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Of defections and counter-narratives

By News Express on 23/08/2018

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We have in recent weeks been struggling with the rough edges of history. The events of 2014 have come alive again, four years after. And the conclusion is simple. Those who should have learned from the lessons of history have failed to do so.

When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party at the time, bled profusely from the wounds of defection, the development was received with mixed feelings. While those who stood to benefit from it applauded it, the losers looked the other way with indifference. They neither taunted nor insulted anyone. They just were not bothered. The defections only made meaning to them after the elections were won and lost.

Significantly, the events of 2014 are repeating themselves. The new ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which benefited from PDP’s loss at that time, is at the receiving end now. The APC, like the PDP of 2014, is bleeding. It has lost some of its key members to the PDP. The tables, you would say, have turned. But there is a difference here. When the PDP was being pummelled as a result of the defections, the party, as I noted earlier, did not do battle with anyone. It overlooked the development. It moved on as if nothing was the matter. But the reverse is the case now. The APC is not that generous. It is not large-hearted about the events of the moment. Rather, it is sounding belligerent and pugnacious. It is daring the defectors to a combat. It is even being pretentious about its misfortune. It is treating the issue with utmost levity, as if it does

not matter. It does not want to face the harsh reality that is staring it nakedly in the face. The party’s national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has not helped matters. He has not shown humility even in the face of adversity. Rather, he is busy flying off the handle and insulting freely those who have turned their back on the APC. Oshiomhole’s brashness in this matter is most impolitic. It is unbecoming of someone that is occupying such a high office. Somebody needs to call the man to order. He is just deepening the woes of his party.

Regrettably, however, Oshiomhole is not about to be bailed out of his delusion. Rather, he is being goaded on by those who ought to call him to order. One such person is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State. Tinubu, from what is going on, is Oshiomhole’s ally. He has joined his party’s national chairman in the war of invectives. Together, they are throwing brickbats at those who do not support the APC and its ways. The other day, Tinubu took on the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State. Saraki and Tambuwal, it should be recalled, were among the heavyweights whose defections from the PDP four years ago significantly weakened the then ruling party. Four years after, they are taking us through the same route. However, the difference this time is that the likes of Tinubu, who welcomed them with open arms four years ago, are at the receiving end now. They are left in the cold now. The shivers are sending shock waves down their spines. It was in this apparent state of trepidation that Tinubu blurted out. He has accused Saraki and Tambuwal of selfishness. He said they left APC because they were not promised automatic return tickets to the offices they occupy. It must be noted, however, that Tinubu’s narratives differ very significantly from what the defectors told us when they left the APC. Essentially, the story has turned out to be one of claims and counter-claims.

But then, Tinubu has, without knowing it, stirred the hornet’s nest. The duo of Tambuwal and Saraki have joined issues with him. And the most telling of the exchanges is the allegation that Tinubu is nursing presidential ambition in 2023. Saraki has told us that Tinubu would support anything and everything about Buhari so that the President would cede power to him at the expiration of the President’s second tenure, that is, if he gets a second chance. Tinubu is yet to refute this allegation. If we take it, as is often said, that silence implies consent, then we need to probe into the mind that is imagining that the South-West can succeed Buhari when power returns to the South in 2023, should Buhari succeed in his second term bid.

Even though Tinubu has not debunked Saraki’s claim on his presidential aspiration, I would prefer to proceed on the assumption that Tinubu is not entertaining such a dream. As a matter of fact, it would be a bad dream for anybody from the South-West to imagine that the zone could produce Nigeria’s President a second time when the South-East has not produced even once. Anybody from the South-West who entertains such a bizarre idea must be an anarchist whose head needs to be examined. The situation in the south of the country is clear to all of us. The South-West and South-South have had their turns at the presidency. It will be the turn of the South-East whenever power returns to the South.

It is not unlikely that whenever issues like this are being reflected upon, some people who are not likely to spare sufficient time for proper introspection might argue that, in the North, only the North-West zone has been taking the turn of the North in this Fourth Republic. But we will be quick to remind them that such a position will be lazy and preposterous. The northern arrangement, if such elements must know, is different from that of the South. Whereas the North is monolithic, especially in matters of politics, the South is not. What defines the South is its fractiousness. That is why it is easy for the North to decide on a political plan and execute it successfully most of the time. The South is never known to

have such an understanding. In other words, whereas what suits the North-West might necessarily suit the other zones of the North, whatever suits one zone of the South is most likely not going to suit the other southern zones.

Besides, Nigeria is structured in such a way that the Igbo nation is a very crucial segment of the federation. Any arrangement, be it political or otherwise, that does not accord the Igbo their central place in Nigeria’s affairs, is bound to fail. One of the reasons why Buhari is a pariah today is because he tried to spite the Igbo. In doing that, the President shot his own feet. His lame duck situation today largely derives from that political miscalculation.

Beyond that, I do know that neither the Yoruba nor the Hausa-Fulani power brokers will contemplate shutting the Igbo out of the political space. Even if a Yoruba mind contemplates that out of sheer misguidedness, saner elements elsewhere in the country will call such a person to order. Tinubu or any other southerner, by whatever name the person is called, cannot therefore aspire to be the President

of Nigeria until the Igbo have taken their turn. I know that Nigeria is still work in progress. The North wants it to work. So does the South. Anything that will rock the boat, I believe, will be avoided like a plague by all concerned.

This column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via

Source News Express

Posted 23/08/2018 5:19:22 PM





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