For those who believe in the ineluctable victory of good over evil, no matter how long it takes, this has been an inspiring week.
From the forests of a thousand daemons in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger States, among others, bandits, criminals, evildoers are taking a pounding. In their scores, scores upon scores, they are being spoken to in the language they understand, and sent to God to answer for their sins. One has never been prouder of our military.
I see the hair splitting over whether they should be called terrorists rather than bandits, and I laugh. Sheer sophistry. Whether insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, ritual killers, criminals are criminals. And what do you do to such? Eliminate. Annihilate. Obliterate. If they won’t let decent society be, get rid of them. That is one case when an eye for an eye won’t make the whole world go blind.
Before they got to this sorry pass, they had the chance to turn a new leaf. Zamfara, Katsina, and many other states offered dialogue. The governments tried to negotiate with them. But they were contumacious. Like dogs fated for destruction, they refused to hear the hunters’ whistle. They filled the land with sorrow, tears and blood, ‘dem regular trademark’ (as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would say). Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
In the different evil forests, when the Nigerian Air Force strikes from the sky, the remnants of the evildoers not killed immediately attempt to flee. The ground troops then pick them off like flies. I say it again. One has never been prouder of our troops. They are cleaning up the country.
Shocking and disconcerting, however, that in the middle of all these, you still hear words meant to discourage our gallant soldiers. A bandit-lover is on record as saying military offensive would not work, and that the bandits “are going nowhere.” True? False. They are going somewhere. And that is: hell.
In my days as a newspaper editor, I remember when a butcher in Sierra Leone called Foday Sankoh died. Now, if anyone was brutal, evil through and through, Foday was. He loved to amputate innocent people. And he would cynically ask if they wanted short or long sleeve. If you chose short sleeve, he cut off the hand from the elbow. If you wanted long, he did from the wrist. After some time, Sierra Leone was swarming with amputees. He was urinating inside the same well from which he would fetch drinking water.
Foday Sankoh was an implacable demon. Till God moved against him. He was arrested, and took ill in custody. Ended in a wheelchair, and lived out his life in misery, facing trial. Then he died. As editor of Daily Sun, my headline was ‘Foday Sankoh goes to hell.’ Judgmental? Well, he asked for it.
On the same day, I took a popular British tabloid to read. The lead story was also on Sankoh. The headline? ‘Next stop: Hell’ That’s it. The stubborn fly follows the corpse into the grave. The evildoers had all the opportunity to turn a new leaf. They were deaf to reason. They deserve what they are getting now, so that decent people can live in peace.
Because we are the way we are as a people, as intractable as the warfare in the North-west had been, some people have tried to create a false narrative. They said while President Muhammadu Buhari went after separatists and divisive elements in the southern parts of the country with a big stick, he pampered bandits and terrorists in the north. Really? How mean-minded can we be? Well, we have now seen the ‘pampering’ going on in the north. You love the pampering being handed out simultaneously from the air and the ground by the troops, don’t you?
I have always had the conviction that the ravening clouds shall not long be victorious, they shall not long possess the sky. Yes, we’ve had serious security challenges. They were inherited by the Buhari administration, and they mutated and became hydra-headed. But a government exists to solve problems, and that is what President Buhari had been committed to doing. But some people, out of evil hearts and petty political gains want it to be the definition of the government. He could not secure the country. Thousands of citizens were killed under him. But they will be shocked! The insecurity ravaging the land will soon become history. Where will they then hide their faces?
Dr Okolo Oteri Eme is one of the women who love Buhari. To bits. She plays prominently on Facebook, and I love what she posted this week on the pounding the evil people have been getting: “Those who claim bandits are being pampered can join them for Shawarma in Zamfara. Kudos to our troops.”
It’s promise made, and promise being kept by our President. He said those who trouble the country would be spoken to in the language they understand. It is happening now. The job is not fully done yet, but progress is fast and laudable. And the message is loud and clear. Don’t you like it?
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity*
OPINION:Buhari, FFK, And The Quality Of Mercy
Not a small ruckus has been caused by the defection of former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK), from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) last week.
An icing on the cake, or the salt added to injury (depending on which side you are), was his reception at the Presidential Villa by Muhammadu Buhari, father of the nation. The development has been rocking the polity for many days.
FFK is by no means a miscellaneous personality, and whatever he does, or does not do, attracts loads of attention.
He was a founding member of the APC, before he ported back to the PDP. And he did not leave quietly. He ruffled feathers and stirred up the mud. He became a rabid hater of his former party and its members.
Between last week and now, vitriol poured by FFK on anybody with the slightest affinity to APC has been dug up serially. He has said things straight from the gutters, things that the natural man would call unforgivable and unpardonable. Against President Buhari, the first family, Yusuf Buhari whom he wished had died when the latter had an almost fatal bike accident, APC as a party, the government, leaders of the party, groups and individuals. Even this writer has suffered horrid descriptions from FFK in many write-ups.
Yes, he even said he would rather die than return to APC, but last week, he returned—well and alive.
Naturally, a lot of loyal APC members are hopping mad that FFK was readmitted into the party. And not only that, he got back at the highest level. Not at his ward in Ile-Ife, Osun State, but the triumphal entry was at the Presidential Villa, with President Buhari himself as the host.
I understand the umbrage taken against the development by teeming APC supporters. It’s the natural thing to do. But then, having vented spleen, raised dust and almost brought down the roof, the next thing is to isolate the issues dispassionately. With the bile displayed towards President Buhari and his family over the years, how did the man find the grace to have received FFK? How was he convinced? Who did the convincing? What were the extenuating factors? How? When? Why?
By agreeing to the readmission of FFK to APC as the leader of the party, and hosting him at the Villa, President Buhari displayed amazing capacity to forgive, to show mercy, and let bygones be bygones. How many of us can do that? Not many.
Remember William Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice:
“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blessed him that gives and him that takes…
It is an attribute of God Himself.”
That was what Buhari did to FFK. He showed him mercy, dropping like gentle rain from heaven, when he could have otherwise spat into the sky, collecting the spittle with his own face. Was that not what me and you would have done? Confess. We would have told FFK to go to hell, and stay there. But Buhari didn’t. He displayed an attribute of God: forgiveness.
One of the lies that had been serially told against the President was his alleged unforgiving spirit, a falsehood sold to Nigerians by anti-Buhari forces since the days of military rule. The lie traveled for so long, till it was eventually overtaken by the truth in one day. Nigerians saw through the facade, and elected Buhari as President in 2015. Re-elected him with wider margin in 2019.
I have worked with the President for over six years. And I have seen amazing things in terms of accommodation and capacity to forgive. I have visited him at home many times in the evenings, only to find at dinner table with him people who had been abusing his forefathers on television earlier in the day. This President has a capacity to forgive, and forget. And make peace. That was what he displayed in the case of FFK. Nothing short of divine attribute, which me and you should covet and seek to approximate.
True, the brother of the prodigal son in the Good Book was unhappy, after his sibling had engaged in riotous living, squandered his inheritance, and came back home in penury. And the father received him with glee, and slaughtered the fatted calf in celebration.
The brother was indignant. He accused the father of bad faith, saying he had remained faithful and loyal, and not once did the father give him a goat to kill, and make merry with his friends.
That is the case of the APC members who have been unhappy at the reception given FFK. He did not deserve it, they claim. True. But how many things don’t we deserve, but which eventually come our way? That is the inscrutable nature of God, and we should not begrudge ourselves, or anybody else. How many things have come your way, which you really don’t deserve? But God gave those things to you, nevertheless. Same with FFK.
I think those screaming blue murder and lamenting the injustice and unfairness of it all should hold their peace. They have made their points, and should let things be. Enough! FFK is back, let sleeping dogs lie. He may stay this time round, as he claims to have had a Damascus road experience, which turned Saul to Paul.
Many times, FFK has used unprintable words against me. He has deployed phrases from the nether region against me. But after writing those things, and we met in public places, he would embrace me, calling me his “friend and brother.” I agree, we are brothers, though I should hold giant sized grudges against him. President Buhari has shown us the way . To err is human, to forgive, divine.
And come to think of it. Is it pleasant to swallow one’s vomit? Nah. But that was what FFK did. All those foul words against the President, the APC, the government, many people in government. He has swallowed them. Delicious? By no means. Pueh! You would feel like retching. So, let’s salute the courage of his conviction. It is rare, and not many people would do it.
I welcome FFK back to APC. And I pray it is for an enduring time. I thank President Buhari for showing an astounding large heart. That’s how to be a father. He has confounded all those who peddle lies about him, and the balderdash about not forgiving.
The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. It has dropped upon FFK. May it always drop on us, for “it blesses him that gives, and him that takes.” Amen, somebody!.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity
OPINION: The silent revolution of Governor AbdulRazaq in the Sports Sector
Kwara over the years was known for exceptional performances in sporting activities in Nigeria, such activities include, Squash, Weight Lifting, Table Tennis, Handball, Hockey, gymnastics, athletics amongst others.
In those era, 70’s – 90’s specifically, Kwara State is a team to beat, most teams were always nervous to meet Kwara athletes at any stage of a competition – because Kwara athletes are fearless, highly skillful, talented and disciplined. This glory is gradually being restored!
The restoration of the new odds is talk of the town in the sporting community especially with the creation of Kwara State Sports Commission with a team of professionals and enthusiasts ably led by an erudite Sports Icon, Mallam Bolakale Adisa Magaji. The establishment of the Kwara State Sports Commission which made the state the 9th state to join the league of states that operate Sports Commission is another testament to the new development in the Kwara sporting sector. This is a giant stride to rejuvenate sports development and promotion.
One of the talks in the town is the recent public statement of Ex-President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo at the just concluded Olusegun Obasanjo Open Squash Game in Abeokuta, he said Ogun state is eager to take over from Kwara State as the champion of Squash sports in Nigeria. Kwara State has historical footpath in squash sports which is dated back to 1977 – came to limelight in 1977 during the sports festival and this status remains till date.
Kwara State government is making a massive investment in sports infrastructure to productively engage the youth and make the state a centre of attraction for national and international sport championships.
Kwara Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s effort in the sporting sector is not unconnected with his long time passion for grassroots sports development. AbdulRazaq himself is not just a sport enthusiast, he was an ex-athlete who represented Kwara State in many competition outside the state.
Interestingly, before he became the governor of Kwara state, he has been supporting Kwara athletes in his own capacity as a private citizen without fanfare in terms of welfare, kits, travel fare (when traveling outside the state) etc, he was doing all that with his personal funds, therefore, having the official capacity as the chief executive officer of the state one should not expect less.
The re-introduction of Kwara sports festival, after 15 years of abandonment helps in preparing Kwara contingents for the 2021 National Sports Festival in Edo State hosted earlier this year where Kwara state for the first time in the recent history of the state qualified for six-team sports at the National Sports Festival. Kwara athletes performed marvelously and won several medals in various events.
In addition to the re-introduction of Kwara State Sports Festival after 15 years of abandonment, the governor has also prioritized the upgrade of sporting facilities in the state. This administration inherited a shameful sporting arena, these challenges are presently being address bit by bit. The facilities currently undergoing a facelift and at various levels of completion are Swimming Pool and Squash courts. Rehabilitation of Baseball and Handball courts are completed and ready for use. The rehabilitation of other facilities are in pipeline. The construction of additional eight (8) new courts are also ongoing, upon completion, Kwara State will become the first city with the most concentrated squash facility of international standard in Africa. This is an unprecedented stride in the global sporting community.
For the record, magnificent edifice which was built in 1977 by the then Military Administrator of the state, Brigadier George Innih (retd.) the main bowl was the only facility that received government attention under Ex-Governor Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and was completed by Ex-Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed leaving out other facilities. The indoor sports hall not only had many of the railings and ceilings as well as the paints rusted away and fallen, reptiles now inhabit some of the facilities. It was also noticed that the seats had become traps as many of them had their sitting tops removed which could harm unsuspecting fans who sit on any of them. Also, an offensive smell oozed from some sections of the complex thereby endangering the health of people who work or walk within the surrounding.
Also, through the encouragement of Governor AbdulRazaq the state’s handball team (Adorable Angels) have become national champions.
For the first time in many years, Kwara United football club moved from being a relegation team to finish at the top four of the Nigerian Premier League during the 2020/2021 NPL season. The players were fantastic, they gave their best to get that feat. Kwarans are proud of them and urge them to do well in the coming season to commensurate the unfluncinhing support the club is getting from this administration.
Kwara Football Academy is a place to look out for under this administration. The Academy just got a new acting administrator to steer the affairs of the business-driven establishment. The academy was gradually dying before the coming on board of this administration. Since, 2019 to date, the academy is gradually getting its fading glory, for the first time in the history of the establishment remitted training compensation on one of his ex-players to the covers of the state treasury!.
The academy has also hosted at least two teams of foreign scouters, one from Kauno Zalgiris football club, Lithuania and the other from Southampton both from Europe. Two of the academy products are now in Lithuania (Kauno Zalgiris FC), Four more are perfecting their documents to join the Southampton club side in Europe courtesy of state government, this is to promote exceptional talents to stardom. Kudos!
KFA equally won the U17 Ramat cup back to back in the year 2020 and 2021.
Under AbdulRazaq’s administration, almost every week Kwara athletes are in one part of the country representing the state, showcasing their talents and skills and winning medals for the state and making name for themselves in various sporting event. There is now an increasing number of trainees on training grounds, they get more serious with their training sessions and always optimistic that they will attend competitions unlike some years back that Associations and coaches struggle to get fund to sponsor state athletes. It is no longer business as usual.
This shows the governor is passionate about sports development in the state. You have somebody who is a sports person, you can see the impact all around the stadium. I am aware that some of the facilities we are renovating have never been renovated before.
It is no gainsaying that no governor had ever given priority to the renovation and repositioning of the facilities and initiated new ones like Gov. AbdulRazaq when completed, the facilities would help develop the state’s athletes and they would compete with the best hands in the country.
In other hand, when completed, would help attract competitions from outside the state, thereby boosting the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
The political will of AbdulRazaq led administration to rejuvenate the sporting sector is commendable. Since the inception of this administration serious commitment is being made to motivate the athletes and coaches to enhance performance and results and it the believed that this would enable Kwara State to reclaim her lost glory in the global sports map.
Young people will be inspired to go into sporting activities once the facilities are fixed.
Abdullahi Yunusa-Lade, is a member, Kwara State Sports Commission.
OPINION: APC’s High-Profile Membership Recruitment and Issues for 2023
Salihu Moh. Lukman
Progressive Governors Forum
Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode’s Red-Carpet Reception
Late on Thursday, September 16, 2021, reports emerged that Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode had joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) and he was received by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the company of His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, Chairman of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and the Governor of Zamfara State, His Excellency, Bello Matawalle. With the emergence of the report, public attention in the country has been dominated by negative commentaries, mostly from APC members, about why Mr. Fani-Kayode should have been accorded such a high-profile reception. One of the first people to express disappointment was Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to President on Political Matters, who lamented that the reception given to Mr. Fani-Kayode makes the day ‘the saddest day of his political career.’ Mr. Joe Igbokwe, Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Drainage and Water Resources and former APC Chairman of Lagos State cried that ‘Fani-Kayode is coming to destroy APC’ and expressed ‘sadness that he (Fani-Kayode) who was not coming to add value to the party was given a red-carpet treatment while his (Igbokwe’s) efforts go unappreciated.’
The issue of Mr. Fani-Kayode joining the APC, first emerged on Monday, February 8, 2021, when his pictures together with HE Mai Mala Buni, Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State appeared in many social media platforms. Many believed that the emergence of the pictures signaled that negotiation is going on, if not concluded, to bring Mr. Fani-Kayode into the APC. This made many party members to protest that leaders of the party are about to admit Mr. Fani-Kayode into the APC. Partly, on account of the protest, Mr. Fani-Kayode himself denied that he is joining the APC and boasted that he will never do so. The protest against Mr. Fani-Kayode joining the APC has to do with his venomous nature. He abuses, insults, and disparages everybody, almost indiscriminately. As a result, his capacity to build and sustain relationships is short, not just politically, but it also the case almost in every aspect of his life.
Almost every member of APC is angry that our leaders have brought someone like Mr. Fani-Kayode into our party. This is made worse by the red-carpet reception given to him, which he doesn’t deserve. But since it has happened, there is no need to cry over spilled milk. What is very clear is that our leaders, especially President Buhari have forgiven Mr. Fani-Kayode and embrace him as one of us. As members of APC, our anger with Mr. Fani-Kayode is that he has abused both the APC, President Buhari and virtually every leader of the party. For instance, he claimed that the ‘emergence of Buhari in 2015 annihilated Nigeria and plunged her into darkness, death and destruction. He came to steal, kill and destroy and for the last disastrous 5 years that is all he has done.’ More than this, he has said unprintable things against the APC and all its leaders.
At this point therefore, if with all these, our leaders can accept Mr. Fani-Kayode into the party, APC members should not be more Catholic than the Pope. Why should APC members be sad that our leaders are magnanimous? Perhaps, because of the red-carpet reception, which many committed APC members cannot even dream of, it should be legitimate to feel unappreciated like Mr. Igbokwe had cried out. But as APC members, especially those that have been in the party since its formation in 2013 and have endured all the challenges of being loyal members, we must always be reminded that our commitment is to contribute in whatever way and manner possible to change Nigeria for the better. If therefore, someone like Mr. Fani-Kayode, who is considered unreliable and therefore not qualified to be a member, would seek for forgiveness from our leaders, based on which they extended their arms to him, members of the APC should also show understanding.
No doubt, since 2015, there are many opportunistic political leaders in the country who joined our party, got all the welcome reception, like the one given to Mr. Fani-Kayode, but end up betraying and in some instances outrightly undermining our party and our leaders. Understandably therefore, part of the frustration of many APC members is that most times, it could be predicted that our leaders are wrongly investing trust and confidence on wrong people. Contrastingly, those who are consistent and loyal to our party and our leaders hardly gained the deserving respect they should have. This may not necessarily be intended but it is there. Be that as it may, members need to move forward with every confidence and commitment to engage our leaders. If we are to succeed in changing Nigeria, both APC leaders and members must commit themselves to developing strong and functional relationship. Ability to develop strong and functional relationship between APC leaders and members is the foundational requirement for APC leaders to be able to develop strong and functional relationship with Nigerians. This will require that APC members are able to respectfully tell leaders the truth.
Functional relationship with Nigerians is always very crucial for winning elections. Since our leaders have developed the needed large heart to forgive Mr. Fani-Kayode, as loyal party members, we should be able to take advantage of their large hearts and make some demands, which, if met, can make our party better and more attractive to credible Nigerians beyond Mr. Fani-Kayode. The proviso however is that even if our leaders ignore our demands, as loyal and committed party members, we should take a rain cheque and continue to respect decisions of party leaders and make every sacrifice for our democracy and our dear country. One day, our leaders will have no option but to concede to members’ demands. Who knows, some of the members making demands may even become leaders tomorrow. In which case, what will be their excuse not to respond to those demands, which they themselves made on leaders.
To that extent therefore party members should respect the decision of our leaders to admit Mr. Fani-Kayode and welcome him with a red-carpet reception. On no account, should we be distracted. If Mr. Fani-Kayode need red-carpet reception to be a member of APC, millions of party member have demonstrated that they need any form of recognition to work for Nigeria. Being very consistent and stable members of the APC, we should also recognise that the party is partly what it is today on account of our little contributions over the years. At the same time, all our leaders, without any exception, are also where they are today partly because of our small support, loyalty and committed to execute task given to us. Having recognised all these, although we would have loved a situation whereby our leaders carry party members along in every decision they take, the difference between many party members who today feel unrecognised and people like Mr. Fani-Kayode is that even when not carried alone, they will respect decisions of party leaders and execute tasks that can make both the party and leaders succeed.
Specifically with respect to accepting Mr. Fani-Kayode as a member of APC, therefore, party members expect that our leaders accepted him to join the APC so that he can be supported to reform himself. That being the case, party members should hope that our leaders, including President Buhari, also accepted to forgive Mr. Fani-Kayode because he has undertaken to commit himself to the process of getting reformed. With all the reservations party members may have about the commitment of Mr. Fani-Kayode to reform himself, we should trust our leaders and through them, also trust that Mr. Fani-Kayode will truly want to reform himself. His (Mr. Fani-Kayode’s) statement to the effect that ‘let’s focus on unity, peace and togetherness’ is an encouraging testament. For Mr. Fani-Kayode to talk of the unity of Nigeria at this time, shortly after he supported and promoted secessionist campaigns of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho is a remarkable departure. However, recognising such a departure shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that we should blindly trust Mr. Fani-Kayode.
What is required in the circumstance is that our leaders must test the commitment of Mr. Fani-Kayode to reform himself. The first test is that Mr. Fani-Kayode should be reminded that politics is local. Coming from Osun State, his commitment to reform himself should start with getting him to integrate himself with APC leaders back in Osun State. At this early stage of his membership of APC, beyond the photo show with our dear President Buhari and the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Mr. Fani-Kayode should have a photo gallery with images of him uniting with Chief Bisi Akande, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and other party leaders in his home state, Osun. In fact, part of this test would have been met had Governor Oyetola and Ogbeni Aregbesola, at the minimum, been part of the welcome reception at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, September 16. Had that happened, the raging controversy following the admission of Mr. Fani-Kayode into the party would have been minimised.
The photo gallery should also cover images with leaders from the South-West. Mr. Fani-Kayode should take every step to reciprocate the gesture of our leaders by demonstrating that he is ready to reform himself. Some of the controversy he has already created makes it doubtful whether he want to reform himself at all. For instance, when he claimed that he facilitated the defection of some Governors that joined the APC from PDP, suggests that he is still his old venomous self. Only people with very small minds could make such statement and only gullible people can believe them. The claim that three additional Governors – Bauchi, Oyo and Enugu – are on their way to join the APC, also falls in the same category of small mind talking to gullible people. If Mr. Fani-Kayode truly want the party to succeed in recruiting anybody, including Governors, he should quietly support the leadership. We have a very competent leadership that can handle that responsibility, which is why his admission into the party succeeded in the first place.
Accountability and High-Profile Membership Recruitment
A major challenge of high-profile political party membership recruitment, like that of Mr. Fani-Kayode, is the issue of getting those recruited to be accountable. How can the party ensure that newly recruited high-profile members moderate themselves such that it is the party that control them and not the other way round? While it is easy to control people that are already constraint by legal provisions on account of statutory responsibilities such as Governors and legislators, individuals like Mr. Fani-Kayode, who are only responsible to themselves, would be difficult to manage. It is therefore important that APC members prepare to engage Mr. Fani-Kayode to ensure that he is accountable to our leaders, our party organs and by extension, Nigerians. A reformed Mr. Fani-Kayode should be an accountable personality, both to the party and to Nigerians. On no account should Mr. Fani-Kayode ever imagine that he has come to APC to conduct himself uncontrollably. He must be accountable to our leadership and all our party structures. He must respect himself and abide by the provisions of the party constitution and its manifesto. To support him, copies of the APC constitution and manifesto must be made available to him immediately.
There are also issues related to getting him to work with other party members especially in relation to addressing national challenges. The problem of managing Nigeria’s diversity, for instance, require respect and tolerance. That he (Mr. Fani-Kayode) has joined APC and has made statements to the effect that he is committed to a united Nigeria must be demonstrated based on respect for all Nigerians irrespective of differences. A major test will be the extent to which Mr. Fani-Kayode is able to demonstrate tolerance and respect for opinions of leaders and members of the party. This doesn’t mean he shouldn’t disagree. But he must express his disagreement with utmost respect. On no account must he promote divisive campaigns, in whatever forms or manner. Doing so will suggest that he is still the old venomous Mr. Fani-Kayode. Once that become the case, party members must be ready to engage him including campaigns to discipline him as provided in the constitution of the APC. Therefore, his membership of the party must take root in his Ward in Osun State, and he must subordinate himself to his Ward leadership.
The Case of Former President Jonathan Goodluck
Part of the reason why high-profile membership recruitments by political parties in Nigeria attract a lot of debate, attention, and controversy, is that it hardly come without any ambition to contest election by those joining the party. Although in the case of Mr. Fani-Kayode, no one can associate it with the ambition to contest election, which is why many questioned his electoral value, with 2023 elections less than two years away, and with the APC leadership efficiently succeeding to win so many high-profile leaders joining the party, there has been lots of speculation in terms of what all the high-profile membership recruitment into APC represent. Partly because President Buhari will be completing his 2nd term and therefore ineligible to contest, the question of who will emerge as the Presidential candidate of the APC for 2023 is quite open.
Two of the Governors that recently joined the APC from the PDP are speculated to have done so because of ambition for 2023. And since the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship election, when APC leaders met former President Goodluck Jonathan to lobby support for APC candidate, Mr. David Lyon, there have speculations that he (former President Jonathan) will also be joining the APC. Some have even alleged that as part of the negotiation, former President Jonathan has already been offered the APC Presidential ticket for 2023. Amid the controversy around Mr. Fani-Kayode, the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Sen. Akpan Udoedehe, is reported to have confirmed that anyone who join the party will be free to contest. However, it is important that the issue of high-profile membership recruitment by APC are clarified beyond the narrow expectations of electoral contest. Why should the objective of recruiting high-profile members be reduced to the issue of contesting election? Assuming someone like former President Jonathan agree to join the APC and he fail to emerge as the President Candidate of the party for 2023 election, what will happen to him?
As Nigerians, we must begin to take steps to protect our leaders. As APC members, we have campaigned against former President Jonathan in 2015. As President, former President Jonathan made every effort to block the emergence of APC in 2013. But those should not be the reference point. The reference point should be the historic decision of former President Jonathan to concede defeat in 2015 even before the final votes were counted. With that, former President Jonathan ranked himself as one of those who fought and defended Nigeria’s democracy. On no account therefore, any political party should be allowed to push former President Jonathan to diminish his stature, either as an aspirant or a candidate for any office. Doing so will mean that we want him to gamble away all his legendary achievements.
It is sad enough that PDP leaders, being who they are, don’t recognise and respect former President Jonathan’s deservedly political stature. No doubt, every speculation about the possibility of former President Jonathan joining the APC has to do with the reality of being unappreciated by PDP leadership. Negotiating to bring him into APC should not be based on aspiring for any office. It must be recognised that former President Jonathan, and indeed every former President, is beyond holding any office in the land. Bringing former Presidents to that level will amount to diminishing their political stature. Already, President Buhari is doing excellently well by delegating some high-profile diplomatic responsibilities to former President Jonathan. One of the failures of PDP is the inability to create responsibilities that can match the statures of former Presidents. Inability to create responsibilities for former Presidents is perhaps what accounts for the overbearing restlessness of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
With President Buhari scheduled to end his tenure in 2023, less than two years away, negotiation to recruit former President Jonathan into APC must be used to settle the question of the roles of former Presidents within the APC. APC must not allow the situation to emerge whereby party leaders and members only respect elected and appointed functionaries. Part of the lessons from the challenges created under the last National Working Committee led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had to do with the absence of Board of Trustees. Is it possible therefore to organise the APC Board of Trustees’ and get former Presidents to provide the needed moral leadership that can serve as a check to both party leaders and elected functionaries of the party?
The question of providing needed moral leadership to check party leadership and elected functionaries can be debated. But its desirability can hardly be contested. Part of the need for checks also has to do with the issue of implementing campaign promises and provisions of party manifesto. Having former Presidents discharging persuasive moral responsibilities as leaders of Board of Trustees would strengthen the capacity of party leaders and members to influence decisions of elected functionaries. Just emerging two former serving Presidents of the standings of President Buhari and former President Jonathan working in harmony towards a common political goal. It will take a rascally elected functionary at whatever level to ignore their recommendations. On the other hand, the big risk is when they are unable to work in harmony. That will tear the party apart and may potentially destroy the party. There is the need therefore to broaden consultations and agree on everything required to ensure that the framework of operations of the APC Board of Trustees guarantees that former serving Presidents can work in harmony.
Transforming Partisan Politics Beyond Electoral Contests
Negotiating to recruit high-profile members must go beyond the narrow speculation for electoral contest. Getting high-profile party members to be accountable to structures of the party should be developed beyond lip service. Weak accountability is responsibility for why some elected leaders become overbearing and refuse to respect decisions of the party. At the same time, weak accountability is also responsible for why leaders of the party, for instance the National Working Committee fails to convene meetings of organs of the party. Beyond failure to convene meetings, relationship between the party and elected representatives, both executive and legislative arms at all levels is similarly weak. Capacity to direct or influence decisions of elected and appointed functionaries of governments produced by the party is just notional. There is the need to take every step necessary to strengthen the relationship between the party structures and elected and appointed functionaries in both the executive and legislative arms at all levels.
The other important issue is managing internal negotiations to agree on substantive details that can guide the process of decisions of what the party needs to do to win elections in 2023. A major issue in this respect is the question of what will guide the emergence of APC Presidential Candidate for 2023 elections. As party members, we must appeal to our leaders to quietly negotiate this sensitive matter within the structures of APC. It is worrisome when some of leaders of our party partner with some PDP leaders to start public advocacy for power shift. Once APC leaders form partnership with PDP leaders to force a decision on a matter that a competent organ of the party is expected to decide, will suggest loss of confidence. Besides, what will be the morality of partnership with leaders of PDP who are decidedly in opposition against our party?
Negotiating a number of these issues will require tolerance and strong commitment by our leaders. It must be acknowledged that it is not going to be an easy negotiation. Part of the challenge also is the distraction from all the pressure from Nigerians. Leaders must be leaders by being able to withstand all the public pressure. Of course, most of the public pressure is also emanating out of some of our contemporary challenges as a nation. This include problems of insecurity on account of banditry and insurgency, which sadly is further widening all the fault lines of the country. Therefore, in addition to the question of who the Presidential Candidate of APC will be and from which part of the country he/she will come from, specific issues that can unite Nigerians must be identified by our leaders and make them issues for the 2023 campaigns.
APC leaders have demonstrated that nothing is impossible in Nigeria politics. With commitment and skilful negotiations, every desirable proposal can be achieved. That was the motivation for the successful merger of 2013. It was the driving factor for the successful defeat of PDP in 2015. It was similarly the reason why APC is coming out of a major leadership crisis successfully as a united party. APC leaders need to remain confident, committed and go into negotiation on all the issues around 2023. The same attitude that guided all the success of the party since 2013 can guide our party to victory in 2023!
This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum
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