By Yaya Ademola
THIS expression – Between the Devil and the Blue Sea – dated back to at least 1600. It has no connection with the devil of the bible; it has to do with a seam around a ship’s hull near the water. An attempt by a Sailor to caulk this seam in heavy seas may lead him/her falling overboard. It is an idiomatic expression of quandary. This is the exact situation Nigerian change seekers have found themselves in the hands of the two dominant parties that have been ruining Nigeria especially since 1999 when the civilian section of the ruling elite have held sway.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been enmeshed with one crisis or the other, all about scheming on who gets what and controls the largesse. The party and its stalwarts are not interested in the development of the country and welfare of the people. To resolving its crises, a six-man National Reconciliation Committee headed by a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was constituted in November 2020. The committee was saddled with responsibilities to settle crises rocking the party in Nasarawa, Ekiti, Cross River and other states. Again, to contain the crises rocking its South-West Zone, a five-man reconciliation committee for the Zone headed by former Osun Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was constituted and in fact, submitted its report to Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde in July, 2021. Recently, the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus was suspended by his ward in Ikuru town in Audoni Local Government Area for anti-party activities. Based on this, a River State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, upheld the suspension with a perpetual injunction restraining him from parading himself as the PDP National Chair. As a result, the PDP National Working Committee had on 26th August, 2021 appointed Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, the Deputy National Chairman (South) as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) that claimed to be a progressive alternative to the PDP rot and corruption with impunity wrestled power from the PDP at the national level in 2015 having sold radical manifestoes to the electorate who were tired of PDP maladministration. Almost six years in power, we are all living witnesses to our experience under the progressive watch. Just like its PDP counterpart, APC is engulfed with crises.
It is instructive to state that in a truly progressive party, which APC claims to be, it is a common tradition to have internal contests, debates, disagreements, alignment of thoughts and consensus: as its core agenda is on how to harness best policies and programmes to develop society and have better welfare package for the mass majority of the people. This is what a progressive party stands and is renowned for. With the influx of known elements who do not subscribe to same set of values of progressiveness into APC, problem arose. As at today, there is no clear difference between the two parties and there is no third force so formidable to wrest power from both parties. Hence the tumultuous struggle by the traditional progressives to contest every position in their party to save its soul.
In Osun, for instance, the chairman of APC congress committee that supervised ward and local government congresses, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, was a known PDP person in flesh and soul. In fact, he was a governorship aspirant in Ondo State on the platform of PDP in 2016. Progressive orientation and politics is alien to him. His inequitable dispositions and conducts in the supervision of the two congresses have polarised the party and weakened it. He is likely going to be recruited for the state congress to conclude his balkanization mission.
Again, the electoral law does not recognise independent candidature as recommended by Electoral Reform Panel headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais, former Chief Justice of Supreme Court in Nigeria, as the National Assembly threw into dustbin most of the vital recommendations of the panel. This is where the choice of the change seeking elements is narrowed between the devil and the Lucifer. Without resolving the fundamental of party identity in terms of programmes and policies and real progressive elements taking over their party from hijackers, the All Progressives Congress Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee on 14th September, 2021 announced National Reconciliation Committee headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa will amount to nothing. The core progressives within the APC must not relent in their struggle to win the soul of the party and reclaim its ownership. This becomes inevitable as there is no other opening. The condition that must be met before INEC registers a political party is very cumbersome. Only moneybag can successfully meet it before the forthcoming elections. The core progressives should not, therefore, leave their party to form another. The struggle must be waged within and won. He who the masquerade chases should persevere assured that as he is getting waned, so does the masquerader.