It is always good to appreciate the good works of good men: people who variously contribute to the strong welding of human institutions and their growth – no wonder the roles of one man in Nigeria’s political space are most distinguished, dwarfing every other in his category.
In this generation of strange defections by politicians to alternative political parties for no other interest than self and the perpetuation of self, it is worth the mention of the only renowned politician at the very apex of politics in the country, who has never defected to another political party throughout his years in visible politics in Nigeria. This is a great political milestone.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu started politicking in Nigeria with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which, in 1989, was one of the two government parastatals created as platforms for politicians to contest elections on specified terms by the Babangida administration. He was, at that time, a “new breed” politician who was willingly admitted into the Council of the “old breed” politicians, as Babangida partitioned and labelled one arm of that dichotomy he created, and separated them for the ban from the active politics of that era.
The monuments and reminders of that era are the various police divisional headquarters and magistrate courts in our local government areas across the country. If the buildings were owned by political parties, they, the government, would not have used them for, and as any government facility: this is to prove a point that Babangida’s SDP and NRC were government parastatals. I do not see the possibility of government taking Wadata Plaza any day for a facility, unless they pay the rents.
So Asiwaju Tinubu started with the SDP, the party whose advance to Aso Rock villa was reaching the peak of fulfillment until that advance terminated in an anticlimax. The Babangida administration reneged on the promise to the country to civil democratic rule by the turn of the election periods of that era. They lied to Nigerians.
The Asiwaju led the war to restore democracy by joining others to marshal out an intellectual guerrilla front, including establishing a radio station dedicated to the struggle for the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria, after the annulment of the best election ever held in the history of the nation. He literally pursued Sani Abacha, the emperor of those days, until he died. We felt redeemed from a potential political slavery, and the making of another Ghadafi in Africa was aborted.
At the return of democracy in 1999, the Asiwaju pitched his tent with his brothers in the South West and later used his position as a member of the Council of State to reach out to, particularly, the northern States as governor of Lagos State. When Obasanjo began his “do or die” politics, he made out to kill the Alliance for Democracy (AD) for daring with excess political victories in his home base.
Asiwaju Tinubu refused to be forcefully dispossessed of Lagos State. He was out of tune with his party at the turn of his bid for a second term in office, but went ahead upon the same platform to win the only governorship seat the party had, while having lost five other states, which fell to Obasanjo. In politics Tinubu never let’s go his hold on whatever he possesses. This is instructive as we approach the 2019 elections.
Until the Asiwaju realized the pressure upon him by the lost of his brother states in the south west, and the lording on him of the leadership of the Afenifere – it was very easy for him to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – but he stayed on. By the time some disgruntled members of the AD created a faction of the party, Asiwaju Tinubu headed straight to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and returned with the Action Congress (AC).
It was a “tear rubber” political party. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu remains the only Nigerian politician who, though has had very pressing need to defect to good prospected political parties, has not switched parties in his entire political life. He creates political parties. He is a good example of an ideological politician, and this is why people like our senate president, however he applies his bodily cosmetics to look politically brighter, cannot stand a fourth division of the Asiwaju’s political profile. This is a practicing challenge to, and for political party defectors in Nigeria.
As rumor breaks, milling the still pending defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio from the PDP to the APC, setting Uyo and its surroundings up for very visible run of concerns, and the fear of the certain overturns of political strategies and permutations has formed a cloud of uncertainties over the future path the APC leadership in Akwa Ibom State will trail. Unfortunately, politics in Nigeria is tied to the pecuniary, and weak leaderships get drunk and sober in the face of pocket money. So many are eyeing “what money cannot do” so that “more money can do”.
The APC leadership in Akwa Ibom State will be on constant watch and any dilly dallying with defectors to surrender our given mandate to senator Akpabio without consultations will be exposed and resisted. This is the time for the State Executive Committee to ” watch and pray” so that they would not fall into Senator Akpabio’s temptations. No serious member of the APC will sit and watch Senator Akpabio return the governorship of Akwa Ibom State to PDP agents and agencies. It will be resisted and blocked.
Nevertheless, no political party, at this time when the APC is struggling with maintaining a simple majority in the senate, can readily reject Senator Akpabio’s interest in contesting his next senatorial election with the APC ticket for Akwa Ibom North West district (he needs to note this time that his own district is ” west”, not “east”).
Of truth, and as long as it is the senatorial election for Ikot Ekpene district, Senator Akpabio said it himself, that he can use “any political platform” to vacate the mandate his people will give him for “God’s will to be done again”. Senator Akpabio’s ego is unenviable. Was he thinking of defecting to the APC as at then? No one knows, he mentioned his interest in either “PDP or CUPP” as ever as the party may be called. But God knows best.
So it is in the interest of the APC caucus in the senate, the presidency and the ruling party to maintain the status of the party as the ruling party across board for Senator Akpabio to be fully embraced and ushered into the APC. There is something about the nomenclature “ruling party” as a political tag in Nigeria that makes Senator Akpabio uncomfortable with self involvement with “opposition parties”. He has mouthed his abhorrence for opposition politics severally before now.
This can also be seen in the way he has handled his assignment as senate minority leader: he has not been the same robust, loud and stylish talker known to Akwa Ibom people. Senator Akpabio distaste the opposition and finds himself dysfunctional among them. This is the primary reason he is leaving his party. This is the truth, and the first edged dilemma of the APC leadership at both the national and the state levels.
A man who hates our opposition polity may not likely find comfort associating with people who have sustain-ably drank the blood of the opposition and eaten the flesh thereof, as the communion of the fellowship of experts in opposition politics. How will he cope in the APC, which is made up of strong opposition figures in the country? It is about trusting him with responsibilities. He will rather destroy than build upon the foundation of our opposition struggles before now.
And the man Senator Akpabio is like the Antichrist, he always seeks to change times and laws because “what money cannot do, more money can do”. He has doused his ethnic group with wealth, and he is not in the APC to win his next election, he is in APC to take Akwa Ibom back to the PDP in the next governorship election, and to floor the Ibibios one more time, using the greedy, hungry and the discontent among the Ibibios, who always love Akpabio’s porridge for their birthrights. Their fathers were known political bondmen for Ndigbo.
This is why it is a wonder why the Vice President, who is a huge beneficiary of the Tinubu political legacy, did not advised Senator Akpabio to go and form a political party for himself and his ” teeming supporters across the country. People like Senator Akpabio should not be unleashed on the APC in Akwa Ibom State without asking him to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding and a code of conduct.
This mistake was made by the party when they admitted the nPDP initially and Tinubu is only beginning to sprout again after being “cut to size”. Akpabio is a modern day nPDP man, he has come to accomplish what Saraki left behind. No one in Akwa Ibom State or Nigeria that wants to see any ” cutting to size”, political bloodshed in any form must be resisted. The APC is our party.
The national chairman should see the APC in Akwa Ibom State as a China shop and Senator Akpabio as the bull the national leadership of the party is bringing into shop. He needs to be immobilized if he must be brought to shop. Tie him down on all four, including tying his tail to his trunk and lying him down to learn appreciations. That way, they can keep him safe from much damage to the shop until further notice.
It will be essentially wrong for the APC national leadership to see Senator Akpabio as the APC leader in Akwa Ibom State. Governors are made party leaders in their states because they are their states’ chief security officers. Adolphus Wabara was Senate President, the third most powerful man in Nigeria when Orji Uzo Kalu was governor in Abia State, yet governor Kalu dictated what happened politically in Abia, so was Sam Egwu in Ebonyi over Pius Anyim and Chimaroke Nnamani in Enugu over Ken Nnamani. It is only in States like Kwara where Saraki’s puppet, ‘Fatah Ahmed, handed his duties to his Capone.
So that mistake should not be made. When there was no party leader in Anambra State at a crisis point in the State, the Obasanjo administration allowed Chris Uba to lead the PDP in that state. Uba was neither in government nor was he a party officer. There are great men in Akwa Ibom who can lead the APC in the State, not one who partitions of people.
Now let us tell ourselves some truth: it was wrong for Nyesom Wike to take all the glory for the beautiful bride the PDP turned into recently. It was an offence to Senator Akpabio for Rabiu Kwankwaso and Bukola Saraki to jettison him in Abuja to travel all the way to Port Harcourt under cover to court Wike for approval to join the PDP: it all smells, no, stinks of personal interest. He is paying them back.
Both men are eyeing 2023 – both men seeking to be the senate president for that era – which shall be zoned to the South South. For this, Akpabio will spend and be spent for the APC. The clear advice for both the national and state leadership of the APC must be careful not to eat Akpabio’s bread of sorrow. This would be a sour spot on Buhari’s feast of anti corruption. Here lies the second edged dilemma for the APC. Members of the party must not be made pawns on Akpabio’s chess board.
If Senator Akpabio can pull down the senate ranking rule to become senate minority leader, it is left to be seen, from how much the senator will take in Akwa Ibom State, for members in the State to know that the national and state chairmen are all the same as people like the defectors: cold and insensitive in the face of the pecuniary. This is a humble advice.
Ini Akpan Morgan is the convener of the APC Patriots Grouping (APCpg) in Akwa Ibom State and he writes from Uyo.