Buhari Must Never Join The PDP

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I spent last weekend in Kano. Apart from all die issues I was I trying to untangle at the Bayero University in respect of my Astudies, I was also able to visit with a couple of individuals who have been my friends over die years. I was invited for iftar at the residence of a professor at the BUK who has very useful connections in the political circles of die country. In the course of our discussions, I heard a most interesting story.

 

It was said that in the past couple of months, Obasanjo had sent the Minister of the FCT, Nasir el-Rufai, as an emissary to General Buhari. My informant said that there were two such visits. What the reasons were for the contacts, I do not know I am not even sure that that these contacts were made; similarly, I was told that Obasanjo had told a couple of people that General Buhari was the only individual who could continue his so called economic reform programme.

 

In the past couple of weeks, there have been all kinds of stories in the media, probably carefully planted, alleging that overtures have been made to General Buhari to join the ruling PDP in order to get the platform to run for the nation’s presidency.

 

It is often added that the PDP has been ‘sanitised’ and has become a platform for only ‘incorruptible’ individuals to seek office in tune with the ‘vision’ of President Obasanjo, etc.

 

I have enough training in Political Science not to dismiss whatever that appears in the political firmament, and has stayed there for a while even when my consciousness tells me to be sceptical about all such political signals. I have spoken with a few individuals close to General Muhammadu Buhari, General Buhari who assured me that Buhari would not touch the PDP with the longest pole, would not have anything to do with the alleged effort to woo him by Obasanjo (a man Buhari knows very well) and neither is he interested in continuing a so-called economic reform programme: Obasanjo’s programme of theft of our national patrimony, the erosion o f our national sovereignty, the unconstitutional offloading of our public institutions into the hands of cronies, including sales to himself of our national assets.

 

What then is the source of the persistent speculation that General Buhari is being primed to join the PDP? Whose interest is it to serve? What are the underlining political currents? What evil is Obasanjo concocting again, given his limitless capacity for mischief and cruelty? Of course, until or unless General Buhari comes out in the open to make a categorical statement, we might not know the nuts and bolts of the issues involved with the kite flying that is being done in the media. But we can at least attempt to make a sense of what we already know about die goings-on in the political environment

 

A few months ago, I interviewed General Buhari for Weekly Trust newspaper. We had also discussed his pet theory of ‘Hostage Politics’. For those who don’t know, hostage politics describes the elaborate process of entrapping individuals, using misdemeanours they might have committed in the course of their political or public service careers. Obasanjo is the past master in the blackmail tactic that is at the heart of hostage politics. Like a snake with its prey, Obasanjo waits for the time that he can strike with the deadliest effect, injecting enough venom to cause paralysis or to kill. This weapon of hostage politics has been deployed to a deadly effect by Obasanjo to take control of the nation’s political space.

 

As a matter of fact, General Buhari said that no regime in our nation’s history, from the colonial through the various civilian and military regimes, has used hostage-taking as a weapon of political subjugation in the manner that we have witnessed under Obasanjo in the past seven years. Obasanjo has taken hostage several sections of the nation’s elite: traditional rulers, ex-Heads of State, the political elite, etc. There is so much paralysis because nearly everyone has a skeleton in the cupboard that Obasanjo can use the EFCC to exhume, bring into the public realm and then disgrace the individual concerned. Obasanjo earns a new hostage, and for seven years, this is how the despot at Aso Villa has conducted his politics.

 

Given this background, it was not surprising that General Buhari has been very careful in dealing with Obasanjo, and as he told me in our last interview, “I don’t want to be held hostage!” General Buhari is not hostage today, not because Obasanjo has not tried to ensnare him in the past. Two instances will illustrate this point When Obasanjo was military dictator in the nineteen seventies, then Colonel Buhari was the Commissioner for Petroleum Resources.

 

A reliable source told me that Obasanjo once asked Buhari, that with a t the money that passed through his hands, was Buhari sure that a few dollars were not sticking to his fingers? A very angry Buhari asked Obasanjo to institute a public inquiry, and the dictator beat a retreat. The second time that Obasanjo attempted a blackmail of General Buhari was soon after he came to power in 1999. After a meeting of the National Council of States, Obasanjo summoned Buhari to inform him that the team he instituted to wind up the activities of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which Buhari had headed had discovered some irregularities in the course of their work. General Buhari was said to have told Obasanjo that it was not a private matter between them. He challenged Obasanjo to institute a judicial commission of inquiry. Again, the despot refteated and has not re-opened the case. But he found out that Buhari was not available as a hostage.

 

The kite that is being flown in recent weeks is therefore nothing but the desperate effort of Obasanjo to entrap ‘the last man standing’, in a manner of speaking. Obasanjo can never feel at ease for as long as there are individuals like General Buhari that he has not compromised. This is because the possibility of his being brought to face justice for all the crimes he has committed against the Nigerian people becomes palpably high. Obasanjo’s greatest fear is just what we might do to him when he no longer has the power of presidency in his hands. The cowardly dictator is haunted by the humiliation that he suffered when he was imprisoned by Abacha; he also realises just how much he has abused his powers as president, not only offending various people, but abusing those powers through using them to fester his own nest while presiding over a regime of hardships for the Nigerian people in the midst of record earnings from crude oil export. In his very troubled soul, the despot is worried that the handcuff might return to his wrists; he is afraid of a transition from a Mercedes limousine to the Black Maria and a change of address from Aso Villa to Yola prison.

 

But the leopard never changes its spots, because with General Buhari, Obasanjo operates a multi-track policy. He ensures that his foot soldiers in the ANPP destroy Buhari’s influence within the party, to render him impotent in the scheme of things. This is to ensure that the ANPP is not available to Buhari as a presidential platform; this played out recently in the elections to the party’s organs of leadership. But they are also aware of Buhari’s tremendous base of support amongst the mass of people, especially in Northern Nigeria But the central plan to humiliate Buhari is part of an elaborate project It is hoped that Buhari would become frustrated and angry about his treatment, he would then abandon the ANPP; this is why the kite is being flown about the alleged plan to woo him to join the PDP. But what is the PDP today but a vote-rigging contraption being superintended over by Amadu Ali, Ojo Maduekwe and others on behalf of ‘the founder, leader and father’ himself Olusegun Obasanjo? It is a party which the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, once described as a ‘den of killers’. If Buhari falls for Obasanjo’s devious scheme, he will be thoroughly messed up, because even the PDP will not be Available to him. But Obasanjo and his clique would then go to town that Buhari is just an ambitious individual, not an icon of principles. They will thoroughly drag him in the mud, and Obasanjo would have achieved his greatest desire of having destroyed the halo around Buhari’s person and name. That way, he might get the opportunity to escape the wrath of Nigerians.

 

No matter what happens, General Buhari must not join the PDP. It is a discredited platform which Obasanjo conquered in a coup. It is a militarised band supervised by Obasanjo’s lieutenants and which has turned full circle into a monster against the idealistic vision of its founding fathers. When the PDP came into existence, in the words of Chief Sunday Awoniyi, the idea was to create “an all-embracing (party) which will be a cathedral of understanding and brotherhood with an altar of justice and fair play”. Obasanjo conquered this “cathedral of understanding and brotherhood”, turned it into a cult house of discord and enmity; he deconstructed the “altar of justice and fair play” and in its stead, built with blood, toil and tears, a hearth of injustice, revenge, dictatorship and grovelling subservience and he killed inner-party democracy in what is left of the PDP. These things he did in a party formed while he was still a felon. This is not the party that General Buhari should join.

 

What General Buhari should do, in my view, is to join other patriots to build a broad national political platform to checkmate Obasanjo’s unending desire to stay in power beyond May 2007 by subterfuge. Obasanjo remains the greatest danger to the flowering of the nation’s democracy. The reason is simple; he is very desperate about what his fate would be after May 2007. So for as long as his troubled soul drives him, he will continue to plant booby traps in the entrails o f the nation’s politics. Of course, he will use the instruments of state, especially the coercive organs to stir up all kinds of problems. But he will also use his PDP; this is why he has a soldier at the helm of that party.

 

General Buhari should reach out to other patriots who share a vision of freeing Nigerians from the nightmare of the incompetent, cruel and unpatriotic Obasanjo administration as well as liberating our political space from the suffocating control of the PDP. In this project of building a grand patriotic alliance, it is imperative that while tactical adjustments might be necessary, the strategic vision of building a genuinely democratic country must not be lost. We must commit to a democracy which deepens the rights of Nigerians and liberates our initiative for independent development of our national productive forces.

 

The Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Chapter 2 of Nigeria’s Constitution offers a marvellous point of embarkation for Nigeria’s progress. That chapter explicitly states that the government shall conduct the economy in such a way as to prevent the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few persons; it also savs that government shall manage and  operate the major sectors of the economy. But over the past seven years, Obasanjo has instituted an economic regime which took our national patrimony in various sectors of the economy, handed them over to a few individuals contrary to the constitution in a very dubious privatisation policy. As we have now seen, with his stakes in the company called TRANSCORP, the man has sold our national institutions to himself.

 

The duty which faces all patriots in politick is to build a national platform to DECISIVELY! DEFEAT the PDP in 2007. This is the minimum basis upon which we can begin to reclaim our country’s patrimony which Obasanjo sold to him self and his cronies. We must UPTURN the entire economic philosophy phy of surrender of national sovereignty, dubious privatisation and all the other crimes! that Obasanjo has committed against the Nigerian people since 1999. Obasanjo and his PDP want to entrench his unpatriotic projects, hoping that they become a fa it accompli that cannot be reversed; he then hopes to use the a fait accompli to escape from the justice which he deserves.

 

But it is bringing Obasanjo to justice that can serve as catharsis for the Nigerian people; for the eight years of his incompetent regime, which he exploited to feather his own nest in various ways. General Buhari, like all other patriots, faces the challenge of liberating Nigeria from the nightmare which Obasanjo; pulled it through; this challenge must beachieved through the construction of a new platform-of politics, but this cannot be brought about by joining the discredited platform of the PDP.

 

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