The Cankerworms Of Defections In Nigerian Politics By Dr. Wumi Akintide

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The frequency of defections from one Nigerian Party to another and most especially from the PDP to the APC since March 28th, April 11th, and more so from May 29th has become a nightmare. This development should tell most Nigerians that those moving in droves to the APC are doing so for a sinister purpose.

A majority of them are doing it to feather their nests and to eventually make the APC a caricature of the PDP. They move to the APC Party to continue their impunity and the outlaw predilections they’re used to in the PDP. If APC is wise, it should have seen it coming and would have been better prepared to deal with problems from the “get go.”

I see no evidence of that at all from APC. The Party should have known that the PDP is not just going to fold up its arms as it watches the APC take its only means of livelihood. The PDP has never been the opposition Party in Nigeria. In order to get back into power, PDP has to be ready to kill the APC by all means necessary, including subterfuge.

More than a year before the elections, I predicted that if the opposition (APC) is going to win and evolve into a magnet for the political transformation of Nigeria, it must be willing to do a few unorthodox things. I said that my prediction would come true before 2015 if APC did not implode or crash under its own weight.

I was hundred percent sure that – within the merger of three political parties namely the ACN representing the South political zone, and the CPC representing the 3 political zones of the North, and the ANPP representing some elements of the Southeast, parts of Kano, and the Middle Belt – the political ambitions of some powerful individuals could predictably tilt the balance of the elections in favor of the APC because they would have won 4 out of the 6 political zones of Nigeria. I was proved right. The APC would have lost to PDP if they had not won in the Southwest and if it had fielded a Muslim/Muslim ticket.

My warning was predicated on Attahiru Jega and his INEC. I saw some strong signs that Jega was determined to deliver a fair and free election come rain or shine. Despite all the pressures on him to do otherwise, not by Goodluck Jonathan per se, but by some other invisible forces in the PDP, the nutty Professor did right.

Goodluck Jonathan had long concluded that he was going to win the re-election. He was certain of his heavy reliance on the powerful clerics of the Evangelical wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria led by Oritsejafor and Bishop Oyedepo in particular who were telling him that their prayers for his campaign had meant he could never lose. Goodluck Jonathan believed them and he put all his hopes believing they were true men of God who could not lie. He was a bit troubled by the predictions of Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka and Pastor Tunde Bakare who were hesitant that the power brokers of Nigerian Politics might steal away the election victory from Buhari. He was sure that Buhari had all the credibility to bring change to Nigeria, but he did not lie that God told him that Buhari was going to win. He stopped short of that and he was the first to tell Nigerians that some powerful clerics had taken money from Jonathan and he was right.

Jonathan was sure that if Oyedepo, Adeboye, Kumuyi, Oyakilome, and TB Joshua were on board his victory train, there was no way in the world he could lose even if Attahiru Jega refused to dance to his tune. Jonathan was confident of victory because he had the keys to the Nigerian Treasury and he had enough money put aside to fight the election.

He knew that APC’s financiers like Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, and few of their other financiers in the private sector like Alhaji Ishiaku could not compete with the limitless resources of the Federal Government that he controlled. He opted for a further postponement of the elections on the presumption that the APC financiers would be cut unaware and exhausted if the election were postponed another 6 weeks. It was a strategy to bankrupt the APC and it worked only to a point.

Jonathan was sure that money would tilt the election in his favor like it did in Ondo State when Mimiko spent much of the 500 million given to him to make sure that Ondo supported the PDP on April 11th.  Mimiko knew his political life depended on that election. If he had lost it, that would have been the beginning of the end for him in Ondo State and his plan to become a major player in the PDP would have suffered a fatal blow. It was a “do or die” situation for Mimiko.

What Jonathan and the PDP didn’t factor into their strategy and equation was the resilience of Nigerians and most especially the youth who were hell-bent on changing Nigeria, not because they loved the APC and Buhari so much, but because they wanted change. They were ready and determined to vote for any candidate that had the highest credibility to bring that change. Clearly, they saw General Buhari as that man.

They knew that the APC was just one or two notches better than the PDP, but they trusted Buhari as somebody who could be relied on. That determination and the decision of Attahiru Jega to introduce the card readers to frustrate the rigging plans of the PDP in most of the PDP-controlled states was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Jonathan and the PDP wanted 4 more years to cover up the damage and havoc they have did to Nigeria in 16 years, but more so in the last 6. Ahmed Joda and his committee have just released the tip of the iceberg of that havoc. It was a 7 trillion Naira deficit that they did not want the APC and Nigerians to ever know about. The American pundits who predicted that Nigeria was going to unravel and collapse in 2015 knew what they were talking about. 4 more years for Jonathan and the PDP would have meant the end of Nigeria without any doubt.

Nigerians would want to make Jonathan face the firing squad when they get to know how much he has stolen from Nigeria. The firing squad is totally out of the question. Let the man just give back to Nigeria 50 percent of what he and his ministers and party men and women have stolen, and Nigeria would have sufficient money to do what she has to do. Buhari does not have to put anyone in jail if they just refund some of the multi trillions they have stolen.

We all must be thankful to God that the PDP and the Jonathan did not win. But what the PDP failed to win from the ballot box they have now decided to win thru the back door. They started strategizing to put the APC in chains by infiltrating its rank and file and by planting moles in the APC once it became clear they have lost the elections.

The APC should have seen it coming and devise some ways and means to confront the influx of moles into the APC. To begin with the APC in their desperate quest for power in Nigeria were prepared to put the cat and the mouse or the fox and the chicken in the same box or pen forgetting or ignoring what is going to happen to the mouse and the chicken.

The APC took a chance and the result is what we have now witnessed with the coup staged in the Nigerian Senate  by Bukola Saraki in collaboration with some powerful individuals in the PDP and invisible hands like Babangida and Atiku Abubakar to mention a few.. Some of those elements are the people that accompanied Saraki to Abeokuta to go beg Obasanjo a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP and their senior colleague in the PDP to try to make peace and reconcile them with Buhari and the rest of the APC.

Today the APC has a majority of roughly 59 senators in the Senate and a majority of 213 or slightly more in the House of Representatives but all the most powerful leaders in both Houses are either members of the PDP or recent defectors from the PDP into the APC. So the mandate freely given to the APC in the ballot box has now been stolen by the PDP in a coup on the floor of both Houses of Parliament. I am yet to see how Buhari is going to be able to navigate the troubled waters of Nigerian politics with that kind of development. If Buhari is not careful, they can take him out.

The APC is in total disarray right now less than a month after their sweet victory in the polls. What they now have is a Pyrrhic victory.  It simply means a victory in which the winner loses more in reality that the loser or the vanquished. That is the plain truth. If Buhari and all leaders of the APC tell you they are able to sleep soundly right now they are deceiving you. The PDP has murdered sleep for them. The PDP will tell you it is Democracy at work and that there is nothing Buhari and the APC can do to dig themselves out of the hole they are in right now. Yes the APC is in trouble but there is a way out if you see what I see.

I disagree with the PDP and those who think like them that they can now coast to victory from now on to 2019. Not so quick, I would tell them. I am the first to admit that the APC took a “shellacking” from the PDP and from Bukola Saraki in particular. I would not have been so pissed with Saraki if he had been patient enough to allow the 51 APC senators who went for a meeting with President Buhari to return to the floor of the Senate before allowing the Senate to vote.

He would still have won with the 49 PDP senators that voted en mass for him plus the 8 APC senators who refused to go attend the meeting with Buhari because they have been fully briefed about what was about to happen and they fully supported the coup.  That those 8 senators have not been reprimanded up till now can only mean that the APC has been so crippled from inside. Right now Chief Bisi Akande is in a battle of his life with Atiku Abubakar who wants to be the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the APC. If the APC gives the position to Atiku, it would forever live to regret it because Atiku is a rolling moss that gathers no moss and he should be punished for backing Saraki to destabilize the APC by doing what he did. I would have been happier if the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is giving to Ngige or someone from the ANPP in the Southeast while effort is made to negotiate Ekweremadu out of his position as Senate Deputy President and David Mark should be removed as Majority leader in the Senate if not immediately but with time. He does not belong to that job.

Saraki could retain his Senate presidency provided he is willing to pass all the legislations passed by the Party and the President. If he does not do that, nothing is going to work. Some of the troublemakers in the APC can be given ambassadorial jobs in Washington, China, London, Moscow, South Africa, and Paris. There is a lot of infighting going on right now in the APC as the President is planning to reduce the number of ministers. Nigeria will be lucky if the APC is able to survive the infighting and conspiracies in the interest of Nigeria.

Saraki breached and violated due process protocol and faith with the APC by becoming “Seriki Tulasi” in pretty much the same way like Areonakankanfo Afonja had taken away Ilorin from the Alafin of Oyo and gave it to the Fulanis on a platter of gold till tomorrow. It was history repeating itself one more time too many.

I blame President Buhari for travelling out of the country before the leadership tussle in the legislative arm of Government was settled and concluded. He had summoned a meeting he finally could not attend due to some jet lag or some other delays that a 73 year old man with so much on his plate is bound to face.

I blame the 51 APC Senators who did not sense that something bad was about to happen especially when they knew that 8 of their colleagues were missing in action at that meeting. They should have known that those 8 Senators joining hands with the 49 PDP Senators could easily have upturned the apple cart on the floor of the Senate for the APC.

In the blood sport that politics has become in Nigeria, I cannot excuse them or understand how they could have been be so careless not to” put their noses on the grindstone” as Honorable Patrick Obahiagbon would have stated it. Their’s was an amateur performance unbecoming of leading politicians of their caliber. If they were following political trends in Nigeria, they should have learnt some useful lessons from what Ayo Fayose did to 19 APC legislators in Ekiti by locking up the House of Assembly and replacing them with 7 PDP members who ran the legislative arm in Ekiti even though they were in the minority.

Yes. Ayo Fayose had used impunity to get his way just like Bukola Saraki had done in Abuja by using “Ekugbe” to tackle the 59 APC Senators… Ayo Fayose has put “Okaraba Baba Edi” on Buhari and the APC. He managed to put them to sleep while he quietly rendered the 19 Ekiti APC legislators completely impotent to do anything in Ekiti.

Ayo Fayose has deployed trailers and caterpillars to block all the roads leading to Ekiti long after Buhari had been sworn in on May 29. The new Inspector-General of Police Arase was supposed to now take his instructions from Buhari but he dropped the ball on that… Buhari who was already hypnotized by “Okaraba” could not give any instruction to Arase to monitor the events in Ekiti because he did not want to be accused of being a dictator. Ayo Fayose got away with everything by proving to all and sundry he is indeed the strong man of Ekiti politics to the embarrassment of Buhari and the APC who took a hike.

I blame the clerk of the Senate, a civil servant who conveyed the Senate meeting when he knew that the 51 APC senators were away to a meeting with the new President. It is true that the Senate can operate independently because of the separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary but the clerk of the Senate is a civil servant who is technically under the Executive and should have been more careful in carrying out his duties and responsibility without undue interference by whoever gave him the instructions to convey the meeting. If the clerk had any fear that might be a price to pay he would have been more careful.

I thought that man should have been reprimanded or fired but the man was let go. The IG and the Ekiti State Commissioner of Police who looked the other way while Ayo Fayose was blocking all the entrances to Ekiti should have been queried for not restraining Ayo Fayose from carrying out such an unlawful act. A lot of things went wrong because “Okaraba” or “Tabatiada” was at work. Up till now President Buhari has not said a word on the fate of the 60 Nigerians awaiting execution or Captain Sagir Koli the whistleblower on the Ekiti scandal and yet these are administrative issues that the Commander-in-Chief should be able to handle without any consultation with the Legislature or the Judiciary. That is why I accuse President Buhari of being too slow in taking decisions.

I want the man to succeed so badly. I wish I could be there to nudge him and wake him up. I supported the man in the election and I believe he owes me an obligation to do what I voted for him to do.

The other option open to the APC was to take Bukola Saraki to court for not following due process and normal protocol at least but that would have amounted to another embarrassment for the APC to go and start watching their dirty linen in the court for the entire duration of the case. The APC had found itself in a cul de sac. Any new party that finds itself in the kind of quagmire the APC faces today deserves to be vilified. I don’t care what you think. The APC must justify the confidence reposed in it by the people. That is what I am saying.

One of the ways out for the APC is to now formulate a policy on how best to deal with the issue of defections into the APC from other parties. It is a major problem now that needs to be addressed immediately. Even old members of the APC including the President and the Vice President ought to be made to sign a legally-binding undertaking that any violation of party rules and directives would no longer be tolerated from any member.

Some people have said to me that cannot be done in a democracy like the one Nigerian has embraced. That is a big lie I want to disprove that notion with this write-up. Every party in Nigeria is a legal entity that is allowed to make its own rules within what is permissible by the Constitution.

The whole situation in Nigeria would boil down to anarchy if a political party cannot make and enforce its own rules. That was how Obafemi Awolowo a lawyer, by the way, was able to bring some order and discipline into the old Action Group. Were it not for that, Awolowo would never have been able to use the party to achieve all it did in the old Western Region.

It is the only way to go to discourage members like Saraki and any party member who may defy the party in the future. Buhari as President and Party leader must put his feet down on that. I can tell you that another Saraki is going to show up in the APC pretty soon to test the will of the Party and the President.

If the Party does that, it will be easy to issue Saraki a red card if he ever disobeys the Party again in the future. If he resigns his membership of the party he must also relinquish whatever position he holds on behalf of the Party. That is about the only way to go in an outlaw society like Nigeria.

I am currently looking for a copy of the Nigerian Constitution to confirm whether or not the Senate President and his Deputy are listed among the officials to enjoy immunity from public prosecution while in office.  If the Senate President is listed among them, there is very little that can be done to get Saraki removed. But if he is not among the individuals so protected, then there is a big hope he can be disciplined in the future if he were to violate party rules and directives.

I have a hunch he is protected by the immunity provision in the Nigerian Constitution. Whoever added that provision to the Nigerian Constitution did Nigeria a lot of harm? It is like saying that hoodlums and outlaws who become Senate Presidents are now above the Law in Nigeria. Buhari and Osinbajo and the new APC Attorney-General ought to work hard to amend the provision because it is going to be a major stumbling block to Buhari’s change agenda for Nigeria.

All defections to the APC, from now on, must be bound by a special code of conduct until we are sure they have not been planted as moles within the party. They cannot be allowed to hold any party positions like the Chairman of the APC Governors if their loyalty has not been tested and proved. If we do that, the move will discourage more and more Nigerians from carpet crossing which has done more harm than good to our body politic in Nigeria.

Mimiko becoming Chairman of PDP Governors is a good example of that. There are more trustworthy PDP Governors in the same Forum that can do the job as pointed out by Ayo Fayose. I hardly ever agree with Ayo Fayose on anything but I completely agree with him on that point. Members who have just decamped from other parties must be made to pay their dues before they start seeking any office or position of power in their new Party.

I rest my case.

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