By Magnus Onyibe
There is a buzz about the internal strife that has recently been bedevilling Aso Rock villa like a ghost.
It is based on the belief that there are numerous pockets of power in the presidency that there appears a process created chaos. This is serious enough to trigger the leadership cataclysm currently besetting Nigeria.
By tugging at each other’s throats, the different power blocks in the seat of power are believed to be working at cross purposes and for selfish interests which do not augur well for effective governance hence the alarming incidents of corruption allegedly surrounding the presidency.
The recent incidents of corruption allegations against Abdulrasheed Maina, the pension czar or felon, as the case may be, and the accusation of Attorney General, Abubakar Malami and Internal Affairs minister, Abdulrahman Danbazau as being complicit in the illegal reinstatement of Maina into the public service from which he was sacked and declared wanted by relevant anti corruption agencies, is the latest of the litany of corruption charges being levied against the presidency.
More specifically, the fact that the Directorate of State Services, DSS, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,National Intelligence Agency, NIA,which have direct reporting lines to President Muhamadu Buhari are investigating each other and presenting damning reports against one another to both Mr president and the National Assembly, NASS, are very disturbing and ominous trend of events that affirm that there may be trouble in Aso Rock villa.
Amongst other concerns, the frosty relationship between the security agencies clearly reflect and reinforce the wise crack “ A house divided can not stand”.
The decay in Aso Rock is so much that even the situation in the state house clinic , which is supposed to be an elite medical facility, had no basic supplies like syringes,while new structures were being constructed, symbolizing the level of sleaze in government.
The abysmal situation prompted the amiable and truth-be-told First Lady Aisha Buhari and her daughter, Zhara to bring to public attention the embarrassing state of State House clinic.
Another fallout of the Aso Rock Villa ‘internecine war’ is the much awaited confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC which is still in abeyance, just as the ownership of N25b found in Foreshore Towers, ikoyi, lagos( NIA ‘safe house’) is yet to be established and the disengagement of suspended pair of Secretary to federal Govt, Babachir Lawal and Directot General of NIA, Dele Oke which came six months after they were investigated. The slow action of the President didn’t speak well of the government.
Worryingly, the foregoing are immutable evidence of a highly fractured national security architecture and perhaps a troubled presidency.
Unsurprisingly ,the apparent fiasco in the seat of power is of dire concern to watchers of power and politics in Nigeria who owing to the sordid development are horrified and aghast.
And obviously,it is also a vulnerability which the opponents of the government in power are capitalizing on .Conventionally, all state security agencies are supposed to be pulling resources (men and materials) together towards achieving a common objective of promoting national security, strengthening stability internally, while projecting strength externally.
But evidence in the public arena indicates that some of the nation’s agencies may be working at cross purposes as they are evidently deeply fractured .
Until the public spat between the three crime prevention, enforcement and management agencies erupted, nobody really knew how disjointed command and control had become in the presidency which the average Nigerian regard as paradise where nothing goes wrong .
And as the popular saying goes ‘the fish starts rotting from the head’.
If Nigeria were a fish, Aso Rock would be the head.
Given all the sleaze and scandal about corruption swirling around which are in the public arena, many developments have posed a sad commentary to this government.
To make matters worse, it is cold comfort that the schism at some top levels appears to be cascading down into the wider polity as reflected in the ‘civil war’ in the All Progressive Party, APC which is the ruling party.
A strong evidence of the unfurling ‘rumble in the jungle’ in APC (remember the famous boxing duel between Mohamed Ali and George Foreman in 1974 in Zaire, Congo) is a very ominous post that l recently received through the social media.
And it goes thus :
“The War Keeps spreading:
Nigerian Broadcasting Cooperation NBC Shuts down Radio Continental Owned By Bola Tinubu.
Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing Oando, an oil company owned and run by Wale Tinubu, a cousin of former Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State.
The War is Spreading from Saraki to Atiku to Tinubu…and the cookies are crumbling…”
Although it is considered a conspiracy theory as it is not factual, it struck a chord in me such that l could not resist sharing it on this platform for whatever it may be worth.
Now, it is the nature of politics that people would input sinister motives into actions that may be unconnected and without malice.
But given the prevailing volatile political atmosphere as 2019 general elections approach , I did not have to scratch my head for long to figure out that the comment must be a political Jab at APC by probably its arch rival, the PDP.
After all, it is such cloak and dagger nature of politics that earns it the ugly appellation of being a dirty game.
In any case, the struggle for power between the five political parties that dissolved into APC reminds of late Bola lge’ ascetic comment about the five fingers of a leprous hand when parties were being formed under General Sanni Abacha’s watch in 1996.
After president Buhari was sworn into office on May 29th 2015, the next line of action which was the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly, NASS provided the opportunity to cascade political power down the ladder.
Being a party that is formed by five distinctive parties with diametrically opposing philosophies which were subsumed by the common goal of supplanting the PDP and particularly then president Goodluck Jonathan, it’s not surprising that APC has become a cauldron of sorts.
Against the grain of thought of the party leadership , Bukola Saraki became the senate president in what can best be described as a coup de’tat of some sort in the Red chamber , just as against the run of play, Yakubu Dogara also assumed the speakership position in the Green chamber in a putsch similar to the one in the senate.
The drama that followed that disruption of the party proposed power matrix are stuff for nollywood movie and does not deserve being mentioned here.
But suffice it to say that trying to reverse the decision of the legislators who exercised their free will to choose their leaders is an equivalent of the grave mistake which the former ruling party, the PDP made when it recognized then plateau state Governor Jona Jang who garnered less votes than Rotimi Amaechi, then governor of rivers state, when both contested for the chairmanship of Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF.
That glaring assault on the fundamental principle of democracy which is that majority carries the votes, remained a fault line until the eventual breakup and dethronement of the PDP as the ruling party.
As soon as Saraki outwitted the APC leadership by defeating the party’s anointed candidate as senate president, he became marked down for political assassination. But being a man with uncanny mettle, Saraki survived the multiple charges of corruption levelled against him.
As such, the noose that was intended to take him to political gallows, as a conviction would have compelled him to resign, failed to snap.
That the political actors who appeared to have looked on with askance or even tacitly or openly supported the pummelling of Saraki by the powers that be, are today victims of similar political chicanery, is remarkably a veritable case study for students of politics.
It is indeed a perfect example of the chicken coming home to roost or what goes around, comes around.
And it calls to mind the very instructive lamentation of Martin Niemoller, German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor (1892-1984) about the events that preceded the German holocaust. He wrote:
“First they came for the Communists.
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists.
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists.
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews.
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me.
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”
The circumstances leading up to the German holocaust which inspired the anti-Nazi priest to philosophize the way he did, bears striking resemblance to the brewing political storm in the APC, albeit in smaller dimension.
That is because unlike the horrific loss of lives through the holocaust, only political influence and power may be lost when the Hurly-burly is done in APC.
The situation which calls for introspection compels two pertinent questions:
In the current politically combustible atmosphere whereby the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, , is being left in the lurch,(as his former allies desert him for greener pastures) who will speak out for him?
With former Vice President Atiku Abubakar now an endangered political specie after he declared his intention to run again fur the presidency and as Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA cancels the multi billion Naira contract with Intel, a firm in which he has significant interest, who will speak out for him?
As 2019 circle of elections ramps up and more politicians throw their hats into the ring,would the current cat fights not degenerate?
The question is elicited by the fact that all the demons in the political cauldron which had retracted their fangs have started baring them like werewolf in season baying desperately for blood.
Need l remind all that the more the internecine war rages, the less the potential of APC returning as the ruling party in 2019?
In one of my previous articles titled “The Inconvenient Truth About The APC” published widely about two years ago, l predicted dire consequences for the APC as a result of not following the entity formation principle of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing as enunciated by by Bruce Tuchman.
The ruling party deliberately avoided the very critical storming stage which could have provided the true test of the cohesiveness or otherwise of the amalgamated parties.
This stems from the fact that it is at the Storming stage that the real interests of the collaborating parties ACN,CPC,and ANPP and PDP factions which formed the APC union, could have been pushed.
And where else to engage in such political horse trading than the party convention which is a veritable platform?
For instance, two years after key aspects of the convention were suspended to avoid the internal strife that it could have sparked, party executive offices such as board of trustees, BOT post etc have remained vacant.
That perhaps explains why APC members expectant of a national convention earlier than the pending date, can be said to have been waiting for Godot like the case in the mythical folkloric play by Samuel Beckett titled WAITING FOR GODOT in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for the arrival of someone called Godot who never arrives.
But clearly, the legacy parties that dissolved into the APC which were ordinarily strange bed fellows, preferred to unite against Goodluck Jonathan and PDP by deciding to suspend the projection of their narrow ethnic and religious agendas, just to upend PDP’s trenchant control of government at the centre for uninterrupted sixteen years.
Unsurprisingly, the opportunity to return to the storming stage which it bucked for the reasons stated earlier, has remained frozen over two years after..
The closest the APC will be to its day of reckoning, which got frozen in time in excess of two years, would be next Wednesday,November 1, 2017 when the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC meeting would be holding in Aso Rock villa , Abuja.
Mr President does not need a sooth sayer to alert him to the fact that the motivational zeal of 2015 of party members , which was to first and foremost kick out Goodluck Jonathan and PDP and then share power later, has now evaporated.
A recent comment by ACN former chairman and ex interim chairman of APC , Bisi Akande that the presidential ticket for the party is open for contest in 2019 and the counter statements from notable northern leaders and Buharists might be foreshadowing the storm ahead.
The truth is that things have fallen apart within the APC and the centre can no longer hold -apologies to Chinua Achebe.
In the light of the foregoing, if we would allow conventional wisdom to be our guide, avoiding having a difficult conversation owing to its possible nasty outcome, which amounts to postponing the evil day, is an ideal recipe for disaster waiting to happen.
And unfortunately, that is what APC is increasingly tending towards right now.
Unless some fundamental decisions, like taking a clear position on the need to restructure the political architecture of the nation or devolution of more power to the states are made unequivocally; and definite efforts to shorn the presidency of the cloak of corruption with which it is currently draped is made and seen to have been made fairly and justly, the APC may be heading for its Waterloo in 2019 .
Pessimists aver that president Buhari is unbending, as such he may not change his hard stance.
As an optimist, my counter argument is that he was initially against increase in petroleum pump price, but eventually allowed a raise that has facilitated its steady availability; he hated Naira devaluation with perfect hatred,but the Nigerian currency is now half the nominal value before he took over the mantle and Nigerians are looking more inwards for alternatives to imports; when president Buhari came to power, the tirades about Nigeria being a ‘fantastically corrupt’ country was fashionable and therefore rent the air, within and outside Nigeria resulting in flight of capital. Now Nigerians both home and abroad have regained a bit of respect. Similarly,anti corruption war, fighting insurgency and resuscitation of the economy were the three point agenda of government and in that order of priority.
Along with the sudden drop in the price of crude oil, the economy went into recession because it was not accorded the top priority attention that it deserved.
Today, things have changed a bit because instead of the Itse Sagay led presidential committee on anti corruption, which seem to have the mindset that all Nigerians are corrupt until proven innocent, (an attitude that has tarnished Nigeria’s image gravely) a robust economic team led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been inaugurated and it has taken the centre stage . And fittingly, strengthening the economy has taken pre-eminence as president Buhari’s development agenda has shown bountiful improvements.
Owing to the new approach numerous executive orders including ease of doing business and promotion of local content in procurements, are being signed into law by president Buhari. As a result, the hitherto ailing economy which was in intensive care unit, lCU is now in the recovery room as Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS is now reporting modest positive growth of 1.5% in the past two quarters of the year .
Going by the hard stance taken in the past by president Buhari ,and how he has become more accommodating as catalogued above, it may be safe to conclude that he is really not as unbending as most people are wont to believe.
He probably needs to be persuaded or convinced more with superior argument before he can endorse a recommended policy initiative, and that is a matter of style .
- Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist and alumnus of Fletcher School of Law Diplomacy, Tufts university, Massachusetts, USA is a former member of Delta State Cabinet.
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