By ‘Jide Aluko
Regaling my reader with vanilla stories of how successive Peoples’ Democratic Party-led governments have brought Nigeria to her excruciatingly sore knees and plundered her enormous resources to an all-time abysmal low will amount to wasteful dissipation of cerebral energies, misuse of space privilege and sheer waste of reader’s precious time. Atrocious ‘exploits’ of quite a good number of office holders of PDP and other parties have been accorded resounding and recurring mentions in both the traditional and new media. I will rather concentrate on a political prognosis into the future which the merger that culminated in the formation of All Progressives Congress (APC) is about to birth.
The coming of APC has brought some kind of air to the polity. Whether the air is fresh and a radical departure from what we have been inhaling since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 is debatable. It may as well just be some suffocating reeking torrid gust of air. Only time will yell but with all this ‘one week, one gaffe’ of some APC elected officials, one need not be clairvoyant to know that a camel passing through the eye of a needle would be easier a task than APC convincing a willing but sceptical teeming population of young Nigerians whose calls for good governance have never been more vociferous.
Based on the happenstances emanating from its fold, the formative stage of APC has not been without avoidable faux pas by few of its governors. These actions portend ominous signs for the across-the-board acceptability of APC. APC formation was first greeted with Lagos State’s controversial policy of returning “the destitute and lunatic” to their states of origin. Though Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola painstakingly went all out to assuage tempers raised by the “deportation” of Anambrarian housemates from the Big Brother Lagos, only neophytes in the game of politics would not agree that the political costs of such act were waiting to take their tolls on Dr. Chris Ngige’s gubernatorial ambition as the outcome of the just shabbily conducted #AnambraDecides later showed. Even if the elections had been conducted in 100 per cent compliance with all known precepts of free, fair and credible elections, I nurse monstrous doubts in the likelihood of Dr. Ngige becoming Anambra governor. Fashola knew his action would impact adversely on the perception of APC in the East and he made spirited efforts to redress the issue but the damage had been done; it was already popular among the Igbos that APC held no promising future for them. “This is a political season and Anambra will be up for contest. And in a political season, unusual things happen. If Anambra State has an issue on this matter, and they feel aggrieved, they should call or write to us,” Fashola said.
Governor Peter Obi would have none of that. No sooner had those ‘relocatees’ touched down in Onitsha had Obi written to the Presidency: “Last September and again on July 24, 2013, the Lagos State Government contrived inexplicable reasons to round up Nigerians, whom they alleged were Anambra indigenes (most of whom the SSS report shows clearly are not from Anambra State) and forcefully deported them to Anambra State, dumping them as it were in the commercial city of Onitsha. This latest callous act, in which Lagos State did not even bother to consult with Anambra State, before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra State, is illegal, unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian Constitution.” Obi had seen a crack in the wall of APC and he would do everything within his power to explore it to his political advantage. Fashola’s gaffe became ONE OF THE PILLARS upon which other political parties in Anambra built their propaganda to discredit APC in the state. Obi went to every nook and cranny of Anambra with Dr. Willie Obiano, projecting APC as an alien party birthed and nurtured by ‘foreigners’ meant for foreign gods. Much of the campaign contents of Obi/Obiano were targeted at APC as a party. Dr. Ngige was only sold by APGA to Anambrarians as an agent coming to mortgage Anambra and Ndigbo future. Did the majority of Anambrarians buy into this notion? The results of the election spoke volume about.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of State of Osun has to his credits a good number of pro-people initiatives. Infrastructural works currently going on in Osun (most notably in Osogbo) lend credence to his desire to bring Osun back to the path of socio-economic development. His Opon Imo initiative received positive reviews at numerous local and international fora. However, his administration has been dogged with religious controversies. His new education policy of re-classification and merger of public schools in the state claimed its first casualty last week when fierce-looking youths invaded the Baptist High School, Ejigbo and beat up students, teachers and the school principal mercilessly on an allegation that the school authorities had turned back some Hijab-wearing Muslim students few days earlier. The signs were forceful enough for Ogbeni Aregbesola to stop what happened in Osun State last week. The news of the new policy had been trailed with series of protests from CAN and other Christian organisations in Osun State. Protesters had reasoned that the merger would obliterate identity and heritage of their schools, and as such, would not accept the structural change. Never has any state in the South-West been divided along religious lines like Osun State has been in recent times. The idea of merging Hijab-wearing Muslim students with missionary schools has been described by many as Islamization agenda. For emphasis, I personally disagree with this notion but this policy, or rather its implementation, has further added believability to the religious tag the PDP has imputed to APC.
Still grappling with how to douse the tension in Osun, another governor of APC, Adams Oshiomole threw decorum to the wind and assisted inhumanity to walk on all fours. The footage of his careless “go and die” utterance to a widow who was reportedly caught constituting traffic nuisance went viral two days ago. Trust PDP, they immediately went to town shouting victimization of a widow. The party attempted to hijack the ‘millionization’ of the poor widow; a crusade which started on Twitter hours after the video surfaced on YouTube. The only positive take-away from the movie is that Mrs. Joy Ifije has become a millionaire and dutifully employed by Edo State in a desperate move to savage the situation. Thanks to the social media outbursts which visited the governor’s derisive remarks.
Admittedly, these errors are human, can be avoided and corrected when committed but making such errors repeatedly will count to APC disadvantage when time to choose leaders beckons. Nigerian politicians are good at revoking spirits of scandals and gaffes in times of elections to haunt opponents. It is within the purview of the aforementioned that protagonists of APC need to appreciate that a huge task of perception management rests on their laps if they truly want a change of government at the centre and “capture” more states come 2015. It becomes even more imperative when one considers that a high percentage of young Nigerians’ huge population is up for grab as APC sets for massive membership recruitment drive in coming days.
Jide Aluko, who writes on politics and society, is a stickler for social order and an advocate of good governance. As a social writer, Jide demonstrates a bias for socialist ideals through his polemical write-ups in the prints and the new media. Of immense advantage will Jide’s firm grasp of Nigeria’s economic and socio-political terrain be to the attainment of the cardinal goals of this platform. Jide is a Mass Communication graduate of the University of Lagos with both field and office experience in the mass media spanning a decade. At one point or the other, he has been engaged as a reporter, editor, digital strategist, researcher in the media, IT firm, NGO, CSO, and the banking industry.