Friday, December 4, 2015

One Party State Loading In Nigeria: The APC Game Plan

By Olanrewaju Aderemi Obafemi
A few days after the 1999 Presidential Election, then Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led a delegation of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to Ota, Ogun State to congratulate the winner of that election. While hosting the NLC team then President-Elect, General Olusegun Obasanjo, still smarting from his wholesale rejection in the South West, swore to destroy the Alliance for Democracy (AD) “in the national interest”. 

*Buhari and Obasanjo
He argued that with the kind of hold that the AD had on the South West it could only remain a regional party and that as long as the South West remained loyal to it the Yoruba would not be able to play at the national stage. Then National Secretary General of AD was procured by Obasanjo to foment a crisis, which he executed, but unfortunately he trusted Obasanjo to reward him handsomely and neglected to negotiate properly. What he got was a directorship in an obscure federal agency.
Shortly after Obasanjo leaked his infamous December 2013 letter to President Goodluck Jonathan to the press the leadership of the then newly registered All Progressive Congress went to Abeokuta to pay homage to the ex-president and invited him to help guide their new party to success. Obviously basking in the recognition that had been accorded him Obasanjo promised to help. He subsequently kept haranguing President Jonathan until the immediate past president was defeated at the polls.
2015 General Elections
Apart from President Jonathan’s principal shortcoming, which was neglecting the communities that supported him to victory in 2011 and instead heavily patronizing the ones that did not support him in the hope that he could turn them, the 2015 Presidential Election was won by rumours. What? While preparing to make a bid for the presidency a record fourth time General Muhammadu Buhari tasked an associate of his, Prof. Femi Olufunmilade, Head of Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies and Sub Dean of the School of Post Graduate Studies and Research at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, to avail him of a strategy with which to defeat the incumbent president. Olufunmilade accomplished the task and submitted a report which indicated that the only way incumbents have been unseated in Africa was through widespread disaffection with the government of the day.

*Tinubu and Buhari 
In the report he drew attention to the victories of Fredrick Chiluba in Zambia, in 1991; John Kuffour in Ghana, in 2000; Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal, in 2000; Mwai Kibaki in Kenya, in 2002; Yayi Boni in Benin Republic, in 2006; Ernest Bai Koroma in Sierra Leone, in 2007; Alhassan Quattara in Cote d’Ivoire, in 2010; and Peter Mutharika in Malawi, in 2014. In all cases, the opposition had accused the sitting governments of widespread corruption which they cited as the reason the living conditions of the people were so poor, and promised to prosecute the then officials, recover loots and use same to better living conditions. Not in any of those countries was any evidence of past corruption found by the successors. Olufunmilade had explained that a whispering campaign was all that was needed: The accuser does not need to prove anything; all it needs to do is allege! It would be left to the government of the day to refute with verifiable proof!! If the allegations are weighty enough and made often enough the sitting government would be so hated by the people that they would need only little prodding to march on the streets and demand that the government leave. In extreme situations the people may even take to attacking government officials.
And the torrent of accusations came pouring. From Obasanjo who made numerous wild allegations including the one about the existence of foreign-trained snipers that were to be used to assassinate marked opposition figures; to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, then Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, who alleged that $49.8 billion, then $10.9 billion, then $20 billion of oil proceeds was unaccounted for; to Professor Charles Soludo, former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, who alleged that some N50 trillion was misappropriated, stolen and unaccounted for under Jonathan! And those were the big ones. Lesser fries like Alh. Lai Mohammed, now Minister of Information and Culture, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Rotimi Amaechi, then Governor of Rivers State, and Babatunde Raji Fashola, then Governor of Lagos State, were all over Nigerians making all sorts of allegation. After the election and after General Buhari was sworn in the allegations kept up, apparently to explain that the monies that APC was depending on to make good on its stupendous campaign promises had been stolen. 

*Jonathan and Buhari 
The latest is the joke by President Buhari that some former officials had started returning some money. The question is: does it take forever to start prosecuting former officials who stole? Who and who returned monies, and how much did they return? The Jonathan government was so desperate to procure arms after the government of the United States blocked its many attempts to buy from the West that it resorted to shipping raw cash to attempt to source for arms. Again, the Americans ratted on the cash shipment and it was seized in South Africa. The APC had a windfall. It regaled the country of stories of “money laundering”. As it happened in the rest of Africa that Prof. Olufunmilade urged APC to copy, nothing is going to come out of the promise to prosecute and recover monies. It was all a scam!
Emasculating The Opposition
Obasanjo is the master of not taking prisoners. Anytime he gets his opponent on the floor he keeps punching until the opponent gives up the ghost. It was the former president that counselled that it was dangerous to leave a wounded PDP in charge of so many states’ treasuries. It might bounce back. This time, there was no ranking official of PDP to be used to scatter the now main opposition party from within. Enter the judiciary.
Taraba State
Taraba State is the only state in the whole former Northern Region where PDP won majority votes at both the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections. If allowed to stay in the hands of PDP it would remain a foothold from where the party could bounce back to other states. After a curious cancellation of results in a whole local government, Donga, on allegations of impropriety in five wards in the Gubernatorial Election the PDP still emerged victorious, but the Taraba State Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, ordered that the PDP governor vacate his seat and Aisha Alhassan who scored the second highest number of votes be sworn in in his place. Reason? The same INEC that accepted the candidacy of the PDP governor, Darius Ishaku, and put him on the ballot claimed that it was not aware that he became a candidate through due process. INEC had the power to reject the candidacy of Ishaku, did not do so, only to go to the Tribunal to thwart PDP. As the Court of Appeal has ruled in other cases, what the APC had was, at best a pre-election grouse which should have led to repeating the gubernatorial election in Taraba State, but out of sheer desperation the APC decreed that it wanted the state, and the tribunal acquiesced. It remains to be seen if Nigeria’s higher courts are as pliable as the judges of the tribunal.
Rivers State
Rivers is the state of “the lion of the Niger Delta” as the APC would want us to believe, but during the last general elections his preferred candidates were roundly defeated. Apart from wanting to save Amaechi’s blushes, Rivers is a state rich in resources and funds. Leaving it in the hands of a PDP governor would see to it that PDP would still be able to call on some financial muscle towards the 2019 general elections, especially the presidential one. Again, the tribunal was ordered to do a job and it did it. Governor Nyesom Wike and some 21 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, including the speaker, had their elections annulled by the Tribunal.
Akwa Ibom State
Akwa Ibom’s great sin is that it is rich in resources which APC does not want in the hands of a PDP governor. The tribunal annulled the results in 18 of 31 local government areas and ordered a re-run. APC is hoping to cash in on collusion by INEC and security agencies to wrest the state from PDP.
It was thought that with the reigns of former presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria’s judiciary had been weaned from the executive branch of government. Under the two immediate past presidents the judiciary was left to do its work like the independent arm of government that it is supposed to be, but with Obasanjo guiding the APC and with his and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s combined reach in the judiciary it seems Nigerians would have to resign themselves to reverses in governance that a judiciary besotted to the ruling party signposts.
Can the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria save the blushes of the nation’s judiciary? For sure, the conduct of the election tribunals in Taraba, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states have called into question the integrity of Nigerian judges. The Nigerian judiciary is a laughing stock and only it can save itself. Other arms of government, according to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, cannot supervise the judiciary. It is self-administering. Do the officers at the higher reaches have strong backbones that refuse to read the body language or outright attempts to coerce by the executive? We wait to see with bat
By Olanrewaju Aderemi Obafemi
Tel. 234-(0)806 130 7574 (cell) 234-(0)805 176 5213 (cell)


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