Through acts of apparent omission, President Buhari and his government have allowed some conniving and desperate elements within his party, the APC, to transform the celebratory victory of the Nigerian people over the ruinous maladministration of the despair-inspiring PDP into an uncertain period of national mourning and gloom.
The high expectations that characterized the immediate post-election period have overnight ominously given way to clouds of melancholic suspicion and cynicism the angst and fury of which are directed against the president whose seeming aloofness has provided both comfort and temerity to the gangster-style impunity of an increasingly insolent and hubristic Bukola Saraki and his PDP sponsors led by David Mark and the cast of fellow desperadoes whose consistently bad ways were responsible for their repudiation at the polls by the overwhelming majority of the Nigerian electorate.
Surely, any serious government should be worried by the loss of confidence in it on the part of the citizenry and the new Buhari administration ought to be doubly worried that quite early in their mandate, they stand the risk of alienating especially the common man through deeds that may portray them as either untrustworthy or simply irresponsible.
By far the single most disastrous consequence of President Buhari’s tentativeness in the face of the questionable ascendancy of Saraki as senate president is the threat to the popular mandate of change that was accorded the APC by the masses. With his track record of sleazy dealings spanning at least two decades, the illegitimate senate president has, in the eyes of many, come to symbolize corruption and debilitating turpitudes. Coupled with the crooked and undemocratic manner of Saraki’s PDP-sponsored imposition, his emergence and that of his alter ego, Ike Ekweremadu, a potent totem of the PDP’s reactionary politics of myopic sectarianism and cant, are bound to negate the progressive orientation of the APC’s change narrative. The June 9 antics of Saraki, his fellow renegades and their PDP allies do constitute an anti-climax whose objective is to thwart and render useless the visionary articles contained in the APC’s change manifesto. This is a very worrying development requiring that patriotic and conscientious citizens strive, as a matter of urgency, to undo its horrendous damage.
To dramatically and forcefully signal the first major danger of the Saraki coup of June 9, the country is observing a troubling metamorphosis of the defeated PDP from its post-election whimpering and “trauma of defeat” posture to its now vantage position of rekindled vigor and triumphalist chest-beating . With the terrible destruction inflicted on the nation by sixteen years of a most decadent and depraved misrule by the PDP, the legitimate expectation of the average Nigerian had always been that the party would either disintegrate completely and remain buried forever or, alternatively, suffer painful penance and, like a phoenix, rise from the ashes of its political debacle or demise by way of redemptive purgatory that would make it a truly pro-people vehicle for societal mobilization and good governance. Quite ironically, though, because of the unfortunate failure of the APC hierarchy to assume its responsibilities by, amongst other things, mismanaging the composition of the leadership of the National Assembly where the party ought to automatically hold sway on account of its majority status, the PDP are remorselessly rejoicing, at the expense of the critical mass that voted them out of political reckoning. The sad and infuriating spectacle of especially Saraki, Ekweremadu and their PDP sponsors engaging in their trade mark disdain for the citizenry is just too horrifying to bear. Nigerians are currently in a state of daze. They are despondent. Their justifiable anger and renewed sense of malaise cannot be underestimated. It would be a grave mistake for Buhari and his regime to pretend that they are not perturbed by or acutely aware of the ignoble way and manner Saraki and his allies have so devastatingly damaged the change agenda of the APC and by so doing, once more made the entire Nigerian people, Buhari included, a laughing stock of the entire world. The President in particular cannot afford to continue hiding behind the convenient pretext of wanting to stay above the fray when the Nigerian house is on fire – a fire that was deliberately set by unrepentant destroyers of our commonwealth and for which his government, inadvertently or otherwise, did provide the “enabling environment”. He should show that he is willing and capable of wielding the big stick as the situation does demand. Saraki and his soul mates have so far consistently demonstrated that they are prepared to go to any indecent and unpatriotic lengths in order to achieve their retrogressive objective of pro-status quo paralysis that benefits themselves and all those whose actions (or inactions) have all but ruined Nigeria.
It is the ex-governor of Kano State and now a senator, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who rightly opined only last week that the Saraki coup at the Senate is a direct threat to the Buhari government and the country as a whole. The reckless and irresponsible conduct by the illegitimate senate president has served to corroborate Kwankwaso’s contention. Soon after that perfidious coup, Saraki irrationally closed the Senate for two weeks. It re-opened for business on Tuesday, June 23. But no business was conducted as he and his co-conspirators have continued to indulge in their self-serving shenanigans. Barely two days after, the soi-disant senate president again locked up the Red Chamber and dispersed the legislators who have been asked to resume on July 21! This is the height of madness. Saraki should be made to understand once and for all that Nigeria is not his estate and that trampling on the legitimate aspirations of the people the way he and his co-travellers are doing does have its limits. President Buhari and the leadership of the APC should react to this latest transgression by imposing relevant sanctions on members of the Saraki-led confederacy, on Dogara (House of Representatives) and on Mr. Oyegun, the party chairman whose apparent partisanship and dereliction of duty are partly responsible for the crisis facing the APC. Saraki and his allies cannot be allowed to continue to brazenly toy with the destiny of the nation without any countervailing influences of the moral majority – the one that massively voted for real change – rising to challenge and decisively defeat them.
The Buhari presidency has been badly indented by the Saraki coup. Let’s make no mistake about that. The inability so far of Mr. President and his éminence grise to deal a fatal blow to Saraki’s anti-party activities and insubordination has portrayed both his administration and the APC as being in a state of disarray while the country must now grapple with the odium of being under the stranglehold of power-hungry usurpers hell bent on negating the salvation of the Nigerian people.
At another level too, Saraki as well as his fellow coup plotters and associates are making a mockery of Nigeria and Nigerians. Their egregious conduct is negatively affecting the economic climate, with potential foreign investors reportedly continuing to avoid Nigeria in the understanding that nothing has substantially changed from the locust years of successive impunity-seeking PDP kleptocracies.
Buhari’s meekness has also been blamed for aggravating the circumstances that preceded the PDP-inspired anti-people coup led by the impudent Saraki. The president’s ‘laissez-faire’ attitude to executive authority has allegedly created a moral-cum-political vacuum that allowed a coalition of reprobate pols, acting in conjunction with mercenary influences of the fuel subsidy and financial wavers mafia, to regroup in a desperate bid for revanchism aimed at demoralizing and scattering the very democratic forces of the nation who had for nearly a decade tirelessly and patriotically laboured to usher in the progressive change that the country voted for a few months ago.
Significantly also, the point needs to be made that the president and the so-called Northern establishment – a key advocate of power shift – have so far failed to seize the special opportunity offered by the APC victory in the North, including especially in the North-Central zone, also known as the Middle-Belt. That opportunity is the re-forging of Northern unity (and by extension that of the whole country) on the basis of equity and fairness that takes into consideration the region’s ethno-religious and cultural configuration. If Buhari and the entire leadership of the party had done what was expected of them by rejecting the louche appeal of parochial loyalties of whatever guise, the diversionary and unnecessary byzantine quarrels now engulfing the APC would most probably have been avoided. The leadership of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives would have long ago been a settled matter, with George Akume and Femi Gbajabiamila, the immediate erstwhile Senate Minority Leader and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, respectively, becoming Senate President and Speaker. Not to have done what was necessary and commendable, especially in Akume’s case, has damaged the nation’s unity and cohesion.
It is of critical importance that the Christian and ethnic minorities of the Middle-Belt be strongly represented in the power structure of the nation. Besides its pro-unity consideration, such a gesture will serve as a reward for the very significant role which North-Central leaders as symbolized by Senator Akume did play in the decisive victory of the party in the last elections, not to mention their active contribution to the sustenance of democracy in the country in general. As the de facto leader of the APC in the North Central zone and one of the foremost figures in the Nigerian political firmament today, Akume has worked hard in the defense of peace and prosperity in the North and the rest of the nation. He has notably played crucial roles in the anchorage and acceptability of the APC in the North-Central and the North as a whole. The spin-over effect of that herculean effort on the fortunes of the party and its positive impact on the entire country cannot be over-emphasized. As a charismatic, dignified yet humble and loyal party man, Senator Akume is uniquely imbued with ready electoral and political value. As a formidable grassroots politician, his ability to bring out the vote is second to none. The APC’s resounding success in the 2015 elections in his home state of Benue and much of the North-Central zone does bear testimony to that reality.
The APC must quickly do the needful by reversing the great harm inflicted on the polity by the Saraki/PDP coup. President Buhari should lead the way in that regard. Party discipline must be enforced. He cannot afford to be seen as hiding under the hood of messianic delusion by letting deviants, agents of disunity, looters and their minders have a field day even as the nation sinks further into the abyss of extreme rot and perdition. Those desperate and visionless pols who have chosen to put their narrow and selfish ambition above the nation’s stability and democratic advancement, all in the name of allegedly angling for advantage ahead of 2019, must be told to perish their harmful impulses. And talking of 2019, who says Buhari doesn’t deserve a second term, with the likes of Akume and other progressives acting as facilitators? It is misguided and a lack of foresight to buy into the silly PDP-inspired propaganda that seeks to scapegoat the APC leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, by futilely trying to paint him as a force deserving to be cut to size. This kind of divisive pro-Saraki/pro-PDP ploy can only be accepted by those who do not wish the APC and the country well. Like other progressive forces within the APC, Tinubu is a tremendous asset and not a liability. It is dubious politics on the part of those who are in a blind haste to fritter away the invaluable gains of the historic and strategic alliance he was instrumental in cobbling together. One should remain focused and never forget that this very alliance rescued the country from primitive forces of profligacy, misery, depravation, impunity and ethno-religious schisms. In a feat of gargantuan proportions, that progressive and patriotic alliance has rekindled our hope and brought into sharp focus the palpable prospect of better days ahead. We must therefore not despair in the face of the Saraki/PDP treachery. We owe it to ourselves and to generations yet unborn to act forcefully and decisively.
It is not too late to do the right thing. The right thing to do is to save Nigerian democracy (and what that entails) by seeing to it that the impostors and usurpers of June 9 don’t have the last say.
Aonduna Tondu (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)