A danse macabre
Nothing seems interesting anymore about politics and governance in our nation. The political landscape has been unstable. Politicians, who once held sway in the supercilious Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have begun their palongo (scattered legs) dance by taking shameless refuge in the tentative All Progressives Congress (APC), either for protection from the searchlight of the anti-graft agencies or for opportunities to seek elective and appointive offices.
Governance, on the other hand, has been largely uninspiring and this is accentuated by the fact that a vast majority of Nigerians find it difficult to cope with current economic realities. Living standard has nose-dived and abject poverty has become much more endemic. There is crying disconnect between the government and the governed, giving rise to all manner of citizens protests. The atmospherics and nuances of governance have left many Nigerians flummoxed as to the destination the nation is headed.
Opposition that is needed to put the APC government on its toes is unintelligent. Besides, the PDP has been unable to assume a vibrant oppositional role. The party is bogged down by self-inflicted crisis, which elements of the ruling party may have, understandably, continued to stoke. If care is not taken, the crisis may deny the PDP an opportunity to reclaim presidential power in 2019.
In a worst case scenario, will the PDP be able to coordinate a new alliance to change the ruinous change that has become our lot? Those sympathetic to the party contend that it will be sad if the initiative to rescue the nation from the clutches of a non-performing APC is coordinated by a brand new party without the PDP as strategic rallying hub. The party’s on-going dance of death is a big setback.
Similarly, the APC is digging its grave through non-performance and angry Nigerians are eagerly looking forward to February 16, 2019 to determine its fate. Verdict 2019! The party and its Federal Government, as it were, are more plagued by internal crises than the opposition PDP. The prosecution of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the executive arm of government at the Code of Conduct Tribunal is symptomatic of the APC’s misguided steps. The battle to bring Saraki down has the backing of his party and government. His real offence was that he contested and won election to become senate president in spite of them.
The call by the Senate for the sack of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, over award of N220 million grass-cutting contract to his company by the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) is another symptom of dissonance.
Yet another is the decision by the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who has been twice rejected by the Senate for allegedly failing the integrity test, to continue in office, at the behest of the president. Interestingly, the security report on which the senate anchored its decision was written by the Department of State Services (DSS), a sister security agency under the same Presidency.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) and the Senate are also having a running battle. Ali has been managing the affairs of the NCS like a sole administrator, refusing to heed Senate’s directive to wear the uniform and rank of comptroller-general even when he has fully embraced the perks of the office and position. Ali had also shunned and dodged Senate’s invitation.
The attorney general and minister of justice had written to the lawmakers to apprise the Senate of a court case on the issue which makes it impossible for Ali to honour its invitation until after the determination of the suit by the court. The Senate has, in the interim, suspended the customs new policy on payment of unpaid duties on imported vehicles, which was the reason for Ali’s invitation. The animosity festers.
Amid the sordid scenario, the Senator Dino Melaye absurdity played out. His claim that he completed his undergraduate study in the Department of Geography at the Ahmadu Bello University was questioned through some media reports, about the time the senate president reportedly imported an armoured Range Rover vehicle without paying the correct customs duties. Further aggravation!
Former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who recently lost his position for contradicting the positions of the Senate, caused the Senate to refer the allegations to the committee on ethics and privileges. At the end of the investigation, Melaye and the Senate President were absolved. Melaye did the ridiculous: on the following legislative day, he wore an academic gown to the chamber. He also went on the social media with his jekun iya ni o je song and dance to mock his failed traducers.
For daring to bring up the issues on the floor, Senate suspended Ndume for six months, thus widening the gulf of dissension within the APC. Consider also the onslaught by the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) on the Senate: he said the Senate was filled with questionable characters.
Sagay, a Federal Government appointee, has dismissed Senate invitation to him as illegal, meaning he would not honour it. He had also made it clear to the APC, which called him to order, to excuse him since he is not a member of the party but an appointee of Buhari. More fuss!
Adamawa governor, Jibrilla Bindow, has issued a threat, through his Chief of Staff, Abdulrahaman Jimeta, to the APC that the state might jump ship if in matters of federal appointments from the state, the Federal Government continues to act without consulting the leadership of the party in the state. In a similar development, Minister of Women Affairs from Taraba State, Senator Aisha Alhassan, has upbraided the APC and the Buhari government for abandoning the state in terms of federal appointments.
There is no end yet to the growing tension. The remonstrations are spreading. The ground is becoming more and more slippery for the APC. The confusion, ego trip, muscle-flexing and impunity within constitute the seeds of the party’s looming destruction. It took impunity and the exit of five governors from the PDP in 2013 to set it up for defeat in the 2015 presidential election. Is the APC learning from history or not?
Rather than embrace compromise and sacrifice, influential political blocs are squaring off and actually doing battles with the cabals or governments within the Buhari government in supremacy and survival contests. Governance is suffering. The people are unhappy and many blame themselves for voting for change that has turned out, in their perception, to be the greatest scam in Nigeria’s recent political history.
A needless danse macabre continues to define the ecology of the APC government; and, Nigerians are justifiably eager to undertake the interment of the party in the 2019 general elections, just like they did to the PDP in 2015. Will the APC avert a repeat of history? Time will tell.
Ojeifo writes from Abuja