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2015: Opposition Merger – What Lies Ahead By Theophilus Ilevbare

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There is a need to provide a credible alternative to the electorate, a radical change borne out of the growing discontent of Nigerians with the failure of the PDP led government that has held power at the centre since 1999, to transform the countries’ fortune despite multi-billion dollar oil revenue frittered by successive government – $67billion in foreign reserves in the last few years – deflating any hope of a breath of Jonathan’s ‘fresh air,” for these, the leaders of the coalition, saw an exigency in salvaging the beleaguered Nigerian people from the present socio-political and economic downturn as an impetus for the merger.

And so much was the euphoria that greeted the announcement of the All Peoples Congress (APC), that it sent jitters across the political divide. The coalition of ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA to form the new alliance is an audacious bid to unseat the ruling party in the 2015 general elections. Two recent events gave fillip to the merger. First, was the meeting of 10 governors from opposition parties to endorse the coalition. Secondly, the formation of contact and mobilization committee to expedite alliance talks. Both moves couple with a new name, has helped to silence the sceptics who described the merger as a political jamboree that will soon go the way of the previous attempt to form an opposition party in 2011.

 

The political landscape has been dogged by the absence of credible and formidable opposition. The new party on the block, has a lot to prove to Nigerians; do they have something different from what the PDP has to offer? Can they prove that they are not the same with the PDP? From their respective states, senatorial districts and other areas they represent, can they genuinely say that they have fared better than the party they oppose? These and more will determine if they will be taken seriously by Nigerians and how far they will go.

The political will demonstrated by the ACN and CPC so far must now be translated to persuasion with renewed optimism and enthusiasm to convince the indifferent factions to be part of the merger. The leaders of the parties in the coalition must be ready to further shift ground in the sacrifice of personal and regional ambition for the merger to come to fruition. The APC must rise above the debate on issues such as the logo, which many observers believe is trivial. Technical and ideological differences like the constitution and manifesto must be given priority as this is the basis for which the opposition party will be weighed with the PDP. There is no merger where the dissolving bodies remain adamant on their ideologies.  A sound ideology will surely boost the APC’s acceptance and penetration. It can learn from the PDP’s lack of internal democracy that has led to incessant wrangling and animosity among its members.

The jostling for the allocation of offices among various political parties in the alliance will be the litmus test of how the APC will deal with the selection process for the candidates before the general elections. It will be interesting to see how the parties will shift ground to concede ideological differences in the larger interest of the new party.

The merger between the ACN and CPC alone might just be enough to see out the PDP, as a school of thought will have us believe. No, it is a political miscalculation. The PDP has gained cult followership over the last 14 years in most rural areas where they have a preponderance of votes cast. A cursory look at the outcome of election since 1999, indicate, the incumbent seldom lose election. The odds are always against the opposition. The PDP had boasted sometime ago, that the merger of all the opposition parties will not be enough to upstage them. No surprise. Over the years the ruling party has enriched a lot of Nigerians who can spread a few billions around the country to win votes from an electorate, a greater proportion, living below the poverty line.

The merger must be consummated in time to allow the APC put proper structure across the geo-political zones to consolidate what the parties already have on ground. Immediate mobilisation and sensitisation of the electorate, down to the grassroots, on the manifesto of the new party must commence.

In the North, the CPC and ANPP has got four states governors, the ACN is well grounded in the South-West, capturing five out of the six states, they can also count on votes from Edo state in the South-South. A faction of APGA led by Imo state governor, and a good structure in other states of the South-East. It is still a far cry from the 23 states the PDP control across the country, but with the merger, the APC can consolidate by retaining those states and hopefully win a few more. The consummation of all four political parties as part of the merger, will give it a national spread and outlook.

The APC must guard against surreptitious tactics by the PDP to stymie the new party using the factions of ANPP and APGA not part of the merger. Effort must be made to woo these disaffected factions who are indifferent to the coalition. The APC must beware of smear campaigns against the drivers of the opposition alliance. With the storm always rocking the PDP boat, the APC should prevent aggrieved members of the PDP from cross-carpeting to the APC, as the aftermath could be grave.

The applecart in waiting for the APC will be the jostle for the nomination for their presidential aspirant and other candidates seeking ticket for various political offices. One that is most likely to generate controversy is the Presidential ticket. General Muhammadu Buhari has in recent time expressed his interest in contesting the 2015 election. His antecedents does not make him popular in the South but his followership in the north puts him in strong position. There is the agitation from the South-East for an Ndigbo presidential aspirant in 2015, the APGA faction will definitely want a look in that direction, even if they have to settle for a VP slot. The South-West have been in and around the corridors of power, Bola Tinubu, still very much in contention. Most Nigerians want a clean break from the old brigade like the PDP has done; preference for younger breed of outstanding politicians from the APC, the likes of Babatunde Fashola, Nasir Elrufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Oby Ezekwesili and a few others have been muted. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the upcoming months.

There is ample time for the  alliance to put its house in order and mobilize well ahead of the general elections, sensitising Nigerians across the nook and cranny that they are a credible alternative to the PDP government. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan’s lacklustre performance in office will give the opposition a real chance at the polls if they put their acts together. Gauging the pulse of Nigerians, many are discontent with his leadership. Whoever the APC presents as presidential aspirants, might be given serious consideration at the polls by the electorate.

The APC should look beyond unseating the PDP at the centre. Changing the prevalent socio-political ideology, creating an alternative for development, restructuring and deepening of our political culture should be part of the underpinning ideas driving the new mega party. The government of the day will respond better to criticism from a formidable opposition, thus, raising the bar of leadership and governance that has made the country totter, for many years, on the thread line of disaster. Beyond reasonable doubt, the APC must prove to Nigerians that “when they come on board” it won’t be time for them to have their own share of the “national cake.”

Some cynics have expressed caution in the euphoria that welcomed the announcement of the APC as they reason it is a merger of strange bedfellows with a DNA of the PDP. They say the merger will fail, just as the previous attempt to form an opposition alliance in 2011. Even if it fails, at least they had the courage to try. There is no political party made of saints anywhere, we all have a past that we are not proud of. The leaders of the opposition forming the alliance – if for nothing – laying their personal ambition on the alter of opposition merger should be commended. Rather than playing second fiddle to the political party that vaunts itself as the largest in Africa, they have put individual aspirations aside in the hope of a new vista for Nigeria. For those who have chosen to remain armchair critics and spectocrats waiting for saints and perfectionist to form a political party, they need not wait much longer; the imminent collapse of the entity called Nigeria!

 

 

theophilus@ilevbare.com

blog: http://ilevbare.com

Twitter: @tilevbare

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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Emir Sanusi

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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