LP, NNPP, PDP And Their M*A*D Posture
By Dele Sobowale
“Alliances are held together by fear; not by love.” Harold Macmillan, 1894-1986, British Prime Minister.
Harold Macmillan said many notable things. But, one of his most famous was his announcement regarding the “the wind of change blowing through the continent [Africa]” on February 3, 1960 to the White South African Parliament.
That was the period several African nations were about to gain independence from colonial rule. If Macmillan were to rise from the grave today, he might be surprised about three things. One, how far Africa has been left behind in learning and technology.
Second, how good governance has eluded most of the continent. Third, how elections, virtually everywhere on the Dark Continent, have become wars in which falsehoods prevail. He left us with an idea – which might provide solace to the leaders of the three political parties mentioned above.
Meanwhile, before anybody accuses me of calling the leaders of the Labour Party, New Nigerian Peoples Party and the Peoples Democratic Party insane, I would like to point out the asterisks in the word. M*A*D is an abbreviation for Mutually Assured Destruction.
The leaders, especially the Presidential candidates of the three parties, correctly I might add, saw a very vulnerable ruling party; which commands the respect of less than 40 per cent of all adult Nigerians. Then, each of them made the cardinal error of assuming that it could alone defeat the All Progressives Congress, APC. It has not worked for one reason.
One look at the aggregate results would prove that had there been an alliance between them, like the coalition called APC which wrested power from the PDP in 2015, they would have won by a huge margin; and the outcome would not have been in doubt. In other words, they got in each others way and they now depend on the Supreme Court of Nigeria, SCON, for rescue. In my opinion, that is forlorn hope on which nobody should rely. We are condemned, for the next four years, to being ruled by a government in which the majority of Nigerians have no confidence.
That partly explains why the celebrations have been muted so far. This is not the sort of mandate a new President desires; 37 per cent was all the support he got. It is humiliating – even in victory. The fact that 63 per cent of your people don’t want you must make anyone feel uncomfortable. Onecannot fault the winner for receiving a free gift from opponents who went into the contest to commit mutual destruction.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
“A victorious general has no faults in the eyes of the public; while a defeated general is always wrong – no matter how wise his conduct may have been.”
Because politics is war by other means, we have no other analogy to guide us in order to understand the outcome which has left the vast majority of Nigerians speechless. I am still shaking my head in disbelief. But, while compiling the VANGURAD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, I read enough to understand certain matters about conflicts between groups. You can rightly call me an arm-chair analyst if you like. To me two calamities befell the opponents of APC – particularly the PDP. The first can be attributed to misfortune. As a more learned fellow said; “There is nothing so subject to the inconstancy of war as fortune. Miguel de Cervantes 1547-1616.
One factor which none of the three parties, now disputing the results, considered was the possibility that INEC might foul up the entire exercise. They were so busy campaigning and doing other things; nobody kept an eye on the referee and the assistant referees, despite the alarms I raised. Two articles – WHAT IF THERE IS NO CREDIBLE ELECTION and FELLOW NIGERIANS PREPARE FOR CHAOS – were published on this page to draw the attention of those now wringing their hands about INEC-created chaos to the possibility that it would happen.
What they would or should have done is now no longer relevant. The truth is, they were caught unprepared for the mess. Given a government which thrives on anarchy, the mess was predictable and it favoured the ruling party.
MUTUAL CANNIBALISATION SET IN
LP, NNPP and PDP were to some extent chips of the same old block – the original PDP. Obi, according to him, stepped out of the PDP because of the “demands of the PDP Governors”. He landed in LP and became, surprisingly to him, the symbol of mass disenchantment with the old regime. I am certain he received more votes than he ever imagined. The vast majority of his votes were at the expense of the PDP. Kwakanso, for a first-timer as Presidential candidate, was over-ambitious. Few people know him outside Kano State; and the results proved it.
Virtually all his votes came from Kano; and from PDP. APC did not go for majority of the votes. Their strategists were clear about that. In a cynical way, they know that the majority of Nigerians are fed up with Buhari and APC. APC was praying for just what happened; that their opponents will engage in self-cannibalisation as to give them plurality.
And, unless the results are overturned by the courts, they achieved their initial purpose – a minority of voters ruling over the majority who rejected it. History has furnished us with two main outcomes of such election results. One of them is so unpleasant, it is better left unwritten. But, the real benefactors of APC were six men.
DR IYORCHA AYU VS G-5: STUBBORN MEN IN PETROL STATION.
“It is hard to fight against anger, for whatever it wants, it will pay the price, even at the cost of life itself.” Heraclitus, c470 BC.
Ayu, the Chairman of the PDP brought about the G-1+4, or G-5 Governors by doing what nobody in public life should not do. He promised to resign if a Northerner emerged as Presidential candidate. Atiku was selected. Ayu refused to go. Nothing is more reprehensible as a man who cannot keep his words. He created five very angry men – who unfortunately don’t know where to stop. I will finish this message by telling a true story – which I witnessed at Ibadan.
Late in 1993, shortly after Abacha had seized power, there was the perennial fuel scarcity. Vehicles had queued up since the day before at a petrol station at Mokola Roundabout, Ibadan before a tanker arrived. The owner had enforced order – strictly turn by turn, left and right. All went well until it was Baba Ijesha’s turn. He was a popular taxi driver in the area, very jovial but with temper like a volcano. As the car before his own was being served, three vehicles drove in from the exit gate – led by an Army Jeep loaded with jerry cans.
They immediately positioned their vehicles near the pump and ordered the attendant to finish quickly with the car being served and start filling their cans, Jeep and cars. Everybody else, including me, moved back – except Baba Ijesha. He told the attendant plainly; “if you serve the soldiers before me, I will strike a match. I have been here since 6 pm yesterday; and they just came.” One soldier had an AK-47; another had a whip. They dared Baba Ijesha to draw near the pump as the attendant started to serve them. The flash of a cigarette lighter was the last thing they, soldiers and Baba Ijesha, saw before the station went up in flames. Fortunately, my car was still way down the line. Neither Baba Ijesha, nor the soldiers lived to tell their own stories. That shows what anger, even if justified, can do in any setting – including politics. I am sure they are regretting now.
G-5 was fighting for a principle to which many of us will readily subscribe. But, as they pressed forward with their dissent, I was reminded of Baba Ijesha. It never occurred to the man that he was going too far. As the G-5 became more hostile to the party, they were getting closer to self-annihilation politically. The election results must have come as a rude shock to them; as they saw their own political careers go up in smoke. They wrecked PDP; and they also wrecked themselves. That was certainly not their intention.
Meanwhile, the hopes of Ayu and the main body of PDP now rest on a favourable Supreme Court decision. Otherwise, he would go down in history as the Chairman who presided over the death of the party – when he could have saved the situation by voluntarily stepping down; as he promised to do. Just in case PDP gets another chance in 2023, then I have another story from the US.
Sam Rayburn, 1882-1961, is still regarded as one of the most powerful Speakers in US history. He once had a troublesome Congressman, member of his own party, who annoyed to no end. One day another member of the House came to Rayburn and asked, “Why do you continue to tolerate that rascal? Throw him out.” Rayburn shook his head and replied. “You see in politics, there are some people who it is better that they are kept on the inside pissing out than kicked out and they are pissing in.”
The G-5, to me represented people who should have been kept inside of PDP pissing out; instead of being kept out pissing in. To begin with, because they are all Governors, they control a lot of resources in their states. Rivers and Oyo in particular, were strategic. To me everything should have been done to keep them in – for everybody’s sakes. Right now, only a favourable court decision stands between PDP and a lot of peoples’ political oblivion. “Politicians”, indeed, “are their own grave diggers.” (Will Rogers, 1897-1935).
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