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Buhari must rejig his politics, stop all PDP gains now


“Ina Dalili”, an engaging Hausa language Political Discussion Programme on Liberty Television, Kaduna, a TV and Radio combo owned by Kaduna based APC topnotcher and well known academic, public administrator and syndicated newspaper columnist Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed prompted this piece. As it discussed the PDP and its fortunes and misfortunes so far since take off of the Buhari Government, “Ina Dalili?” (“What Cause?”) was the refrain that stuck in my mind.

“What Could be the Cause?”, was the title I first had in mind for this piece. What could be the cause I had asked myself, of any perceived gains of the PDP only nine months into the Buhari government? Is it not the same Government we all fought for, that we expected, that we cherish, that we love, that we need?

I stumbled upon the Hausa Liberty TV programme, “Ina Dalili?”, in the wee hours of Tuesday shortly after enjoying the proactive defense and promotion of the General Muhammadu Buhari APC Government in an earlier programme anchored by Mahmoon Baba-Ahmed, famous three decades ago in Kano and Northern political and media circles as a hotshot broadcaster for Radio Kaduna’s political programmes. 

He was, in the 1980s, one of the journalists with the most access to radical PRP leader, late Malam Aminu Kano. Mahmoon was known as a died-in-thewool PRP “ta6o” supporter in perpetual conflict with the then Kano Government of Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi who led the PRP “Santsi” Imoudu faction after the bitter split in the party.

The Liberty TV’s “Ina Dalili?” had a young, very young unPDP-like PDP stalwart in the TV station’s Kaduna studios, one youthful Nasiru Gombe. Tackling the anchor, another young man whose names I can’t recall, with commendable aplomb he stoutly defended his chosen party, the PDP decision to have ex-Borno Governor and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who Aribisala accused of being behind the Boko Haram insurgency as acting National Chairman despite all odds. Interestingly, while the programme was on the ticker tape on the bottom panel of the Liberty TV screen scrolled along with various bits of news including the one that prominently reports “Aggrieved PDP Men Form Peoples Mega Party (PMP)”, in a most unoriginal aping of the mega movement that led to the merger that formed the then opposition party, the APC.

An interesting interjection that had my attention and led to this write-up is the statement put forward by the anchor, who posed: could it be said that PDP was making gains despite losing power at the centre? Or was it losing ground as many of its members have crossed over to the ruling party, especially since the loss of Power by the PDP?

While watching the programme, I added on a few posers to myself: could PDP be gaining ground because of the preponderance of PDP types in all spheres of Nigerian life? Because of PDP types in APC? Because of PDP types in the National Assembly? And in many State Assemblies? Because of PDP types who merely rode the APC Buhari Change wagon to get back to power? Because of PDP types in the Judiciary? Because of PDP types in all arms of the Government, the civil service, the police, the security agencies and all? Because of PDP types amongst APC State Governors? Because of PDP types now having it rough as the Buhari anticorruption war progresses?

Indeed is PDP gaining any ground? Or is it that APC is willingly giving up ground for the mean strategic reasons of those who flocked to APC with the plan and expectation that once the elections are done everyone will settle down to the tradition of the past, of business as usual? 

Is it losing because such regular johns in politics realise with Buhari as President it is not and cannot be business as usual? That they can’t use the razzmatazz of politics this time around as they had always done to pull the wool over the people’s eyes once the elections are over? Is it that some are looking to doing to APC what they did to their original party, the PDP pulling the plug on it and flushing it down the drain at will?

Is it also possible that it is the “I-don’t-care” handling of the APC’s politics by General Buhari that unwittingly allowed the many unbelievable and obvious gains so far by PDP? The gains are definite, sure and obvious. This is chiefly facilitated by the Judiciary, that refuses to acknowledge need to use the new technology of voter screening sensibly put forward by INEC and supported by what we all believed were extant laws.

Buhari’s handling of politics is decidedly opposed to the tradition in Presidential systems of government. In the Nigerian system, in particular, the President is in absolute charge of the nation’s politics. But the Presidency under Buhari is clearly not in charge of the political aspect of its mandate. 

Buhari has by his “siddon” look type of politics left the politics to take care of itself. In the beginning I welcomed it. I am of those who felt it was merely a tactical move he would revisit after a while. 

Most observers of our politics thought he had plans he kept to his chest. And that he would unleash them later. Later by now seems to be accumulating its own momentum. 

It seems to be slipping late. He has for too long left the terrain untended, focusing on his key pledges: fighting insurgency, fighting corruption and targeting employment generation. 

Leaving politics to take care of itself for too long has obviously caused a lot more harm than envisaged.

Politics has never been known to take care of itself. It is always organised. You organise it for yourself. Where you leave a gap someone else organises it for you. To his advantage. In such a situation if you make any gains, you do so despite your failing to so organise. Meaning you make haphazard gains of no import or impact.

In the case of Buhari and the politics of APC and the politics of Nigeria since he won the elections the handling has been effectively done so far by those with interests that are at clear and total variance with what he stands for, what he campaigned he would do when elected. Namely fight corruption. Run a transparent and honest people centred government. Provide the enabling environment for Nigerians to attain their fullest potentials. Especially the teeming youth who are the most pressed majority and of course our women, mothers and daughters. 

A Spartan and frugal lifestyle by leaders. A life of sacrifice and service to the people is what he promised. He did tell Nigerians on Convention Day in Lagos he had neither dollars nor Naira to offer. He had integrity. Only. And nothing else. He had his all on offer, he announced to the admiration of the world. The APC Delegates believed him. We all believed him. Nigeria believed him. And Nigeria still believes him. Nigerians believe he is definitely offering all of that.

It is sad though that all he offers is now challenged by a daredevilry that would never have been attempted in a PDP Government. 

The General, the people’s General is challenged by a devil may care body language from the judiciary. A similar body language from the National Assembly. It is such odious body language and brazenly wicked pronouncements from the courts that returned Governors who forced themselves on their people by blatant thuggery, killing and maiming innocents, people they say they kill so as to serve the people. Very weird logic, no doubt.

So, “Ina Dalili?” (“What is the Cause?”) for this lackluster handling of politics by the Buhari Presidency? Of the gains by the PDP, discredited as it is. 

To make the difference expected of him the General should be ready to go the whole hog, to use the full powers of the office he inherited. The office of the most powerful president on earth, that the Nigerian President is said to be. The Nigerian President has the good fortune of ability to use and even subvert every institution of State to achieve any targeted course while in office, probably more so than the Russian president or  even Korea’s young maximum ruler.

He should be ready to use the office to the fullest to reform all that needs be reformed to permit him redesign Nigeria to the specifications he was so contracted to do by the majority of Nigerians.

We know he has the mass support. I hope he knows he still has that mass support, more mass support than any other Nigerian politician has ever got since independence. 

So, like Late Musa DanKwairo Maradun urged Late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero, in his famed Hausa praise song, encouraging him to tackle his opponents head on, in those days principally Governor Rimi who had attempted to constrict the emirate under Bayero. Dan Kwairo sang his inspiring Hausa language ode to Ado: “shin me ka ka tsoro? Mik’e bugi kan buzaye . .” (What are you afraid of? Rise strike the Tuaregs right atop their heads.)

Much needy may be time to start fisting the opposition when the need arises as has always been done by previous Nigerian Presidents faced with similar impudence, at the same time there must be well laid out plans to tackle the political terrain. 

Such plans must take account of the need to simplify the election process. To allow for a situation where Buhari or any other quality candidate after Buhari does not need to have to first lay out a huge war chest by hook or by crook to prosecute elections within political parties or even outside parties. If the election process is so simplified as I hope it should be, we should see the full introduction of Independent Candidates for all elections. In addition there must be full democracy within political parties. The controls that make a mockery of the political parties and our politics must be removed.

There should be no reason for a candidate for president to have to traverse the whole of Nigeria to canvass votes. In the simplified process all he needs do is reach out through his political party and/or persons he/she shares ideological leanings with. Contesting positions should be restricted to your Senate seat if you aspire to be President or Vice President. 

If you hope to be Prime Minister and head of government or a cabinet minister, elections to the House of Representatives is all you need from your Federal Constituency. In such a style the whole problem of party supremacy and inclusion would be resolved, so too that of genuine grassroots representation. A reasonable percentage of the Cabinet should be allowed the President from professionals and other interests outside the National Parliament, as well as another fair percentage from the political party or parties that form the Government.

The centralized command structure of the Nigerian type of presidential system has been proved to be a draw back to our political development. The fallacy that it aids a pan national mandate and addresses the tribal and ethnic cleavages of the first republic are just that a tendentious and fallacious assumption. 

Its gains are in fact only visible in the worthless thieving billionaires it has harvested, in the Dasukis, the Diezanis and the like we hear of daily on the media and the many more we are likely to hear more of over the next few months of the Buhari cleansing of the messed up Augean stables. 

The misapplied Presidential system that gave us a president more powerful than the American President has only allowed those with their hands in the public till and those who have one way or the other acquired huge sums or have huge ungodly financiers behind them to ever attempt a successful prosecution of elections at all levels. 

As such we have a conspiracy of the elite consistently recycling themselves and gorging on our collective wealth, draining us dry of any blood we have left in our national veins like the vampires they are. The lie that a national mandate traversing the nooks and crannies gives a more national president has been proved to be a blatant lie and a hoax the elite use to fool us all the while. All our Presidents since Shagari have always been accused of sectional bias. The worst of them, the clueless PDP’s Jonathan.

Buhari is perhaps the only exception, an accidental exception at that. He was well funded by the elite when they realised they had no other option. If they are to continue living off the blood of Nigerians. They did so on seeing that Nigeria was on the verge of being disintegrated by the toy they had earlier imposed on it in the person of Jonathan and his PDP Presidency of Ijaws, militants, Igbos and heartless thieves of all tribes. 

To his credit Buhari played along with them, creditably, only blurting out his real self in very rare glimpses during the campaigns. He played the “good boy” while the campaigns lasted. However all that got to change when he got his hands on the levers of power.

At takeoff of government, one of the reasons why it was slow to take off obviously had nothing to do with the mess General Buhari inherited as variously suggested by my very good friend, SSA Media Garba Shehu and the Great Goebbels of our times, Minister Lai Muhammed. The go slow of the Buhari gait since taking over as President obviously had more to do with the mess of the motley baggage of political pilgrims he had had to acquire to become president.

To confirm that, all you need do is to look to the list of those who got to make the president’s team. So too those who emerged Members and leaders of the APC, especially in the National Assembly. Plus of course the many who are now Governors with little or no qualitative difference from those who were in the PDP Nigerians decisively rejected. 

The only exception, if at all, are the very few from those who were with him and us, in his own party, the CPC in 2011. Many of course were CPC even then only because it was expedient to make use of the General’s pull to win elections that only an insignificant few could win for the near total lack of Organisation we suffered in 2011 in the CPC. No thanks to the infighting that we suspect was sponsored by PDP to scatter the Buhari base and stem his tsunami that they feared could lead to opening up of the books and doing them a Dasuki that he just did, the very moment he got the chance.

So, unless he takes charge of his politics and re-jigs it to fit his contract with us, Nigerians he will have to be forced in 2019 to end up like Obasanjo did in 2003 kowtowing to Atiku Abubakar. In Buhari’s case he will have to bow to Governors he made in 2015 as they have control of the party apparatus despite the fact that it is Buhari who still has control of the masses at the grassroots, masses who will no doubt still vote for him. Not that they will vote anybody else even if he pleads on his knees. 

For Obasanjo in 2003 it was a lot easier to eat humble pie as he had only one centralized loci of power to relate with, his VP Atiku Abubakar. And he did and hot what he wanted. He allowed all the shenanigans needed to return him to power. That was when he learned all he needed to do Nigeria in in 2007, with a sickly and selfish Yaradua pregnant with the Jonathan incubus that almost wiped out Nigeria as Obasanjo’s revenge for our refusal to allow him a third term. 

Obasanjo, unfortunately never had a political base in the first place unlike Buhari, at least not a mass base. He had to go do all the primitive accumulation, with the cleverness needed to use same to remain relevant. So, if Buhari allows things the way he does today on the political plain he has to either go to Governors, allow them to dip their hands in the till to get him returned or else squeeze through, if he does with bruises of ego and integrity.

The equation would be a lot more complex. He would have to return to work with all his party Governors. He would thus have to contend with the fury of the people, a fury that will surely be especially sharpened and focused by politicians who would have been left out of the loop between 2015 and 2019 in their states by dictatorial Emperor Governors spawned by the Imperial Nigerian Presidency since 1999. 

Such Emperor Governors used the Buhari mystique and his appeal of SAK (SAK is the slogan appealing to the masses to vote the Buhari Party all through, the APC in the case of 2015, the ANPP in 2003 and in ANPP again in most states in 2007 with all the betrayals he suffered even then).

The Imperial Governors would use their hold on the state party machine to exact a pledge of a quid-pro-quo from the President. As suggested here that may not work as well as it did in 2015. At least that is what indicators show thus far.

Even the electors that form the mass base of the General may not comply with any such order by 2019. That may end up affecting his own chances too, especially if the system continues as it does today where the capacity for crookery is all that you require to get to and retain power. Just do the Maths. Get the right route to access the agents assigned to subvert the process in your favour. No one can do nothing to you. If you are pressed, the judiciary including the Supreme Court, obviously on the war path with the new way of doing things will provide you willing and ready succour. 

The developments in states where PDP uses incumbency to get its way despite Buhari’s popularity and his being President is a pointer and support for such rebellion even in Buhari strongholds. A bye-election in Gombe was said to have been won by PDP in the heart of the North East where Buhari got nearly 100% only last year December.

It is time to wake up. While all the other wars are going on, this political war is more pressing. PDP gains must be stemmed. And it had better start in good enough time. If the gains are to be halted and reversed.

Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo, a journalist and politician is founding chairman of Coalition Committee for Buhari Groups (CCBG, since 2009). He writes from Kano. He was a founding member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Kano and former state chairman of ANPP in 2003. He was also an All Progressive Change (APC) founding member. With CPC and Legacy Party politicians squeezed out of reckoning by the PDP tendency in the APC Kabiru Gwangwazo contested for Kano State Governor on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after consulting widely, stepping down for the Kano APC candidate on then President-elect, General Buhari’s express orders.

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