Of Politics, Politicking and Compromise: The Dithering of a Party Chairman

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By Vincent Obioha

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything – Albert Einstein

I start my address with this quote to refer to the leader and Chairman of our great party, the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. I personally feel a great disappointment and I am at loss at his inability to resolve the huge divisions being created by the ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct (CCT) of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. I do not know what he has done to date on this issue as party chairman but it seems to me that he has done nothing. He might be one of the earliest casualties. Also, we as a party might have serious difficulties or crumble and divide, if the case is not halted.

Yes, Chief Oyegun is only one man and yes, he is not above the law, but herein lies our problem. It is no longer about him but what we allow to happen if our will is not done. Pulling the strings from a distance to upset a very positive situation out of spite and vindictiveness should not be allowed to happen to such a powerful institution as the senate, especially if we have identified the force as a singular person.

To allow this is to expose our nation’s vulnerability. What if it was the president that crossed the line in like manner? Saraki is a force to be reckoned with or else he would never have emerged as senate president against the wish of the party big wigs. Politics is the study of human behaviour and this clearly rears its head in the power tussle, lobbying and jostling for position after any election. Deploying strategy to get what you want in politics is one sophistication required but throwing the weight of constitutional authority around in order to settle internal wars can have short to medium term destructive effects within and outside the party even onto the nation in general.

The APC seems to have struck a self-destruct button in the bid to bring Saraki down and they are so drunk on arrogance, fat on ambition, blind to reason and vision, just to teach Saraki a lesson. To get to the present position the APC is today, must have cost a certain individual billions of naira. It cost many other party chieftains billions of naira to establish control in wards, local government and state constituencies. To be in control of most of the country including the Presidency is a great feat and achievement after 16 years of misrule by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This is a chance in a lifetime that no reasonable party leadership will want to forfeit. Not even the hunger to bring down Saraki will be worth that prize.

There are bound to be reprisals. Already, the degree of damage is inherent in press and social media. It is unfortunate that the party chairman is spineless and unable to take decisive steps to neutralise the war of attrition waged against other party members by the likes of Nasir El Rufai and Bola Tinubu. Oyegun has failed to point out to the Executive the dangers of the partisan hate campaign. The senate President has recently spoken out on why he thinks he is being persecuted and we all can see the reasoning behind his argument. Tinubu is one of the wealthiest Nigerians and he is a prime suspect in the persecution game. The source of his wealth is still unknown but the fact is that he was not wealthy before assuming public office. Today, he walks free with no threat to his freedom or wealth. The same argument goes for majority of the members of this present government and past governments. Babatunde Fashola the present minister for Power, Works and Housing is stupendously wealthy. Ambode the present governor of Lagos State is wealthy. Rotimi Ameachi the same. Our holier than though Vice President declared almost assets worth about a billion naira while our messiah-president is said to have omitted some financial strengths to the CCB. Senator Godswill Akpabio is in the senate; we all know the extent of his wealth. So, he who is without sin let him cast the first stone.
I do not abhor corruption or support it in any form but the motives here are wrong and the real accuser is full of stains of corruption with a very shady background and disgraceful antecedents. His sacrifices and efforts have however vindicated him of any witch hunt in the affairs of putting the nation back on track and so should Bukola Saraki.

Nigeria is at cross roads and some of our leaders despite their antecedents are necessary ingredients in moving Nigeria forward from this Augean stable. Saraki is one such person. President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibajo and Speaker Yakubu Dogora also rank among the best leaders Nigeria has ever put on the saddle. The cohesive nature of the 8th National Assembly and the Executive is unprecedented in our democratic history and speaks great things ahead. However, the clog in the wheel is the on-going persecution of the senate President. Why is it that when Nigeria wants to move forward, someone or something always is in the way? The sacrifice is huge and the potential is phenomenal. This Senate president has great potential from his educational background to his outstanding career in politics with ground breaking achievements that are well known to all and sundry.
The purpose of this thesis is to appeal to Chief John Odigie Oyegun to stop making unwarranted pronouncement and live up to the responsibility of his office as party chairman. He must immediately call a truce and put our great party back on track. He must not accept fatalistic notions of APC losing the senate president position as a noble sacrifice. We all fought a battle to get to power and we cannot be throwing away our gains because we do not like a party member’s face or gut.

Compromise is inimical to the survival of the Buhari Presidency so that it can rally the 8th National Assembly for the impending judicial reform and revival of the economy. The people must come first. What do the people benefit from the ongoing crisis? It’s a waste of public funds and a diversion of government business just to appease one man who has no locus standi to demand the removal of the senate president either by acts of omission or commission. The truth is that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the measure of right and wrong. Therefore, Tinubu and Saraki should please mend fences for the sake of Nigeria. The people do not deserve any further delay to their enjoyment of dividends of democracy due to this self-imposed imbroglio. As for Oyegun, blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. You should be neutral and make peace. It is only peace that can save APC and make it deliver its promise of positive change to the people.
–– Obioha is a research fellow in political science and strategic studies in Houston Texas