On March 9, this column carried in what, though not exactly a tongue in cheek title – “PDP is Nigeria’s greatest impediment to democracy and the country’s very survival” – was nevertheless an essay thought to be a commentary that would not grandfather another. This was because we all witnessed Nigeria’s recent past under the PDP including the permanent damage that the so-called elections of April 2007 seem to have wrought on the polity. My attempt to take a hiatus from my (mis)adventure in political writings with that essay has however proved, hopefully, a week premature.
Every new day seems to show that a title that on the surface appeared hyperbolic might actually have been an understatement. While most Nigerians are beginning to realize that the massively-rigged retired General Obasanjo “election” was an evil that no good can derive from, most had nevertheless hoped that Nigeria could rise from the ruins under the leadership of he who was forced on us. Many believed that if Alhaji Yar Adua was given the benefit of the doubt – in Nigerian-speak, if peace reigns in spite of the collective angst, democracy could somehow germinate. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this incurable optimist can see no silver lining in the cloud that PDP has cast over the land.
Let’s start with the little matters of the election tribunals which, as things stand, should go on till the next WORSE elections are about to begin. Yeah, the same 2011 which Nigeria’s men of god: the Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, et al. have asked defrauded politicians and Nigerians to wait for. Things would be alright, they preached to members who have long left them spiritually if not physically. The man of peace and God fearer – by his and others’ definitions – who rules Nigeria saw nothing undemocratic in trying to manipulate the judiciary by warning courts NOT to base tribunal judgements on public sentiments. Thereafter, look at the various contradictory rulings from election tribunals and the Appeal courts. While judicial arm of government fails to find important documents in government records, fringe publications are crying foul, saying they can assist by turning in same documents! Two governors whose verdicts at the tribunal stemmed from the same kind of defective candidacy because they ran on the guaranteed-to-win well-oiled with money and violence PDP machine while belonging to the ANPP got different judgements at appellate level. One won, the other lost.
By the way, one of those caught in that fraudulent PDP web is Muktah Shagari. I once wondered aloud on this page before the so-called elections how this former President’s son would resign as Minister for Water Resources to run as deputy governor. [“Alhaji, what happened to N376 billion (purportedly spent on water) because no evidence of the colossal sum is here in the Southwest? How in the world could you run for deputy governor after eight years as minister? Are your eyes REALLY set on deputy governorship?” April 8, 07] His attempts to persuade the ANPP turncoat to allow him run as gubernatorial candidate failed because the ANPP guy told Shagari that Sokoto was ANPP territory and Shagari would rather eat humble pie to have that one foot in because a PDP governor is a Bill Gates in the making minus the source – or the sense of moderation that often accompanies legitimate wealth.
Permit me to touch the matter of Ms. Iyabo Bello (nee Obasanjo), a.k.a. Damilola Akinlawon. This young woman has deservedly come to much grief in the news media. Her huge sense of entitlement is only matched by her incredible lack of appreciation of a position in which she has found herself which seems to prevent her from seeing anything wrong in her various missteps. This seems to have obliterated any basic sense of decency. It is apparent, though, that high-prized Afe Babalola, Attorneys-at-Law, and well-oiled p.r. machine will not save her. She may win the legal battle because Nigeria is now a frontier where anything goes but she has already lost the moral battle; hopefully for Nigeria’s sake, right and wrong, sense of shame, etcetera, would one day matter, again.
The Senate to which she belongs seems to have made her matter worse by calling Nigerians fools. Worse, these people seem to have no clue about the opprobrium they’ve brought on Nigeria since most of them “won” the way Wammako, Dakingari, MOST PDP governors and other “elected” from west to east and north to south – “won”. It is difficult to believe that these PDP legislators swore on oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of Nigeria while issuing the following statements: “Obasanjo-Bello is not hiding at the official residence of Senate President David Mark”, a statement that led cartoonist, ‘Ghana Must Go’ of The Leadership to suggest cheekily that the embattled senator be made to “undergo pregnancy test”! While claiming not to know where the woman is hiding, the body “guarantees her availability” according to one Eze, who was also quoted as saying re the fugitive from EFCC: “When Obasanjo-Bello is required to be present in court, she will be present. I assure you that.”
Iyabo Obasanjo is a bright woman. Her schooling at Queen’s College and Nigeria’s premier institution attests to that. To claim to the BBC – and the whole world – that she’s in hiding because Nigerians are witch-hunting her father which makes her fear for her life is fraudulent. A “lawmaker” hiding from a law-enforcement agency? Smells worse than rotten oku eko [rotten FROZEN fish], pardon me! The EFCC, which wants Ms. Bello, is a legitimate government agency. If Ms. Bello, “elected” to enact laws for Nigeria would need to hide from another government agency, I think this woman should resign or be forced to do so.
What of the purported sale of fifty-eight government houses to Senate members of FCT committee? As in most things, the truth is hard to come by and Nigerians are therefore not surprised that the Senate, in a ‘we must protect our own’ said the committee “had asked questions from the panel members being accused and it is satisfied with their responses”. After issuing threats to the general public, the Senate’s Mr./Ms. Eze warns: “You don’t wage a war to tarnish the image of the Senate on the pages of newspapers…”; and “we have come to the conclusion that some people who are unsettled by the good… on behalf of the Senate …”
Unfortunately, Chief Eze, most Nigerians believe that legislators have tarnished Nigeria’s image a whole lot; they do not feel that legislators have any image to protect.
How about a former governor – has to be PDP – who reportedly diverted the so-called “missing plane” which has reportedly been found in an African country? Meanwhile, the country’s image had been further dragged in the mud before this came to light. The press could cry itself hoarse but this – like zillions of other sleaze that this party – at individual and party level – has continued to drag Nigeria into, will pass unresolved. The aircraft, whose disappearance elicited the usual Nigerian government’s whimper for help worldwide, was purportedly flown out of the country because a former governor needs to have it disappear! Like Iyabo Bello, he is supposed to have a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and he came up with a “brilliant idea”. What more evidence of a frontier country is needed?
And now, for the worst of nightmares is Ogbulafor’s recent vituperation that this evil contraption will rule Nigeria for the next sixty years. It matters not to him and his sponsors that Nigerians are worse off than before 1999 when the PDP came rampaging. Nor that under retired General Obasanjo, Nigeria made more money from petroleum than during the regimes of Abacha and Babangida combined; it matters little to Ogbulafor and his fellow PDPers that a Senator has thumbed her nose at Nigeria and wiped her ample feet on the Constitution by defying to respond to a simple order from a legal arm of government. It also matters very little to those who sent this requisite Southerner to utter such illogicality while the country continues to be covered in darkness despite tens of billions of dollars on power project by this same PDP-led government. And need I add that it apparently matters even less to Ogbulafor – because he, like the old Decca record label is “his master’s voice” – that even now, a year into Alhaji Yar Adua’s imposition as Nigeria’s president, the country has gone comatose. As the dollar continues to slide, who will bail Nigeria’s billions in reserves before it becomes worthless?
PDP’s rule – which under the imperial reign of General Obasanjo turned Nigeria into what I once described here as a “vast plantation” because of its use of violence and intimidation just like the American South slave plantations – to rein in everybody but the hardiest of souls like the Soyinkas, the Fawehinmis, the Falanas, the Col. Umars, etcetera – may differ now but the end result of impoverishing the masses through massive looting remains intact. And the political party dreams of remaining forever – “sixty years” for starters – in power? Nigeria as we know it now, should be long gone before then.
The Nation on Sunday, May 4, 2008