‘Owambe’, a local word in the Yoruba speaking areas of Nigeria has come to become a national social culture and is deeply embedded in the life of most Nigerians because of the fact that ontologically, Nigerians and most Africans have just two strategic social and religious celebrations namely birth and death.
‘Owambe’ (literally meaning I’m here) being a Yoruba term must have been popularized in Nigeria’s most populated state of Lagos because of the straight fact that most weekends are dedicated to hundreds of celebrations in Lagos. Streets are usually converted to carnival joints attended by hundreds of beautifully dressed participants who are in a convivial mood.
Speaking about the merry-making culture which as I said is commonly described as ‘Owambe’ in Nigeria’s biggest state of Lagos and most other states, brings us to the recent epochal celebration of the Nigeria Army Day.
This is because a lot of Nigerians had expected that the Nigerian Army should host a series of celebratory activities in keeping with the popular traditions of making merry during anniversaries. But the mood of the nation played a fast one on these expectations. What with the war on terror that has gone on for over ten years and some natural disasters that took place within the institution of the Nigerian military.
The Chief of Army staff who was Major General but promoted to Lieutenant General just after I had scripted this piece, Farouk Yahaya was quoted in the media as saying that the sudden death of many senior soldiers alongside the immediate past Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Attahiru Ibrahim meant that the anniversary celebrations would not be as elaborate as expected.
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One thing that remains the talking point is that the hierarchy of the army occupied their time in marking the Army Day anniversary by speaking directly to Nigerians regarding what the military leadership intends to do to ensure that the institution is efficient, effective and professionally compliant to meet the expectations of the citizenry and the provisions of the Constitution.
The Army Chief specifically made mention of the determination that he has to respect the human rights of Nigerians. He had said the same thing in a personal letter he sent to us at the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria , this July.
What this commitment and public emphasis on respect for the human rights of the citizenry embodies is the ever essential call for the current leadership of the army not to jettison the laudable structures erected by the past Chief of Army Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai in the area of human rights promotions.For emphasis, let us briefly summarize some of these steps that were transparently implemented by General Buratai to enhance respect for human rights.
On assumption of duty in July 2015, Lt Gen TY Buratai was never in doubt as to the enormous challenges he had to surmount in order to restore the dignity of an army and the nation terribly shattered by Boko Haram terrorists.
As a disciplined military strategist, he understood the key roles of excellent civil military relations/cooperation particularly in a period of multiple and dynamic security challenges such as terrorism, farmers – herdsmen clashes and violent secessionist agitation among others.
To this end, he instantly reorganized and empowered the Department of Civil – Military Affairs (DCMA) to function effectively, especially in the campaign for the protection and respect for human rights by the Nigerian Army.
3.1 Solidification: The Department Of Civil – Military Affairs
The first step taken to checkmate human rights abuses was to rejig and strengthen the DCMA. Consequently, sensitization workshops and campaigns on protection of human rights were dynamically conducted for members of the NA.
Similarly, corporate social responsibility projects like the construction of boreholes, feeder roads, renovation of medical centres and schools among others across selected communities in Nigeria were conducted particularly during operations and exercises. These endeared the troops to the locals and ushered in a sense of togetherness and mutual respect.
Likewise, the Nigerian Army through the department, partnered with some human rights organizations such as the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to develop capacity that would enhance professionalism and responsiveness in promoting humanitarian principles and conduct during operations.
Such human rights sensitization workshops harped on operational civil-military interactions, humanitarian principles, perception, actions, guidelines, security and coordination as well as humanitarian access.
Perhaps worthy of mention is that while declaring human rights workshop open in 8 Task Force Division, the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs; Maj Gen Nuhu Angbazo (as he then was), who represented the COAS stated that “the Nigerian Army has embarked on the sensitization workshop so that our troops can become knowledgeable in the laws of armed conflicts and therefore avoid those unprofessional conducts that could destroy their career and tarnish the good image of the Nigerian Army” (Vanguard, Jun 2018).
3.2 Setting up of Human Rights Desk
Another laudable initiative by the Buratai’s leadership in its consistent efforts to checkmate right abuses was the establishment of Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters and in all the formation headquarters across the nation.
The functions of the human rights desk, which include receiving documents, investigating complaints from individuals, organizations and institutions on rights violations involving Nigerian Army personnel, made findings to the COAS on human rights complaints in the country while producing annual reports and reviews.
Others are to update existing training manuals, liaise and facilitate interaction with human rights organizations, and strategize and strengthen capacity of the Nigerian Army in promoting human rights.
Incidentally, while commissioning the human rights office at the Headquarters of 7 Division Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, TY Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Civil – Military Affairs noted that the establishment of the desk office was borne out of the increasing interest of local and international rights bodies on what the army is doing in the North East and other parts of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Army is trying to open up the system and close the gap with the civil populace, human rights bodies and civil society organizations; the nature of inquiries, commentaries and claims from these institutions requires a professional and specialized response by the Nigerian Army.
“What we are witnessing today has been facilitated by the Nigerian Bar Association and National Human Rights Commission”, he added. (Daily Post, 18 Feb, 2016).
3.3 Establishment Of Toll Free Call Centre & Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit
On 19 June 2018, at a Military-Media-Public Awareness Programme at Jabi Motor Park in Abuja organized by CLEEN Foundation, the COAS through the Army Human Rights Desk Officer, Major Naazem Langpoe (as he then was) stated :“The army is passionate about the rights of civilians, and has put measures in place to ensure that rights of civilians are protected.
“These measures included the opening of Free Toll Line 193, designated Toll Free Call Centre and Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit”. The offices and the toll line 193 are opened to members of the public whose rights have been infringed upon; they can always walk in to the office and lodge their complaints.
Also Buratai, through Major Lanpoe added that the army, during its first quarter staff conference for that year (2018) launched some books on respect for human rights during military operations.
“So, the army is doing its best to ensure that the rights of the civilians are respected.”
Urging members of the public to relate with military and report to them any case of human right violation by the personnel, he added:
“We assure them that once they come to us their rights are protected and we do our best to serve them better”. (Vanguard, June 19, 2018).
3.4 Construction and Commissioning of Joint Investigation Centre and Cells for Boko Haram Suspects
In response to complaints of human rights abuses of detainees due to poor state of the detention facility in Giwa Barracks Maiduguri, in the areas of poor sanitary condition/ventilation, overcrowding and irregular water supply, the COAS, TY Buratai (as he then was) on Friday April 29, 2018, commissioned 400 capacity Joint Investigation Centre and Detention Cells for Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri.
The facilities were built with heat and ordour extractor, coupled with constructed borehole to enable detainee’s access water.
Lt. Gen Buratai, who was represented by the then Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE; Major General Rogers Nicholas stated during the commissioning thus: “This modern facility will go a long way in changing the narrative in the criticism of the Nigerian military, this is a clear indication that we welcome positive criticisms to see where we can improve on it, and this is what we have demonstrated here”, he added (Leadership, 29 Apr, 2018).
We need to re-emphasize some of the concrete efforts made by the previous Army Chief by stating that the current occupier of that position needs to very rapidly consolidate on those measures so as to further create the right public image for the Nigerian Army as a public institution that follows the law and respects human rights.
So it would seem like he was responding to the desire of the public when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, declared that the Nigerian Army would meet the expectations of Nigerians with regard to its constitutional role and respect for human rights.
Speaking at a briefing in Abuja to mark the Nigerian Army Day celebrations (NADCEL), the army chief said the army was determined to meet the expectations of the citizenry by adhering to its constitutional role, respect for human rights in tandem with rules of engagement.
“The Nigerian Army will continue to employ synergistic approach with other services and security agencies in consolidating on these achievements. We shall equally employ the support of critical partners to better secure our dear country.
“We shall prioritise welfare of personnel and promote merit, we shall equally celebrate gallantry, honour our heroes as well as support our families,” he said.
Yahaya said the army “shall discharge our constitutional duties in tandem with the rules of engagement, respect for and aspects of human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as other international principles and guidelines to which Nigeria is a signatory.”
He said the Nigerian Army with its long history stretching to 1861 had achieved so much and would continue to sustain the tempo.
“We remain resolute and require the collaboration of all stakeholders to fight terrorism and insurgency including other forms of criminalities in the country.
“I also want to use this opportunity to solicit cooperation and goodwill of all law- abiding citizens as a necessity to achieving a lasting peace in Nigeria,” he said.
“We all must put national interest first above all forms of primordial sentiments capable of destroying our unity. Together we shall succeed. I strongly believe so,” he said.
He listed other activities lined up to mark the NADCEL 2021 celebration to include Juma’at prayers in all Nigerian Army formations and units on Friday 2 July 2021 which would be followed by an interdenominational church service to be held in all Nigerian Army formations and units across the nation on Sunday July 4, 2021.
“The NADCEL 2021 will also enable the Nigerian Army to reach out to the public through its Medical Outreach Programme on Monday July 5, 2021, during which inhabitants of some selected communities around the country will benefit from a free medical services.
“Equally there will be a humanitarian outreach programme to be conducted by members of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) in selected areas of FCT and environs on July 5, 2021.
“The NADCEL 2021 activities will culminate with a lecture and COAS Commendation Award on Tuesday July 6, 2021 at Command Officers Mess 1, Asokoro Abuja”, he said.
One more thing is to remind the Army Chief of is that the world is watching to see how well he would be faithful to his solemn promises to build upon the antecedents of his predecessors and further professionalize the army.For instance, these are the positions espoused by Mathew Page, Associated Fellow, Africa Programme of the U.K based Chatham house.He wrote amongst others that:
“To reboot its international relationships with longstanding partners like the United States and the United Kingdom, the army would – at a minimum – need to soften its standoffish attitude toward accepting international help and substantively address human rights concerns”.
“Until top officers …acknowledge the army’s deficiencies and embark on much-needed reforms, international military engagement likely will remain as contentious, intermittent and unfruitful as it has in recent years. And Nigeria’s escalating security crises will only get worse.”
The new Army Chief should as expected rise to the occasion and show proofs of his avowed commitment not to tolerate indiscipline and lack of professionalism. The Department for Civil and Military relations must not be allowed to go to sleep but must be enabled to set up much more robust structures to take the lessons of human rights to soldiers who come face to face with the average citizen all around the country.
Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.
Obama, Clooney, And Gates Should Include Witch Persecution InTheir Campaign
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) welcomes the collaboration between the foundations of Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates to end child marriage in Africa. These foundations have committed to ending this practice within a generation. This initiative, announced during their recent visit to Malawi and South Africa, demonstrates the urgency that such a harmful traditional and cultural practice demands. Child marriage is a sore on the conscience of humanity. It violates the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls. Culture, tradition, or religion should not be used to excuse or justify practices that undermine the humanity of women and girls. So it was a great relief to know that these influential women would be working together to combat this menace.
At the same time, AfAW wants to draw the attention of Obama, Clooney, and Gates to another practice that is undermining the rights of women in Africa: witch persecution. Witchcraft accusation is pervasive in Malawi and other parts of the region. Witchcraft accusation is a gendered phenomenon that predominantly targets women and girls. Those accused of witchcraft are tortured, banished, or murdered in cold blood. In Malawi and other parts of the region, accused women are raped, stoned to death, or lynched. Many accused women are banished and forced to live in make-shift shelters called witch camps in Ghana’s Northern region. In Malawi and the Central African Republic, the accused are imprisoned, or flee to live in prisons to avoid being killed. Rooted in traditional and cultural beliefs, witch hunting is another vicious phenomenon which they said would not be eradicated.
This misperception should be rejected and discarded. This mistaken assumption has prevented international organizations including the UN from treating the problem of witch persecution with the urgency that it deserves. This misrepresentation has made the world ignore and look away while women and sometimes girls are accused, abused, abandoned, or savagely killed in the name of witchcraft. As in the case of child marriage, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches believes that witch persecution can end within a generation. The problem can be solved or resolved in a matter of years. AfAW is working and campaigning to rally national and international political will against witch hunting. That was why the organization announced in 2020 a decade of activism against witch persecution in Africa.
AfAW urges Obama, Clooney, and Gates to join efforts in stopping witch persecution of women and girls. They should know that the girls they are trying to save from being married away as children could end up being stoned to death or buried alive for witchcraft. Obama, Clooney, and Gates should include witch-hunting in their campaign because the practice is rooted in gender injustice and misogyny. The foundations should know that women are likely to suffer child marriages when they are young and witch persecution when they are growing old. So they should not focus on one and ignore the other. To effectively protect and defend the rights of women and girls, they should tackle both child marriage and witch-hunting . The foundations should commit to ending practices that violate the rights of women, whether they are young or old, children or adults.
Dr Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, which campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa by 2030.
Powering Prosperity: Unlocking Nigeria’s Potential Through U.S. Partnership
By David Greene
Nigeria is on track to be the world’s fourth-most populous country by 2050. It already has the largest economy in Africa and, with 60 percent of its population under the age of 25, it stands on the threshold of a demographic dividend that can dramatically transform its economy for the better. Nigeria’s strategic partnerships are essential in harnessing this potential, and the United States is playing a leading role. As we near the six-month mark of President Tinubu’s administration, our relationship has emerged as a key for success. One year ago, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, President Biden renewed our commitment to deepening engagement across the continent. Here is how we are doing that in Nigeria – working in areas that matter most to everyday citizens, such as growing the economy, strengthening democracy, improving health outcomes, ensuring security, and addressing the climate crisis.
Nigeria’s economic potential is vast, and with the right macroeconomic framework, a sound fiscal strategy, and a strong commitment to rooting out corruption, it can become a preferred destination for foreign direct investment. American investors and companies are eager to engage with Nigeria, and the United States government is doing its utmost to build our bilateral trade and investment ties.
Consider these examples: We have joined forces to accelerate Nigeria’s digital transformation, with investments from U.S. tech giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, Meta, Google, and Starlink. This partnership has built a platform to train unemployed and underemployed women and youth. Moreover, it has been a catalyst for quality investment, accounting for more than a quarter of all venture capital flowing into Africa.
Collaborative efforts in agriculture further underscore our commitment. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently dedicated $22 million to strengthen Nigeria’s cocoa value chain, supporting more than 60,000 cocoa farmers, processors, marketers, and other agribusiness service providers in what is Nigeria’s #2 foreign exchange-earning export. From tech to agriculture, these steps go beyond statistics. They translate into tangible outcomes: good jobs, seed money for new ventures, and higher-value agricultural exports.
The United States is also a steadfast partner in strengthening Nigeria’s health sector. With World AIDS Day – December 1 – approaching, it is worth recalling that over the past two decades, PEPFAR, the leading U.S. initiative to address HIV/AIDS, has invested nearly $8 billion in Nigeria, providing more than 1.6 million individuals with life-saving HIV treatment. In response to COVID-19, the United States donated more than 44 million vaccine doses, helping the Nigerian government approach its target vaccination rate of 70 percent of the eligible population. Partnerships like the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, with an annual budget of more than $71 million, have reduced child death rates and strengthened health systems.
Those investments are just part of our overall development assistance to Nigeria. In fiscal year 2022 alone, the U.S. government allocated over $1.2 billion dollars in such support. These funds provide humanitarian assistance, and improve health, economic development, education, social services, democracy, human rights and governance, and peace and security.
In the latter two areas – democracy and security – we aim to support an inclusive future where Nigerian citizens’ votes count and translate into responsive governance, and where they can live in peace. We are a steadfast partner in seeking to strengthen election processes that will enhance accountability to meet citizens’ expectations, and pursuing innovative projects to help communities resolve differences without violence. Through cooperation with and training of Nigeria’s military and police, we are building more capable forces. Collaborating with civil society, law enforcement, and the judiciary, we are confronting the security challenges that stand in the way of economic growth while upholding a shared commitment to human rights. Initiatives include building Nigeria’s counter-terrorism capacity, bringing technology to courtrooms and case-management systems to help in the administration of justice and reduce pre-trial detention, and supporting efforts to enhance accountability and transparency in police forces.
Our partnership to address the climate crisis reflects our mutual recognition of this challenge, and our respect for Nigeria’s role as both an energy producer and a country profoundly impacted by the effects of climate change. In the leadup to COP28 – the 28th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, which begins this week – the United States and Nigeria are aggressively seeking solutions. For example, U.S. support for Nigeria’s leadership as a Global Methane Pledge champion has led to action that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of all.
These programs and cooperative efforts advance a joint agenda that is built and driven by the highest levels of our leadership. President Biden met with President Tinubu in September, and numerous senior U.S. officials have come to Nigeria in recent months to confer on meeting Nigeria’s energy needs, driving U.S. trade and investment in Nigeria, and strengthening our law enforcement cooperation. These engagements strengthen our ties, address Nigeria’s pressing needs, and tackle shared challenges.
Ultimately, realizing Nigeria’s potential hinges upon enhancing its fiscal and economic health – and capitalizing on its strategic partnerships to build on that foundation. The opportunity has never been greater. Nigeria, with its youth, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit, is poised to seize this moment. We commend the government for its bold actions thus far to try to move the economy to a more solid footing. The United States is your partner in that effort – through investment, better security, a stronger workforce, and resilient institutions – that benefits all Nigerians and expands prosperity for both our peoples. Our journey ahead has its obstacles, of course. But together we will find a path toward a shared prosperity.
. Greene is Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. United States Embassy Abuja.
End Of Progressive Politics
By Salihu Moh. Lukman
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, announced the dissolution of the Rivers State Executives of the party at all levels and appointed a seven-member Caretaker Committee led by Chief Tony Okocha to steer the party’s affairs in the state for the next six months. Interestingly, Chief Okocha who is alleged to be a supporter and political ally of Mr. Nyesom Wike led a delegation of Wike’s loyalists on a courtesy visit to Dr. Ganduje on Thursday, October 6, 2023 where he was reported to have alleged that Chief Rotimi Ameachi, former Governor of Rivers State (2007 – 2015), former Minister of Transport (2015 – 2023), APC Presidential Aspirant for the 2023 general elections and founding member of the APC, worked against President Asiwaju Bola Amed Tinubu in the last election.
Even without these allegations, it is public knowledge that Chief Amaechi has taken a backseat. Apart from Chief Amaechi, many other APC presidential aspirants for the 2023 elections have taken a backseat largely because President Asiwaju Tinubu has not demonstrated any interest to work with them. In the specific case of Chief Amaechi, his political rival in Rivers State, former Governor (2015 – 2023), Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, since the 2023 general elections has become a strong ally of President Asiwaju Tinubu. Being a strong political ally, Barr. Wike is today the serving Minister of FCT in President Asiwaju Tinubu’s cabinet, if you like the 37th State Governor in Nigeria.
Without any reservation, the reality of Barr. Wike who is a member of the PDP serving in APC Federal Government led by President Asiwaju Tinubu suggests some strong backdoor political negotiations. What could be the details of the negotiations? Could it be that typical of Nigerian politics, APC is negotiating to get Barr. Wike decamp from the PDP and join the APC? Is the APC conceding to hand over structures of the party in Rivers State to Barr. Wike? Even without probing deeper into all these issues, already, some APC leaders in Rivers have opportunistically begun moving their support from Chief Amaechi and now aligning with Barr. Wike. For instance, on Thursday, October 26, 2023, Chief Victor Giadom, APC National Vice Chairman South-South and a long-time ally of Chief Amaechi led a delegation of APC leaders from Rivers State on a courtesy visit to Barr. Wike.
Given all these unfolding developments in APC, it is very clear that the NWC decision, dissolving Rivers State Executives of the party at all levels, is preparing the stage for the emergence of Barr. Wike as the new leader of APC in Rivers State. With Chief Okocha, who is alleged to be a political ally of Barr. Wike given the responsibility of serving as Caretaker Chairman, it simply means that all the new emerging executives for APC at all levels in Rivers State will be Barr. Wike’s supporters. And since Chief Ameachi is a political rival of Barr. Wike, all Chief Ameachi’s supporters must be expelled from the APC.
This is the dirty politics at play in Rivers State. It is very shocking, coming from leaders of a party envisioned to be progressive. Ideally, progressive politicians are expected to be committed to issues of justice and equity. This would require that when there are allegations of anti-party activities against leaders and members, such allegations should be properly investigated. At a personal level, I am one of those who demanded that the NWC should invite the attention of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of APC to review the 2023 general elections and investigate cases of anti-party activities by leaders and members of APC. The inability of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu as the National Chairman to consider many of these demands as part of the requirement to restore constitutional order in APC and return the party to its founding vision was responsible for all the disagreements, I had with Sen. Adamu.
Instead of restoring constitutional order and returning the APC to its founding vision of becoming a progressive , under the leadership of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, dirty politics of expelling political opponents has taken over. The APC NWC is now abrasive, it takes decisions based on convenience without reference to provisions of the party’s constitution. Simply because allegations of anti-party activities are made by a political opponent who is today the sweetheart of President Asiwaju Tinubu, the allegation is confirmed and all party leaders associated with the alleged person are equally guilty and therefore stand expelled. This is most unfortunate and seriously heartbreaking for all of us who are loyal APC members and look forward to the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu for our hope to be Renewed.
As a loyal party member who is strongly committed to progressive politics, my expectation is that provisions of Article 21.3(i – vi) shall be invoked to investigate the allegation of anti-party activities against Chief Amaechi by the NWC. This should have started by appointing a fact-finding committee to examine the matter and report to the NWC. Eventually, given that there are enough grounds to establish a prima facie case of bias by the NWC given that at least one of its members, for whatever reason, Chief Giadom, is biased, in line with provision of Article 21.3(v), the NWC lacks any jurisdiction to decide on such a matter.
The sad reality of all these unfolding development is that, although Article 21.4(i – x) makes sufficient provision for appeals by aggrieved members, with organs of the party frozen and only the NWC functioning, decisions of the NWC are supreme. This simply means a return to former President Olusegun Obasanjo era of garrison politics. How could this be happening in APC with President Asiwaju Tinubu as the leader? Is President Asiwaju Tinubu not a progressive politician? Or did he just use the acronym (progressive) to achieve his life ambition of becoming the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
It is very troubling to ask these questions, largely because these were questions, we asked when former President Buhari was the leader of the party, but we were ashamed to accept the harsh reality that our elected leaders, and by extension our party, have failed Nigerians. As loyal party members, we had the hope that the emergence of President Asiwaju Tinubu as the new leader of our party would correct and heal all our troubles. When President Asiwaju proposed Renewed Hope as his campaign slogan, party members welcomed it with the belief that we were returning to the founding vision of the party, which would rekindle the era of progressive politics in the country.
Being someone who professes to be a disciple of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of the founding fathers of our great nation and incontestably the forebearer of progressive politics, we had no doubt that the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu would return APC to its founding vision. Part of the expectation of many of us in the APC was that at the minimum internal debate within the party will be strong and decision-making process in the party will take its bearing from positions being canvassed. The first shocker was when after the resignation of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and Sen. Iyiola Omisore as National Chairman and National Secretary of the party respectively, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje emerged as the nominee of President Asiwaju Tinubu, taking away the position of National Chairman from North-Central to North-West in a very crude way.
Apart from violating an internal zoning agreement within the APC, moving the APC National Chairman from North-Central to North-West in the manner that it was done was simply contemptuous of the people of North-Central. This is the kind of decisions that can only be taken under a military rule. Having taken such a decision, one expects a review of the internal zoning arrangement within the APC to attempt to pacify the people of North-Central. At the minimum for instance, the position of Deputy Senate President, which is currently being occupied by Sen. Barau Jibrin who comes from Kano State where Dr. Ganduje comes from should have been moved to North Central. Instead, it is just business-as-usual.
Again, at a personal level, I cannot but ask the question, did President Asiwaju Tinubu support the removal of Sen. Adamu simply because he wanted to impose someone like Dr. Ganduje as the National Chairman of the APC simply because he needed someone who will not say no to him even when it means destroying the party? Could that be responsible for why President Asiwaju Tinubu has become completely inaccessible to virtually all party leaders? If President Asiwaju Tinubu is commencing his leadership tenure by embracing garrison politics, what will be the coloration of his leadership by the end of his tenure in May 2027? Given such a circumstance, will he be aspiring for a second term?
Perhaps, it is important to recall that former President Obasanjo pretended to be a democrat throughout his first term. The organs of the PDP during his first term were very functional and fully in charge. The dynamics of negotiating a second term in 2003, which compelled former President Obasanjo to have to subordinate himself to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar were mainly responsible for the high level of political intolerance that characterised the second term of former President Obasanjo between 2003 and 2007. As an administration that was intolerant, it became more and more unpopular. Being intolerant, it blocked almost every opening for internal debate within the PDP. Imposition of candidates for election took over. Consequently, winning elections was all about vote buying, rigging, manipulating elections, and writing results.
No need to revisit all our ugly electoral past. But APC won its popularity and won the 2015 general elections incontestably because Nigerians trusted the APC when it came with the promise of change. Certainly, under the leadership of former President Buhari, both as Nigerians and members of APC, we were highly frustrated that the promise of change didn’t manifest itself strongly such that the problem of imposition of candidates by political parties, especially by our own party APC is minimised. If anything, instead of changing Nigerian politics, what we witnessed between 2015 and now is that our promising party, APC, has changed to become PDP incorporated in every respect.
If anything, the decision of the NWC dissolving Rivers State executives at all levels confirms this reality. If allowed to stand, stage-managed congresses will be organised to produce new party executives at all levels who will be loyal to Barr. Wike, the new APC leader in Rivers State. Accordingly, in 2027, Barr. Wike will produce the APC Governorship candidate for Rivers State. Since Barr. Wike has already fallen apart with the current Rivers State Governor, Chief Siminalayi Fubara, the prospect of Chief Fubara coming to APC is foreclosed. Therefore, the strategy of APC in Rivers State for 2027 will be to further fragment the people of the state. Rather than working to unite political leaders in Rivers State, based on which APC being an envisioned progressive party will be seeking to unite Chief Amaechi and Barr. Wike to be members of APC, President Asiwaju Tinubu’s garrison politics will only seek to take advantage of the current division between Chief Amaechi and Barr. Wike. In addition, Barr. Wike will have to incur the political cost of separating from his political godson, Chief Fubara. Even if Chief Fubara achieved all that needs to be achieved as Governor of Rivers State, President Asiwaju Tinubu’s garrison politics will emasculate him.
For all these to be imagined under the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu, who is regarded to be a progressive politician and a descendant of Chief Awolowo will make Chief Awolowo to turn in his grave. Even Chief M. K. O Abiola would have difficulty relating with many of the political decisions taken by President Asiwaju Tinubu in the last six months. At this rate, President Asiwaju Tinubu is practically pushing Nigerians to bid bye bye to progressive politics. With such a reality, it simply means, the structures of APC in FCT will also be dissolved to produce new APC leaders at all levels of the party who will be loyal to Barr. Wike. And any state where APC is led by people who might have opposed President Asiwaju Tinubu will similarly be dissolved. Once the circle of imposing stooges as APC leaders at all levels is completed, which started with imposing Dr. Ganduje as National Chairman, the next level of imposition will spread to all other democratic institutions to guarantee the supremacy of garrison politics, which will then affirm all the political choices of APC under the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu, whatever that means.
This is anything, but progressive politics. With a garrison brand of progressive politics, problems of political divisions in the country will be entrenched. Addressing challenges of marginalisation, inequality and above all welfare of citizens will not be a political priority. At this rate, it will be safer for the country to conclude that APC, as it is constituted today will be incapable of meeting the expectations of Nigerians. Renewed Hope has invariably produced Dashed hope. This is very unfortunate. APC under the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu, as it is constituted today, wasn’t the APC we sold to Nigerians both in 2015 and 2023.
Something must be done urgently to arrest the current drift towards garrison politics in the name of progressive politics. It is either APC leaders take the needed steps to call both Dr. Ganduje, the APC NWC and President Asiwaju Tinubu to order by restoring constitutional order and returning the party to its founding vision of progressive politics, which should be about unity of party leaders and Nigerians, or the party can as well declare an end to progressive politics in Nigeria. So long as the decision of the NWC to dissolve all party executives in Rivers State at all levels is allowed to stand, it simply means that anyone who is alleged to have worked against President Asiwaju Tinubu during the 2023 elections is expelled from the party. With such a declaration, the culture of imposition of candidates at all levels will take over APC. Consequently, elections will not be about the votes of citizens. Winners in elections will only be produced through rigging, vote buying and other manipulative strategies. The earlier every genuine APC leader comes to terms with this new reality and begin the process of mobilisation both within the party and at wider levels of national political mobilisation, the better for the survival of democracy in country. A stitch in time, saves nine!
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