18th June, 2015
By Joe Igbokwe
Few days ago, Professor Pat Utomi lamented that interlopers and agents of darkness have hijacked our CHANGE PROJECT again. In that piece, Utomi reflected on the June 12 1993 Saga and the sordid event of June 23, 1993 and the formation of the Concerned Professionals. Prof Utomi lamented that we lost the June 12, 1993 as a result of the kind of complacency and political idiocy that is playing itself out today in Abuja. In our very own eyes we saw how SDP Chieftains started romancing with IBB and Abacha junta until Chief Abiola’s Vice President, Baba Gana Kingibe, SDP Chairman Tony Anenih, Ojo Maduekwe and others joined Abacha to destroy and bury Chief MKO Abiola’s mandate. Human rights activists, pro-democracy activists, concerned professionals, Trans Africa, Lawyers, etc spoke out against the annulment but their voices were swallowed by the vicious and dangerous voices of Abacha’s men. The rest is now history but we lost hundreds of Nigerians including the winner of that election, Chief Moshood Abiola, his wife Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Bagauda Kaltho, Suliat Adedeji, Dr Omatshola, Admiral Elegbe, Admiral Olu Omotehinwa, etc. Had Nigerians stood up in great numbers to defend Chief Abiola and June 12, 1993 mandate, Nigeria would have been a better place today.
In 1999 when the June 12 war ended, the same group of never do wells seized the centre stage again to continue to decimate Nigeria and for 16 years, they tormented us, humiliated us, maimed us, killed us, pillaged our common patrimony and destroyed all things we hold dear. Everything they touched turned to ashes. Every sector just refused to work. They came, they saw and they plundered. Time and space will not permit me to recall what we went through in the last sixteen years in the hands of PDP. They abused and told us they will rule Nigeria for 60 years. They beat us, divided us with guns and money, they killed Chief Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Funsho Williams, General Azazi, Aminosoari Dikibo, Ogbonnaya Uche, Ayo Daramola, Bayo Ohu, Godwin Agbroko, Dipo Dina, Chief Layi Balogun, Odunayo Olagbaju, etc.
Now, from just one state (Lagos) in 2003, the progressives led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President Buhari and others began to work, from AD to AC to ACN. ACN then teamed up with other legacy parties like CPC, ANPP and part of APGA and the new PDP led by Amaechi and others to form APC. APC hit the ground running and on March 28 2015, the change came and General Buhari emerged as the President on the platform of APC. APC won majority votes in the Senate, House of Reps and even among the Governors. Now after elections APC leaders met severally and agreed on candidates for the Senate leadership and that of House of Reps. But something unthinkable and bizarre took place in the Senate and House of Reps on June 9, 2015. As 51 APC Senators were having a meeting at the International Conference Centre Abuja, 57 Senators met to elect Senator Saraki as Senate President against the wishes of the party which agreed to settle for Senator Ahmed Lawan. In the House of Reps, Yakubu Dogara emerged against the wishes of the party which initially settled for Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. Since then there has been trouble in the big house of APC as leaders questioned the process that led to the emergence of not only Saraki and Dogara but Senator Ekweremmadu of PDP as the Deputy Senate President.
Party leaders see this as an act of colossal betrayal and sabotage, and vowed to reverse the anomalies. There has been series of arguments and counter arguments going on among those who want the sleeping dog to lie and those who want the situation to be reversed. Some felt that it may cause implosion in APC and consequently limit the capacity of the party to deliver what it promised Nigerians. Some argued that a crack in APC may lead to the re-emergence of PDP in 2019. They may be good arguments but I believe in the supremacy of the party. I believe that APC is bigger than anybody. I know what APC leaders went through to get to where they are today and I believe that APC should stamp its feet down to defend the integrity of the party no matter whose ox is gored. If anything, the celebration and exchange of banters on the floor of the Senate by PDP leaders after the so-called elections suggest that they are up to something sinister in years to come. I am also aware that the rules of the house allows one third members to form a quorum but I frown at using one third quorum to elect the principal officers of the Senate at a time like this. Matters were not helped when Senator Ekweremmadu went to Enugu to beat his chest that PDP will bounce back in 2019 after stealing the deputy senate president seat. This is why APC must seize the moment now, put its feet down, play the real politics and give whatever is left of PDP a run for its money in Nigeria. We must reverse the dangerous development we saw in the Senate in order to send the signal out there that we mean business.
Attempts have been made by the invaders and interlopers to suggest that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the one being whittled down by the emergence of Senator Saraki as Senate President. The miserable Bode George believes so and so are others who are worried about BAT’s rising and intimidating profile. But today Asiwaju BAT remains the most sophisticated and most celebrated politician in Nigeria. He has almost single-handedly retired Bode George, Ebenezer Babatope, Tony Anenih, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Alex Ekwueme, Ahmadu Ali, Tanko Yakassai, Edwin Clark, Bamanga Tukur, Richard Akinjide, etc from active politics. Today if the 16 years struggle for Change in Nigeria and the emergence of President Buhari is a book, Asiwaju BAT wrote 65% of it. In spite of hate campaigns, intimidation, use of brute force, dollars and pounds truck-loaded to Lagos, Asiwaju BAT defeated PDP and their agents. If this is not a monumental feat tell me what it is. In Kwara State, supporters of Saraki think that Alhaji Lai Mohammed must sacrifice APC’s unique position in Nigeria and support Senator Saraki because both of them are from Kwara State. No! Lai Mohammed cannot settle for primordial sentiments to the detriment of the national APC position. He has to defend the party, Saraki or no Saraki: This is the hallmark of leadership. This is the way to go.
I want to appeal to APC leaders not to join the foolish constituencies to think that Asiwaju BAT is the problem. No! He is not. What is at stake is the integrity and position of our great party. We have made promises to Nigerians and we need a good team made up of decent men and women to do the real job. We must have the courage to stop the ruthless and inordinate ambition of Senator Saraki and others in order to show the world that we know where we are going. APC must carry the big stick.
President Buhari should play the real politics by standing firm with his party’s guidelines and established rules. President Buhari has the full weight of the Federal Government behind him to get things done the way he wants it so long as it will benefit Nigerians. The world’s richest man, Mr Warren Buffet says: “In a chronically leaking vessel, it is more productive to change the vessel than to continue patching the leaks from time to time. Let APC send the signals out there that it is not afraid to take hard decisions so long as it is in the national interest. After all, history will forgive us taking decisions and many little mistakes than not taking decisions at all.
•Igbokwe wrote from Lagos