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All is well in the national interest

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The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo


Whereas the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had wanted to rule for only 60 years with the opposition still standing, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has no time limit. It wants to rule alone forever and without the PDP or other opposition parties. Its chairman and former governor of Edo State who still loves the appellate Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has said the PDP will go into extinction by the end of the 2019 general elections.

I don’t know what the PDP is thinking about this threat. I want to advise it that it is real. The 2019 outing is not going to be about protecting democracy. If anything, it will be a battle to kill democracy and Comrade Oshiomhole who sees himself as an undefeated hero of many battles is determined to win again. He is currently on a house-to-house recruitment of former PDP war generals. He just secured two strong ones from the South-South geo-political zone; Godson Akpabio from Akwa Ibom State and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from Delta State. Grapevine says former Gov. James Ibori also of Delta State is next.

The PDP should also understand that the APC has weapons of mass destruction. The INEC, EFCC and the police are intimidating WMDs. The PDP does not even own one serviceable artillery tank not to talk of WMDs. Its only weapon is hope. The hope that the permanent voter cards (PVCs) will count and 76-year old President Muhammadu Buhari will be voted out by Nigerians for his bad policies. That is like hoping too much because the heavens will only help those who are prepared.

I say this for the PDP to understand that the APC in the last general election had a perfect strategy in addition to hope. The mainstream narrative that Nigerians had become tired of the bad governance of Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP and so voted in Buhari was just putting things in ethical perspective. The party had played well and rough too to score goals. And I can explain part of its strategy for free.

First, the APC had ensured, through propaganda, that no matter how hard the PDP camp tried to shake it off, the tag of cluelessness and incompetence stuck with Jonathan. They went further to recruit an astute salesman, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to reposition Buhari into a saleable democratic product. He did it so well that even Professor Wole Soyinka and his band of watchdogs lowered their guard in a moment of ecstasy and joined Tinubu to say that, after all, snow could be sold for good money to the Eskimos.

The next step was a lot more scientific. It was the strategy that made the collection of PVCs by voters far more effective in the war-ravaged Northeast and the North generally than in the three zones of the South. The North with its known disadvantages in education suddenly became more alive to the concept of universal adult suffrage than the densely populated Southeast and Southwest with the highest concentration of professors per square kilometre in the country.

For instance, whereas Kebbi and Katsina, both at the bottom of school enrolments and examination ranking, had millions of registered voters, Ogun and Abia had a few hundred thousand voters. Also, while card reader accreditation was not an issue in the North, enabling Kano and many Northern States to record as high as 80 per cent voters’ accreditation, the average in the entire South was about 50 per cent as a result of a more stringent compliance with the bio-metric accreditation rule.
Everything was within the context of the bigger strategy of the Hausa- Fulani establishment since Independence to fraudulently create and hold on to any demographic advantage for purposes of power acquisition and resource appropriation. A subtext in the 2015 calculations was the elite conspiracy to put INEC and whatever it did under Professor Attahiru Jega beyond reproach. Consequently, the impression has stuck till date that the polls were the best to be conducted since 1999, in spite of some of the extremely difficult-to-explain aspects such as the massive votes returned in Kano and most of the northern states that conflicted in some cases with the number of registered voters.

Even now, the PVC denial strategy is not off the table not minding that President Buhari had pledged a commitment to free and fair elections in 2019 to the visiting British Prime Minister, Theresa May, last Wednesday. For obvious reason (Nigerians just want to intervene in their own lives), the enthusiasm to participate this time around is unprecedented. Unfortunately, registration and collection of the PVC is not as simple as INEC is making it to look through its voter education programme.
One does not move to any INEC designated centre and get it done. It takes almost forever and except those who are bent on making a statement in 2019 in spite of the frustrations, many people are saying the anticipated benefits are not worth the effort! Some people are actually bribing to get around it and field officials of INEC are enjoying every bit of the illegal trade.

The bigger implication here is that many Nigerians will be technically disenfranchised in the end as only those that could struggle by fair and foul means to secure PVCs that may vote. INEC’s records have continued to show greater collection of PVC in the North than in the South. General election is not same as national census. Only registered voters count in elections. Naturally, final outcomes will follow the pattern of voter population as captured by the electoral body. Sorry, I am just trying to see if there is a correlation between a strategy to win election and the current difficulties in PVC collection in some parts of the country.

If there is, then it is a clinical fix because not even the courts of the land have developed the jurisprudence to interrogate the anomaly that would arise from such scientific denial of the rights of the electorate. I had contemplated transferring my polling unit from my village where I registered to Lagos but I had to change my mind at realising it would be less trouble to pay the cost to travel home to vote during the elections than to begin the process of the transfer to Lagos.

I am not begrudging the APC for its decision to kill the PDP by all means possible. It does not concern me if the PDP lives or dies. Actually, the PDP deserves to die for bringing so much misery upon Nigerians. It is just that everything considered, the APC which in the first place, is part of the misery that the PDP unleashed on Nigerians, deserves even much worse fate. If the PDP hand governed well, there wouldn’t have been need for the APC’s change.

And so if you ask me, I would say on the restitution scale, while the PDP could be killed and even given a small burial, the APC should not only be killed but burnt (not cremated which pre-supposes some honour) and its ashes used to make black native soap to wash Nigerians clean. That done, we can now start the search for new ways to institutionalise democracy outside the demons from both sides bent on demonising it.

At the start of this democracy in 1999, there was a forum of state governors called the Under 50. Tinubu, Lucky Igbinedion, Donald Duke, Orji Kalu, Niyi Adebayo, James Ibori and a couple of others were members of the forum. Collectively, they saw their youthfulness and the attendant vibrancy it should bring to bear in governance as advantages in the journey to national rebirth.

Today, almost all the under 50s in 1999 are under 70s. They still have not cut the path to national rebirth. In fact, they are still the dominant work-force among new entrants groping in the endless jungle called Nigeria for a head way. Project another 50 years into tomorrow and none of these people would be around in absolute terms. Yet they operate today as if the country and democracy would end with them. In dealing ruthlessly with us, they do not spare any thought for tomorrow and even their own children.

Meanwhile, the APC’s membership conscription policy is complicating matters. The party has decided to define democracy all alone. Any politician that is not in the APC is either a thief or a troubler of the Nigerian democracy. In reaction, people are inventing ridiculous reasons (like the type given by my uncle, Emmanuel Uduaghan for parting ways with his former party) to join the APC.

On the side, the EFCC is actively collaborating on all fronts in the on-going degradation of democracy. The commission goes about with a smoke jar in hand searching for rodents that have allegedly eaten too much of public food. It rattles them out from hiding and in that state of complete disorientation and gasp for oxygen, an offer is immediately made by Comrade Oshiomhole – join APC and live or stay in your hole and be smoked to death.

They want to live. They have also acted in the national interest which has been redefined to mean support for Buhari and the APC. And so, if Sambo Dasuki and El Zakzaky decide today to act in national interest and join the APC to work for the re-election of Buhari in 2019, who knows, they can gain instant transformation from dissidents to patriots. And since it has been declared that even the rule of law can suffer in the national interest, the membership conscription to ensure the survival of the APC ahead of 2019 is in national interest.One national interest has been defined. It is now left for the PDP to define its own national interest with real signs and wonders or collapse into the APC to maintain one national interest, which is the continued survival of President Buhari.


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