Chris Okotie: 2015 – The truth about G-7 rebel governors

by Chris Okotie


It then stands to reason that if the APC, just for the sake of getting  strong members to win the Presidential election, becomes a business conglomerate like the PDP, how can it fight corruption or prosecute  its progressive agenda? 

The mist on the road to the 2015 general elections is beginning to clear with the defection of five of the seven rebel governors of  the PDP to APC. Yet 2015 is still a hard road to travel for all political contenders, especially President Goodluck Jonathan and the remnant of his crisis-ridden party.

Although, the G-7 Governors – Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Musa  Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara),  Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), and Sule Lamido  (Jigawa) – all started this journey together, it was a bit of a surprise  that Governors Lamido and Aliyu dropped off the train to APC and chose  to bid their time. For now, they remain in PDP until they decide where  they will finally pitch their tent, either together or separately.

Shifting coalitions is a common feature of our topsy-turvy polity. So this huge defection of the PDP governors could only bother President Jonathan because of the negative implications to his undeclared re-election bid. Political watchers know that it is quite normal for politicians in the country to cross carpet in-between general elections, or when denied nomination tickets.

Two things emerged from this merger of a section of the New PDP with the APC. This is not about political ideology or how to move Nigeria forward. The undeclared motive is to snatch the Presidency out of the hands of President Jonathan at any cost in 2015. That is the issue behind the marriage of these strange bedfellows.

What began as Aso Rock’s bid to control the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), degenerated into the bitter feud that birthed the G-7. It wasn’t an internal quarrel about political philosophy or a disagreement with the PDP hierarchy over how the country has been run aground by their governing cabal. The governors disagreed with President Jonathan over the 2015 Presidency, nothing more.

The bottom line is that the G-7, all northern governors but one, wanted power to shift to the North and that appeared to be in tandem with the ambitions of Amaechi, the only southern Governor, who hopes to run as a running mate to whoever the North is fielding. The APC, which is obviously going to present a northern presidential candidate, saw the schism in the ruling party as a rare opportunity to build capacity by luring the rebel governors to its camp. It seems to have won the battle, but there are still many battles ahead, like the nominations for president, governors and other choice offices. How will the lawmakers in the legislative Houses across the country react to this development? Nobody can say for sure.

Like the PDP nominations, the APC versions will be very explosive,  especially with the entry of the G-5 into a party that is controlled by two strong characters: former Head of State, Gen Muhammadu Buhari and former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The dilution of rebel conservative PDP governors with the APC, which styles itself as progressives, puts a big question mark on the avowed commitment of the latter to the puritan ideals that the party’s arrowhead, Gen. Buhari is identified with. The general’s anti-corruption posture is his main appeal; that’s a point that must never be lost on the promoters of this merger project.

It is worrisome that though corruption at the federal level is  over-reported and exposed, no single top official has been arrested for corrupt practices in any state, including those controlled by the  APC. Yet, looting of resources or bureaucratic ineptitude is as much a feature of governance at the centre as in the states and local governments. Even the media seem to overlook this fact.

It then stands to reason that if the APC, just for the sake of getting  strong members to win the Presidential election, becomes a business conglomerate like the PDP, how can it fight corruption or prosecute  its progressive agenda? When a political party becomes a diffuse group with no identifiable, strong ideology, it is bound to have an image problem. People are going to ask: what is the difference between the PDP and the APC which merged with the New PDP? Desperation for power at the centre cannot win respect and support for a party which claims to offer something radically different from the PDP.

The rumble in the PDP may humble the power-drunk elements in the party who used to boast that it would rule this country for 60 years! It is doubtful if anyone in the party still swims in that illusion. The fact is that PDP could lose the Presidency a few years down the road, once a new generation of politicians emerge to change the rules of engagement and shift the governance paradigm. In fact, that time may not be far off.

After all is said and done, where do ordinary Nigerian voters stand in all these? Certainly, little has been said in this political re-alignment about the interest of our suffering compatriots; the governing elite are still very much concerned about how to  appropriate power, and all its material advantages in these high stake scheming.

What Nigerians expected in 1999 when the military relinquished power to the civilians was a change in the governance style away from all these politics of contention for power and our oil wealth. People looked forward to the prompt rehabilitation of our national infrastructure, the upgrading of our academic and health institutions, stable electricity, reliable fuel supply from functional oil  refineries, peace, good governance and stability on all fronts.

But today, what we have is the exact opposite. The country is more divided than ever. And if the truth must be told, there is very little marked difference between PDP and the APC in the states they control at the moment. Just what is the New APC bringing to the fray in 2015 to engender the revolutionary changes we are asking for?

Unfortunately, what this tells us is that, even after 15 years of return to democracy, our longest period of uninterrupted civil rule, we are still saddled with politicians of fortune whose style of governance is worse than the loathed pre-1966 First Republic era. What saddens me is that with the emerging re-alignment of forces on the political front, the road to economic freedom is still laden with dangerous pot-holes which could damage the freedom train we joined in 1999.

More than ever before, our political space is full of disparate, hustling groups which have no ideological relevance to the miasma of massive structural and managerial problems plaguing the nation. Many are in it because political office is the easiest route to sudden wealth.

Any party seeking to take power in 2015 must come forward with realistic proposals to slay Nigeria’s five dragons namely, official corruption, crude oil theft, terrorism, waste of resources and a realistic plan to rebuild the collapsed national infrastructure at all levels. These are just the major problems. Unemployment is deliberately omitted because in this age, we should stop seeing government as the major employer of labour. What government should do is to create the enabling environment for the private sector to function profitably, and thereby create enough job opportunities to absorb the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets with their minds set on crime. There’s nothing in the horizon to show that we are close to the destination. I’d like to be proved wrong.



Read this article in the Guardian Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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