Obaseki, PDP and the cat with nine lives

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President Muhammadu Buhari recommended the dissolution of APC NWC
President Muhammadu Buhari recommended the dissolution of APC NWC

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

My article last week elicited some reactions as expected, from my friends who are members of the APC. While they agreed with most part of the content, some disagreed with few parts. Of note was a friend who pointedly disagreed with a part in the second paragraph where I wrote that: “This seems to justify those who inferred that the APC and its party members are better being in opposition. They have not shown the maturity and leadership required of a ruling party. At least, not the kind we saw presented by the PDP while they were in government at the centre, despite all their inadequacies.”

The part that PDP showed “maturity and leadership” while in government miffed him. He wrote a well articulated and comprehensive rejoinder with elaborate examples to counter my opinion. He said: “But to infer that PDP showed leadership and maturity required of a ruling party at the height of their powers is to turn history upside down. PDP leaders and members showed us how not to run a ruling party, from the top to bottom, it was one crisis to another until the party imploded in 2015.”

He then went on to itemise many “sins” of PDP while in government, many of which I also knew and agreed with. Like how senate presidents, national chairmen, sitting governors and other political or party office holders were removed arbitrarily by the powers-that-be then. How an attempt was made to impeach Obasanjo by Rt. Hon. Ghali Na’aba led House of Representatives, how Obasanjo was not wanted for second term, how candidates were imposed at all levels, including the 2007 presidency. And many others. These are history of facts.

My response however was that, these “sins” were reasons why many of us criticised the governments at the time and constantly condemned such actions. They could also be said to be their undoings which led to the sacking of the party from the government at the centre in 2015, after the people were tired of their shenanigans. Though, this assertion may be questionable, given that a power bloc from PDP substantially helped APC to power.

Also, throughout those period, one thing stood PDP out, despite their inadequacies, they had unparalleled crisis management and resolution capacity. That has made it to be the only party that has existed since 1999 (for 21 years). The oldest in Nigeria history. Many other parties at various times since 1999, were simply contraptions put together to make up the numbers except few with regional presence like AD to AC to ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC. Most of these parties were built by one person or around few persons, including most of these were also regional parties.

PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus, PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and others during a rally
FILE: PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus, PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and others during a rally

Only in 2013 did these regional parties came together to form APC, which then presented a formidable national opposition to PDP. A factional nPDP later joined them in 2014. Unfortunately, the parties that came together were not able to completely shed their “individualities” because the alliance was not based on any “true” ideology. Many believed they simply wanted to remove former President Jonathan and grab power at the centre. A claim which subsequently proved to be true.

This was also reflected in the conclusion of my friend’s rejoinder when he said: “In conclusion, any ruling party in Nigeria will always suffer internal wrangling and conflicts because many people join the ruling party not because of the ideological stance of the party but they join the party simply to advance their political careers. They are always too ready to jump the ship and join another party to realize their selfish and inordinate ambition.”

With all that PDP faced since 1999, part of which were highlighted by my friend, which reached its peak in 2015, nobody thought there would still be a PDP today. To worsen the matter, immediately after that loss of federal power, they were embroiled in serious internal crisis of leadership, foisted by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and others. Many of us thought that would have finally nailed their coffin. But what happened? They wriggled out of it and came back stronger to the extent of gaining additional 6 states in 2019 general elections from what they previously lost to APC.

Fast forward to today. What is happening in the two main political parties? I already wrote about APC last week, but it seems the storm was not over despite the eventual intervention by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday. The chairman who claimed the position through the court, Chief Victor Giadom called the NEC meeting of the APC. Unfortunately for him, that was where he too was sacked by the same NEC. To the amazement of many political watchers, President Buhari endorsed it. He participated, along with his Vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. APC governors, lawmakers and many who were APC NEC members took part. There, many far reaching decisions were made.

apc pdp logo apc logo pdp logo
APC and PDP are the two leading political parties in Nigeria

In a deft political move, following the advice of Mr. President, the NWC was dissolved and a caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee, headed by the governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni, was constituted. He was the past two-term national secretary of the party before he became governor in 2019.

However, 18 of the 21 NWC members disagreed with the president’s decision, claimed he must have been “offered wrong advice or blackmailed” to support such “illegality”. This was stated in their press release signed by the erstwhile factional APC Chairman, Chief Hilliard Eta and the acting national secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama.

They threatened to go to court. The NEC meeting also ratified the governorship primary election in Edo state which produced Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. That is another controversy in the making, as some people claimed the candidate did not register at the ward level, making him to be a “non-member” of APC.

The PDP has also been engulfed by internal crisis since the defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki to the party after he was disqualified in APC. The last two weeks have been challenging to the party leadership and party organs due to the conflict of interests which the defection brought. There were already three aspirants screened for the primary before Obaseki joined.

Governor Godwin Obaseki is presented the Peoples Democratic Party membership card
Governor Godwin Obaseki is presented the Peoples Democratic Party membership card

They were Kenneth Imasuagbon, Engr. Gideon Ikhine and Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama. His coming became a huge threat to their ambitions, as they saw the handwriting on the wall. They suspected the possibility of the party leadership favouring him. This led to one aspirant, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, to go to court and got an injunction that stopped Obaseki from participating just few days to the primary. The die was cast!

Obaseki ran helter-skelter. In the course of this political gymnastics, there was clash between the party leaders and Governor Wike of Rivers State, who pulled out of the reconciliation efforts in Edo and even derided the PDP leaders publicly, calling them “tax collectors” (whatever that means). This is actually Wike’s style. Many felt that was the end of the road for Obaseki’s ambition on the PDP platform.

However, in an unexpected sudden twist, with less than 24 hours to the primary, PDP recovered from the setback. The court case was thrown out when the parties to the suit agreed to settle out-of-court. Surprisingly too, the same aspirants began to step down one after another for the new entrant into the race, Governor Obaseki.

Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and Ken Imasuagbon stepped down only few minutes before the start of the primary election. This culminated into what seemed like a consensus at the primary on Thursday, where he won overwhelmingly with 1972 votes (96%) of just over 2000 vote cast. It was incredible. That was what I referred to as the “PDP’s maturity and leadership” in my last week article. PDP can be referred to as a cat with nine lives!

It is unfortunate that the ruling party APC always made the opposition party PDP look like a “champion” when it comes to political party organisation and management. I insist that there is need for APC to re-engineer the party organs if they plan to survive up to and beyond 2023. This was well captured by my friend in a part of his commentary where he wrote: “The APC will eventually implode like PDP if urgent and genuine reconciliation are not pursued to arrest the problems bedevilling the party.”

What has happened in Edo should teach others lessons. Like Confusius said; “before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”. This speaks to Comrade Adams Oshiomole and his caucus in APC, who have lost out, “as of now”, in the political game within APC, because, the composition of the new caretaker committee seems to favour the president’s old CPC power block in the party. Oshiomole has lost out. This might not have happened if the desperation to stop Obaseki did not reach that feverish level that we saw. Not that Obaseki was without blame in the whole saga too. However, he has bounced back to reckoning in the race to the Edo state governorship election.

Also, it is hightime the ordinary citizens realised that they are like pun in the political chess game of the politicians. Or, how do we describe the reversal in political position of the two main gladiators in that race; Governor Obaseki and Pastor Ize-Iyamu? Just four years ago, they were on the opposite sides of political parties today. They derided opposing party platform and candidate. What will PDP be saying about Obaseki’s performance in Edo now? Excellent? That is the unfortunate “irresponsible” politics we practice in Nigeria. Likewise, what will Oshiomole and APC be saying about Ize-Iyamu? The best candidate? After all those name-calling in 2016 by Oshiomole? Shame!

The ball is now in the Edo people’s court.

Politicians, leaders of the country and all of us should be circumspect in our doings. All these desperation that people display in their quest for riches and power, one would think they have “spare lives” at home or they already knew how long they will live on earth. Just this Thursday, Nigeria lost another eminent person in the person of former governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. He reportedly died of coronavirus infections. May God forgives his shortcomings, consoles his family, the people of Ibadan and Oyo state.

This is also a warning to everyone to be conscious of the rampaging COVID-19 and be careful as we go about our daily activities. We should stay safe. COVID-19 is real!

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

Lateef Adewole is a political analyst and social commentator can be reached by email [email protected] or via WhatsApp +2348020989095 and @lateef_adewole on Twitter

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