by Dele Agekameh
For quite some time now, the Nigerian political theatre has been embroiled in crises of unimaginable proportion. Every other day, new dimensions are added to the contentious issues. Surprisingly, most of these issues border on conflict of supremacy and arbitrary use of power through which many party faithful have been either emasculated or ignominiously shoveled out of the parties. Indications are rife that there is a gradual incursion of tyranny in the administration of the parties.
The major culprit in this whole shenanigan is the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, a party that prides itself as the biggest party in Africa. As they say, rather jokingly, the bigger the head, the bigger the headache. In the first instance, many of our political parties are apparently nests provided for strange bed fellows to cohabitate. That is probably why the struggle for supremacy and control of party machinery has assumed a war of survival on its own. In the ongoing war within the parties, there is a systematic annihilation of political opponents or those whose views are considered to be injurious to the interest of the few who have monopolised power. This has invariably led to what political scientists would refer to as democratic centralism.
We are all aware of the nature of scheming and internecine war that have engulfed the PDP since Bamanga Tukur, its present Chairman, took over the reign of leadership of the party in March 2012. It started like a fratricidal war among the members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party. With Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the Secretary of the party, as the arrowhead of the dissenting group in the Committee, Tukur was perpetually placed on his toes as the group perfected their strategy to unseat him. But for the moles within the NWC, by now, Tukur would have become history in the party hierarchy.
Much later, the party’s NWC was dissolved and Oyinlola was removed as Secretary. Rather than solve anything, the removal of Oyinlola and other officers who had become a torn in Tukur’s flesh, further deepened the crisis in the party. The struggle for reform in the party later snowballed into a major conflagration last August, when some party leaders, led by some State governors, staged a walkout from the Party’s National Convention ground in Abuja.
The insistence of the group on reforms within the PDP and its hierarchical structure has created a deadlock, which has remained unbroken for so long. Not only have the various reconciliation meetings even with President Goodluck Jonathan in attendance failed to yield any fruitful result, there appears to be the presence of a certain clique within the party that is opposed to any form of reconciliation with aggrieved members. The reason for this is the fear that such reconciliation may pose a threat to their present comfort zone in the party. Therefore, they are hell bent on maintaining the status quo.
Several meetings, which attempted to resolve the two knotty issues involved in the whole saga, have yielded no tangible result. The issues are Jonathan’s candidature in the 2015 election and the fate of Tukur as National Chairman. Going by the body language of the party’s hierarchy, the issue of Jonathan’s candidature in the 2015 election appears to be cast in iron, meaning that it is a no-go area. In order to consolidate the hawks’ hold on the party machinery, Tukur has become a willing puppet that is used to perpetrate illegality and arbitrariness in the party. Unfortunately, his fate has always been hanging precariously in the balance.
In recent times, the leaders of the breakaway faction, with seven state governors as point men, have come under severe emotional, psychological and even mental torture all over the place. The G7 governors are Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Rabiu Kwakwanso of Kano, Muritala Nyako of Adamawa, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto.
Lamido has come under intense security binoculars for some time now. Early this year, Aminu Sule Lamido, one of his sons, was held at the Aminu Kano International Airport over an allegation that he was trying to go out of the country with $50, 000 as against the $10, 000 allowed by law. He was convicted on July 12, 2013 by a federal high court in Kano for money laundering. Last Thursday, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, again, arrested Aminu and Mustapha, another son of Lamido, over yet another allegation of money laundering.
The story is the same for Amaechi of Rivers State, who has known no peace since the rumble in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, erupted many months ago. The crisis in the NGF over the election of its President, which was believed to have been won by Amaechi, has seriously polarised the body into two factions. The one headed by Amaechi is believed to be the authentic NGF, while the other one led by Jonah Jang of Plateau State is a surrogate of the Presidency.
The climax of this regime of terror unleashed on the group was the recent disruption of the governors’ meeting at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. The meeting was held to discuss their grievances against the PDP and how to marshal their points ahead of their planned meeting with Jonathan. That meeting may never see the light of the day anymore because a recent event has overtaken such consideration. On Wednesday, November 6, a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja reinstated Oyinlola as the National Secretary of the PDP. The three-man panel, chaired by Justice Amiru Sanusi, upturned the January 11 judgment of the Federal High court, Abuja, which sacked Oyinlola.
One would have thought that this judgement would provide a good opportunity for the party to resolve the intractable crisis that has engulfed it, but rather than find a solution to the crisis, some desperate elements within the party went ahead to suspend Oyinlola and others under flimsy excuses. This action has clearly vindicated those who are calling for reform in the party. Moreover, that decision has the potential of setting the judiciary against the party and its government because it is seen as a negation of Jonathan’s avowed commitment to the rule of law.
The Presidency has since come under heat from some stakeholders in the government who felt that certain forces were exploiting the situation for their selfish motives. Some governors loyal to the President were said to have made contacts among themselves and with the President all through last week, expressing deep concerns that the leadership of the party scuttled the opportunity for peace presented by the Appeal Court verdict.
The legal and ethical issues thrown up by the suspension order have also engaged the attention of stakeholders who are viewing, with concern, the legality of decisions being currently taken by the party with the sitting secretary whose appointment has been declared illegal by the Court. This is why Tukur may have incurred the wrath of Jonathan over his latest handling of the moves to resolve the crisis in the party. The Presidency is believed to be tinkering with the idea of directing the party leadership to reverse itself on the suspension issue.
If that happens, then Tukur’s days are numbered as the President is said to be unhappy with the unilateral decision he took to suspend the party leaders, including Oyinlola, who have been reinstated to his post by the appellate court. The Presidency is worried that instead of the party creating and getting more followers and friends, the hierarchy is busy creating more enemies for the party and the Jonathan administration.
So far, Tukur’s tenure as party leader has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. It has been dogged by series of arbitrary use of power, witch-hunting and indiscriminate removal of national officers and dissolution of party executives across the country. The suspension of Oyinlola is nothing but a deliberate ploy to circumvent the Court of Appeal judgement which recognised him as the National Secretary of PDP. By that action, the PDP has foreclosed the possibility of any reconciliation and portray itself as a lawless party.
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