Festus Eriye: ‘Messi’ and the Opposition Hordes

Published:11 Feb, 2013

TukurIt was billed as mission impossible by cynics who have seen past attempts at mergers and alliances by political parties fizzle at the altar of outsize egos and gargantuan ambitions. And, the speed with which four major opposition parties announced the formation of the All Peoples Congress (APC) was, to say the least, dizzying.

Of all the reactions to the event, the one I found most entertaining was that by the national chairman of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur. At a time when Nigeria’s football team, the Super Eagles, decided to shock a jaded nation with its exploits in South Africa, it was not surprising that Tukur would succumb to a sporting metaphor to respond to an equally unscripted political development.

“If they have the strength why do they come together?” he wondered. “If you go for a contest you have the striker, you know Lionel Messi, PDP is Messi in the contest. They (opposition) are not a threat at all, it is better; it will inspire PDP to action.

For the uninitiated, Lionel Messi is the pint-sized Argentinean dynamo who plays for the top Spanish La Liga side, Barcelona. He is quick, consistent and skilful beyond belief. Those are not words that you would ordinarily use to describe the PDP – a lumbering, bumbling, unwieldy assemblage of disparate interests welded together for so long, by the sole fact that in 13 years it has remained the surest path to power at the center.

I didn’t expect Tukur to react to the news by saying he and his party men were shaking in their boots. Although, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh, did issue a statesmanlike statement welcoming the merger, some leading members of his party have been to quickly dismissive.

On the face of it they have grounds to be so cavalier. In 2011, Muhammadu Buhari’s infant Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) went into a late-hour mating dance. The alliance effort was half-hearted, but more critically, it was grievously ill-timed coming as it did just a few weeks before polling day.

Many will also recollect another chaotic attempt at electoral collaboration in 1999. By the time of elections, leaders of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) who had dashed in and out of the nascent PDP and All Peoples Party (APP) for all manner of reasons, found themselves boxed into the South-West.

The only way to power at federal level was to cooperate with the then APP which appeared to enjoy some popularity across the northern states. It turned out the APP’s supposed strength was exaggerated. Some of its leading lights like Umaru Shinkafi whom the AD-APP alliance was depending upon were roundly trounced. More than incompatibility, the 1999 failure was more because the collaboration was rushed – leaving no time for adequate mobilisation of the people and familiarisation with the political platform.

Again, one of the reasons why such mergers and alliances had failed in the past was down to the presence of larger-than-life figures who led the potential partners, and whose ambitions stood in the way of genuine cooperation.

When they were alive the ambitions of the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, were considerable cogs that made any talk of cooperation between the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) little more than a pipe dream.

Many will see in the APC that same challenge given that Buhari still dreams of reaching the presidency. Some in the new partnership believe he remains a hard sell in other parts of the country, and prefer he anoints a younger individual around whom the new party can rally. But there’s no sense that the general has decided to sacrifice his aspiration. The only light at the end of the tunnel might be that the other parties have decided to live with the reality that the general will run one final time.

Of course, many PDP strategists believe Buhari can never win an election in Nigeria. That much has been said by Dr. Doyin Okupe, Public Affairs Adviser to the President. Since we are still throwing football metaphors and analogies around, I might just add that in politics as in sport anything is possible. The current Super Eagles team at the African Cup of Nations went there unheralded. Many expected them to be humiliated by Cote d’Ivoire. Today, they will be playing in the finals against another underrated and unheralded bunch of no-hoppers – Burkina Faso!

I suggest that rather than laugh and think that it will be business as usual, the PDP should be worried for all manner of reasons. Even if the opposition does nothing else, they have managed something major with the creation of the APC given their differences and the personalities who have agreed to subsume parties where they were once lords and masters, and join a bigger team where they will just be one of the major players. In Nigerian politics that is not something to sneer at.

Will there be disagreements? Of course, there will be. Will someone people suddenly make an about-turn when they fail to get what they hoped for? Depend on it! Will some people starting carping about a lack of ideological purity? Of course, they will.

But like the pragmatic former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, once told his nitpicking colleagues in the then opposition Labour Party: even if you have the best ideas you can never do anything about them for as long as you remain in opposition. His message was clear: Labour had to downplay the ideological grandstanding and find ways to make themselves electable.

In the very existence of the APC today, Nigerian opposition politicians are finally waking up to the reality that PDP could govern for 60 years, as they have threatened to, unless they find a way to make themselves electable.

Another reason the PDP should worry is that the key pillars in the new party have strength in two zones with the greatest haul of electoral votes: North-West and South-West. With that as foundation and with pick-ups in other zones, they can easily make the constitutional requirement of winning one-third of votes cast in two-thirds of the states of the federation. Believe it or not, there is a clear path way to Aso Rock for the APC.

Lying like a time-bomb in the belly of the PDP is the President Goodluck Jonathan factor. Will he run or will he not? After the bitter zoning battles of 2011, and the unwritten understanding that he will govern for just one term, another bid by the incumbent is bound to fracture the party – to the benefit of a new, credible platform with a realistic chance of going all the way.

Another factor the ruling party has to be concerned about is PDP-fatigue. Across the world the electorate often gets to a point where they just become bloody-minded, tired of the same old faces, and would gladly throw them overboard if there is a credible alternative in sight. Margaret Thatcher was kicked out by voters after 13 years in power for similar reasons. Come 2015 the PDP would have been in power 16 years non-stop.

As a kid growing up in the 70s, I became familiar with a particular brand of analgesic called APC. The new opposition party can turn out to be Nigeria’s pain killer if its leading lights can show that their desire to get into power in order to implement their ideas is far greater than all their egos put together. That is the real challenge: forming the new party was the easy part.

 

Festus Eriye

Read original article via The Nation

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Afenifere To Senate: Leave BOI alone

The attention of Afenifere has been drawn "A Bill for an Act to establish the National Development Bank, 2015’, and sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir which seeks to repeal the BoI, the Bank for Commerce and Industry Act and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund Act. The bill further seeks to bring the total assets of the organisations under one body to be called the National Development Bank.This bill has passed the second reading in the Senate since October 12 and...

‘We Didn’t Appoint Consultants To Collect Money From You’ – LASG to Table Water Producers

Following the controversies generated over the collection of water related revenues in the State, the Lagos State Government (LASG) has clarified its position saying that at no time did it authorize any consultant to collect such revenues on its behalf. This development was as a result of the petition published by the Concerned Members of Association of Water Producers of Lagos State on Monday, December 5, 2016. In the petition, the body accused the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission and the...

Buhari’s school feeding programme takes off in Anambra

In another rollout of one of the Social Investment Programmes of the Buhari administration, the National Homegrown School Feeding scheme has entered implementation stage with the feeding of primary school pupils in Anambra State Thursday. Last month, the N-Power scheme kicked off with the selection of the first batch of 200,000 unemployed graduates, many of whom are now being deployed in the 36 states/FCT in the first batch of the planned half a million graduates to be engaged in the...

Nigeria Air Force personnel ?kill man ‘over prostitute’

A 60-year-old man was on Tuesday killed at a brothel in Maiduguri, Borno State, after a quarrel with some personnel of the Nigeria Air Force. The fight occurred at a popular brothel located in Simari area of Maiduguri. Witnesses said the victim, Ibrahim Bulama, was shot dead by soldiers after they clashed over a woman at the brothel. Air Force authorities confirmed the killing, but did not clearly admit its personnel were involved in a struggle for a prostitute. The Commander of the...

Christmas: Lagos to sell bag of rice for N13,000 from December 15

The Lagos State Government on Thursday said it was ready to roll out Lake Rice on December 15 to Lagosians at N13,000 per 50 kg towards the Yuletide celebrations. The sale will come as succour for millions of Lagosians who like their counterparts in most parts of the country have had to pay over N20,000 for a bag of rice, mostly imported. Sanni Okanlawan, Special Adviser on Food Security to Governor Akinwumi Ambode, made the disclosure in Lagos during the Lagos...

Senate reschedules Magu’s confirmation to December 15

The Senate on Thursday rescheduled the screening and confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, to December15. The Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala N’allah, made this known while addressing journalists on Thursday in Abuja. He said the postponement of the exercise from December 8 to 15 became necessary to allow for a full house to convene. According to him, lawmakers who travelled out of Abuja for official assignments requested the postponement pending their...

Unpaid Nigeria’s Super Falcons withhold Nations Cup trophy in protest.

The Nigeria national women’s football team, the Super Falcons, are still holding on to the Africa Women’s Nations Cup won last weekend in Cameroon in protest against the government’s failure to pay them. Though the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday reassured the African champions that they will receive all their entitlements, the team has not relinquished the trophy. The minister, who was in the company of the NFF’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, met with the players and...

NCC releases short code to opt out of unsolicited messages from Telcos.

The Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, on Thursday advised consumers to take advantage of the 2442 short code to choose the type of messages they want to receive from telecoms operators. The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, gave the advice at the 79th Telecom Consumers Parliament help in Abuja. He said that the parliament, with its theme: Implementation of the `Do not Disturb’ (DND): the journey so far,’ was aimed at sensitising the public to the policy. Mr. Danbatta said that the...

How Nigeria’s economic challenges affect West Africa – ECOWAS

The depreciation of the naira and other economic challenges affecting member states have slowed down ECOWAS economic integration and the adoption of a single currency, the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports. This was one of the main issues discussed at the technical meeting of the ECOWAS Macroeconomic Policy Committee on Multilateral Surveillance in Abuja on Thursday. The out-going Chairperson of the committee, Ommy Sar Ndaiye, said that it was pertinent for member states to develop strategies to address the prevailing economic...

Kano generates N18 billion internal revenue in 2016.

The Kano State Government has realised N18 billion as internally generated revenue from January to date, an official said. The Chairman of Kano State Board of Internal Revenue, Sani Dembo, disclosed this on Thursday shortly after he defended the board’s 2017 budgetary allocation at the State Assembly. Mr. Dembo said that in 2015, the board generated N11 billion as tax revenue, while N12 billion was realised in 2016. He further said “within the 10 month of this year, we also generated non-tax...

Why I will not honour Reps’ invitation for now — Jibrin

Abdulmumin Jibrin said on Thursday that he will not honour the invitation to appear before the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee until he receives a formal invitation to that effect from the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. Mr. Jibrin said he had already defended all allegations of corruption against the speaker, and dismissed the fresh attempts by Ethics Committee to investigate him for corruption and official misconduct as a charade. Nicholas Ossai, chairman of the committee, told the House during plenary on Wednesday...

Lai: Newspaper editorials can no longer bring down a government.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says gone are the days when newspapers were so powerful that their editorials could bring down a government. Speaking at a meeting with resident information officers (RIOs) in his ministry, Mohammed acknowledged the role of social media in the dissemination of information. He claimed that the federal government was under-reported because its information handlers were not using the right and current communication channels. “Government is doing so much, yet  people keep saying they do not...

Oyegun to Rivers electorate: If they slap you, slap them back.

John Oyegun, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday encouraged members of his party to retaliate whatever action they get from loyalists of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during Saturday’s senatorial rerun election. Speaking during a mega rally of the party in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, Oyegun particularly said: “If they slap you, slap them back.” He expressed satisfaction with the turnout at the rally, and urged the people to head to the polling units in droves...

Dalung: Nobody even knew Falcons would win AWCON

Solomon Dalung, minister of sports, says the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would have applied to the sports ministry for funds early enough if anyone knew the Super Falcons would win the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), which ended in Cameroon at the weekend. The Nigerian women defeated hosts Cameroon on Sunday to win the tournament for a record eighth out of 10, but they have yet to receive their allowances. They have consequently refused to vacate their hotel premises in Abuja,...

D’banj: Nigeria does not have piracy. I’ve never been pirated.

Dapo ‘D’banj’ Oyebanjo, Afro singer, says Nigeria is the only country in the world where piracy does not exist. The Kokomaster on Thursday said his creative efforts have never been pirated. The singer made this comment at the inaugural edition of Music Week Africa, which held at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos. Explaining the reasoning behind his assertion, D’banj noted that what goes on in Alaba international market can’t exactly be called piracy because original CDs are being sold side by side...

Rivers Rerun: “Don’t kill anybody but don’t be killed”- Rotimi Amaechi to APC Members

Ahead of Saturday December 10th legislative rerun election, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, today called on members of the party to be vigilante during the election and that they should not kill and also not get killed. Speaking at the final campaign of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Amaechi said; "This is what we call the election of our lives. Before I used to tell you, ‘Please don’t fight’. Is that not what I used to tell you?...

Serving Kano Commissioner, Permanent Secretary arraigned for alleged fraud

The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, on Tuesday, arraigned the state Commissioner for Land, Faruk Bibi Faruk, in court for alleged criminal breach of trust and illegal acts. Also arraigned were the permanent secretary, Mahmud Bari, and a director in the ministry, Ahmad Ibrahim. The trio were arraigned on a three-count charge before Justice Nasiru Saminu of Kano High Court 22 bordering on land deal. According to the prosecuting lawyer, Rabi Waya, the officials allegedly connived sometime in April to...

Reps move to impose time limit on appointment of Ministers

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed for second reading a bill proposing that nomination for appointment of ministers should not be later than 30 days from when the president takes oath of office. The bill also seeks to provide that nomination of commissioners shall be made not later than 30 days from the date a governor is sworn in. Presenting the bill, Solomon Adaelu (PDP-Abia), said that the need to ensure improved efficiency in governance prompted the amendment bill which...

Boat accident in Lagos; father, mother, son missing.

The Police in Lagos on Thursday declared missing a father, mother and son after two boats collided in Badagry area of the state.   A statement by the police spokesperson in Lagos State, Dolapo Badmos, said the actual number of passengers aboard the ill-fated boats was yet to be ascertained.   “At about 8: 30 pm on Dec. 7, a canoe with passengers that took off from Pathfinder Jetty on Badagry Marina heading to Gberefu Beach collided with another fibre boat coming from...

Nigerian Senator ‘secures’ federal jobs for 300 graduates

A Zamfara Senator, Kabiru Marafa, says he has secured employment for more than 300 unemployed graduates in the past five years.   The chairman of the Senator’s Relief and Assistance Committee, Ahmad Mai’aya, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Gusau.   Mr. Mai’aya said that from 2011 to date “we have over 300 graduates with degree, HND and Diploma/NCE who got employment with various Federal Government organizations through Senator Kabiru Marafa”.   “We are now making...

Woman arrested for allegedly trying to sell 3 babies

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP) in Ebonyi State has taken custody of a woman, Odinaka Ali, arrested by the police for alleged attempt to sell her three children in Enugu State. The Desk Officer of NAPTIP, Florence Onwa, stated this in Abakaliki while briefing journalists on the rescue of her children. The 25-year-old woman from Ezilo in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was said to be living with her husband in Enugu State...