Published On: Thu, Jul 2nd, 2015

Reading the rumble in the APC and national assembly

EMMANUEL NWOSU

It is not enough to narrate the rumble (which is merely a symptom) in the National Assembly and in the All Progressives Congress (APC) without an insight into the underlying disease. With all due respect, the Nigerian State is predatory. In particular, the structure and legal relationships are unbalanced, wobbly and suffocating and it is easy for some sections and groups to bully the others at will.

The result has been perennial upheaval and trading of blames. Meanwhile, our ‘leaders’ (who are largely myopic) continue to ignore the demands of our history and political evolution for the creation of a productive state which will generate more room for self-fulfillment for individuals and groups, along with social stability and greater transparency and accountability, at all spheres of private and public life, including government. They prefer to focus on the symptoms rather than the disease principally because it is the angle that serves their avarice, even though always unprepared to handle the tidewaters and aftermath.

Predatory mentality goes with mutual disrespect, at the inter-personal, inter-ethnic and inter-regional levels and disposes the stronger parties to implacability, brute force, brinkmanship, intimidation and guile in the style of doing things to have their way. The compact Northern leadership – which can operate in cells or cahoots – has been the most domineering and most skilled in deploying these traits to coerce or frighten counterparts into submission. And continuous success in the game since the 1950s has made them seemingly invincible on the Nigerian political turf, capable of pulling any stunt, any time.

It should then have been clear, when the formidable Northern Front of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swarmed the APC, under the umbrella of New-PDP, that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc, the putative principal benefactors of APC, might eventually lose proprietorship of the party, if the younger folks among them, known to be politically ambitious and daring, were not contained. As it stands, the Asiwaju and his loyalists must play down proprietorship, read the game afresh and find the humility, mutual respect and fortitude to tread pragmatically and carry all blocs of the party along – if the APC is to last. Otherwise, more of the same cane used to whip the PDP would be wielded on the APC as we approach the next general elections, expected in 2019, which, most likely, is the ultimate target of the rumble.

One sincerely believes that the Vice-Presidency is not enough for the ACN (or the Asiwaju) bloc, given their head start, sweat and financial equity in the ruling party. The speaker of the House of Representatives should have also been conceded. For strategic reasons, the Presidency had been taken by the North. There was a need for firmer foothold by the South, starting with the South-West (home to ACN) in the Federal Government. However, in contradiction of the quintessential Yoruba diplomacy, the bloc became too frenetic and abrasive, to the extent that their quest for National Assembly leadership was perceived as a winner-takes-all imperative on the party.

Their internal competitors (who were baying for a straw) saw disenfranchisement, which roused their ego and emotional berth with the numerically significant opposition legislators (who are their ‘maternal cousins’) at the expense of party loyalty. Given the re-alignment, one can bet that party candidates would have still lost in a full house in both chambers of the National Assembly! Their fate was sealed when the leadership (in the characteristic pomposity of Nigerian ruling parties) summoned APC legislators to a meeting the same morning that Parliament was to be inaugurated and expected the inauguration to be put on hold – as if they owned the legislature.

Well, if you struggle too much in the swamp, you are bound to sink! Having failed to install the preferred candidates as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the ninth of June, 2015, the leaders of APC (in particular, the Asiwaju bloc) should not lose their head as well-if they do not want the situation to conflagrate and lead to the untimely desolation (already alluded to) of the party. They should discontinue all effort to force the Majority Leaders down the throat of Parliament, not to talk of ever attempting to remove the presiding officers, already elected. It would be foolhardy to seek to impose its will on the Parliament with a multitude of adversaries. All they can do now is negotiate. What the New-PDP faction has made is a statement of worth but they are unlikely to work against the success of the APC government if party’s leadership can let the sleeping dog lie. Ego has come into play. In time, wounds will heal and the party becomes more united. Let the party weather this adversity by all means.

Insubordination to party and the mutually destructive impetuosity of Nigerian politicians are utterly condemnable. But the principal cause is well-known: Nigeria is a predatory state where individuals and groups are perennially hunting one another for pecuniary advantage. All said and done, without restructuring the federation and without a semblance of balance in political force between the North and the South, on the one hand and between the majority and the minority ethnic groups, on the other hand, one cannot see Nigeria out-growing political and social instability or realizing its economic and cultural potential or anything else, in full.

And only by the coming together of the East and the West can that restructuring, balance and mutual respect ever be realized. Everything else amounts to treating the symptoms instead of the disease. Right now, only the North has the numbers, the compactness, the guts and ‘eyes on the ball’ to call the shots in our federal politics. We should admire rather than blame them.

Nigeria will remain a predator’s republic as long as either the East or the West can only be a satellite of the North, to be played against each other, depending on the circumstances, at the expense of universal solidarity, freedom and equality in which all Nigerian groups must come to the table with mutual respect.

Our diversity dictates a balanced and egalitarian federation which could be equally beneficial to both the North and the South and to both the majority and the minority groups. The fiscal federalism of the First Republic (or something close to it) should be restored, to make the states (or regions?) look inwards to exploit their endowments and comparative advantages, put the country back in business, create more room for self-fulfillment at all levels and douse the laxity, animosity and social and political tensions related to over-centralization of political and resource controls on the Federal Government.

 

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