Presidential Red Carpet for Political Irritants

It is becoming clearer as the days passed by that those who are seeing President Muhammadu Buhari in his pre-IBB’s years garb may be right. Some of us had expected that his adventure into partisan politics in the early 2000s would have by now transformed Baba Go Slow into a democrat. Nearly two decades of his partisan political intercourse, the Nigerian leader does not appear to be concerned about growing a culture of political discipline in the country. He is rather, encouraging a culture of political indiscipline, and the continuous gyration of the country’s political masquerades.

By the character of persons driving them, it is hard to profile the dominant parties in Nigeria in terms of ‘’a little to the right and a little to the left’’. Apparently dissatisfied with the internal political deportment of the All Nigeria Progressives Party (ANPP), one of the coalition parties making up All Progressives Congress (APC), Buhari stormed out and floated Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), also one of the APC coalition parties. CPC attracted disciples like Nasir El-Rufai who is dominating the affairs of Kaduna State as governor, and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello. By its signpost, CPC easily struck one as a progressive political party.

But, with what we are seeing of President Buhari, the messiah of CPC in APC and Governors El-Rufai and Bello, is like the word ‘’progress’’ has a different meaning in Nigeria’s politics. For instance, the slogan of road transport workers union is ‘’Up Progress’’. Like Buhari’s CPC cum APC, it seems there is nothing progressive about them. If President Buhari is a progressive political leader, why is he encouraging a gale of defection into his party? Does a culture of zig and zag defection encourage the emergence of strong political institutions in Nigeria?

On Wednesday, President Buhari against the run of protocol, rolled out a red carpet to receive the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, who defected to APC. With the way the president is going about it, it will not be surprising if he abandons pressing state issues to welcome defecting commissioners, councillors, and ward officials into his party at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

One of the main reasons that sparked the Buhari coup in the Second Republic was this nasty defection thing. Seems the handlers of the president are not arming him with the facts of history. Some of us are beginning to fear for what history will say of Buhari as Nigeria’s president who appears to be suffering from memory loss. Has President Buhari forgotten about how the Akin Omoboriowo helped in making military intervention possible and his subsequent emergence as Head of State?

Omoboriowo, January 12, 1932 – April 10, 2012, was a lawyer and Deputy Governor of Ondo State. In the build-up to the compromised 1983 polls, he defected from the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), a disciplined and well-organised progressive party, to the conservative National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and contested for the governorship election of 1983 in Ondo. He was initially declared the winner but was disputed and later reversed by a court of appeal before he could take office.

Omoboriowo was elected deputy governor on UPN platform, running with Pa Michael Ajasin, a loyal Awoist who became governor. During his period as deputy governor, he fell out with Ajasin, who refused to swear him into power as acting governor when Ajasin was away from the state.\

The wild cat uprising that greeted the purported electoral outcome of the Ondo governorship poll was second only to the Wet è revolts in Western Nigeria. In the midst of the political saga, soldiers again aborted civil rule with their coup December 31, 1983 coup that brought General Buhari to power, and almost all the former governors and their deputies were jailed.

Buhari’s new convert, Okeke was, however, led to the president by the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, and his Imo State counterpart, Hope Uzodinma. Before now, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has always maintained that the violence in his state is politically inspired by his fellow governors in their political bloc. Obiano’s claim is now making better sense.

Shortly after the new APC convert was presented to President Buhari, a supposed progressive messiah, Governor Uzodinma briefed State House correspondents, expressing confidence that there will be more defections to the ruling party before the November 6 governorship election to be conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Anambra.

Uzodinma who has been facing a credibility crisis, however, faulted claims by Governor Obiano that members of the state House of Assembly who defected from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) were financially induced to join the ruling party, stressing that rather than enticing the lawmakers with money, they were lobbied through persuasion and counselling.

APGA has, however, dismissed as inconsequential, the defection of Okeke APC. In a statement from Awka, Anambra state capital, APGA National Publicity Secretary, Tex Okechukwu, said the defection was long expected, pointing out that the new APC convert had thought that the governor and the party were going to hand over the governorship ticket of the party to him on a platter.

While claiming “when that didn’t happen, he started behaving abnormally, even to the point of insubordination and dereliction of duties”, APGA said the deputy governor left the party without formally notifying the party or the state governor, adding that the move was uncalled for, ill-timed and ill-advised.

According to APGA, the governor had always treated his deputy with respect, love and consideration, and called on party members to remain united and ensure victory in the November 6 governorship election as well as on Obiano not to be distracted by the defection of his deputy, which it claimed was a ploy to create a semblance of disunity in his government.

“Let nobody be deceived, APC has no root anywhere in Anambra and that is why all that they do is going about luring political deadwood with money and other lucres. No matter the designs of the opposition and other subterranean forces, APGA is poised to win the forthcoming election and continue with the massive infrastructural development going on in the state”, the party said.

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