Following the fallouts of last Saturday’s ward congresses of the All Progressive Congress (APC) across the states would leave you with either of two conclusions: it’s either the PDP is still in power (by other means), or the APC is not different from the PDP.
For the present ruling party matches its predecessor violence for violence, impunity for impunity, dollar for dollar, naira for naira, mago-mago for mago-mago and wuru-wuru for wuru-wuru.
So, what has changed? Absolutely nothing!
Everything we ever accused the PDP of has been re-enacted (and ‘bettered’) by the APC – including, I dare say, the looting of public treasury, and pretending that all is well when insecurity and insurgency tears away at the very fabric of society. Same way Jonathan fiddled while Boko Haram took over all but three local governments of Borno State (and at some point, even established their own country within our borders), is the same way Buhari is fiddling as bloodthirsty herdsmen sack one community after the other in no fewer than six states.
But APC shamelessly re-echoes the same untenable defence: it was worse under the PDP government. Of course, I no longer bother to ask them to name the prominent drivers of the present order who were not part of PDP’s 16 years of misrule.
But the situation is such that, if one were to pretend not to know the names of the current occupiers of our public offices, it would seem that the PDP never really left office.
Like the case in the days of the PDP, those who get to be dragged to court to face any form of trial, for instance, are those who are in the opposition party or those in the ruling party who are not politically correct and need to be taught a lesson or two.
Back to the congresses. The scripts read like something lifted straight out of PDP’s handbook of election manouvres.
In Anambra, irate party members were whiskers away from lynching the state’s APC leader and Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige. In fact, but for the prompt intervention of his security aides, one mischievous rumour monger told me that the intention was to force him into a Ghana-must-go bag and zip it up, along with other election materials.
In Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha was said to have outsmarted himself in his alleged bid to manipulate the process. With so many hawks (all with intimidating credentials in tweaking the due process) converging in the Imo APC, it was clear that all the rogues in Imo politics, rather than fight from outside the ruling party, resolved to take the battle to the governor in his own home ground. They joined the APC, and fought Okorocha from inside. So, suddenly, the say-all and be-all governor found himself holding onto the short end of the stick.
He allegedly ran to Abuja to convince the APC leadership to cancel the congress, even as some of his loyalists were granting press conferences, claiming that no congress held in Imo. But, curiously, the state chairman of the party was on another platform claiming that the congress held peacefully and rancour-free. Clearly, the APC house in Imo has fallen.
It reminds one of the PDP years in Imo and how PPA and APGA clinched the governorship at different times.
Like in Imo, the faction of the party loyal to Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State insisted there were rancour-free congresses all over the state. But that is different from the narrative emerging from the camps of Sen. Shehu Sani and Sen. Hunkuyi. Meanwhile, the governor’s camp is telling us there are no factions in the state’s chapter of the party. Tell that to the birds!
I believe that the same way I believe that Sen. Dino Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello are in the same camp, and that there are no divisions in Kogi APC. That the congresses held to everyone’s satisfaction and nobody heeded the call to boycott anything.
In Oyo, thugs disrupted the process. Rivers degenerated to outright violence. Two persons were shot, a member of the House of Representatives from the state was arrested, as the two distinct camps in the state APC traded blames.
In Bauchi, the faction of the party loyal to Speaker Yakubu Dogara conducted a parallel congress to that of Governor M.A. Abubakar’s group. There were also reports of parallel congresses in Ondo and Ebonyi. An official was shot in Delta. In Adamawa, it was outright free for all, as party faithful also resorted to voting with their fists, like their colleagues in Oyo, Imo, Anambra, etc.
Of course, there was relative calm in Lagos, which, in spite of the glaring imperfections, has remained some sort of an island of hope for party cohesion in the APC. I guess it has to do with the Tinubu factor. Of course, Muiz Banire has suddenly gone quiet.
There was also a curiously peaceful congress in Edo, home state of embattled national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, as the national chairman failed to show up, or participate in the exercise.
Abia and Enugu also managed to keep their crises within manageable limits. I wouldn’t know if this had to do with the fact that they really had nothing at stake, and therefore, nothing to fight for.
But the biggest drama seemed to have come from Ekiti State, where the APC was holding its primaries for the governorship election scheduled for July 14 this year.
In Ekiti and Rivers, for instance, where the APC seems to have since concluded that it did not lose fair and square in the last governorship elections, the party appears to have made up its mind to wrest the governorship from the PDP, using the same treatment (federal might) with which the PDP allegedly ‘captured’ the states in the last election.
The story is that, if the PDP insisted that it won fair and square, with all that was reported about the election, APC would apply the same prescription to ‘win fair and square.’ If it was good for PDP at that time, then it must also be good for the APC now.
But before the July 14 showdown with Governor Ayo Fayose and the PDP, the APC needed to try its new medicine on itself. That was exactly what happened last weekend at the Kayode Oluyemi Stadium in Ado-Ekiti.
The aspirants mobilised enough thugs and cash that could make the PDP green with envy. They were not afraid of blood, and were not unwilling to crack a few skulls whenever the need arose. They held night and wee-hour meetings like their counterpart witches and wizards in the PDP coven. They did all the things we should know, and a few of the things that even they are too ashamed to talk about.
But the biggest surprise was Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Yes, the same Fayemi that political wolves devoured like a hapless lamb four years ago has now wizened up. He’s now as fierce as they come, having since realised that the Nigerian political turf is neither for the gentleman nor the urbane. Yes, JKF might have the blueprint to transform Ekiti, but he would have to win an election first, before he can implement such blueprint.
He seems to have done his homework so well that the feelers one is getting from the camp of one of the 30-something other aspirants is that even if the congress is repeated 10 times, Fayemi would still win. What a transformation!
Yes, Fayemi might not be willing to spill blood, but he would no longer sit back and watch his own blood being spilt. He would not cross his legs and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The trouble, however, was that his opponents thought they were still dealing with the same ‘naïve’ Fayemi of 2014. Not anymore! Mugu don wise! As we say in our South West street lingo, Fayemi ti sha pra-pra!
So, rather than wear themselves out over who gets the party’s ticket, the Ekiti APC would do well to close ranks for the battle ahead, because having the party’s ticket is no guarantee that the holder would win the election. For there is still one almost-insurmountable hurdle called Fayose, whose PDP is in no hurry to surrender the Ekiti governorship, in fact, who has no plan of ever doing so.
So, I ask again: what has changed?