Political leaders in the South-East geo-political zone of the country, on Friday, applauded the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for his contributions to the development of the Nigerian political system. “Chief Odigie-Oyegun, by his political understanding has provided a bridge of good appreciation of democratic behavior between the presidency…
Some people reacted to Part-1 of this piece published last week and told me that Kalu’s defection was no big issue. I asked them: “If it was of no significance why do you waste your time to react?” But the majority agreed it was a major political development, for such personalities make politics what it is. I agree with them and that is why I decided to do my own review of the development. We forget easily that at a time Orji Uzor Kalu was of more political importance than Bola Tinubu. Also at some points in our political history, Tinubu who I acknowledge as the indisputable commander of political affairs in Western Nigeria of today had only one state under his control which is Lagos, while Kalu was in-charge of two states, Abia and Imo. Why Kalu lost his and Tinubu expanded is an issue for another day; but whether what Kalu achieved is a feat, that one is beyond contestation, that achievement if no other thing confers on him a man of immense political clout and recognition.
This piece is not about to justify Kalu’s political move neither is it intended to launder his image. It is a product of the recognition that the defection of heavy weight political figures at this time in our national history would always raise issues germane to national development. It wouldn’t matter the specific politician involved, Atiku, Bola Tinubu, Ekwueme, Odili, Donald Duke, Bafarawa, Tambuwal, once the individual is of some political consequence, the fall-outs would definitely reverberate across the length and breadth of the nation bringing with it new angles to old national challenges. Kalu’s move has not been without some reactions, many of them exposing issues the nation must handle very well if our intention is to build a nation-state. I found the issue of ethnicity, religion, short sightedness and pettiness in all of it. As you read this, there are many Nigerians who believe the APC is an ethnic and religious party and for such people it is an anathema to contemplate joining forces with them; people of Southeast seem to believe the party does not like them, has no provision for them and has been marginalizing them in appointments and general governance activity so far. It may be true and that is of consequence if it is true, but more important should be the understanding that such issues are aberrations, which we should not allow to stay and be nurtured into a monster that would turn around to hurt us.
The right attitude should be, what we don’t like, we don’t watch. In a democracy you don’t carry arms in the bid to correct an abnormally, you rather mobilize the people in that direction so that their voices and impact could be reasonably felt. I am one of those who believe that the Igbo did not make any political mistake in 2015, but they must know that between then and now so much water has passed under the bridge, they must understand there is a new political configuration which has greatly altered old political calculations. The time calls for new political thinking and moves. Part of the re-strategizing should come in the form of prominent Igbo political figures joining the ruling party, the APC. Issues of marginalization under a democratic setting are better fought from within than from outside, I want to insist this is one lesson those managing the political destiny of the Southeast should note and take seriously, what is more two years in politics is such a long time, anything can happen to dramatically modify political fortunes and equation. So for me Kalu’s choice of APC appears well thought-out.
The issue of party loyalty has come up again and it does every time we have issue of a big time politician changing parties. For me, it is a good development; issues of principles and ideologies are crucial in the development of a stable democracy. I agree issues of principles and ideology in our politics ought to take our attention. I admit that the absence of these two has to a large extent affected our march to genuine development. The debate surrounding the question of principles and ideology seem off the mark and this can be gleaned from the point that most of those who desire it or talk about it appear not to know that these are pillars that don’t rest on their own, they require foundations to make them stand. A society without clear vision can’t talk of ideology; ideology requires vision to make sense, and same way principles can’t stand without set of values. People can’t talk of principles when there are no acceptable norms; in our country today nothing is sacred. None of the political parties was formed on the basis of ideology; they are all products of group anger and personal disagreements. It is important I state this, this is not to justify all political defections that have taken place, especially between 2007 and now, for we must know that some of them were clearly unwarranted and motivated by selfish desires.
Yet, there were others like the one involving Atiku Abubakar which we must accept and commend because they were driven by the urge to entrench sound democratic culture. Many have criticized Atiku for jumping from PDP to ACN and back to PDP, but they refuse to see that the move was inevitable if both the man and democracy were to survive. The political structure of this nation is yet to properly evolve and the style is very adversarial. I know some things concerning the formation of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Kalu was at the head of many others who wanted a new party. The decision to form the party was not because anybody wanted to play god. PPA was a reaction to the high handedness of federal authorities who de-registered Kalu and his supporters from the PDP following disagreement over tenure elongation. PPA as a political party doesn’t belong to Kalu because in a democracy, once a party is formed it becomes an institution bigger than its founders. Yet, I am aware PPA that has offices and members in 36 states would not run in opposing direction to the political aspirations of Kalu.
Kalu is obviously an asset but his presence in APC would be of no consequence except he has a good grasp of what the problems of this country are and the basic issues facing his immediate constituency. He must be able to convey national and Southeast needs to the President and get answers. Igbo would take him very serious if by his efforts the president’s kitchen cabinet is restructured to include the Igbo. Kalu would have won a big victory if by him massive infrastructural revitalization commences in the East. I am still imagining what the Southeast would look like if it is announced today that Nnamdi Kanu has been released unconditionally. In these days of political realignment, APC’s move to get somebody of Kalu’s political status is certainly a strategic political move of immense proportion.