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Perhaps Buhari can still do something

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President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: BAYO OMOBORIOWO

Is it safe now to say all is well that ends well – that President Muhammadu Buhari has put out the fire that had threatened to engulf his party? I honestly think it is too early in the day to answer this question in the affirmative.

Perhaps the president can still do something to quell the fire that the Abubakar Baraje-led bloc in the ruling APC ignited by the petition it sent on April 27 this year to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the national chairman of APC. At this clearly inauspicious time, it does not require a clairvoyant to tell the ruling party that this fire has the potential of burning its house down to its foundation even though some rabid apparatchik of the party and the Buhari administration would not admit that it had such a catastrophic force.

Some of these dissenters like Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former governor of Nasarawa State and Nasir El Rufai, governor of Kaduna State and his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje had told the party and the president to ignore them, saying something to the effect that they had no case, they were not marginalised and, in any case, many of them, like Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, had got more than they deserved. Or that politically they are a spent force.

Called the nPDP, the group led by the former acting chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and the then secretary of the party, retired Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola had rebelled against their party in 2013, to join the newly formed APC.

It was, for all practical purposes, a political earthquake of monumental proportions which sounded the death knell of PDP. When the break-away faction fused with the newly formed APC, it helped to galvanise its nationwide support and appeal. This helped in no small way to ensure the victory of Buhari, its presidential candidate.

But sensing that they had been left in a lurch, three years after the take-off of the Buhari administration, the group, like political orphans, met to do what it considered expedient in the circumstances – write a petition to draw the attention of the party and the presidency to their plight.

They complained that their contribution which led to the victory of the APC candidate had not been acknowledged. It gave the party a seven day notice, not ultimatum, to have an audience with them or there would be consequences. What they would do if their demands were not met, they would not say. At least not so soon. But considering the political upheaval their departure from the PDP had caused, it would have amounted to a political suicide to ignore them.

In this group, it bears recounting, are such political juggernauts like Senate President Saraki, his counterpart in the House, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his predecessor in the House, Aminu Tambuwal, now governor of Sokoto State, Senators Rabiu Kwankwaso, Mohammed Aliero, Shehu Sani, Admiral Murtala Nyakko, former PDP chairman, Barnabas Gemade and Senator Dino Melaye, just to mention a few.

That the APC National Working Committee did not dilly-dally before meeting them shows responsibility and maturity, not panic as some would want us to believe. By quickly responding to their request for a meeting and even acknowledging that they had genuine grievances that could be addressed, the party leaders had sufficiently doused the anger of the aggrieved.

The presidency, to underscore the need to dialogue and possibly to stop history from repeating itself, threw its doors wide open to the group. As of the time of writing, Professor Yemi Osinbajo had met with them and they were due to have a follow-up discussion with President Buhari.

Though it was not immediately possible to know the full details of the discussion, one thing is certain. Both sides displayed maturity and political sagacity to have allowed common sense to play a role. Arrogance of power and a finger-in–your-face kind of impunity could only have inflamed passion and worsened the already bad situation.

In the first place, if the needful was done by the party and the government, and done without much procrastination, this feeling of marginalisation and neglect would not have arisen.

But the Baraje group is not alone. There are other people in other places who are bearing their own plight in silence. But it is getting pretty late in the day to reconcile with such people who also made personal sacrifice for the party and the success of its candidates but who have been left equally in the lurch.

Not only that they have been forgotten, like in the North Central zone of Benue and Kogi states, the citizens have also been left to suffer in the hands of kidnappers, herdsmen and an assortment of armed bandits and other criminal gangs.

Like the Baraje led group, these countless others, who have remained voiceless, also abandoned the PDP and embraced the APC hoping for change – a change for the better, not for the worse. Three years after, they now live to tell tales of anguish, of political intolerance, of abject poverty occasioned by gross official incompetence and blatant maladministration.

Those of them who are still in employment have no regular salaries. And the rural folks can no longer go to their farms for fear of being killed by herdsmen. And yet, there is government. And in a few months from now, the political parties, including the APC, will have a story to tell them, stories of how entrenched corruption had been under PDP and how those who were victims of corruption could have no immediate salvation; at least not now and not in the immediate future.

Governments usually give hope, hope that tomorrow would be better. But not any more. They cannot give what they don’t have. Certainly another variant of these political orphans today litter the rural areas and they may be dying a slow but painful death.

The Baraje re-awakening petition to the president may not take care of them. Whatever concessions they may extract from President Buhari can only help to mollify the anger of the super elite.

The question, therefore, is who takes care of those who cannot get the ears of Mr. President but who will, in the next few months, be called upon into the rain or the sun to carry out their civic duties?

Where government works, where politicians keep their promises, where there is a feeling of empathy by the leaders for the down-trodden, you don’t need a Baraje petition to clobber those in power to do the right thing.

But where the reverse is the case, where governments seem clearly to have failed them, the people, like in the Hobbesian state of nature, are forced to engage in self-help. Knowing that their lives have become brutish, nasty and short, they are forced to take up arms – all in a war against all.

May be there is hope, hope that President Buhari, in the short time that remains, can still do something dramatic to show that he still has some feeling for the poor and the abandoned, those who invested so much trust in his capacity and integrity, those who thought that he was different, that he was not like the others. He must, for their sake, find time to rise to the occasion holding firmly to a silver bullet.


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