ONE of the most ill-concealed intensions in Nigerian politics, the decamping of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, finally took place early this week. The cream of the opposition faction of the Nigerian neo-colonial ruling class, collected in the All Progressive Congress, APC, made its way to Yola, to receive the Adamawa ‘big fish’, into their midst.
Back slapping, speeches and the trademark display of teeth by interim APC chairman, Chief Bisi Akande apart, it was a very significant statement of intention. Like the proverbial pied piper collecting rats, the symbolic oppositional broom is gathering (or more appropriately, sweeping) into the APC the ‘who-is-who’ of the most aggrieved elements of the nation’s political elite, into the omnibus vehicle of assault on the privileges long monopolised by the PDP since 1999.
Never mind that a significant section of the eclectic collection within the APC had been central to Nigeria’s under development since the return to civil rule; but in the Southwest Nigerian political manner of describing itself and its actions, those who joined the APC have become politically ‘beatified’ and are now born again, as “progressives”! Nigeria’s ruling class politics has become a notch more interesting and its outlines have become even more absurd!
But it was not only the APC that has been welcoming new arrivals. On January 29th, former Kano state governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, defected from the APC to join the PDP. A founding member of the APC, in the words of DAILY TRUST newspaper, “had been sulking since the national headquarters proclaimed governors as party leaders in their state”.
In Kano, as the paper further added: “this gave his long-standing political rival, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, a chance to upstage him in the party’s affairs”. It was clear that the long-predicted political indigestion in the APC was going to eventually lead to a rumbling inside its distended political belly! Shekarau’s riposte was swift and predictable: “We are moving en masse, collectively and one-in-all to the PDP.
With this development, we are calling on all our supporters, admirers and well-wishers to dissociate themselves from APC and join our brothers and sisters in PDP to move our country forward (as the Hausa would have exclaimed ‘TABDIJAN’!)”. Shekarau did not only ‘DE-PORT’ from APC to the PDP, he reminded of the lingering injustice at the heart of grievances within the APC: “The case is the same in Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa where disgruntled PDP governors have joined the party. We are not against anybody joining the party but what we want is fairness”.
Fairness is obviously not the name of the game and Shekarau should know that better than most. The central issue is cold calculations about access to the funds to prosecute the electoral challenge. Shekarau is no longer in power, but his old adversary, Kwankwaso is sitting pretty. The same process played out in Sokoto. Attahiru Bafarawa faced the troubling reality of becoming a political “non-person”, completely overrun by his old foe, Governor Wammako. To save face, he also jumped the APC ship and “PORTED” into the PDP.
There is an old Fullo proverb that a cripple might not be able to milk a cow, but with the stump passing for his hand, he surely can pour away the milk in the calabash! Nigeria’s political calabash now has many political cripples all over the place with a deep sense of injury and each potentially willing and able to pour the political power milk into the nation’s political sands!
It looked like the Adamawa segment of the APC crowd sufficiently papered over the cracks, with each of the gladiators, from Buba Marwa to the governor, BABA MAI MANGORO, Murtala Nyako through to Marcus Gundiri, coming together to welcome Atiku Abubakar. The wily, street-wise political brawler that he is, Atiku chose the right words for the occasion.
In 2015, he said, power must shift from “retrogressives” elements to the “progressives” (that non-existent archetype again!), who were determined to change the course of the nation. Atiku emphasized the political line appropriately: “Change is coming to Nigeria and it is a must. The ouster of the PDP from power is imminent and only a matter of time.
Nigerians are fed up and will send them packing in 2015”. A new gravy train is being constructed and no one wants to miss the trip into the new Eldorado of creaming off Nigeria by a new set of overlords, if the APC somehow wins power in 2015. That is the nature of the game; politics WITHOUT principles. This is the politics that beatified notorious reactionaries like Bukola Saraki as the new “progressives” of the APC!
For the patriots who are setting great store by the victory of the APC, maybe it is time to scale down hopes. At the heart of Nigerian ruling class politics is a fundamental inability to serve the genuine interests of the Nigerian people. The APC’s emergence represents a major gain for the historically fractious oppositional segment of the Nigerian ruling class and in truth, they must be commended for coming so far to the point where they are increasingly becoming a serious alternative to the PDP.
Such a possibility can only sex up the political process, even if in the long run, we might not find much difference between the six of the PDP and the half-a-dozen of the APC. Because in the most fundamental issues of underdevelopment; the brazen heist central to the state process in the country today; in the surrender to neoliberal orthodoxy; the demographic crisis and the deepening crisis of the neocolonial system, there has not been a radical paradigm difference between the two platforms.
The APC has spent the better part of its existence collecting the most despicable political characters from around the country into its midst and one of its emblematic representations of what they call “progressive” politics, Bola Tinubu, was in the team that went to Abeokuta not too long ago, to plead to his erstwhile political foe, Olusegun Obasanjo, the same one he once advised to retire into political disgrace, to become the “navigator” for the “progress” they are seeking for Nigeria!
Can anything be more “progressive” than that? In the meantime, Asari Dokubo, the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency’s most unrelenting Rottweiler has warned that he will NEVER allow Jonathan to be defeated in 2015. To hell with free and fair elections or the right to democratic choice! He also “ordered” APC to choose a candidate from the South-South.
Otherwise, he warned, he will give Nigeria, but especially the North, WAR! So as the politicians “port and de-port” between the PDP and APC, the economically and militarily empowered lumpen elements in the Niger Delta creeks are putting them on notice. The months ahead will be most interesting indeed! With bourgeois politics, the more things change, the more they remain absolutely the same!