By Chido Onumah and Godwin Onyeacholem
We must state unequivocally that we have no illusion about the present order. We do not think that the present system can solve the fundamental crisis in the nation or bring succour to our people.
The impoverishment of millions of our country men and women, the wanton abuse of rights, the unmitigated corruption, alienation, internal colonisation and exacerbation of the fault lines of the country, are not issues that the current political order can tackle.
As a first step toward addressing these issues, we recommend a national dialogue of genuine representatives of the people on the future of Nigeria. How to force this all-important national dialogue – whether through a bloody revolution or otherwise – will have to be determined by millions of toiling Nigerians who bear the brunt of the present anachronistic social order.
Having made this clarification, it is important to note that we have to “play politics” within the parameters of the current bourgeois democratic order. And that is exactly what we intend to do in this piece. This piece was inspired by Joe Igbokwe’s ostrich politics which has found expression in his rejoinders to our articles on what the opposition – the All Progressives Congress (APC), specifically – needs to do to make an impression in 2015.
In his latest rejoinder, Joe Igbokwe preferred to hide his head in the sand and instead of addressing the salient points we raised in our articles, resorted to name-calling as a way out of the political cul-de-sac he has found himself. Clearly, for Igbokwe, insults can get you votes and even win elections. Unfortunately, this approach only goes to show how patently untenable his position is. He accused us of starting a project of rigging Jonathan back to power “via such flimsy and laughable excuse as the opposition not being ready to wrest power from PDP”. These are Igbokwe’s words not ours.
And to clear any doubts, he averred that, “Those who voted Jonathan in the South-west (in 2011) told us (Igbokwe and others) how Jonathan moved from nowhere to become Deputy Governor, from Deputy Governor to Governor, from Governor to Vice President and from Vice President to become President and concluded that the man has some divine luck going with him. They told us that they want to tap Jonathan’s divine luck. That is how we got to where we are today”.
“Now where is the luck after four years? Where is the divine luck in Nigeria? Can we see it? Can we feel it? Where has this luck led Nigeria to? Igbokwe queried. We shall leave him to answer the question. And if we accept Igbokwe’s thesis about the underlying reasons for Jonathan winning in the South-west, perhaps it is apposite to conclude that if voters in the South-west found justification in 2011 to vote for Jonathan, his antecedents notwithstanding, we are sure they will find reasons to do the same in 2015. This time around, it may not be a desire to tap into his imaginary divine luck, but to imbibe the virtues of patience.
Of course, we would be glad to see the back of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Jonathan as far as the governance of Nigeria is concerned. But just taking a stand as Igbokwe implored us to do isn’t enough. I don’t know where Igbokwe got the impression that we imputed that PDP is invincible. We are not in PDP and we don’t intend to be. So it is a waste of time offering advice to a party whose implosion looks imminent. On the contrary, since we have a stake in the APC we feel obligated to prime the party for the struggle ahead because 2015 is its to lose.
According to Igbokwe, “Apart from General Buhari any of these great minds in APC can rule this country better than President Goodluck Jonathan. They are: Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir El’ Rufai, Pat Utomi, Gov Babatunde Fashola, Gov Oshiomhole, Gov Rochas Okorocha, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Audu Ogbeh, Gov Fayemi, Senator Chris Ngige, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Alhaji Shekarau, to mention a few.
Quite an impressive list! Perhaps, we should add Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun. It is heartening to know that our good friend, Joe Igbokwe, is actually thinking ahead. However, we have to stop the idle chatter and cut to the chase because there seems to be too much wooly politics going on, and deliberately too we might add. Let’s do a forensic analysis of the list Igbokwe threw up and our addition to it. Governors Fayemi and Aregbesola, both capable candidates for the presidency, will be running for re-election next year so they can’t possibly be in contention for 2015.
It is the same for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, another capable candidate, who will finish his second term in 2016. We don’t see them abandoning their mandate to chase a position that is at best fluid. As the leader of the largest party in the merger, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the de facto leader of the APC. It looks like that is the role he wants to play.
Clearly, the South-west holds the ace in the 2015 election. As a geo-political bloc, it is more cohesive than any other zone. But the popular sentiment is that the zone has had its “turn”. And before Joe Igbokwe and his fellow travellers raise their voice in righteous indignation, let’s note that this is what bourgeois politics is all about. So APC has to look toward other zones. Apart from Imo, all the other states in the South-east zone (just like the South-south minus Edo State) are PDP or pro-PDP/Jonathan. The likes of Prof. Pat Utomi, Senator Chris Ngige and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu will have an uphill task making an impression in the zone much less in other parts of the country.
There is little chance that the APC can make any impact in the North if it picks a presidential candidate outside the three zones in the North. Nasir el Rufai has repeatedly said he is not interested in any elective post. So that leaves us with Gen. Buhari (retd), Nuhu Ribadu, Audu Ogbeh and Alhaji Shekarau. These are viable candidates and reputable men who have made their mark nationally. However, Gen. Buhari stands out simply because he has a cult following in the North (at least the “core” North) which, if properly harnessed, will stymie any assault by the PDP (particularly, a much-weakened and divided PDP) in the zone.
The last man standing is Babatunde Raji Fashola, the popular, young and dynamic governor of Lagos State. So what do we say about a Buhari/Fashola pairing for 2015? That looks like an ideal choice for APC moving forward. Fashola will draw the crowd that APC needs in the South-west while Gen. Buhari will do same in the North. And with the mounting influence of Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the APC can make an inroad in the South-east. Gov. Fashola will complement Gen. Buhari in every area and offer the steady hands and moderating influence of a budding statesman that will give Nigeria the kind of leadership it truly deserves.
The only snag, some would say, is that it is a Muslim/Muslim ticket. But we have travelled this road before and it is nothing new. Agreed that this is not June 12, 1993, but we can draw some parallels between 1993 and now and between the APC and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) from which MKO Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, emerged.
This is where we stand. And we are willing to put our “feet, hand, head, heart, eyes into the project” as Joe Igbokwe requested. Joe Igbokwe should be bold enough to give us the specifics of his position.
While he is at it, he would do well not to talk about the need for “internal democracy”. Between us, Joe, we know there is nothing like that in the present order. We can achieve the same thing by acclamation, which itself is an integral part of democracy.