EARLIER this year, in the wake of the rather comprehensive defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 polls, Nigerian academic and Sahara Reporters columnist, Pius Adesanmi, had rechristened Doyin Okupe, presidential aide on media to Goodluck Jonathan, by turning ‘bastard’ into a proper noun and making it one of his middle names.
Thus he called the voluble Jonathan stalwart, Doyin Bastard Okupe. Adesanmi might not have been a fan of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, to say nothing of Doyin Okupe himself in his capacity as a Jonathan spokesperson or politician. But he was not being tactlessly irreverent or rude when he called Okupe a bastard. Rather, he only tried to do the very thing Mr. Okupe had asked for many months before the 2015 polls, specifically shortly after the birth of the All Progressives Congress.
Okupe could not see anything good coming out of the coalition that resulted in the party. He had, therefore, in true Yoruba fashion and in a moment of political excess asked that he be called a bastard if the party survived. Adesanmi became the obliging commentator and dutifully called him a bastard after the APC coalition not only survived but appeared to have consolidated its arrival with its emphatic defeat of the PDP at the polls.
Okupe was not alone in his prediction that the APC would not survive given the diverse political background of the politicians that came together to form the party and their wildly disparate interests. Many Nigerians had similar thoughts. As we all know, politicians from no less than five political groups, namely the Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, Peoples Democratic Party, All Nigeria’s Peoples Party and All Progressives Grand Alliance, came together to form the APC. Quite a sizeable number of the politicians that made up the coalition were disaffected members of the PDP and other parties that existed before the formation of the APC.
Many of this people had ambition to hold elective offices which their former parties could not guarantee for different reasons, leading to their mass exit. It was therefore easy for any close observer, especially one like Okupe that should be familiar with the selfish nature of the Nigerian politician (a nature that would rather see them destroy anything that does not serve their personal interest at the expense of whatever ideal they may claim drives their ambition) as to see the germ that would destroy the party in its very foundation.
So strong must have been the belief in the PDP that the APC would not survive its formative months that the party decided not to campaign at all for the 2015 polls. Otherwise, it anchored its re-election agenda on well packaged negative adverts and campaign of personal attacks and insults directed at leaders of the APC, their religious, business and family links. By the time the PDP woke up to the smell of the coffee, matters had in fact come to a desperate head and it was just a few weeks from an ignominious defeat. It sought to buffer this by issuing desperate calls for shifts in the electoral date for both genuine and largely self-serving reasons, the most credible of which was the Permanent Voter’s Card issue. The shift of the election date from February 14 to March 28 was the clear gain of these anxiety-suffused prayers for shifts in the electoral calendar.
After the APC won the elections, very dire pictures were painted of what that victory portended for the country by many Nigerians sympathetic to the cause of the PDP. They were led in their excoriation of the APC by vocal media commentators. While many of these commentators tried to sound clinical, dispassionate and unmotivated by selfish considerations, it was clear they were not happy the APC ran the PDP out of Aso Rock Villa. In the weeks since the APC won the 2015 presidential election, they had got into making more severe predictions that are in fact expressions of death wishes that began as mere wishful thinking, of what would become of the coalition that gave birth to the APC and the APC as a party in particular, and what the party’s leadership implicates for the country in general.
They made and are still making so much soap and lather over minor issues. Every misstep of the APC becomes grist for their death wish as they dredge up additional reasons why the party’s emergence does not signal any change from the worthless ways of the PDP. They made a mountain out of the mole hill of the wristwatch the president’s wife wore to her husband’s inauguration, of the president’s age, his looking on to western powers for support; his failure to appoint ministers or declare his assets publicly. There might be or have been very good reasons to express these fears but many of those expressing them appear to be open or closet supporters of the PDP out to see the promise represented by the APC flounder.
It didn’t look like their wish would be fulfilled anytime soon given the manner members of the APC came together as one to defeat the PDP by burying their differences. They appeared on course to navigate the treacherous path of survival in the few weeks after taking control of the country’s leadership. Everything, indeed, seemed on course to ensure the party’s survival as it formally took over control of governance. But that was before Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara decided to form an alliance with their former comrades in the PDP, taking on the leadership of the APC in a fierce battle to determine who controls the National Assembly.
When these two rebels outsmarted their colleagues and party to emerge President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, one thought this a bold and positive step to rein in the overbearing control of their party leadership. That kind of control can only lead to the kind of harmful unanimity that ensured the PDP’s unchallenged mismanagement of the country for more than one and a half decades. But the picture that is gradually emerging since then (with the unseemly and foolish fight over appointment of principal officers of the National Assembly, and Saraki and Dogara’s role in it) is one of total anarchy and chaotic break from party control. Except both men at the centre of the current rebellion intend to return to the PDP, their present stance cannot be in their long term interest or in the interest of their party. They are set on the path of destruction, first of their party, themselves and ultimately their country.