Action Congress (AC): Just Like PDP

December 7, 2006
7 mins read

If you read ray piece last week, you would have known that I am on annual vacation. One of the elements of the wind .down mode that I spoke about was not to be overly worried about the state of the nation’s politics. It is obvious as the French say, that with Nigerian politics, ‘plus ca change, plus c ’est la meme chose Just as I was sinking my teeth literally into a piece of writing on Monday afternoon, a text message came from the venue of the Action Congress (AC) Convention in Kaduna, which could not have been any more dramatic, “THROWBACK TO PDP DAYS: AC in non-elective Convention”.


I checked the newspapers of last Tuesday, and THISDAY reported that the AC officers “emerged by a process of ‘negotiation and consensus’”, which was merely a euphemism for the imposition of the new leadership on a party membership which was probably nursing the hope that what has been termed a ‘mega party’, was going to behave more honourably and differently from the voterigging contraption called the PDP, which President Olusegun Obasanjo ‘conquered’ sometime ago, and imposed a leadership upon. The indignation which followed the military takeover of the PDP, the disillusionment of many of its rank and file members and quite a handful of members of the political elite had in fact deepened the unpopularity of the PDP and hastened the process which became inevitable — the emergence of new parties, including the Action Congress (AC). With hindsight now, we might even award a medal of honesty to Colonel Amadu Ali and his fellow quislings at the helm of the PDP. They did not tell Nigeria that they are running a democratic political party in politics to help build a democratic state. Amadu Ali was openly honest when he described their brand of politics as ‘Garrison Politics’, where Obasanjo is the Commander-in-Chief, ‘the leader, father and founder’; while Amadu Ali, Tony Anenih, Ojo Maduekwe and co. are subalterns working for their principal, the conqueror, Obasanjo. By refusing to openly lead the struggle for democracy through a deliberate choice o f a transparent inner party democratic norm, the AC and its leaders shot themselves in the foot and have shown that they are not really better than the PDP. What on earth is it that they feared so much that would make Niyi Adebayo, chairman of the AC’s convention committee to “only read out the names of the new national officers as duly elected or returned unopposed”, according to the account of THISDAY newspaper of Tuesday?


So for PDP’s ‘ Garrison Politics ’, AC has now invented ‘ Cult Politics’ whereby things are done noctumally by a chosen band of ‘trusted’ and highly-placed members of an inner caucus without any pretence at a democratic contest during which candidates at least canvas certain positions that will be a basis for choice by the party’s membership. If AC had done that, its leaders would genuinely have been able to look at the PDP leadership in the face, tell them that they have a superior, more democratic way of doing things, and maybe also give the Nigerian people the hope that a new party has emerged truly dedicated to becoming the vessel of their hopes.


But as it is, the AC took the dead-on-arrival trip to the mortuary of Nigerian politics, with its brand of ‘Cult Politics’, and its refusal or inability to democratically choose its leaders this week in Kaduna. It is important to lay bare the political culture of our ruling elite in general, and also find the specific strands, which were woven together to arrive at the tapestry of how the Nigerian situation has become what it is: an incomplete transition, a deformed democracy carrying a heavy baggage of authoritarianism around its neck. It cannot swim freely because the currents are strong and it is perpetually at the edge of sinking because of what is tied to its neck. Most of the nation’s political history, but especially from the period when the military regimes began to supervise transition processes, we have carried an underlining current of authoritarianism and a tendency to manipulate the political levers to impose candidates and ensure a tight control of the political process, including the political party system, by party barons of all hues, and at every level of the society. It is this process, amongst many others, that has made Nigerian democracy permanently wheelchair bound, alienated from the people, easy to manipulate, easy to overthrow. Organic institutions of politics such as enduring party traditions have not taken root, because our political elite, with its proclivity for expediency, is more like the Kano market trader “sha yanzu, magani yanzu”, they do not have a broad historical sweep in vision for politics. Opportunism is the natural instinct of the Nigerian political elite.


Then a major faction which coalesced into the new party, AC, has its roots in AD, UPN, AG, Afenifere. This historically has been the store house o f authoritarianism and dictatorial attitude in Nigerian politics, a tendency which brooked no opposition (they are either killed, burnt or ostracised!) and it is where ‘Cult Politics’ was perfected. This tendency has now merged with ex-PDP, ex-NPN, and various other ex’s, all united by the short shrift they were given by Obasanjo and his conqueror band in the PDP.


Grievance seems to be the main glue holding together the AC coalition. Grievance, that Obasanjo betrayed them in 2003, when the AD governors decided to back him (just because he is Yoruba!). Obasanjo showed them his truly perfidious character by stealing the presidential election with their consent, and against their illusions, he also stole their states from them, all across the South-West with the sole exception of Lagos State.


Grievance has driven Tom Ikimi (Obasanjo, Obasanjo and Obasanjo!!!) to become a ‘chieftain’ of the AC, because the clown played out in the open at the Eagle Square that fateful night of the PDP convention, hoping perhaps that his unrestrained acquiescence in the open robbery which imposed Obasanjo for a second term would help him back to reckoning after the ostracism which came in the wake of his work for Abacha. The vindictive and unforgiving despot, Obasanjo, used him to do a despicable job, but when the time came to share the spoils, Tom Ikimi was left very much out and alone, in the cold.


It was grievance that drove Audu Ogbeh to the party of the broom, and rather like old European witches in those old Ladybird books, he is hoping to fly back into reckoning. The list is very long, and of course, many of the distinguished people also have a lot about them that are very commendable too. After all, many of them took a very bold decision to stand by the Nigerian people to oppose the third term agenda, which would have been the greatest disaster in our national life if it had succeeded. It is therefore unfortunate that the AC elite chose to announce their arrival on the political scene in a manner which contradicted the hope that they kindled — the hope that they would be different from the PDP. What happened in Kaduna this week was an unacceptable anticlimax, because the Nigerian people expected much more than what AC gave birth to. It is quite instructive that the more things change, the more they remain the same; at least that is the lesson which Nigerian politics has taught over the years.


Obasanjo: A danger to democracy

Last week, the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs forwarded a 13-page letter to the Geneva based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which amongst other allegations, stated that “parliamentary democracy in Nigeria is on the brink of collapse”, as a result of “the antidemocratic machination of the Presidency, generally suspected of scheming self perpetuation, have cast a dark shadow over the future of genuine parliamentary democracy in Nigeria”.


It is very interesting to note that members of parliament have now reached the same conclusions as many patriots have done over the past few years. We have consistently maintained that Obasanjo is the GREATEST THREAT to Nigeria’s democracy, because of a combination of factors which we have repeatedly analysed on this page. Nigeria has NEVER had a leader who has treated our constitutional norms with criminal impunity like Obasanjo.


An inveterate election-rigger, Obasanjo knows that he does not enjoy the legitimacy which comes from a free and fair electoral process; this explains why he treats the Nigerian people with disrespect and the institution of state he uses to fester his own nest. Obasanjo instituted a dubious privatization programme, and as recent revelations have shown, he has been on an acquisition spree, taking into his private domain throng!’ hi; cronies choice assets that belong to the Nigerian people. A near bankrupt, ex-convict of 1998 has now become arguably one of the richest people in Nigeria. It is precisely the fact that he might be demystified after he vacates power in May 2007 that has driven his desperate effort to subvert the nation’s political, democratic and constitutional process. Obasanjo does not bother about the future of Nigeria’s democracy, because a functional democracy will provide the platform to revisit the unconstitutional process of privatization and several other crimes that he has committed against the Nigerian people. It is this context that allows us to understand the various antidemocratic activities of Obasanjo. A grand coalition of the patriotic sections of the political elite, the mass democratic institutions, the media, civil society organizations and the Nigerian people must be built without delay to DEFEAT Obasanjo and his clique of billionaire bandit capitalists who have bought up our national assets. It is this tiny, anti-people clique, which financed the rigging of the 2003 elections; they financed the third term project and are desperate about the future without Obasanjo in the saddle. Many of the bandit billionaires are said to be fronts for the despot holding in trust assets dubiously transferred in the past few years. They are aware that the entire process by which they now own our national institutions is an unconstitutional one, but they have Obasanjo’s ‘covering fire’, at least for now.


This is the reason they are now shopping desperately for a candidate they will impose on Nigeria when Obasanjo vacates the Aso Villa, which he had vowed to die inside, at the height of the third term agenda. This is in fact one of the reasons why Umaru Yar’Adua, the snobbish and colourless governor of Katsina State, has reportedly become a strong factor in the calculations of Obasanjo and his clique of bandit billionaires in the past two weeks. If the members of the National Assembly are serious that they see Obasanjo as a grave threat to democracy, they know what to do to rid us of the scourge; at least many of them were there when Speaker Ghali Na’Abba and Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim compiled a list of impeachable offences against Obasanjo; the coward lost weight overnight and was running from pillar to post, begging to be left, he was let off and has continued to damage Nigeria. It has become imperative to Compile a new dossier on a felon who rules our country like a fiefdom, mouths anticorruption platitudes but profits there from, and whose authoritarian control of the political space has prevented the flowering of democratic institutions and norms over the past seven years. If the National Assembly agrees that Obasanjo is a danger to Nigerian democracy, it knows what to do. It is very simple; or is it?


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