APC Presidential Primary: Drama, Dross, and Dreams

PLSCOPE BY Eddy Odivwri    Eddy.Odivwri@thisdaylive.com

PLSCOPE BY Eddy Odivwri    Eddy.Odivwri@thisdaylive.com

Eddy Odivwri

Given the many shifts and postponements of the much-awaited presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), not a few people had feared the special convention will end without leaving the party fragmented and brutally bruised. But by noon of last Wednesday, when the three-day event ended, it was clear that the feared disintegration was pretty far from happening, especially as the convention ended in a way that left many of those spoiling for war, jubilant.

But the convention was preceded with heaps and heaps of intrigues, shenanigans, and bales of outright mischief. Some of them are discussed below:

Scattered zoning Plan

It went without saying that the understanding within the APC was that after President Buhari had ended his tenure, a Southerner will take over from him. This is the reason two northerners; Gov Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and now Senator Adamu Abdullahi from Nasarawa State, had served as national chairman of the party, so the south can produce the presidential flagbearer. But surprisingly in mid-April, the trio of Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa governor), Sani Yerima (former Zamfara governor), and Ahmad Lawan (sitting Senate President) joined the race and confused the calculation and understanding. The very silly argument was that in case PDP produces a northern candidate, only a northern candidate from APC can tackle a northern PDP candidate. Such warped reasoning. Even when a few days after the convention the northern APC governors resolved that power should shift to the south, some northern oligarchs still thought the south should remain subjugated eternally. One of such Oligarchs is Abdullahi Adamu, the national chairman of the party.

Adamu Abdullahi Lied in the Name of the President

To further befog the air and probably increase the tension in the polity, the reticent Abdullahi Adamu announced at the National Working Committee of the party that President Muhammadu Buhari had anointed Ahmad Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the party. It came like a bolt from the blues. Nobody saw it coming. Nobody, except Adamu, believed it. The governors who had earlier met with Mr. President were shocked. It was not clear what kind of dirty game Adamu wanted to play, trying to sell and push political dross. The governors were confused. Could the national chairman of the party have lied using the name of the President? Yes, he did! The arising ruckus was threatening to shake the very foundation of the party, and perhaps the country. The presidency had to quickly issue a disclaimer, stating that it has not anointed anyone as a consensus candidate. Adamu could not hide his shame. He squirreled home, turning off his phone. But the governors angrily drove to his home, searched him out, and there he stood bemused and dazed in infamy nurtured by adult crookery. Alas, Adamu lied! His days as a party leader should be numbered.   

A Courage-Free President

Adamu Abdullahi probably felt he could fill the gap left yawning by President Buhari’s inaction, by dropping a name, hoping it could be gullibly taken as the presidential gospel. A cabal will fester when the true leadership is weak and ineffective. Mr. President had said last January that he had a favourite candidate to succeed him, but that he was keeping it a secret so the person does not get assassinated. As the weeks ran into months, everybody kept thinking Mr. President would soon give a hint of the said preferred successor. But days turned into nights and nights turned into weeks and months until June 7, and it was clear Mr. President did not dare to announce whom he wants. He was annoyingly indecisive. He placed everybody in suspence. He did not want to offend anybody. Yet, people had staked their lives, career, and resources in support of his ill-serviced ambition over the years. So, he kept encouraging every comer into the race, including his deputy (Osinbajo) and his two-time Campaign DG—Rotimi Amaechi). He didn’t want to be seen as siding with anybody. He lacked the balls to face the aftermath of his position. I miss Olusegun Obasanjo. Suddenly, Buhari has become more Catholic than the Pope, seeming to be even more democratic than Lincoln and Aristotle put together. Here was a man who pleaded with the governors to allow him to choose his successor, barely a week before the convention. He held two sets of special dinners first, with all aspirants and then stakeholders, yet, he could not muster enough courage to make known his preference. He suddenly started talking about the “level-playing field”. How does this accord with his desire to choose your successor? So, Mr. President, who is much talked about as a preferred successor?  How have you rewarded loyalty and service? Everybody was thrown under the bus. Not a good credential for an army general!

Tinubu’s Final River

Last Wednesday, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man popularly called Jagaban, matched nearer his “life-long ambition” when he won the highly contested presidential primary of his party. He had boasted that he has never lost an election. The June 7 contest supported this claim. Beating 13 other aspirants with very clear margins bespeaks of how deep and calculated his strategies were. Truly, he had been at it. The result speaks volumes. But having won the presidential ticket of the APC, he would yet have one more river to cross, and that would be the February 2023 presidential election, where he would run against the candidates of other political parties, especially the rival PDP (fielding Atiku Abubakar) and Labour Party (fielding Peter Obi). Character and competence will be the dominant currency in the next market.  Tinubu must realise it is not over until it is over. The bigger and deeper river is yet ahead. So many factors, besides money, will come to count. He cannot face the contest with a Déjà vu spirit.

Stepping Down of Presidential Pretenders

It was somewhat funny seeing how it became fashionable for those with and those without any political weight started to announce their stepping down for Bola Tinubu last Wednesday morning. For many of them, it was essentially to shield their impending zero scores under the guise of stepping down. Listening to them speak, one could tell many of them had nothing to offer, it was thus convenient to claim they stepped down for one who was clear to win, apart from the prospect of being “settled” for all their expenses, at least the N100 million nomination form. Politicians are crafty.

Osinbajo and the Broken Bridge

That Professor Yemi Osinbajo lost in a distant third position at the primary confirmed the fear many had had: that the Vice President will not only come out of the contest fatally bruised, but his political bridge would also have been verily broken. Many thought it was a sheer vaunting ambition to contest against his political benefactor, Bola Tinubu. The Vice President probably banked on the support of his principal, President Buhari who turned out non-committal. With no known structure nor access to a bottomless vault, Osinbajo was soon stranded and left hanging in a balance, depending only on his intelligence and acclaimed oratory. They would hardly count when a dollar is speaking. Wisely, he made no confrontational statement all through the campaign, as he knew he had no capacity whatsoever to confront the political behemoth called Jagaban. Now that the contest is come and gone, what will happen to Osinbajo’s political career? Would that be the end of his political career? Would he go back to his legal practice or go and join ASUU? Can he face Tinubu after 2023? Can the broken bridge be rebuilt? These would be the matters arising for the erudite professor.

The Evil Pentecost in Owo

Eddy Odivwri

It was the day of Pentecost. The day is celebrated in Christendom to mark the outpouring of the spirit and fire of the Holy Ghost on the apostles. It marked the beginning of the spread of the gospel of Christ and the birth of the Church. It is one ceremony the orthodox churches treasure and celebrates. But while the rest of Christendom was relishing the anniversary, an evil variant of the outpouring of fire was taking place in Owo, an ancient town in Ondo State; a town that has produced two governors of the state (the late Pa Adekunle Ajasin and the sitting Gov Rotimi Akeredolu).

Instead of the Holy Spirit, some “unknown gunmen” believed to be bandits, were pouring hot fire on the innocent worshippers at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Owo. Both hot lead and even bomb explosives were unleashed on the pious worshippers. A wrong fire! At the end of that evil impartation, some 30 or so persons were dead. Surely, it was an evil Pentecost!

The only sin of the people being that they went to worship their God in a church. Nothing else! The various stories of the victims are as chilling as they are infuriating.

It is instructive that the attack came barely 48 hours after Gov Akeredolu had openly insisted that the next president of the country (under the platform of the APC) should come from the South, the north having produced the sitting President Muhammadu Buhari, who, by next May 29, would have served for eight full years. It was a logical and fair demand. It is even more instructive that the attack took place in Akeredolu’s own town. The fortuitous coincidence is too striking to be ignored or dismissed.

Yet, it is not the first time Ondo is coming under such merciless attack from people believed to be Fulani herdsmen. A few years ago, (in August 2017 and November 2020) the farm of an elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, had been attacked, and destroyed by the same assailants. Earlier, on September 21, 2015, Falae himself had been kidnapped by the herdsmen who freed him after some ransom was paid.

On July 13, 2019, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the second daughter of Pa  Reuben Fasoranti was attacked and killed on the way from Akure to Ore by the same Fulani herdsmen.

In the face of the many killings and kidnappings, Gov Akeredolu had issued an order asking all forest-dwelling herdsmen to register and move out of the Ondo forests. I remember how the duo of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and President’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu, issued statements condemning Akeredolu’s orders, mischievously citing sections of the Nigerian constitution that support the freedom to live in any part of the country, even though the constitution did not envisage that people will be living in forests.

Back to the Owo massacre, in a few days, it will be one week since the church was soaked in the blood of its members. There are yet no indications of the arrest of suspects. It may well, so be the end of the story. With the party primaries concluded, the nation is moving on, as the practice is. The frequency of evil acts in the land has so benumbed us. Nothing shocks us anymore. Or haven’t we moved far from the story of Deborah Samuel’s lynching and subsequent burning for alleged blasphemy?

How much more blood do we have to shed to redeem Nigeria from its traducers?

Sadly, the Ondo State government is already thinking of mass burial for the Owo church victims. Hey, why mass burial? They do not deserve to be given mass burial. A decent burial is the least their souls and bodies will require from a country that crushes its jewells.

Timi Alaibe, the Principal, Hits Diamond Mark

Eddy Odivwri

With the soft dimple on his left cheek, you can take him for a fresh university graduate, and you won’t be wrong. But he had long left that stage of life. Some call him Oga, others call him Principal, but his name indeed is Ndutimi Alaibe. Today marks his sixtieth year on planet earth.  And as expected, the carpets are not only being rolled out, the drums are beating and the songs of jubilation are echoing even from the creeks of River Nun. He is my friend and brother.

He has crossed many rivers in life. Perhaps a few more are ahead. But for a few isolated cases, the lines have continued to fall in pleasant places for him. Timi Alaibe had risen from the ashes of a challenged background to tower high in a country where competence and capacity are not exactly rewarded. He has climbed many trees, conquered many territories, and also fought many battles. The late Diepreye Alamyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa State, had once described Timi Alaibe as “a one-tree forest”. God has remained his armour and buckler, as he trudges on in life. Perhaps for him, Wole Soyinka’s book, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, will apply perfectly.  He got off the regular dais long before his contemporaries understood where they were standing. To say he is super smart will be saying the obvious. But above all, he is a candidate of grace and fair fate.

Today, he is not only a proud father, but he is also a grandfather.

To say he is a good man is not only to be expected, but it is indeed an understatement. He ticks all the boxes of a faithful friend. He is with you when the sun is shining and when the rain is falling. He thinks about you and for you. He chimes well in matters of character nobility.

 I join family and friends to celebrate the man with a heart of gold as he steps into the Diamond club today. Happy Birthday sir!

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