Many observers of Nigerian politics and politicians would have been wondering what is happening. They would have surmised that the only interest in heaven is self-interest!
Otherwise why would suicide bombers crave death to obtain unhindered copulation access to 72 virgins (male and female), or why would devotees of many world religions deny themselves of all earthly gratification except because it means eternity of toil-less opulence, probably at the expense of the angels. In Nigeria, the sure guarantee of similar nirvana is playing out in our very eyes: it is the cross carpeting, carpet barging, shifting of alliances overnight and midnight, leading to the interbreeding, cross breeding and miscegenation of strange bed fellows.
APC marked an unexpected, but most salutary development in Nigerian political landscape. It was the divine answer to Nigeria’s masses of dispossessed, harassed and inveigled population, who have suffered in silence for over half a century of the promise of true independence from colonialism. It meant, in the mind of the people of Nigeria, a new dawn, a change, a shift and a radical departure from the quagmire in which Nigeria was festooning, decaying from all angles, to the point whereby the centre was not holding, as discordant notes pervaded the hallowed halls of the Presidency to the point whereby an incumbent President who had opposed National Dialogue, National Conference, National Question, suddenly became the purveyor of same, while the seams seem to be falling into tatters because discontent has overrun the land and insurgency seem the only means of expression that is taken seriously.
All of a sudden it seems that the forces of good were gaining the upper hand over the forces of evil by the formation of a formidable coalition to wrestle the country from the invading pestilence in the name of PDP.
The voracious, rapacious and insatiable vampires (PDP Government over almost two decades) who have converted the commonwealth into prey ground, from which to draw the last drip of life-blood, suddenly found that they are endangered by a conscious, self-aware and time-sensitive band of vilified, abused and almost vanquished population who refuse to play dead, who decide that they have more stake in the commonwealth than just the investment in one single lifespan, but in the securing of potential for the survival of one’s posterity, and who have come together to form a formidable opposition determined to wrest power from the occupying forces of destruction.
The APC was not an overnight phenomenon. It was also not accidental. Nor was it just a flash in the pan. In fact, the history of Nigeria has always pointed in the direction of a unity of purpose, a common realization of the common humanity of all Nigerians and the fact that, as people linked over many millennia, before outsiders and intruders marred the terrain of consanguinity and mutual respect for the lives and cultures of each other, there was only one way our ancestors would have reacted to the perfidy of governance that was being perpetrated on Nigeria, which was to throw off the yoke of oppression and insanity that has taken over the land, by rejecting once and for all the PDP and its emissaries of doom. It brought together a new leash of life, assuring and edifying, with the capacity to garner support of the youth, the women and the oppressed workers whose existence have been so compromised that they have stopped dreaming of a better tomorrow. APC brought together a totally different kind of alliance for saving the young and the unborn from being condemned to perpetual servitude to other people and eviscerating migrations to other lands.
Come to think of it: there was a time in Nigeria when the public service of Nigeria was the pride of Africa, the Nigeria media was the forerunner in all aspects of information dissemination, the Nigerian educational institutions, especially of higher learning, were centres of excellence, to which intellectuals from the furthest reaches of the globe thronged for study, research and teaching. Even more significant was the fact that there was a time in Nigeria when people called taxis from home in Ibadan and Lagos, and virtually many homes in many parts of Nigeria had land telephones, piped portable water, proper sanitary facilities.
That was a time when the Eastern Luxury Transport Buses wandered the land unhindered and the trains ran on time from North to South and East, with the sleeper and canteen sections being wonderful experiences for travelers.
Of course, that was also a time when our public commentators and writers of op eds wrote good, smooth and educative prose.
They did not struggle to become Soyinka or Achebe, as they had no need for that, but they communicated without subjecting the readers and audience to angst and guffaws of, “what happened”! We are not talking of another planet, continent or country! We are talking about Nigeria (in Africa) within the last generation!
Fast forward, and you see the decay everywhere: the first to lose it were the army, who, instead of protecting the population they swore to protect, became an occupation force, determined to turn their lethal training on maiming and emasculating physically, psychologically and spiritually their compatriots. By laying the bloody civilian population prostrate, they were able to cart away to their own dens the resources of the commonwealth unchallenged.
The police, seeing that they were capable of getting a piece of the action without any consequences and unchallenged in any form, quickly allied themselves with the agents of terror and they have become extortionists, taking without receipt and vandalizing without remorse.
Collectively we became a people without standards. We lost our ability to attain excellence, and we settled for collective mediocrity. And we courted and accommodated with strange ideologies and ways of existence, thereby breeding the kinds of heartless, meaningless and purposeless destructive agents of doom by way of insurgents, kidnappers, armed bandits, kleptocrats, senators, representa-thieves and assassins.
When we changed military dictatorship for the democratic dispensation, the only difference was that we now have more demoncrats, with their snouts in the trough of national resources. But with non-accountability as the only game in town, teachers and professors, medical doctors and other professionals, artisans and artistes, all found that the only way to accumulate unearned wealth is through public service: to be a director in the public service meant to be a mini budget controller without any oversight and to leave the professoriate to become a local government chairperson meant becoming lord over direct federal vote! Nigeria produced so much wealth to enrich the few, while the masses were doomed to squalor!
When the history of APC is written surely pages of gratitude to those who believed that Nigeria could be a better place for our descendants will be gilt-edged with accolades. But now is not the time, as the work is not yet done, and Nigeria is still deep in rut, because the vagabonds in power (VIPs) would not willingly let the voices of reason and sanity to prevail, without a fight. It would mean they would have to lose their unearned privileges, as “Nigeria is probably the only country in the world in which adult children of rogues parade the stolen wealth of their depraved parents without remorse or shame, and with no legal consequences.” Why would they want this to end?
What then has this to do with carpet crossing, carpet barging and shifting alliances for the APC? Why does APC need to be careful of these strange bed fellows? What is the danger afoot?
Well, it is simple! From our analysis above, it is clear that the handwriting is on the wall that the old order of lawlessness in Nigeria must come to a screeching halt, as it is unsustainable! Would you not do the same if that was the way to nirvana? What better way to launder your loot than to ally with the new powers to be?
This is why APC needs to be cautious in taking in the decadent gang from the old order. While it is important for APC to be a mass movement for the sake of our children, determined to liberate Nigeria from the embrace of death of the Vagabonds in Power (VIPs), yet APC does not need some of the unrepentant crazolas seeking accommodation within a new government!
Even more dangerous is the discontent that APC may foment in the rank of loyal persons who have suffered indignities under the old order, who are now being asked to step aside for the people who have crippled the state and national governance structures.
APC does not need these persons to win the elections that are impending, and to compromise the chances of the youth of this country would be the greatest disservice that we can do to the poor, the women and the vulnerable masses whose only lot over the last two decades has been complete dehumanization.
What remains missing, from where we stand, is an enunciated ideological compass, to drive and sustain the struggle of the people against the rampaging corruption of PDP government. That APC has not highlighted in detail and clear terms such a road map to governance, probably for strategic reasons, is understandable.
Some of us who have been privy to the ferment of intellectual ideas which gave rise to APC know that such a road map, compass or ideology exist. What needs to be done now is to begin a careful unveiling of this, through declarations against non-accountability, ineptitude, resource pillage and all forms of extremism.
In politics, appearance is reality, and APC need to avoid guilt by association – avoid criminal bedfellows to avoid the tar of vicarious criminality which will mar image and tarnish the credibility of the leadership of the new party, becoming an albatross on the neck of APC. The leadership of APC must learn from the gaffs of the late Sage Obafemi Awolowo and the ebullient MKO Abiola, so that it must guard what is said or done on its behalf and by whom: For, “bi owo eni o ba i te eku ida, a kii beere iku to pa baba eni”!
This simply means that when one does not have control of power, one should not begin do an inquest into one’s father’s demise. The future is promising for Nigeria; that is if all the unimaginable natural and human, cultural and spiritual resources of the country can be harnessed to fend for the masses of the people, and move the people to positively respect each other and work together for the mutual benefit of all Nigerians, regardless of clime, ethnicity, faith or gender.
Professor Tunde Bewaji: contributed this piece from the Ubiversity of the West Indies Kingstions 7, Jamaica