The Deal That Screwed The South, The North And Nigeria’s So-Called Minorities
In the run-up to the recent PDP presidential “primaries” and during them, both the local Nigerian media and its overseas manifestations were gripped by a frenzy that was hard to fathom considering the fact that the event was a crude charade that even a five-year old would have figured out would end the way it did – in a whimper, an antithesis of Nigeria’s putative democracy. Yet, that same frenzy has apparently occasioned a curious discourse which, if unchallenged, risks distorting our perception of the 2007 elections and their significance for the long-suffering people of our country.
The Yar’adua imposition by Obasanjo has been presented by some notable voices in the Nigerian media as a submission of sorts to what the likes of Reuben Abati have christened the “veto power” of the North. This fallacy of a so-called veto power by an irredentist, largely Muslim North has to be challenged for what it is, namely, a dated stereotypical, and yes, reductionist rhetoric that panders to primordial loyalties. At the heart of the desperation to clone the Obasanjo regime – that is the ultimate significance of the skullduggery that threw up, first Yar’adua and then Jonathan, another Obasanjo side-kick – is a simple logic, that is the determination on the part of a dictator and his allies who have committed so many atrocities and crimes against the Nigerian nation and its people that they would go to any length in the bid to cover their crooked backs. But they will fail. For anyone to ignore this reality and instead seek refuge in the convenient alibi of Yar’adua as the ultimate expression of the North’s “veto power” is both mischievous and misleading.
Yar’adua has become for Obasanjo and his allies in the likes of Babangida the insurance they hope will continue to shield them post-May, 2007, from having to answer for their misdeeds. This critical piece of information is important for those who truly want a change away from the status quo that has made life unbearable for the average citizen. The major opposition parties like the ANPP and the AC should in particular consider the perception of a Babangida/Obasanjo alliance around the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket as a factor that cannot be ignored. This alliance of poltroons must be tackled, and successfully too. (Please read my previous article concerning this alliance entitled: “The PDP and the Ventriloquist from Minna”, at www.nigeriavillagesquare.com). The point has to be made that the likes of Babangida do not represent the North but their selfish, prebendal interests and those of their allies. Ditto for Obasanjo and the likes of Bode George whose claims of representing the interests of the South-West or the Yoruba, if any, must be dismissed as risibly eccentric. Now, the Yar’adua imposition has been consistently bedeviled by the fact that the man’s medical condition makes his candidacy an attractive proposition for those devious enough to imagine that a sickly Yar’adua as president is the best thing that would guarantee Obasanjo’s political shelf-life. With the nondescript duo of Yar’adua/Jonathan, there should be no doubt whatsoever as to where the real power will reside, that is with the PDP’s Obasanjo. A scary proposition indeed! This is a needless provocation that Nigerians should reject. But the Yar’adua choice by Obasanjo was also clearly made out of spite for Vice-President (V-P) Atiku whose PDM is said to be the relatively powerful political machine inherited from the late Musa Yar’adua, Governor Yar’adua’s late elder brother. How this would harm Atiku politically is a matter of conjecture. However, the manner of the emergence of the Yar’adua ticket should not give the Atiku camp any serious cause for worry. There is already every indication that Yar’adua is already proving to be a very unpopular material in the North as well as in the Middle-Belt generally where he is rightly perceived as an Obasanjo surrogate with neither credibility nor clout.
Also in the Middle-Belt, home to Nigeria’s strategic minorities like the Tivs, Idomas, Biroms and Igalas, the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket is said to elicit little or no enthusiasm amongst the people. I guess after years of neglect and criminal abuse directly attributable to the tyrant at Aso Rock and his PDP-led regime, it is hardly surprising that the Middle-Belt people and Nigerians generally would feel an insurmountable gap between them and anyone associated with that election-rigging outfit called the PDP. This leads us to the issue of the amazingly upbeat refrain one hears these days from key South-South leaders in the mould of Ambassador Mbu and Edwin Clark.
Mbu and other South-South leaders have reportedly welcomed the choice of Jonathan, almost as if it is the next best thing to have happened to the region since the discovery of oil. All of a sudden, all these individuals who only a month ago were threatening fire and brimstone if one of theirs does not become president in 2007 are now struggling to present the Jonathan mirage as a victory of sorts. But then again, who took some of these guys seriously in the first place? While they threatened the moral equivalent of mass suicide if their ambition to have a president from their area was not met, they also loudly campaigned for Obasanjo’s “term elongation” nonsense. It is apparent that in the South-South, not unlike in the rest of the country, the casual disregard for decency and the basic tenets of democracy on the part of the PDP’s supreme garrison leader has left a sour taste in the mouth. No patriotic Nigerian should remain unconcerned regarding the lousy treatment meted out to politicians like Donald Duke, Peter Odili, Victor Attah, Orji Kalu, Vice-President Atiku and a host of others who have seen their right to freely seek political office on the platform of a party of their choice trampled upon by the Aso Rock tyrant. Surely, there should be consequences. In the interest of Nigerian democracy, the least the people of the South-South and the rest of the country can do is show renewed vigilance and determination to vote out those who have shown a cavalier disdain for the people’s prerogative to select their own representatives. In simple turenchi, Yar’adua/Jonathan are the result of a deal involving a puppeteer and his sidekicks. It is a private arrangement that has little or nothing to do with protecting the legitimate aspirations of the people. In their self-seeking antics, Mbu and his ilk have greatly contributed to the undemocratic and wayward conduct of Obasanjo and his PDP in the South-South. With Yar’adua and Jonathan, Obasanjo and his PDP have once more screwed not just the South-South but the citizenry as a whole and its democratic yearnings!
Another curious aspect of the discourse around the PDP presidential “primaries” is the assumption on the part of supposedly enlightened people that the PDP is the “natural” governing party. We are inundated in the media with spins about the PDP’s alleged strength. The implication is that all the other parties are disorganized and irremediably weak and unworthy of forming the next government. This has sadly given rise to what are tantamount to pro-regime rationalizations as to the inevitability of a PDP-led government in 2007. The media or political voices that harp on the questionable strength of the PDP curiously neglect to inform Nigerians that an outfit that lacks a basic democratic posture and whose key members form the central government that is generally considered as illegitimate, thanks in part to the 419 ‘selections’ of 2003, and is lawless, reckless, anti-democratic as well as anti-people cannot be said to be in a position of moral, political or electoral strength. How some people write or talk as if Nigeria’s survival depends on the shenanigans of the one-man vaudevillian bazaar called Obasanjo’s PDP is quite unfortunate indeed. As I did mention elsewhere, Nigeria will be better-off with the disappearance of the PDP from the country’s political map. Voting out the PDP in 2007 would offer Nigerians the opportunity to start afresh – to, amongst other things, engage in what the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka has aptly described as the necessary dismantling of the evil empire created by Obasanjo and his party.
The PDP will never again be allowed to rig elections and get away with it. As for Obasanjo, it is not enough for him to state that he will be returning to his Otta farm after May 29 this year. It is clear that he does not want to leave, but leave he must. He should know that he has no choice in the matter. That much had been settled a long time ago, thanks to his kindred spirits, Babangida and Abacha. Obasanjo should put a stop to his illegalities and desecration of the nation’s constitutional order. The other thing that Nigerians expect is a free and fair election, not the abracadabra that his election-rigging machine called the PDP inflicted on the nation in 2003. It is in Obasanjo’s interest as well as that of the heads of the various national security agencies to avoid any reckless actions on their part that would be deemed as an attempt to tamper with the right of the people to freely choose their leaders. Singly or together, the heads of the police, the SSS as well as the army in particular will be held accountable should the men and women under their command allow themselves to be used for the perpetration of electoral malpractices and other illegalities.
The scope of the tragedy in Nigeria today is such that we cannot afford to be held down by the vagaries of partisan, primordial emotionalism and suggestion. Now is the time to vote for a leader who would help steer us away from the rot we have been swimming in since 1999. That leader, dear compatriots, is Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).
Happy New Year!