I have read about 10 easy steps to destroy a house, and they are quite taxing – and costly. But how about how to destroy a political party? Experience tells me it does not take more than one solitary step to destroy a party. That one step was taken by the Peoples Democratic Party in 2012. It elected a bullfighter as its housekeeper. The All Progressives Congress took the same step this year. It is tired of ruling Nigeria and so, a combatant with a sledge hammer is assisting it to knock holes in its walls. And there is really nothing wrong in destroying one’s own property if you won’t destroy others’ with yours.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, APC national chairman, spent last week doing what he knows best. He was in his elements abusing governors, senators and Reps who left the APC. He took a point-blank shot at his own party man, Labour Minister Chris Ngige, and threatened him with expulsion. He said his disciplined leader, Muhammadu Buhari, condoned indiscipline from his appointees. He described the exit of Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, from his party as a relief. Others he described as mercenaries and articles of no political value.
This is very familiar; we were here before. The French call it deja vu (already seen). Oshiomhole reminds me of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, PDP’s undertaker. Bamanga Tukur was the national chairman of the PDP under whose watch the titanic party sunk. When five governors left his party just before the last presidential election, the PDP chairman said his party would not miss them. He was very loud with an overdose of confidence. He insisted that his party would win elections even without its traditional vote tanks.
Oshiomhole is today the national chairman of the ruling APC. He is in sizzling love with our president and therefore routinely rumbles the jungle for the General. Tukur also loved President Goodluck Jonathan so much that he assisted him to make implacable enemies. Every dissenting opinion was a rebellion that must be crushed. Then, the cup became full. Tukur was the first to fall from power. He lost his position as the national chairman of the PDP and almost immediately became an enemy of the PDP and its candidates. On the day of the presidential election, what did he do? Tukur, after his accreditation as a voter at his Ajiya ward, Unit 012 in Yola, Adamawa State, shocked not a few. Facing a battery of reporters and cameramen, he predicted a shock for the PDP in the elections of that day. Tukur said the party had shot itself in the foot by its undemocratic actions and that a resistance was sure for the party.
“Anywhere imposition holds, a resistance comes; and a resistance will come today,” he said. And no one who heard him needed to ask again if he voted for Jonathan. That was from a man Jonathan exchanged for his friends and those who assisted him to power. Jonathan carried and held on to him until he broke the party’s spine.
When I look at the manner the APC rolls from one crisis or scandal to the other, I smile and shake my head. Germany’s 19th century strongman, Otto Von Bismarck (who incidentally died exactly 120 years today), said he had “seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.” Something tells me that after the spectacle of Goodluck Jonathan, we are about to see the nakedness of another emperor. Nigeria is a very dangerous, complex country.
It is difficult to know patriots or friends here by their simple conducts. I have a lot of sympathy for President Muhammadu Buhari. He has many new friends – he is sugar, they are ants. Some people appear sworn to assist him hone his skill in making enemies beyond his legendary capacity. Jonathan, a man perpetually afraid of stepping on toes (even when he should) was assisted to lose valuable friends and make implacable enemies by some of these same characters around Buhari.
Two years earlier, an aggrieved PDP chief promised that he and his people would assist Jonathan to make super enemies. And the former president harvested very many of such foes. He made so many and so much that his barn was ultra-full. While Jonathan’s party lost five governors at a go to a party that ultimately became Jonathan’s nemesis, Tukur declared that the party would not lose sleep over their defection. I have heard almost exactly that from Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole and Ngige are supposed to be friends. They share so many things – and this is not just about the feet they measure. Both were state governors and are members of the APC. But Oshiomhole took his fight with him to the market square. Tukur and then Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, are in-laws but that did not stop them from fighting, igniting a conflagration that swept both of them out of power, wrecking the party and ultimately sinking Jonathan’s presidency.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a strong man who compensated himself “for his lack of height by seeking power, war, and conquest.” Oshiomhole, like Ngige, is a short man. What short men lack in height, they gain in some other faculties. Some short men are mostly blessed with giant egos. The attention span of some is as short as their size. I am sure the former Edo State governor does not have a short memory. Just two weeks ago, Oshiomhole celebrated Governor Ortom whom he described as “an asset” to the ruling party. But the asset depreciated so fast within one week Ortom became to Oshiomhole a liability.
The APC chairman said Ortom, in almost four years “cannot point to any major project that he has completed.” All these because Ortom left the APC. Could Oshiomhole have forgotten how he and other APC governors celebrated the decision of five PDP governors to join their party in 2014? He, with the others, described the defection of the five governors as “courageous” and “historic” and deplored “all manners of intimidation, harassment and persecution” of the defectors by the Federal Government and the PDP. They said what the PDP governors did was “worthy of commendation and is indicative of strong personal principles and commitment to the progress of Nigeria.” Today, because the chicken has come home to roost, defectors have become mercenaries.
The Yoruba have no respect for certain characters. One of such is anyone who gets sober when buying food on credit but claims to be superman after he is fed by the creditor. Before Oshiomhole got his second term in July 2012 as Edo governor, Jonathan was a very good man of honour. He massaged Jonathan’s ego so much that the one from Otuoke forgot to help his own party in that election. At a world press conference after his victory, Oshiomhole attributed his success to Jonathan’s “determination to enthrone credible democracy in Nigeria” describing the ex-president as “indeed a statesman; a man of honour.” Two weeks after Jonathan left power, the man who is driving the saintly APC vehicle today changed his mind about his “man of honour.” He told a news medium that the former president lacked a sense of fairness and was, in fact, incompetent.
“If you follow my commentary two, three years into his government, it was clear that even the most basic things were not properly done. Competence that was expected was not there,” Oshiomhole told The Interview. So much about jumping from one banana tree to another.
There is wisdom in being peaceful and peace-loving. It looks like the APC and its war-loving government shouts ‘Change’ without ever hearing of Socrates’ secrets of change: focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Bickerings are fatal distractions, especially if you promised change. For a driver on top speed, it is suicidal to be addicted to the rear and the side view mirrors. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
A leader is chosen because of an impending rainstorm, but he is here ripping off the roof. The foolish should be clapping for him. The wise should by now be horrified. He is filled with terror because he knows the roof is the armour. For the APC and its Oshiomhole, the rains will soon be here.