Dele Momodu: A tale of 3 political parties

by Dele Momodu


Since we cannot import saints from heaven, we would have to manage the ill-assorted bunch that comprise the opposition which we have on parade at this difficult moment.

Fellow Nigerians, please, permit me to share my views with you on why it is easy for bad politicians and incompetent leaders to thrive in Nigeria. I will also attempt to challenge us all on what is required to bring about the desired change we all seem to crave.

Thanks to Channels Television and Ebony Life TV, I was able to watch the Genvoices’ conference on my screen last Saturday. Let me commend the organisers for a great job. The organisation was superb. The quality of participants was awesome. I enjoyed Tonye Cole, Oby Ezekwesili, Ohimai Godwin-Amaize, Baba Christopher Kolade, Mo Abudu, Omotola Jalade, and others, not in any particular order. The powerful contributions rekindled my hope in the abilities of Nigerians to dissect our gargantuan problems and provide gigantic solutions.

What then is stopping us from moving forward? How come we’ve not been able to actualise our dreams of a greater nation, where no man is oppressed? A country where leaders are held accountable and where profligacy in government is drastically reduced? A State where ethnic jingoism is killed totally, where our children can go to the best schools and find jobs or create self-employment on graduation, where we treat health as wealth, where we can vote in good candidates? A  Nation where we can vote out the dregs that litter our political landscape, one where we can practise religion with total tolerance and where we apply merit and the fear of almighty God in all we do?

The answer is simple and straight forward. It is due to lack of action on the part of those who can make the necessary change happen. The man who spoke my mind to some extent was Tonye, the oil baron, who submitted, without mincing words, that seeking economic prosperity is not more important than seeking political relevance. He is very right. We all fool ourselves by thinking politics is arrant nonsense and that we can create an illusory world where we can shut out politicians in our lives. We then build a false cocoon around us and assume a supposed superiority complex that we imagine puts us above the politicians and well out of their reach. This seems to be the tragedy of our situation.

My thesis therefore is that no man is beyond politics and politicians. Sooner or later, the wealthiest man would realise the falsity of the position that politics is the exclusive preserve of upstarts and ruffians. Reality would dawn on us that bad policies can ultimately, and will in our case, eventually, destroy anything, and everything, in its wake. We shall discover that it is foolhardy to think leadership is strictly for professional politicians when indeed the technocrats have a big role to play as Governor Babatunde Fashola has demonstrated in Lagos. While politicians believe that engaging in perpetual strife and intrigues is what would sustain them in power, the technocrat knows that performance is a shorter route to retaining power. Until we have more technocrats in power who are willing and ready to risk their comfort zones, nothing will change here. Unless we have “non-political politicians” who are determined to damn the “rabidly political politicians” our country would remain a nation of desperate and incompetent leaders.

My next thesis is that most of us think we need saints to change Nigeria but it is not true. Nations are not built by Angels from heaven but by determined performers and passionate patriots and visionaries. If we truly love our country, the current level of greed would greatly abate. What then do we need to do urgently to arrest this dangerous slide into complete anarchy? I shall endeavour to break it down in simple language. We don’t need all the high-voltage arguments. I will be doing this based on my modest knowledge of my country and the vast experience I have garnered since joining politics as far back as 1982.

There are three dominant political parties in Nigeria today. They are PDP, the current Nigerian political overlords, the newly formed APC, the merger of the main opposition elements plus the PDP rebels, and the Floaters Party, where everyone else belongs. The first two are legally registered as political associations while the last is nebulous in nature. The PDP promotes itself as the largest political party in Africa without any shred of empirical evidence. I’m inclined to believe that South Africa’s ANC and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood control far more followership than our self-conceited PDP. Without any shade of doubt, those parties are better organised and are able to put their membership register on display without indulging in self-inflation and vain-glorification. While members of those parties are willing to die for their political beliefs, no one is willing to replicate same for PDP. As a matter of fact, the PDP is ready to mortgage and kill Nigeria for its members and its members are ready, able and willing to kill one another in other to assuage their own selfish interests and personal ambition!

The APC, on the other hand, is a child of opportunity and circumstance. On paper, it has become very tempting to acknowledge its fledgling importance and formidability as the controlling Party in Nigerian politics and the Party to beat at the next general elections. However, until those elections come and go, we won’t be able to know how far the opposition’s newly-acquired fangs can lift it. I disagree with those who believe APC, sensu stricto, will never be able to perform better than the ruling PDP, because it has no marked ideological difference from those it seeks to torpedo. After all, as the argument goes, a large proportion of the new members swelling its ranks come from the PDP. While this may be true we cannot and must not make that an excuse for continuing to endure the crass recklessness of the PDP.

The essence of Democracy is to make it possible to change useless leaders as regularly as possible even when there is no guarantee that the incoming set of leaders would perform better. The mere fact that a narcoleptic government can be sacked is enough antidote to future madness. The arrogance of the PDP is predicated on the fact that it has enjoyed a near-monopoly of power in Nigeria since the advent of renewed democracy in 1999. Indeed it is safe to say that the Party never dreamt that a day like this would come. If it did, it is possible that it would have behaved better, especially in recent times. Just imagine that although the APC is yet to put its house in order but the PDP is already offering apologies to the same members it wilfully sacked when it believed that it was simply invincible. This is definitely not the same smug PDP we used to know. The fear of APC, despite the pretentious braggadocio of PDP, is the beginning of wisdom. The PDP is learning to eat the humble pie with relish.

We must therefore do everything within our collective power to make sure APC grows in leaps and bounds. We don’t have to join APC before we can encourage the party to learn from the mistakes of PDP that has led to its near-disintegration. Most of those who voted for President Goodluck Jonathan to become President were not necessarily members of PDP. When the Wole Soyinka’s of this wonderful world demonstrated in favour of Jonathan against the Yar’Adua cabal, they were among the biggest haters of PDP and its prodigal sons.  The easier alternative to calling the bluff of PDP and bringing it down from its high-horse today is APC even if it is not the best yet. I shall return to this line of argument shortly.

Of course, the best option against PDP is the Floaters Party which I’m sure is peopled by some members of the other political parties (not all because a few of them are mere stooges of PDP) and the Association of disgruntled Nigerians who constitute over 70 percent of our population. Unfortunately, the Floaters Party has not recognised its own power. It is in total disarray and seems to suffer from an incurable inferiority complex. It does not know that politics is a game of numbers and that it can harness its considerable numerical strength to great advantage. Unfortunately, the Floaters Party would not be able to fly in the foreseeable future as I learnt painfully in the last Presidential election. The reasons are legion.

Nigerians enjoy a psychedelic existence and a life of ready-made enjoyment. We love the good things of this planet and would travel to the end of the world to catch our fun but won’t think of learning how others, whose hospitality we choose to go and savour, did it in order to do ours. We detest investing where our mouths lie. The same youths who praised Obama’s miracle to high heavens would give one million reasons why it cannot happen here. Ten million Nigerians can raise ten billion naira by investing one thousand naira only in our collective future but that is a pipe dream. The wealthy who complain about the challenges and incredible difficulties of doing business in Nigeria would never take the risk of supporting potentially better candidates so as not to suffer the ire of their known devils. We have all resigned ourselves to fate and reducing ourselves to a position of merely waiting for our walls of Jericho to collapse without lifting a finger or our voices like the Israelites did.

The obstacles before a new crop of leaders with clear and distinctive ideology and principle are very tall and daunting. For now, there are two options left to explore. Since we cannot import saints from heaven, we would have to manage the ill-assorted bunch that comprise the opposition which we have on parade at this difficult moment. Those who truly believe we can start the process of changing Nigeria must throw their hats in the ring. The APC can still be moulded and remodelled if we act fast. I’m saying this because professional political hijackers and kidnappers are already erecting global structures in the name of the party when the parent body is yet to register members at home. It portends danger for the future of APC. By the time tomorrow comes, all the important structures would have been misappropriated by political jobbers, opportunists and fifth columnists.

Those who believe the APC is not likely to perform any better should try their luck by trying to change Nigeria from within a party we already know as time-wasters and economy-wreckers. Hopefully, a few whiz kids may spring up like Donald Duke, Nasir El Rufai, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla, Oby Ezekwesili, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Aminu Tambuwal, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Bukola Saraki, Musiliu Obanikoro, Akinwumi Adesina, Olusegun Aganga, Omobola Johnson, Barth Nnaji, Remi Babalola, Nuhu Ribadu, Sanusi Lamido, Charles Soludo, and other twinkling stars of different PDP eras. Even if they were imperfect they gave us that glimmer of hope in the huge potential of manpower and visionary leadership available in Nigeria.

We must go beyond beautiful speeches and begin to erect practical structures that can seriously lead us to that land of promise and plenty. It is for us to change our stereotypical attitude to politics as a dirty pastime for certified gangsters and certificated looters and forgers. Each one of us in the Floaters Party must do his bit to support the amalgamation of forces in the opposition in order to rid ourselves of the cankerworm rapidly eating into the fabric of our nation’s survival and start a regeneration that would lead to the Nigeria of our dreams.

When we wake up from our current state of somnambulism, we shall realise that our case is not as impossible as it seems. No one can stop our triumphant entry into Jerusalem unless we fail as usual to act decisively!  The time to act is now.  Our collective destiny does not rest somewhere in the firmament above but in our own hands.  We can call on celestial forces, all we like, to save us from our Armageddon, but unless we see and grab the lifeline that they have already provided us we will continue to see our prayers go unheeded.
God bless and save our Nigeria.


 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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