Imo and Ogun APC conundrum
The least he could do, having exhausted all the threats and all the curses in his vast armoury of expletives, and yet getting no help from the party’s big stick, was finally to leave his traducers, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, to the judgement of voters in the senatorial election this year.
Having failed to get their party’s tickets for their respective governorship candidates, the two governors while pledging support for APC, had turned to other parties for succour. Governor Amosun, APC senatorial candidate for Ogun Central, picked Allied People’s Movement, APM, for his candidate, Abiodun Akinlade. Governor Amosun advised his party members to ditch APC for APM while pledging loyalty for APC’s Muhammadu Buhari. This theatre of the absurd is also playing out in Imo State where Governor Okorocha is a senatorial candidate of APC.
Governor Okorocha has enough loyalty to go round. Having lost the APC governorship ticket to Hope Uzodima in a disputed primary election, Uche Nwosu, Governor Okorocaha’s chief of staff and son-in-law, made his way to Action Alliance, another party formed almost exclusively by the Imo State governor for a rainy day like this and to prove the point that in Nigerian politics, it is unwise to put all your eggs in one basket.
It was fashionable in those days of innocence to characterise the political abracadabra that has taken centre stage in Imo and Ogun states as divided loyalty and anti-party activity. Not anymore. While not admitting disloyalty, Amosun stated plaintively, as if in search of sympathy, that his APM was a child of necessity, never hoping that one day his own party, the APC, would give him the treatment he got. “For me,” he stated, “this is not what we prayed for. If anybody had told me that it is going to be like this, I will say no. But clearly as human, God will show his way at any time.”
Though, his position seems to defy logic – and who says politics is always about logic – he said the APM was the best thing to happen to APC in Ogun State. It is a warehouse for disenchanted APC members who, like the religious zealots of yore, had fled persecution in the hands of their enemies. From their vantage position in APM, they are in better position, so they say, to serve the purpose of APC by voting for President Buhari and Amosun, and at the same time voting against the APC candidate in the governorship election.
Anti-party activity? Even that has become outdated and clearly out of fashion. Out of this messy political conundrum comes the loss of Okorocha’s five million APC voters in his state. Such elegant political terminologies like party supremacy, ideology and manifestoes, party loyalties and anti-party activities have also suffered gravely in the process.
In those days, nobody was allowed to belong to two political parties at the same time. Politicians now find it easy and convenient today to form more than one party and belong to all of them in case some misfortune like the one in Imo and Ogun states, makes it mandatory for them to move elsewhere.
And they cannot be accused of anti-party activities. A party that fails to show loyalty to its members by providing them level playing field, internal democracy, fairness and equity, cannot at the same time expect loyalty from its members. The inimitable M.K.O Abiola, of blessed memory, had an apt proverb to illustrate the point when such disloyalty was mutual. In 1982 when he quit the ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN, he said “a tree that cannot support you when you lean on it, obviously cannot kill you if it falls on you.” For him, quitting the NPN when, he did, was like good riddance to bad rubbish.
He was later to lend himself to one of the inexplicable paradoxes of the Nigerian politics. When former President Ibrahim Babangida, during his almost interminable transition programme, created two political parties, National Republican Convention, NRC, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, he crafted one to be a little to the right ( NRC) and the other, a little to the left (SDP). NRC was like the old NPN, leaning to the right like the British Conservative Party or the Republican Party of the USA, the GOP and the SDP was to be like the Labour Party of Britain or the Democratic Party.
These parties have different orientations and clear distinctions. But when domesticated in Nigeria, the distinction gets blurred. One is as ineffectual as the other. But dramatically, M.K.O Abiola who was, to all intents and purposes, an unrepentant capitalist, chose to pitch his political tent with SPD, a party that was designed to lean to the left – with a clear preference for progressiveness and equality. Paradoxically, to use the military terms now gaining currency, he weaponised and deployed his unlimited resources, the kind of arsenal available only to a committed capitalist with large heart, and trumped his opponents in the NRC, the rightist leaning party, in the annulled June 12,1993 election.
Since then and up till date, there has been a scant regard for party ideology and distinct identity. Because there are no clear distinctions between one party and another, there is now a seamless movement between one and the other. You don’t need to change your dress to move from PDP to APC and back to PDP. When you arrive in your new party, there are no adjustments to be made; no socialisation of any kind is required because they are one and the same thing – the difference is only in name. Nothing separates one from the other – except disputed integrity in one and alleged monopoly of corruption in the other. At the end of the day, they are all guilty of the same offence because they are peopled by Nigerians who are equally imbued with sufficient greed and avarice. All the Nigerian parties, without exception, recognise the place of morality in politics – meaning, in effect, that there is no place for morality in politics. And that is also to say that, like politics and God, the two don’t cohabit under the same roof.
Once upon a long time ago, there was party supremacy. Today it exists only because we love the sound of the words. But for the elegance of the term, they would have been treated as political dinosaurs and eliminated accordingly. Today, it is no longer the parties that are supreme in our own peculiar democracy and party politics.
It is party members with deep pockets that are supreme – the governors and the oga at the top, the President. When parties lack internal democracy with no identifiable rule of engagement, they are conditioned to be so because otherwise, they cannot beholden to those who wield enormous financial influence. Those who are the life-wires of the parties dictate what goes on in the parties. They are the ones who appoint those who run the parties and who conduct the primaries and select those they are comfortable with. There is no point pretending that there is equal treatment for all the members.
The face-off with the APC national chairman in Imo, Ogun and Zamfara states, arising from the party primaries, and the ruling by President Buhari that members should vent their feelings by going to court is proof positive of the fallacy of party supremacy and the confirmation of egregious dictatorship of governors in party affairs.
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