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

0 thoughts on “Festus Eriye: ‘Messi’ and the Opposition Hordes”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Fulani Herdsmen: Confiscated cows to go for ‘stomach infrastructure’ – Fayose

Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose has declared that any cow confiscated under the State Grazing Regulation Law will be slaughtered and shared to the people as part of the “Stomach Infrastructure” policy of his administration. The governor who disclosed this on Thursday in Ado Ekiti during the inauguration of Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) said herdsmen caught grazing their cattle beyond the 6.00 pm risks six months jail while their animals will be confiscated. Fayose explained that the setting up of...

BREAKING: Arrested judges to step aside pending trial.

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on Thursday, asked all the judges being investigated over their alleged involvement in acts of corruption to excuse themselves from further judicial functions or proceed on compulsory leave, until their innocence is fully and completely established. The legal body said such step was not only necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of judicial processes that may involve the judges concerned, but to also safeguard the public image of the judiciary as an...

Recession: CBN, Heritage Bank disburse N930m to 310 entrepreneurs.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in conjunction with Heritage Bank Plc, yesterday, commenced the process for the disbursement of N930 million to 310 young entrepreneurs under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, YEDP, so as to help address the rising unemployment situation in the country, empower the youths and reactivate the economy. Speaking at the commencement of the loan disbursements to the beneficiaries, comprising members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, graduates and artisans, the Governor of the CBN,...

Scammers impersonated police officer, duped victims in Abuja.

The police on Thursday arraigned three men before a High Court in FCT, Abuja on a six-count charge bordering on impersonation and advanced fee fraud popularly called 419. Stanley Onwuka, Henry Ushi and Moshood Stephen allegedly impersonated Donald Onwuma, a Police Public Relations Officer attached to the peace keeping unit and duped unsuspecting civilians and police men. They allegedly collected various sums of money electronically from civilians and police officers with a promise to send them to police foreign mission in...

Exxon Mobil to commence drilling in Liberia.

Liberia’s hope of being an oil producing nation has been renewed with the announcement of plans to commence drilling by the Texas headquartered Exxon Mobil. The company said on October 19 it would start drilling its first exploratory well off the coast of Liberia in November, report said. “ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Liberia Limited, an affiliate of ExxonMobil, plans to drill a deepwater exploration well on the Liberia-13 Block, located about 50 miles offshore Liberia, beginning in November 2016,” a spokeswoman...

Reps summon CBN, NNPC over forex, aviation fuel.

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to appear before it today to explain its role in the challenges facing the aviation sector. Meanwhile, a leading financial institution, Access Bank Plc, has successfully raised $300 million via a Eurobond from the international bond market. The aviation sector is currently battling challenges associated with operations of foreign and local airlines in Nigeria. According to the Chairman of the...

France Airbus Group to open office in Nigeria

The efforts of the current administration in the aviation sector have received a boost with the coming in of Airbus Group of France to set up an office in Nigeria The Ambassador of France in Nigeria, Mr Denys Gauer who led a delegation of the Airbus Group to the office of the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika in Abuja yesterday, confirmed the coming in of the Airbus group to Nigeria. Gauer informed the Minister that the largest aircraft...

Kanye West Says Jay Z Didn’t Want to Be on Drake’s “Pop Style” Out of Respect for Meek Mill

Kanye West’s Saint Pablo tour continues to float on into the fall, stopping in Seattle, Wash. Wednesday night (Oct. 19). In terms of on-stage chatter, Kanye has been a bit more muted this go around, but prompted by some unknown force, he decided to shed some light on the feature spots he and Jay Z leant to Drake’s “Pop Style.” When the song first dropped back in April....

2, 850 successful applicants set to be recruited into the Nigerian Navy.

Two thousand, eight hundred and fifty (2,850) candidates out of the number that applied to enlist in the Nigerian Navy are successful in the exercise. This was the update released by the Nigerian Navy through its director of Information, DINFO, Commodore Christian Ezekobe, Wednesday, in Abuja. Ezekobe, however, said that the successful candidates would be trained in two batches, Batch A and Batch B respectively. He said while successful candidates in the first batch would commence training on November 6, those in...

Ogun State: Striking workers have no brains – Amosun

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, has lambasted workers of the state civil service who have threatened to go on strike over unpaid allowances and wages, saying they have no brains. This is coming after the organized labour, on Wednesday, made real its threat to commence total strike in the state. The workers had snubbed a meeting initiated by foremost traditional rulers in the state. At a town hall meeting organized yesterday by the Ministry of Budget and Planning at June 12...

IMF Report: Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa.

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected Nigeria as Africa’s biggest economy, in spite of its current challenges. Nigeria is placed ahead of South Africa and Egypt which are second and third respectively. In August, Nigeria was reported to have lost its position as Africa’s biggest economy to South Africa, following the recalculation of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But the IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October, puts Nigeria’s GDP at...

Islamic group warns Christians against dragging Emir over forceful marriage.

An Islamic group, ‘Jama’atu Izalatil Bidah wa Iqamatis Sunnah’, JIBWIS, has warned those dragging the name of the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumuni Usman, into the controversy generated by the marriage between Habiba Isiyaku, the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly converted to Islam and forced into marriage by her alleged abductor, Jamilu Lawal. The Katsina State branch of the group, on Wednesday, clarified that the royal father had nothing to do with the ‘forceful’ marriage. Recall that the Emir of Katsina,...

2 commissioners arrested over funds from Diezani.

Two commissioners in Enugu, Charles Egumbe and Rita Mba, have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Punch reports that the commissioners were arrested in connection to their alleged involvement in a N23billion allegedly disbursed by Diezani Alison-Madueke in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Before their appointments as Commissioners for Water Resources - Charles Egumgbe and Commissioner for Tourism - Rita Mba, the politicians held sway as the chairman and secretary...

30 years on, ghost of Dele Giwa continues to haunt IBB.

October 19, 1986 has to be one of the darkest days in Nigeria’s history; hot on the heels of the horrors of the civil war of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the Boko Haram bloodletting in the North. It was the day Dele Giwa, a journalist, was assassinated via a parcel bomb right inside his Talabi home in Ikeja, Lagos. It was 11: 40am. Giwa was 39 years of age at the time of his assassination....

Judge Ofili-Ajumogobia Busted In Fake Hospital Admission Scandal

A Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has been busted by detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a hospital admission racket in Lagos. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on Wednesday morning told EFC officials by phone that she was on admission in a Lagos hospital in Ikoyi to explain away the reason she could not respond to the anti-graft agency’s invitation for interrogation in the last two days. A Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has been busted by detectives...

Drama as nominee for NCC Board seeks scrapping of Senate.

During the screening of the nominees, a member of the committee had confronted the nominee asking why he once led a protest for the scrapping of the Senate. The member told the nominee that he was appearing before the same Senate he wanted scrapped. Abubakar, in his response, insisted that the cost of running the Senate was high and therefore should be scrapped. The nominee noted that a situation where the senators had been receiving huge transport, wardrobe and dressing allowances and...

Kaduna residents to pay N3,000 monthly for waste collection.

The Zoom Lion Global Alliance, a waste disposal company, says residents of Kaduna state will soon begin to pay between N200 and N3,000 monthly levy for door to door waste collection. The company’s Managing Director, Mrs Abiola Bashorun, disclosed this during an assessment tour of dump sites and transfer station in Kaduna on Wednesday. Bashorun said her company had been given the approval by the Kaduna State Government to embark on smooth waste management as well as improve the state’s internally...

Full List: President Buhari appoints Mamora, Tallen, Ibeto, others as ambassadors.

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent the names for 46 persons to the senate for confirmation as non-career ambassadors.   Some of the names on the list are Musa Ibeto (former deputy governor of Niger state),  whose nomination as minister in 2015 was withdrawn by the president; Pauline Tallen, former deputy governor of Plateau state, Olorunnimbe Mamora, a former senator from Lagos state, and George Oguntade, a former justice of the supreme court, also from Lagos state.   Below is the list of nominees: Abia...

FG Okays Trial of Justices Okoro, Ademola, Others

The Federal Government, yesterday, shunned the National Judiciary Council, NJC, and pressed ahead with its decision to bring the seven suspected corrupt judges to justice. The seven are among the 15 already identified by the Department of State Services, DSS, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, but the other eight are yet to be named and invited for questioning. The NJC, which claimed to have omnibus powers over both criminal and administrative matters relating to judges...

Oyegun-led APC Can’t Help Buhari Fight Corruption – APC Spokesman

Timi Frank, deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says John Oyegun, the national chairman, is being controlled by some forces. Speaking on Wednesday, Frank said the APC was not in the position to support the anti-corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. According to him, the APC needed a chairman who could unify the party rather than one that would be controlled by people. “As far as I am concerned, he is not in control. He’s being...

Drama as Nominee Asks For Scrapping of the Senate in Front of Senators

Drama ensued on Wednesday during the screening of one of the arrowheads for the campaign that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is scrapped. Alhaji Aliyu Saidu Abubakar, who is a nominee representing the North East in the proposed Governing Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) stated that the upper legislative chamber was a waste of fund and government resources. The nominee had appeared before the Senator Gilbert Nnaji-led committee on Communications for the ongoing...