It’s bemusing how Covid-19 had quieted the otherwise lousy political turf, writes Segun James
A great evil stalks the world today – the coronavirus Pandemic. Who would have believed that barely five months into 2020, the year would be fraught with bad news, much of it economic and the other, healthcare. It is therefore not surprising that all has been quiet on the nation’s acrimonious political stage as more urgent issues take the centre stage.
Africa’s largest opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has gone quiet and the internal crisis plaguing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to have been tucked in the backburner.
Even Adams Oshiomhole, the gregarious National Chairman of the APC, who was shaken by opposition within his party on how he runs the APC, has been boisterous and beaming with confidence lately as it seems he has overcome his worse political crisis.
On Workers Day (May 1st), Oshiomhole returned to his active days as Labour leader. He spoke on workers’ rights and why employers must not sack workers following the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. No politics, no shouting match, no crisis.
All these no thanks to the rampaging coronavirus, which has crept its way into the center stage of the nation’s political hierarchy, killing the most powerful and sending others to isolation camps and quarantine centers without regards. For the first time, politicians now realise that the hospital they failed to take care of has suddenly become their saving grace at the most critical point. They’ve also realised the need to take care of the home front, build hospitals, schools and good roads as they may end up saving them some day.
So, what’s been happening on the political front in the last four months?
A few events in Nigeria’s recent political history have had a more crushing effect on the morale of the people than the Supreme Court judgment on the Bayelsa and Imo States governorship elections. Barely 24 hours for the declared winner, Mr. David Lyon, to be sworn in as governor, the apex court sacked him. His offence? None except that he had a deputy, who had changed name four times.
Although the court never said the name change was illegal or that someone else laid claims to the names, but the name change was enough to sack the winner who was never part of the name change issue in the first place.
As expected, the PDP praised the judgment as its candidate, who came a distant second was sworn in. The party said the victory was a proof that the judiciary was indeed the last hope of the people.
But the party cried to high heavens, when the victory of Governor Emeka Ihediora of Imo was overturned. It said the APC victory was procured and that the way and manner it was contrived proved that the apex court justices were APC members disguising as judges.
In the midst of these, there was a little rumble, when PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan demanded that the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 pandemic account for the N5bn grant given to it.
While Ologbondiyan may have tried to stir up controversy, his chairman and leader of the party, Mr. Uche Secondus was nowhere to be found, a situation which made Ologbondiyan’s efforts somewhat ineffective. Meanwhile, Ologbondiyan’s counterpart in the APC has been on recess, discussing nothing.
Not surprisingly, that was how the demand for accountability from the PDP died despite the fact that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farooq, one of those saddled with the management of the grant, had come to Lagos and said on live national television with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in attendance, that she had just distributed millions of Trader Moni and small business assistants to traders at Obalende market, during lockdowns!
Journalists at the Lagos House in Marina, venue of the press conference were left wondering, who she met at the market during a lockdown and how the money distributed. It was ridiculous, yet, the task force got away with it.
If the situation at the national level of the PDP was not uplifting, there was a little stirring at the comatose chapter of the party in Lagos State. This was when a top politician in the state, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi jumped ship and returned to the party. It was a big win for the party leadership at the state – a proof that the PDP was still alive in the state.
Since its leader, Chief Olabode George, was ousted in a palace coup, the situation has never remained the same for the PDP in Lagos. All efforts to get George back to full party politicking and wake the party up from coma has proved abortive, even as the rebels, who engineered his removal now remorse their actions.
One of the persons, who have made mockery of the Nigerian political firmament, is the Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje. The Governor even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has had a reason to play politics with every situation no matter how grave.
No sooner had the federal government, in appreciation of the efforts of the Lagos State government to stem the spread of the virus gave Lagos State N10bn than Ganduje idemanded N15bn for his state. While many of the states made the move to buy testing equipment and create isolation centers, Ganduje said it was the federal government’s job, not his.
Now, Kano has become the epiccenter of the pandemic in the country with people dropping dead every day on streets. Yet, the Governor of the second most populous state in the federation still dared the federal government by relaxing the lockdown imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
As at last count, intellectuals, traditional leaders, elites and top security agents in the state had died, even as the pandemic continues to rage in the state, especially among the street urchins called the Almajiris. After all, Almajiris means “immigrant” in Hausa, signifying that the children came from far, ostensibly to imbibe Islamic values. Instead, they have become ‘terrorists’ on the national fabrics. Not surprisingly, too, they have made Lagos their new port of call as they spread the coronavirus around.
All these happened soon after the Governor created four Emirates out of Kano and later deposed the Emir, Muhammed Lamido Sanusi. Ansd what Lamido’s sin? He dared to speak truth to power.
In Bornu State, the rampaging Boko Haram militants seem to have gone into hiding in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. From all indication, the insurgents must be leading a double life. By day, they are soldiers/spies or government officials and by night, they become terrorists, who show no sympathy or regards for the human lives. And since the coronavirus berthed in the country, their guns had gone silent and their sponsors, obviously fighting for survival.
Today, an uneasy calm has returned to the polity in the country after months of clashes between political parties and party members, triggering lawsuits and trade tackling. But until the Covid-19 pandemic lifts it shroud over the earth, it would remain silent on the political scene.