There is this in-your-face kind of impunity that we seem to have come to accept as a way of life in our polity, so much so that I sometimes wonder if impunity is not in our DNA, as Nigerians.
Everything here seems to be all about the survival of the fittest, with little regard for the lot of the weak.
And nothing brought this home to me as much as a telephone conversation I had with an aide of my state governor. I am from Imo State, by the way.
Like the governor and the aide, I also come from the Imo West Senatorial Zone. It is the same zone that Uche Nwosu, the governor’s son-in-law and preferred governorship candidate, also comes from.
Inevitably, my talk with the Governor Okorocha aide centred around the morality of our Orlu zone producing the governor of the state again in 2019. By 2019, other things being equal, our zone would have been governor for 16 of the 20 years of the present democratic dispensation, with the other four years going to Okigwe, through Ikedi Ohakim. Owerri zone, which hosts our state capital, has not even been allowed a look-in.
But the governor’s aide would not spare a thought for these other zones. He unabashedly told me that it was not a matter of morality but, rather, the survival of the fittest. But he did not even put it in such ‘nice’ words. Rather, he said it in Igbo, which, when transliterated, comes across like: “let the stronger animal break the hand of the weaker one.”
He could say this because, at that time, the Okorocha tendency seemed to have the upper hand in the politics of Imo. But the table has since turned, and there appears to be a new sheriff in town in Imo APC.
But I won’t gloat over the seeming demystification of the Rochas Okorocha myth. Rather, I will be the first to observe that the new cowboys do not seem ready to take any prisoners either. Which brings me back to the original issue of impunity. Even if Rochas defecated on himself, does he not still deserve some respect (for both himself and his office), and, possibly, some soft-landing? Must we treat him with the same impunity we accuse him of treating us, the same impunity which made us rise against him? How then are we to be seen to be better than him?
Must everything come down to this supreme irony of APC, which once accused the PDP of impunity, now turning round to practise the same impunity it always accused the PDP of? Yes, the same internal democracy we accused PDP of trampling upon in its 16 years in power has suddenly taken flight from the house of APC, in less than four years of taking power.
And that is what brings me to the title of today’s serving.
I must say, it was with great pain that I read yesterday’s newspaper reports about President Muhammadu Buhari not being favourably disposed to meeting with members of the New PDP (nPDP) in the APC who had written, pleaded, begged and even threatened to have audience with him to address their grievances, and frustrations with the APC set-up.
Luckily, the reports did not come directly from PMB, which makes it easier for the President to deny, whenever political exigencies make it necessary to deny.
Before then, however, let me arrogate to myself the responsibility (or irresponsibility) of denying the statement on behalf of the President, and also remind the President that, sooner than later, he would still see the nPDP gang. If not now, then later. And if not in public, then in camera. but see them, he must.
Why am I so sure? Nigerian politics is all about balance of threat, and who has his hands on the control levers of the instruments of coercion at any given time.
So, I’m sure that by the time 2019 draws closer, and Buhari realises that he has not jailed or intimidated nearly enough of the PDP and the nPDP people, he would be forced to go back and negotiate.
By the time 2019 draws closer, and Buhari’s people realise that many of those who would help write results (don’t think it’s INEC that writes the results) in several strategic states are unhappy with him and his kitchen cabinet, he will take a second look at the demands of the nPDP people. He would suddenly realise that this is not a job for the Vice President. And that not all the APC governors are on the same page with him on this matter. And come to think of it, are some of the APC governors also members of the nPDP?
Well, by the time ‘the come comes to become’ in 2019, and Buhari sees the North Central and states like Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Taraba and even Sokoto and Zamfara slipping through his fingers, he would know that it takes more than the cabal to get the votes. By then, the nPDP people would also up their price a little bit.
I still can’t understand what the President stands to lose from humouring his own party members with a meeting, no matter how inconsequential!
But that is our politics: anybody who does not have the capacity to cause collateral damage is not worth listening to. that is why our governments and law enforcement agencies respect the danfo drivers, okada riders, keke riders, tanker and trailer drivers, tipper drivers, sand dredgers NURTW, etc, more than the rest of us straight and proper lot, who cannot strip naked and fight in the street. So, we get arrested and fined and jailed for misdemeanours, while those other ones can get away with murder. Their only claim to national respect is just because they are not afraid to fight and instigate violence, even when they are clearly in the wrong.
Yes, the respect for those able to cause collateral damage is in the Constitution. I just haven’t seen the section yet. It is in APC as much as it is in PDP. It is also an unwritten mantra in our politics.
If you doubt me, just cast your mind back to the last PDP convention, especially as it relates to the emergence of the national chairman. All those who did not have intimidating financial war chest and, therefore, did not have any ‘troops’ at their disposal, suddenly found themselves voiceless and inconsequential. That was how a whole Bode George suddenly became a nobody. Ditto Raymond Dokpesi, Tunde Adeniran, and even Olusegun Mimiko. Tossed overboard with them was the sound political calculation that it would be in the best interest of the PDP to pick its national chairman from the South West.
And through the APC congresses, and the build-up to its convention, we are also seeing the in-your-face kind of impunity everywhere. In fact, I suspect that one of the reasons PMB is reluctant to see the nPDP people is that he suspects that he will annihilate the PDP turncoats at the convention, and make them even more powerless. But his political advisers must not forget that, after the convention, there is still an election. And we all know the role nPDP played in sacking Jonathan.
So, Mr. President, you should hold that talk. It’s for your own political good.