BY DELE MOMODU
Fellow Nigerians, this headline may sound somehow bizarre but that is the reality on ground in our country today. In the name of Almighty God, let us remember and be assured that nothing is impossible. Providence has a way of playing its own game which ordinary mortals may find difficult to understand. I know many had written off the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after its cataclysmic crash from grace to grass in 2015. It was a prophecy boldly and clairvoyantly foretold by a few of us, in writing. The PDP apparatchik were the only ones blinded by power and could not see the hail of bullets coming their way until it hit them calamitously and fatally. Today the rest is history.
The All Peoples Congress (APC) that took over from PDP did so in style and the world celebrated that incredible feat. It was a classic case of good riddance to bad rubbish. But there was a caveat; APC was expected to perform a combination of magic and miracle. The new President was credited with the power of life and death. The Party that led him to victory, however, had a substantial influx of the so-called demons that had escaped from the pit of hell to join in leading President Buhari to the remarkable success that he achieved. Many more absconded from PDP to APC once it was obvious that things had fallen apart. This contradiction was going to haunt and hunt APC eventually. And the cookie has started crumbling already. The lack of principle and ideology has always been the bane of politics in Nigeria. This is why most of our leaders find it so convenient to crisscross political parties with such reckless abandon and shameless gusto. The saint of today can become an instant devil tomorrow and vice versa and this meandering and frolicking to and fro can go on ad infinitum.
Nevertheless, no one expected the PDP to bounce back so soon. As a matter of fact, many had wished, and commanded, them to eternal damnation and condemnation. But reality is beginning to dawn on even the most fastidious supporters of APC. Without mincing words, APC has been its own worst enemy. The Party appeared to have taken too many things for granted and sooner than later, it would have to pay dearly for it. The APC has studiously ignored the lessons of contemporary Nigerian history, as typified by the monumental failure and spectacular collapse of PDP. APC has blatantly refused to organise itself into a more disciplined and cohesive party. It started out fighting a war of attrition within itself, like babies scrapping over lollipops, instead of settling down to address the urgent and desperate needs of the people. The APC government, although it made significant progress on the war against Boko Haram and terror and to a lesser extent the battle against corruption, crawled like a millipede, especially on the economy, which led most people to assume that it neither prepared for power nor expected to win the election. This lack of preparation collided with the people’s giant expectations of an abracadabra moment in Nigeria.
Now in its third year in power, APC is wobbling along while PDP seems to be getting its groove and confidence back. The crack in APC has become too wide and palpably worrisome. It has not been able to organise any Party Convention. It is doubtful if any meaningful meetings are called or held at any level beyond the local one. The PDP that was supposed to be dead has since been almost fully revived and seems to be putting its house in order. If APC continues along its disastrous path of reticence and self-immolation, it may be in for a real and rude shock. It is obvious that many prominent members of APC are only bidding their time and merely hiding conveniently in the Party till they feel that there is an auspicious time to jump ship again. In hushed tones, they whisper and lament their disappointment, dejection, disgust and disdain at the turn of events in their Party. They moan and groan about the way the hawks, infamously known as the cabal, have grabbed and taken over power, with no one in sight ready or willing to checkmate them.
In the midst of this hocus-pocus the next set of elections are fast approaching. The prominent and populist PDP governor from Ekiti, Dr Peter Ayodele Fayose, has already declared his interest in becoming the next President of Nigeria, in 2019. Sule Lamido, former Governor of Jigawa State, has followed suit beginning with a launch in the South East by his supporters. Say what you will, no member of APC, except Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been bold enough to come out openly to replicate such audacity out of fear of stupendous reprisals from the powerful goons in Abuja. Every one of them is waiting to know if the omnipotent leader is going to run or not. Even then, they are not sure whether he will appoint an anointed one which will effectively scupper their aspirations. Meanwhile, time is ticking away at supersonic speed and before we know it the season of Party Primaries will be upon us.
PDP members are regrouping, rebranding and reinvigorating themselves for the great battle ahead. APC on the other hand is adopting a wait and see approach which has bedevilled the mode of administration since the Party took over in 2015. Reality checks show that PDP is no longer as weak as It once appeared, particularly in the early days of the Buhari Administration, when it was clearly a headless, directionless Party in abject confusion and disarray. Some of their Governors control the States that lay the golden eggs in Nigeria, namely Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Dr Ifeanyi Ukowa of Delta and Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa. Those Governors appear to be making giant strides in the development of their States and there is plenty of potential there for a Presidential material to emerge. Those oil rich States also parade some of the most formidable godfathers, who themselves were former Governors and godfathers, such as Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, Peter Odili in Rivers, James Ibori in Delta and Goodluck Jonathan in Bayelsa.
The permutation is that PDP will hibernate cleverly and consult widely with the godfathers and kingmakers before picking its candidates. Their prayer is for Buhari to force and foist his candidacy for a second term on APC. PDP would then unleash its youth-friendly options on the nation. Some of them are already assembled and waiting for the opportune time to decide on the best and most ferocious combination. They include Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State, former Cross River Governor, Donald Duke, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, Charles Soludo … I am sure that PDP realises that it cannot afford to field a candidate tainted with the spectre of corruption and abuse of office for which the immediate past PDP administration of President Jonathan has now become notorious and infamous.
The PDP top chiefs are not ruling out the idea of poaching some of the disgruntled big fishes from APC. Those being considered for tapping include the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal, and a few others under the searchlight. The PDP will aim to exploit the current schisms in the Nigerian nation, caused by agitations for restructuring and ethnic self-determination that is being terribly mismanaged, and benefit from it with their choice of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. They appear determined to give Nigerians younger and more accomplished combination of candidates which they believe APC, with its proclivity for gerontocracy and seniority would not consider. Who knows if APC would fall into that trap by assuming that the youths, who form the largest portion of the electorate, would follow and support any candidate they push forward. If APC fails to respond to the cravings and desires of those who feel Nigeria is long overdue for modern, urbane and tested, cosmopolitan and visionary leadership, it will have only itself to blame, if at the end of the day it is left biting its fingers, rueing and regretting what may have been, as it is unceremoniously ejected from power at the centre.
It is expected that the next leaders of Nigeria would not be able to escape critical debates in order that people assess their competence and capabilities before the elections. Any Nigerian leader of the future, starting from 2019, must be articulate, computer savvy, creative and able to present coherent ideas on how to move Nigeria forward in a new world of scientific advancement, technological innovation and economic wizardry. It is the Party that recognises that Nigerians have moved on and demand a lot more from their leaders not only in terms of accountability and integrity but also in terms of social and economic development that will carry the day. The PDP may seem better positioned in this regard because it knows that its ambitions cannot fly with any of the discredited old guard and maybe that is where its good fortunes may lie. APC is fortunate that it is not presently burdened by any such perception but, with events presently unfolding, even that aspect of its goodwill may be eroded or lost if it does not manage its affairs well.
What seems assured is that Nigerians wait with bated breath to see the calibre of leaders that the Parties will thrust upon them as they seek that elusive Eldorado.
World Cerebral Palsy Day: A Mother’s Passionate Appeal
Wife of the Governor of Kogi State, Mrs. Amina Oyiza Bello has once again taken a bold step in her efforts to call attention to the plight of Nigeria’s children with special needs. The compassionate Founder of Hayat Foundation has made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Person’s With Disability Special Protection Bill into law.
Speaking in Abuja at a news conference to mark the October 6th, 2017 World Cerebral Palsy Day, Mrs. Bello also appealed to the government and school owners to make school environment-friendly for persons with disability while, putting in place measure to end stigma against such persons. For about a year now, Mrs. Bello has been championing the cause of children with special needs. Through Hayat Foundation, a Pan-African Organisation dedicated to promoting the cause of children with cerebral palsy, she has been at the forefront of sensitizing Nigerians to stop the stigma against persons living with disability. Mrs. Bello noted during the conference that Hayat Foundation was born as a result of her personal journey and experience with cerebral palsy, while taking care of her own son, Hayatullah Onoruoyiza Bello, who lives with cerebral palsy and in whose honor the foundation is named after.