I received word to review Okoi Obono-Obla’s new book, ‘The Making of a Change Agent’ with much anticipation.
Knowing its author’s antecedents and prolific political themes, I could tell from the very title that he had decided to take on a range of issues which are not just contemporary but historical in their depth and wider context.
The book does a lot more as I will very quickly point out, noting the controversial issues taken on and the conclusions, directly and indirectly, that can be drawn from its resourceful pages.
However, I was made to wonder as to the author’s rationale to invite me to review this crucial work of history, knowing fully well I represented the other side of the political divide when the All Progressive Congress was in the trenches as a newly formed opposition party in Nigeria.
As a former National Secretary of the Labour Party our position cannot be said to have been favourably disposed to the APC and we fervently pursued our own agenda as against the APC”s. The Nigerian people, however, made their choice.
If I found the invitation curious, I also found it brave and a testament to the author ‘s readiness to run the gauntlet of critical review.
Nigeria remains Africa ‘s most populous nation, with a wide geographical spread and mileage, imbued by an abundance of natural and mineral resources, and further inhabited by a people united by a mutual political history with an overwhelming cultural diversity.
However, despite its blessings of human and material wherewithal which makes it an envy amongst nations of the world, Nigeria continues to trudge on wearily on the path of true progress and development.
Her natural and potential strengths, including the petrodollars and intellectual properties have no commensurate or corresponding effect on her development.
Despite these potential its citizens suffer ubiquitous lack, poor infrastructures, public health challenges, insecurity, official profligacy, corruption and terrorism. These banes have gone on to limit whatever chance at development it has ever had, from its very first days of independence to the present.
The untidy state of things in Nigeria has been pointedly attributed principally to political inadequacies and instability, and it is this train of thought and conclusion that Chief Okoi Obono-Obla (hereinafter referred to as Obono-Obla), a vibrant and versatile Nigerian Lawyer, Rights Activists, presently the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and a keen observer of socio-economic occurrences in Nigeria, has, in his new book, adumbrated on, introducing new perspectives to the narrative with acute insights.
Obono-Obla’s standpoint is to the effect that military misadventure into politics was an interregnum that, for several years, tied Nigeria to base, coupled with sixteen uninterrupted years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s reign, which he believes heightened the nation’s ailments.
From its very first chapter, Obono-Obla makes a case for change by an interrogation of the handlers of the Nigerian political power- from the military days to the present.
The socio-economic life of the country is tied to the political choices of its military rulers and ‘civilian pirates’. A term which presupposes the hijacking of the people ‘s mandate and power to meet selfish ends.
From the end of military rule, particularly through the sixteen years of PDP rule, the country was mauled by sectarian interests with party loyalty superseding a commitment to the country and it’s developmental goals.
However, he refused to appreciate the significance of change in the civilian rule since 1999 as against the inglorious military era.
For the author, the sorry situation into which Nigeria and Nigerians were plunged into gave birth to a push and pull political atmosphere which got the Nigeria population disenchanted and despondent.
Corruption continued in the increase, laws were flouted, all with dire consequences on the Nigerian people. The living condition of Nigerians got even worse, with the country itself named in just about every poverty indices in the world.
The elevation of theft and money laundering to a norm, flagrant display of impunity and disregard for the Nigerian people led to the crave for a new direction- social and political. To meet this need, a new ideological drive became necessary.
It is on the foregoing premise that Obono-Obla lays the evolution of the APC.
Obono-Obla holds the belief that political and economic abuses under PDP was both incremental and exponential, and that the (now ruling) APC was born as a matter of urgent need of political sanitation and restoration by political comrades and like minds across the divides, firstly to present a viable alternative and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to takeover political power to remedy the seeming permanence of irregularities in the country.
This portrayal of events and plays that inspired and led to the merger of various political associations, as it were, and founded the All Progressives Congress (APC) was comprehensively portrayed in the second chapter of the book.
That the persuasion for the merger was about the desire for change in Nigeria as portrayed by the author will remain questionable and argumentative in history.
I am of the opinion that the desire was principally to takeover power from the PDP and this have been demonstrated by the political conflicts the APC has continued to mismanage after it took over government.