“Only a faint-hearted man will choose to be headless rather than cope with the pains of a headache and no man can clap with one hand.”— The Late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, an exponent of political etoism (Give and take arrangement)
I have chosen to engage the most trendy topic in Nigeria’s political firmament today. The impasse in the All Progressives Congress, (APC), led Na¬tional Assembly, NASS. And my approach to the subject is bi-focal, bi-polar and congruent. For a dream team always needs adequate dosage of steam to succeed. No wonder the invention in hu¬man affairs of such terminologies and coinages as “unity in diversity and the principle of hegemonic ascendancy.”
So, as I venture into this arduous task of mak¬ing sense out of nonsense, I shall be leaning on my diverse global experience as an international jour¬nalist and seasoned publicist, local political analyst and a UK-trained crisis manager’s pedigree. Lest I get misinterpreted.
Moreover, I have been a behind-the-screen stakeholder in our nation’s political architecture since age 21 in 1981, as a Press Officer to Chief Rueben Fashoranti (then Commissioner for Fi¬nance) in Ondo State during the governorship era of Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin, a staunch ally of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the founder of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Many years later (1998- 2002), I became the Public Relations Officer to the respected body of Nigerians in Diaspora known as Nigerian National Union (NNU) covering United Kingdom and Ireland. It was a precursor to the Nigeria In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), the exponents of right to vote for Nigerians abroad. Still on politics, we later formed the Alliance for Democracy Europe branch with Yemi Amoo Olowe as Chairman while I was the Publicity Sec¬retary and in turn a member of the National Execu¬tive Council (NEC) of the AD in Nigeria (2003). Today, I am a silent PR-trician in the media team that campaigned for the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. All I do is to create maximum understanding amongst people, through thorough troubleshooting of webbed and entangled cross paths of human ideas and also preventing conflicts or managing crisis situations. PR is it.
Hence, a torchlight on the rancorous and frac¬tured NASS where so-called Honourables and Distinguished elected members wrestle for power, by practically exchanging blows while struggling to seize the staff of office, the Mace, cannot be less than the abyss of legislative misdemeanor and po¬litical indecency. However, to be fair to politics and politicians; politics falls within the orbit of unseri¬ous game rather than the longitude and latitude of well-thought-out morals and commonsense. So, all is fair in politics. After all, power and the spoils of it should belong to everybody and not just to some¬body. At this stage of our democratic age, Nigeria and Nigerians must be guided by the salient princi¬ple of political science which states that there is “no permanent friend or foe in politics or diplomacy but only permanent interests.” Therefore, those whose idea is to shoot down other gladiators or stars be-fore daybreak may be doing themselves outright disservice as politics is a game of wit and wizardry. Like a rubber ball, the veiled evil that men do to mankind has a way of ricocheting – bouncing back with forceful fury to the sender. No imagery here.
Come to think of it, Nigerians and the rest of the civilized body of rational beings are askance as to why our law makers would find it hard to choose amongst themselves helmsmen to run the National Assembly, without recourse to open warfare and physical throwing of brickbats. Pity, what a shad¬ow chasing exercise in the face of socio-economic hiccups. Understandably, the easiest thing to do at times like this is to poke the needle of blame into soft fabrics of flesh of perceived ‘actors and gladi¬ators’ in society. Thus the NASS imbroglio and political intrigues are being addressed to the front doors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose majority stake in the Senate and House of Representatives should have automatically given them an expressway to success.
But, alas, intra party wrangling and fratricidal imbalance have put a huge a wedge between the APC bottle and its inflammable human liquid con¬tent. Such implosion, if not stemmed immediately, through the creation of mutual understanding and the application of a balm of calm on the palm, may take uphill , an all-consuming political conflagra¬tion that could devour men and their grey beards.
Unfortunately, the rising meteor of emotion and political calculus have pitched brothers and sisters of yesterday against one another within the APC. It is really sad to witness the whirlwind of allegations and counter allegations being hurled at the heads of the party’s chieftains; as the brains behind the rattling battle that is making adult legislators look and behave like Jonathanian ‘motor park touts’ or directionless kindergartens.
Lying flat here and barefaced on the canvass of misconception today are names of two great men who for no reason should be rubbished at all – Asi¬waju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) and, of course, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Turakin Adamawa. These men are legendary political ‘dei¬ties’ whose immense contributions to the develop¬ment of democracy in Nigeria cannot, and should not, be under-quantified. The APC was , and still is, gifted to have such didactic, erudite and dynamic duo in its midst. Bridge builders and human uni¬fiers are hard to come by. Thus it is pure insanity for anyone, as being done by hatchet jobbers in the media, to attempt to drive a huge wedge between these two political master strategists, and hope to keep the APC pizza together in one piece. The hul¬labaloo about Tinubu’s love lost with Atiku should not be promoted. Both men are not legislators, and the legislators are no kids. People should answer their fathers’ names and own up to their assigned political responsibilities. Democracy prides itself with the doctrines of separation of powers and the sensible application of the tenets of party suprem¬acy. Enough of impunity borne out of excessive rascality. I recall vividly, over a decade ago, when as NEC member of Alliance for Democracy (AD) how BAT as governor of Lagos State would be the first to pay subventions for the running of the party, being led nationally by a Northerner, Alhaji Abdu Kadri Ahmed, who later became a Senior Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Aside, BAT as he was then known usually surpassed the likes of other AD governors such as Chief Segun Osoba of Ogun State, Chief Lam Adesina of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo of EKiti State and Chief Bisi Akande of Osun State. Tinubu’s contributions also never went unnoticed by party stalwarts such as Ambassador Mamman Yusuf, Chief Great Ogboru and other eminent attendees of the Parkview Hotel AD NEC meetings. There, hot arguments would ensue but at the end of the day, reason and logical polemics often prevailed. And some of us who were rookies did look up to these elders for political guidance and baptism.
As per Turaki Atiku, an enigmatic political spec¬tacle with numerous tentacles; he’s arguably one of the most misconceived and misrepresented ele¬ments in the theatre of public opinion in Nigeria. The reasons are legion. That notwithstanding, his inestimable visible attributes are enough to con¬vince any doubter – even his adversaries. He was a humble shepherd boy who later became the leader of men. Nobody can deny the fact that Atiku could be articulated as a zero-to-hero herdsman who rose through the ranks to become a headman. Atiku’s cumulative positive attitude has, over time, extract¬ed him from the multitude of humans and placed him on a high altitude that draws so much envy and bile. Be it business, public service, politics, educa¬tion, job creation, youth empowerment, diplomacy, philanthropy or faith matters, Atiku is head and shoulder above millions of minors.
My advice, therefore, is that the armchair and paid writers who currently throw mud at these two titans who plucked out the political eyes of the failed Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the March 28 and April 11 elections, should burrow into history by reading the achieve¬ments of both Tinubu and Atiku. Their biographies abound everywhere. The mercenary pen pushers should sip the milk of ethics, ethos and etiquette of sane journalism – of facts above fiction and eschew rumours baked in incredulous sensationalism.
Frankly speaking, it jolts one to see the electri¬fying volts being pushed through the un-insulated flesh of the Nigerian society by the crop of war¬mongers who want men of grace to be disgraced. Neither Tinubu nor Atiku has told anyone that there is a conflict of interest between them. I can’t re¬member anytime that the Turaki has shut the gates of his house to Asiwaju or vice versa.
Both men are avowed national leaders of APC and co-travelers in the days of People’s Democratic Movement, founded by the late former number two man in Nigeria, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Both stars later joined hands with other well mean¬ing Nigerians to build a political warehouse in memory of the Great Tafilda, the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja. So, why this war of words by mere by¬standers who have little or nothing at stake? Why ruin a good game with sordid gossip?
Meanwhile, the APC and the rest of us must march ahead in this democratic jungle and avoid pitfalls that may make us all stumble and crumble. The APC owes itself, the Nigerian nation, Africa and the world the patience and emotional intelli¬gence displayed by the outgoing INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega against the PDP attack dog called Elder Godswill Orubebe, on the eve of the election result that brought change and the APC presidential candidate, now President Muham¬madu Buhari, to power.
Undoubtedly, the real owners of the party must meet pronto and dialogue privately and honestly, no blame game or name shame approach at all, but an eloquent admittance of collective responsibility for all that have gone right or wrong. And nobody should be too egoistic to say sorry in order to end the worry; in a mutually nourishing and polishing court of honour where there can never be a victor or vanquished. It must be a win- win for all. His¬tory will never forgive those who have the ample chance to change the world around but failed by succumbing to mere myopia or adherence to ava¬rice or inability to separate personal greed from national need. Thus the pervading political wound in the APC today must not and should not, be al¬lowed to fester to the level of incurable cancer. Let all embrace a court of honour where the ship of truce will cruise to a bay of good hope. Enough of salvos, unsolicited provocations and innuendoes, please. Change is the only constant factor in human affairs, let’s live by its dictates – especially when we have no direct control over its dynamics. Change is unchangeable, let mortals abide for peace to reign.
Or what shall it profit the world of APC, if Ti¬nubu and Atiku are to be at dagger-drawn battle? Enough of this hullabaloo and political chicanery. The NASS guys should rise up and be nice to Ni¬gerian voters. Nation building requires all hands on the deck. Ideal politics lives, thrives and survives on what the late political juggernaut, Bashorun MKO Abiola, would proverbially tag ‘Eto’ (Yoruba for orderly arrangement built on give and take for¬mula). Not Sam Eto, the prolific Cameroun-born world footballer who plies his trade anywhere the price is right. As way forward, APC needs to put in place a formidable and all-encompassing, truly trusted Board of Trustees (BoT) consisting of genuine, selfless and experienced politicians with human faces. Nigeria is bigger than anyone – even a political party!
Hopefully, the state governors and Mr. President as reported would find a way of returning san¬ity back to the humanity of Nigeria’s lawmaking chambers. For our commonality and common¬wealth deserve nothing less than peace to enshrine anticipated development and progress promised to the electorate by the party. Lest the change mantra becomes a fluke. The APC has the cutting edge advantage of a dream team succeeding on popular steam. They should not press a self-destruct button of dynamite that could consume all. All must em¬brace the spirit of unity in diversity, one that breeds equity and fair play. Finally, let’s all jaw jaw and not war war! For the day ‘Warsaw saw war, the war ended.’ APC and Nigerians should learn from his¬tory. We all can still do a mindset reset, by restor¬ing lost credibility, translating adversity into greater prosperity, through a quick lever change from cur¬rent hostility to possible friendliness. This house must not crumble. The nation and the world are watching. Let the ayes have peace!
No one claps with one hand alone, a la MKO Abiola, and no sensible being will choose to be headless as a solution to not having a headache! A party is made of people and conflicts are neces¬sary evils within human affairs. Let’s give peace a chance. APC must, therefore, be a panacea to our national headache.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria, de¬mocracy has come to stay!
■ The writer, Yusuf, is an international journal¬ist and public affairs commentator based in Abuja.