By Dele Sobowale
“Better a declared enemy than a doubtful ally.” Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1815. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 48.
Ms Aisha Alhassan spoke and millions of men are trembling. It was not because she is the Minister for Women Affairs; it was on account of what she said and the implications for the All Progressives Congress, APC. Read some of what she said on the BBC Hausa Radio programme.
“If today Mr. President says he is running in 2019, I will go to him respectfully and thank him for giving me an opportunity to serve and then tell him I have to resign because my political father may be running.” Just in case anybody is in doubt about the political “Baba”, she made it clear. “Atiku is my godfather even before joining politics.” Courage, honesty, gratitude and clarity were all rolled into a few sentences – the sort Napoleon would have loved. Two days after, the “godfather” himself reportedly said: “I have no relationship with the [Federal] government. I have not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get where they are, but, three years down the lane, this is where we are.” The charge of ingratitude is unmistakable. And, this is where we start today to analyse the sudden change in the polity and consequences for Nigeria in 2019.
Two weeks ago, right here you read in the article titled NIGERIA’S PRESIDENT 2019 AND THE FORTY DECIDERS the list of forty individuals who, for good or ill, will decide the fate of our country on Presidential Election Day, March 2019. Buhari, Atiku and El-Rufai were on that list. Today, only a fool will fail to understand that the first shot in a political war had been fired. In June 2017, in another article titled, APC: SAND HOUSE BUILT WITH SPITTUM ON SEA SHORE, the point was made that the APC now exists only on paper; that the “party” will not survive intact to contest the 2019 elections. Several reasons were given which need not delay us here.
“I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling drunkenness, or any taint of vice whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616. (VBQ 103).
William George Jordan had another spin on ingratitude when he pointed out that “Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge; which is returning evil for evil; while ingratitude returns evil for good.” In that connection, the reader needs to be aware of certain facts which have a bearing on this open declaration of grievous differences between the Buhari and Atiku factions in APC. I can state authoritatively that Atiku donated nothing less than two million dollars to APC presidential campaign expenses. Even at two hundred naira to the dollar, that would amount to N400 million. But, from other sources, the amount donated was closer to three quarters of a billion or N750 million. Unless those figures are disputed by Buhari’s supporters, the next question needs to be answered. Is it fair to accept a man’s shower of dollars and naira before elections and not only ignore him when victory is secured but to distribute the benefits of success to those who contributed nothing? Is it fair? Does that not demonstrate ingratitude of the worst kind?
Just in case Buhari’s fair-weather friends and pretenders assume that Atiku is the only aggrieved party in that respect, let me disabuse them of that idea. The largest donor in the South-West, SW, (name withheld but you must be a fool if you don’t know), has also watched with growing horror how thoroughly he had also been sidelined. Between the two of them and their business and political networks, they must have contributed close to half the funds and also fifty per cent of the votes which brought Buhari to power. Together, they watch helplessly what can only be called the “Dauralisation” of political appointments. As one of the silent dissidents told me, “to get appointment now, you have to either come from Daura or be an in-law or close friend of someone from Daura. Where were these people when we were beating the bushes of Yorubaland for Buhari?”
Another, a member of an organization which developed a voters’ list containing close to three million names and GSM numbers, which were effectively used to mobilize votes for Buhari in 2015, added that : “We still have our list; we are in fact updating it and we hope to expand it. But, we certainly are not automatically going to use it for Buhari if things continue as they are.” Perceived or real ingratitude will indisputably cost Buhari millions of votes in 2019 – if he runs.
Ms Alhassan’s open declaration however carries with it more threats than Buhari’s supporters are aware of or are willing to acknowledge. The statement made on radio with millions of Northerners listening on was a demonstration of courage which ordinarily would have been considered reckless. Its re-affirmation, a few days after, reveals that it was deliberate and she was prepared for the consequences. As it is, she has already openly tendered her resignation waiting for the President to act. Sacking her now will amount to an anti-climax; she struck the first blow. Not sacking her opens up a more frightening possibility for the President. It might encourage others, just as disenchanted or double agents within the presidency, to start making similar statements.
In that connection, Buhari and his supporters need to be told clearly that there are a lot of “double agents” in government; people who work for government and are still paid by others outside government who are not in the Buhari camp. I should know because almost thirty years on these pages has yielded a lot of top level contacts. At any rate, secret payments received by moles in government follow the same pattern. Those involved forget that “a secret is best kept if it is between two people with one dead.” Those collecting “double pay” – from Buhari and elsewhere – are watching to see what would happen to Alhassan.
“All political parties die at last by swallowing their own lies.” Dr Arbuthnot, 1667-1735. (VBQ p 191).
Irrespective of whether she is sacked or not, one of the wrecking crews of the APC has already landed the first iron ball on APC’s sand house. Others will surely follow. The reasons are easy to understand; Nigerians and politicians just refuse to accept the truth and be guided by it. To start with APC is not a political party in the strict sense of the word. It does not represent “the ideals, the aspirations and hopes” of Nigerians. At the executive and legislative branches, it has become “merely a conspiracy to seize power.” (Late President Eisenhower of the USA). Predictably, one of the first to carpet Alhassan was Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State. El-Rufai would attack anyone who is on Atiku’s side and the hatred is mutual. Atiku and Rufai represent different views of how the country should be governed; they stand on opposite sides with regard to restructuring – among other things for example. So, what are they doing in the same political organization? Saraki and Bola Tinubu, Senator Melaye and Governor Belo, Kwakanso and Governor Ganduje represent three other pairs of APC members with totally different ideas about how to organize and run a political party and to govern. APC is not just a house divided against itself; it is a house actively engaged in internal war. As 2019 approaches, the cracks will widen until the structure will eventually collapse as the PDP did in 2015.
The report that APC Governors and Ministers favour Buhari for second term only reveals how the black man does not remember recent history. Exactly four years ago, all PDP Governors and Ministers supported Jonathan. That support did not save him from defeat when the ground shifted from under his feet in the form of defections from the PDP to APC. At any rate, from information available to me, at least six Ministers would have resigned from Buhari’s government. The only thing holding them back is fear of humiliation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Meanwhile, they pretend loyalty to a leader who has lost their confidence. One Minister hoping to be dropped actually cried when Buhari failed to reshuffle the cabinet in May this year. He adopted a wait and see attitude in the first year. Now he has seen enough and is waiting to go.
Last week, the first part of RESTRUCTURING: A DAGGER IN THE HEART OF POLITY was published. Ordinarily part two should have followed. But Ms Alhassan’s bombshell can be regarded as Breaking News superseding all else. My apologies. RESTUCTURING continues next week.