The obscene incident at the presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Monday, tells more of the Nigerian polity than it does of the ruling party.
Quite alright, the APC had it coming. Those who follow the party without introspection would of course lay all the blame at the doorsteps of the state governor, IbikunleAmosun, and the official host of the entire APC machinery on the said day. But in fact, no one in the party hierarchy would walk away without a bag full of blame if honesty governs any interrogation of the events. Not even President Muhammadu Buhari!
From President Buhari, who turned out the greatest emblem of infidelity when he urged party faithful to vote for any candidate of their choice in the governorship election, to Amosun who was recorded supervising the dismantling of campaign apparatus of the governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun and Mr Rauf Aregbesola whose unbridled vituperation roused the sleeping dog and precipitated the disgraceful events that followed, there would be enough portions of blame to go round everyone who is anyone in the APC for the ridicule to which the exalted office of the President of Nigeria was exposed to in Abeokuta on Monday. They have all exhibited an appalling sense of self-aggrandisement unexpected of those who truly desire to serve their fatherland.
As usual, loyalists of the party are currently emotional about the fire that burned on Monday, without acknowledging the smoke that had smouldered since the cantankerous primaries of the party.
In the aftermath of those primaries, the APC hierarchy failed to exhibit the quality of problem-solving leadership expected of any party of its size and accomplishments while Buhari himself has condoned, even approved, disloyalty by hosting Amosun and his lackey, Adekunle Akinade, who is now candidate of the Allied People’s Movement in the March 2 election at the Presidential Villa.
That is if you choose to ignore the fact that the party has, since its phenomenal victory in the 2015 elections, remained the architype of a poorly managed, incohesive organisation that has moved from one level of confidence crisis to another. And a lot, if not all these crises hang on the refusal and failure of leaders to embrace the give and take spirit required of politicians and the unconcealed subordination of national interest. This, even if all parties now feign righteousness, is at the core of the unfortunate end that visited the Abeokuta APC rally on Monday.
But sadly, this rent political disposition wherein ambitions and interests of a few trounce the general good is pervasive in Nigeria. Recall that a group of people who claimed to be political virgins and committed to freeing Nigeria from the clutches of visionless and corrupt career politicians could themselves not form a common fighting ground when they tried recently.
Recall also that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Saturday’s election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the Director General of his campaign Senate President Bukola Saraki were part of the incredible assemblage that the APC was in 2015. Not only that, they left the PDP in 2014 to fill the weak link that then burgeoning APC needed to snatch power from the PDP in the 2015 elections. That they are less than four years later the strongest forces against the same government they helped to bring into power speaks volumes of the motivation of Nigerian politicians and why four years after that revolutionary election for which the world stood in adulation for the country, the coming elections give far more anxiety than the 2015 elections.
Respected diplomat and former External Affairs Minister, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, captured the situation in a statement he issued on Sunday. Akinyemi who claimed to have monitored elections in Nigeria for over 50 years, said in the statement: “Since I have been monitoring elections in Nigeria, I cannot remember any elections that filled me with so much dread and trepidation as these forthcoming elections. Not even the riotous 1965 federal elections…”
And this is as shocking as it is disheartening. If Nigerian politicians truly worked in the interest of the country, these coming elections would be without the tension and anxiety, that have gripped Nigeria but also the world. As Nigeria celebrates the 20th anniversary of its return to democracy this year, it is in a place where electoral offices are burnt down, schools are closed, movement is restricted, and soldiers are pulled out of their barracks and military duties to monitor elections, not in just few states but across the entire federation! And while all of these happen, political leaders whose desperation is leading Nigeria to the precipice in secure places on the bill of the country and their families, if they remain in Nigeria are prepped to jet out at the earliest signs of conflagration.
Therefore, the Nigerian electorate must realise that there is none of these politicians worth the blood of any Nigerian. The level of political education, quality of thought and argument of the citizenry is itself an indication of the determination of the leaders to keep Nigerians in perpetual subjugation.
But the people must set themselves free, first by not allowing themselves to be used as cannon fodders by desperate politicians who want to win elections at all costs. As is usual with politicians, they will be on the prowl these next couple of hours recruiting hands willing to be deployed to all shades of malpractices that they are known for.
Nigerians should put this country and its future above the interest of any politician and not subscribe themselves to violence, allow themselves to be hired to kill or maim other citizens, snatch or destroy ballot boxes or other electoral materials.
Candidates in all the parties have indeed made promises as to how they plan to change Nigeria into a country of pride, supporters on every side have also invested so much passion into winning more support for their candidates, however the campaigns would officially be over today and on Saturday, Nigerians will elect a new President. That President, whoever he is will have a tenure of four years and regardless of what he does or does not do, would face the people in another election four years from now. The eloquent message this passes to us is that all the current gladiators will come and leave the political scene at some point or the other, but Nigeria will remain if the electorate does not allow itself to be used to destroy the country.
So, dear Nigerians, as you go cast your vote on Saturday, vote for the candidate of your choice and maintain the course of peace thereafter. Buhari, Atiku and the tens of others who are on the ballot paper for this election are only a transitory in the history of this country, do not lead yourself or anyone into believing that they must win the elections because Nigeria will not survive without them. Your loyalty must remain with Nigeria and keeping the country safe in this period and after is critical to that.
May the best man for Nigeria win.
Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun