APC: Between South-West leadership and Young Turks
From the analytical point of view, pressure-groups, protests, mutiny, militancy/insurgency or terrorism are synonymous with political struggle for power. The conclusion that this leads us to is that struggle for power was surely the precept of some members of the “Yong Turks” at the South-West All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders meeting held in Ibadan a few weeks ago. Sunday Tribune subsequently referred to the Young Turks as “the President’s men in the South-West.” With a label like, suffice it to say that “a word is enough for the wise.” The tabloid went further to say: “They demonstrated this position of party supremacy during last November governorship election in Ondo State by openly supporting the party candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu and inspiring him to victory.”
Evidently, the Tribune has categorised some APC leaders in the South-West as not the president’s men, meaning that there are dangerous factions emerging from the complications of leadership-bitterness, envy and fear of the unknown in the APC hierarchy. But political watchers have different views about the claims by the Young Turks. Analysts are saying that prior to that election, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, a controversial Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, held a formidable PDP aspirant, Mr. Jegede to a standstill by court order. So, because of political uncertainty and the excesses of the PDP ruling party in Ondo State, the followers of many notable team players in the state PDP crossed to APC on their leaders’ instructions and their leaders followed suit after APC’s victory in Ondo State.
Sincerely, no group could credit that victory to its solo effort or supremacy. For instance, the controversial victory of Rotimi Akeredolu in the party’s primary for that election was not an additional mark to the claims of supremacy by the Young Turks.
The claim of “President’s men in the S/West” is an omen of polarity and a gang up that can cause tension in the APC. No doubt, the desire of any real practising politician is to clinch power at any opportunity or, if possible, use any of the aforementioned political synonyms to achieve it. When politicians are struggling to take over power, they accuse the incumbents of dictatorship and much other undemocratic conduct. But, when they eventually take over, they do the worse things. So, the condemnation of the APC leadership by the Young Turks is like the pot calling the kettle black.
With the various crises emanating from oppression, absolutism and highhandedness by some of the young Turks in their constituencies at present, obviously, some of the contents of the Ibadan collegiate arrangement are not the solution to the likely dangerous impact of the power-hungry politics in the South-West zone.
Studies have shown that power is synonymous with dictatorship, and at various levels and sectors, everybody is a dictator. So, no politician is too comfortable to relinquish non-elective or elective positions of power. Therefore, the agenda of the Young Turks at the Ibadan meeting was like a path to another dark political tunnel in the South-West.
Some of the outcomes of the confrontational meeting are tantamount to hatred, envy and divide-and-rule. Its negative connotation and consequences could bring a complete setback to the Yoruba nation in the forefront of national politics.
With the proposed impracticable collegiate leadership system (if motivated by less caution), the APC South West leadership seems to be at the verge of dividing its own house against itself.
Although destiny may help some people to bulldoze their way into the centre of the political arena, the Young Turks should see themselves as prospective ex-active players who were fielded by their political coaches, and they should be afraid of replacement only if they want to torpedo their coaches. But one believes that they are supposed to be progressive members of the team. It is, therefore, more honourable and politic for them to wholeheartedly uphold their synergy in making the team great and formidable than to destroy it because of personal interest.
As Sunday Tribune headline reads: ‘Young Turks highjack APC in South-West,’ with the rider: ‘Restrict Tinubu’s, other leaders’ influence to their states’. Akande heads peace committee. The development is like setting Yoruba warship at high sea without a designated captain. Fighters with the interest of their people will not selfishly make their warship hit wreck buoy.
Certainly, the dangerous political disunity, envy and muscle flexing between some APC forward players in the South-West and notable party opinion leaders are no longer a rumour. The issue has even metamorphosed into bitter politics and enmity that could be seen as the replica of the unforgettable crises in the old Western Region, which caused the Yoruba race a set-back in the forefront of national politics. This was how external power crept into the S/West politics then. It resulted in coups, civil war and generated to the mess we are facing today.
On the verge of that crises, the late Hubert Ogunde, (a popular comedian/musician) in one of his works, issued a serious warning, and advised the Yoruba race to “rethink”, (Yoruba ronun). This is another time for the race (particularly those who came to the political limelight through the system that they now see as unjust) to rethink and look at the other side of the coin because of posterity. A ship with many captains is like navigation without a compass.
Are mere temporary political appointments and elective positions enough qualifications for the Young Turks to successfully lead the Yoruba Nation?
It is common knowledge to say that the foundation of politics in Nigeria was based on ethnicity. And that is one of the reasons why the project “One Nigeria” has not been able to practically reflect what it symbolises. For instance, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe led the NCNC to win an election in the old Western Region. Because he was an Igbo man, he was disallowed. Similarly, Professor Eyo Ita, a non-Igbo man, also forfeited his government in the then Eastern Region to enable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to come in because he was an Igbo man.
While the colonialists designed our amalgamation to complement disunity and ethnic politics, it was the political forefathers of this country (perhaps for the then political atmosphere) who practically introduced and promoted ethnic politics. Unfortunately, in our society, ethnic politics has become a culture. Bad enough, quota system, ethnic chauvinism and marginalisation are borne out of political ethnicity. Therefore, political leaders who love their constituencies do not toy with their ethnic consanguinity.
Naturally, human beings forget so soon. But it is too early for the Young Turks to forget the political platforms that catapulted them to the apex of the political pyramid. They are also in a position to write the political history of the South-West from 1999 to date. No doubt, the South-West has produced great leaders with different leadership qualities. But the South-West leadership that championed the mother of all alliances that placed the South West on the cockpit of Nigerian politics and brought the Young Turks to their present top rung of the political ladder should be maintained, sustained, respected and encouraged to move the S/West forward in this endless struggle for race supremacy in Nigeria.
Temporarily, the Young Turks, at present have what it takes to destroy the leadership institution of the South-West (if that is the wish of God), but if they so do, without minding the consequences, it is like the adventure of suicide bombing or shooting oneself in the leg. No doubt, like all human beings, leaders are also frail creatures, they have their shortcomings, but they must respect their following, subject themselves to internal dialogue and caution when the need arises. But the younger leaders must remember an adage that: He who disgraces his parents in public has disgraced his entire family.
Although democracy is about rights and separation of power, there is no total equal rights and complete separation of power in place anywhere in the world. When the PDP dealt with the South-West, most of the Young Turks took refuge under Chief Bisi Akande’s political shelter, and were not tired of sitting all night at the political lobby in Bourdillon. Now, these same people threatened to boycott the S/West peace meeting that was originally scheduled to hold in Lagos recently! What were their reasons for the threatened boycott, and because of whom? If genuinely, the interest of the Young Turks is to enhance the unity and advancement of the S/West to enable it to measure up with the challenges of ethnicity in the national politics, then one is at liberty to ask the Yong Turks if Lagos is no longer a part of the South-West?
Hatred, bitterness and unhealthy envy are not synonymous with peace. Evidently, all of these anti-peace elements have been displayed in the process of the monitored Ibadan peace meeting. As a result, the impracticable collegiate-leadership was adopted just to bring the meeting to an end. The practicable and healthy collegiate leadership that made Pa Lateef Jakande, the late Pa Adekunle Ajashin and Chief Bola Ige the then governors of their respective states, and also set up their cabinets for them should be the reference point for the Yong Turks.
Power is transient; all holders are prospective ex-‘s.’ Therefore, the Young Turks should leave a practicable and unity-oriented precedent in the South-West for posterity. They should also take note that, he who buries his parents in the nude must remember that his children are watching.
•Temionu is a public affairs analyst