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Nigeria and the unchanging face of politicians

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The real time to know whether political games have changed for the better in Nigeria is when there is a major election at stake, such as the upcoming Anambra State governorship election scheduled to hold in November, 2021. By reason of the said election, the tempo of political activities in Anambra State has reached its peak with the primaries of the major political parties, being the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Just simply following the flurry of events in that state is enough to give any reasonable person high blood pressure, as it has become a matter of the more you look, the less you see. From my personal monitoring of political events in the current dispensation, not much has changed, that is if things have not taken an unfortunate turn for the worse. Let us go through the details of the political drama currently playing out in Anambra State.

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Anambra State has been under the firm grip of APGA since the dispensation of the new democratic order, due mainly to the strong influence of the late Ikemba, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, its founder. It has not been a smooth ride however, when it is recalled that a sitting governor was once kidnapped in broad daylight in that same State. APGA held its primary election last week, wherein the former governor of Central Bank, Professor Charles Soludo, emerged as its candidate, through the Chief Victor Oye leadership that has been recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, it would seem that INEC has some issues with the APGA and due process, as the electoral umpire is claiming that the delegate congress that heralded the primary election was not conducted in line with the Constitution and the Electoral Act. Indeed, in a television interview that I monitored, INEC spokesperson was bantering with one of APGA’s stalwarts, Chief Victor Umeh, on the legality of that process. I was myself wondering about the interest that INEC seeks to protect in openly engaging in partisan arguments by which it has almost transformed itself into a complainant.

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The case of PDP is perhaps more intriguing, as Chief Valentine Ozigbo and Chief Ugochukwu Uba emerged as governorship candidates of the party from parallel primaries conducted in the state capital, Awka. The primary election that produced Ozigbo was conducted by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu-led Committee, while the Chris Uba-led faction similarly organized its own primary election at the University of St. Paul, Awka. Prior to these primaries, the Federal High Court Abuja had sacked the state executive led by Chief Ndubisi Nwobu. The issue is this; how can it be impossible for a political party that has ruled (or misruled) Nigeria for so many years, to organize a primary election in just one State? Given the rate at which its elected officers, including governors, are defecting from the party, the PDP has become more like a shadow of its former self, having not been able to find its bearing since it was booted out of power in 2015.

The confusion trailing the primary election of the APC would seem to dwarf that of APGA and PDP put together. The Chairman of the APC primary election Committee and Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, announced Dr. Andy Uba as the winner of the said election, thus throwing up some kind of family contest. Andy Uba is a brother to Chief Chris Uba, the factional leader of the PDP State Exco, as well as Ugochukwu Uba, the winner of the factional primary election. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, claimed that the primary election was not held. Also, Chief George Moghalu, who spoke on behalf of 14 other aspirants, corroborated Dr. Ngige’s assertion that the purported primary election did not hold. He maintained that the figures being paraded are votes that emerged from the outcome of a fraudulent process.

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The above scenario has been the trend since the advent of democracy in 1999, manifesting in brazen manipulation of all electoral processes through thuggery and violence, alteration of results, imposition of candidates and outright subversion of the will of the people, either during primary or indeed the general elections. It is the unchanging ugly face of Nigerian politicians. But then, who actually is a politician? According to the learned authors of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a ‘politician’ is “a person experienced in the art or science of government”, he is the one “actively engaged in conducting the business of a government”. The authors didn’t stop at this positive description, perhaps knowing human beings as they are, particularly the stock of politicians from Nigeria. It is stated further in this Dictionary that a politician could also be a “person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons”. This latter definition aptly captures the true character of Nigerian politicians, who go about spending fortunes on elections meant to secure a political position of service. They go to any length, just to secure victory, including engaging in very devious schemes such as rituals and even murder. One of them actually once declared that politics to him is a do or die affair.

This is the common story with the average Nigerian politician, regardless of the political party he claims to belong to, his primary focus is to capture power by all means possible and thereafter to be in government perpetually. So, if he or his party loses in an election, he either would not accept defeat or wait for the sun to go down before embracing the winner to dump his own party and if his former party is able to displace him in the next election, he goes back to that platform without any thought at all. In the Anambra State example for instance, almost all the candidates have gone round the three main political parties.

To be continued tomorrow.

Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN.

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