era of the Abacha regime and convinced him that Nigeria needs him to rule for life. Well, nothing of the sort happened.
Here we go again, our leaders are staging their absurdist theatre by falling over themselves in endorsing a man most of them abuse and stab behind his back. It is just unbelievable seeing how deceitful human beings can be. This is why I salute the courage of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who has virtually become a pariah in a Party he partly founded and funded in recent times. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must also be mentioned, in this regard, for making bold to categorically assert that there is no automatic ticket or endorsement for President Buhari.
The reasons Atiku Abubakar adduced for leaving the Party are very valid to keen observers of events after the Party came to power, even though they may sound like sour grapes, coming from him. It is certain that APC failed to learn any lessons from how it sacked PDP and history is about to repeat itself so soon. This was how PDP allowed some of its golden assets to walk away from the Party. The same words being bandied now were the same we heard repeatedly then; “Rotimi Amaechi and company can go to blazes, they won’t be missed in PDP!” Unfortunately, their exit wreaked maximum havoc on the PDP, and today the Party is still wondering what hit it like thunderbolt.
I seriously doubt if Atiku would ever get the PDP Presidential ticket. I’m sure he is not under any illusion that it would be easy to defeat Buhari even if he gets the ticket. But what he has done is to put APC on the defensive from this moment on and probably try to encourage other dissenters to abscond and abandon ship as soon as possible from what appears a sinking ship. I would have been surprised if Atiku stayed much longer after the unfortunate harassment he’s received in recent time. His business interests have been under intense and incessant attacks and whatever love existed between him and his Party had since evaporated. If I were in his shoes, I will not contest again so that it doesn’t appear like I’m in politics and in any political party just to obtain a Presidential ticket. That may be wishful thinking given the man’s political history and his quest for the holy grail of the Presidency!
However, my opinion is that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar still has a big role to play in the affairs of Nigeria. At over 70, he is undoubtedly one of the most experienced and exposed leaders in our country. God has been very kind to him. He’s been able to establish a mega business conglomerate. He is blessed with a wonderful family. His children are well-educated and his brand is very big in Nigeria and beyond. He would do well to use his humongous resources to help drive the search for much younger and accomplished leaders for Nigeria. It shouldn’t always be about his personal ambition. I wrote recently that age is no longer on his side. Anyone above 70 cannot achieve more in Nigeria today. We supported Buhari in 2015 out of acute frustration against the recklessness and profligacy of PDP. For some of us, it was meant to be a stop gap. But as democrats, we believe the President has the right to run for a second term, if that is his wish but he should not be forced on the Party and cannot certainly be foisted on the nation.
I say with all emphasis at my command, that any attempt to impose President Buhari on his political party will backfire. The President should go through the laid down democratic processes and if he gets the ticket, fine and fantastic. If he fails, he should go home quietly and enjoy his retirement, finally. There is life outside power. It would be unfortunate if opponents of President Buhari are muzzled out of the race. The sweetness of democracy is in providing a variety of aspirants and wealth of ideas.
None should feel like a second class citizen in a political party that was jointly formed and consummated by many stakeholders. On attaining power, certain APC chieftains behaved like they had everything locked down and as if they forgot another election was going to come in a jiffy. Now that reality is beginning to dawn on them, they are hurriedly rushing frantically to please many of those they’ve ignored since 2015. It is doubtful if anyone would swallow the bait, hook, line and sinker, again. The talk in hushed tones is that President Buhari cannot change his style.
If he gets a second term, and chance, many politicians would be hauled into prison, for the right and wrong reasons. I hope the President gets the chance to read this script and adapt to the crisis situation he now faces. His current failure to do this, is why there would soon be a groundswell of conspiracy against him.. The trust issue would be a great determinant in the next election. Even if APC opens the vaults of the Central Bank to its leaders in the coming months, in clear and brazen disregard for its anti-corruption crusade, it is not going to be an easy ride this time around.
Now that Atiku has dumped the APC, I’m certain other rebels would be emboldened to follow his example. The Presidential race is looking hot already. I foresee the PDP ticket as being a much-coveted one because APC is likely to implode as a result of imposition. If PDP manages its affairs better, and more democratically, by eliminating fifth columnists among them, APC would be in hot soup. Nigeria is blessed with many fantastic leaders with proven records in both Parties. They should be encouraged to come out from hibernation. It is payback time and I’m suspecting that APC is about to be punished for its carelessness and insensitivity.
The tine to properly correct ills and wrong is now, otherwise it will be too late!
AND ROBERT MUGABE ACTUALLY RESIGNED
Wonders, as they say, will never end. One of those wonders of the world occurred early this week as President Robert Mugabe, one of the world’s longest serving leaders, finally agreed to step down after the military that swore to protect him as their Commander-in-Chief actually sold him out. After so much dilly-dallying and refusing to sign his resignation letter, he eventually agreed to handover to influential and his erstwhile deputy, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, aka the Crocodile, whom he had fired as a means of creating a smooth-sail for the Presidential ambition of his delectable young wife, Mrs Grace Mugabe. But this backfired big time. Indeed a veritable tale of a fall from grace to grass!
When I visited the then Vice President, Mnangagwa, in Harare a few months ago, at the behest of my good friend, Josey Mahachi,, little did I realise I was meeting with a President in waiting. He appeared and sounded very loyal to the old warrior, Robert Mugabe. He said he was happy to receive me and looked forward to partnering with Ovation International magazine in the promotion of investments and tourism in Zimbabwe. He promised to send a report to the President about my visit since I couldn’t wait the few extra days required to meet the old man in person.
I was thus dazed when news broke of the great rift between both of them. I had thought theirs was a perfect synergy until, it seems, Mrs Grace Mugabe’s unbridled and vaulting ambition put them asunder. The military intervention that eventually ousted and ended the nearly four-decade reign of Mugabe was exceptionally unique in its conception and execution. For the first time, we saw a military that refused to agree that it carried out a coup against a civilian government. The world was left confused and confounded by developments in Zimbabwe for a little while.
The Zimbabwean military, led by General Constantino Chiwenga, must be commended for the disciplined and professional manner it handled the impasse. It was a sight to behold seeing them showing respect for the President as he read that curious statement that had been predicted as a resignation speech but turned out to be a show of defiance by a usually loquacious and bewildered geriatric! The military was determined not to be tempted to derail democracy, but to be seen to correct an injustice and let democratic institutions do the rest. That is all history now. Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Interim President yesterday in the presence of a tumultuous crowd.
Many are already wondering what the new President can and would do different from his former boss. He made a long and stirring speech in which he praised Mugabe for his service to their country and insisted that some of his policies including the controversial land acquisition from the whites were appropriate and would be followed. He asked for reconciliation, saying Zimbabweans should “let bygones be bygones”. However, he pledged to chart a new course and promised improvement in the economy and lives of Zimbabweans. He insisted elections would take place as scheduled and portrayed the image of a man of destiny.
He has the next few months to organise a credible election. I’m hoping that he would act like our own General Abdulsalami Abubakar by handing over power in record time, if that is the will of his people. The world would give him a standing ovation for it. But if he falls into the temptation of grabbing power, ignoring and curtailing the democratic will and zeal that brought him to power, it would be such a monumental shame and tragedy.
All eyes are now on Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe.