The PDP Crisis And The People’s Interest
By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
It is no longer news that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been caught up in crisis following the outcome of the presidential primaries which produced H.E. Atiku Abubakar as the candidate. The genesis of the problem could be hinged on the allegation of imbalance in the composition of the leadership positions in favour of the North against the South. This cause of action is spearheaded by H.E. Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State with the support of four other governors and some prominent leaders of the party. Consequently, they have called for and are still insisting that the chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu (from the North) must resign for a southerner to take his position. These proponents are relying on an alleged promise made by Ayu before the exercise that he will relinquish the position should a northern candidate emerges from the process. After the emergence of Atiku, the chairman was called upon to honour his words; but, he has failed to do so. As such, Wike and his allies comprising H.E. Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state; H.E. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia; H.E. Seyi Makinde of Oyo; H.E. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu; H.E. Donald Duke, former governor of Cross Rivers; H.E. Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of Ondo; H.E. Jonah Jang, former governor of Plateau; and, Prof. Jerry Gana to mention but a few have excused themselves from having anything to do with the presidential campaign until the needful is done. Their adamancy has caused serious concern in the party and efforts are ongoing to see how best they could resolve it.
Though, the crisis is an internal party issue and, I do not have a problem with leaving it at that, but, this review is informed by the statement made by the chairman on Monday 10th instant during the kickoff of the party’s presidential campaign in Uyo that “Nigerians are not interested in the crisis going on in the PDP……..”. In as much as I am well convinced that this is a harmless remark for political expediency, I am equally of the opinion that the crux of the ongoing crisis in the party is very sensitive and should be of serious concern/interest to all well-meaning Nigerians for the following reasons;
The allegation of imbalance in the composition of key positions in favour of the north against the south is extremely weighty; and, capable of pushing us back to the era of politics of north-south dichotomy with grave consequences.
READ ALSO: After Trip To Spain, Wike Wants PDP To Apologise Over Atiku’s Comment
The PDP is presently the main opposition party to check the activities of the government towards encouraging competitiveness and effectiveness of governance as applicable in all modern democracies of the world.
There is need to quickly find an amicable resolution to the imbroglio to forestall the same from degenerating or escalating into a major crisis because of the party’s national outlook which would make it very easy for crisis within the party to spread across the nook and cranny of the country; and,
The party, like others, will provide the electorate with options to make their desired choice of candidates at the polls.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, it is very pertinent for every well-meaning Nigerian to be interested in the matter because of what it portends if not properly tackled. Therefore, with all due respect to Mr. Chairman Sir, you will agree with me that it should rather be a thing of great concern to you and other leaders/members if Nigerians are not interested in the crisis going on in your party; thus, we are very much interested and, we are calling for its amicable and urgent resolution.
In my two recent articles titled “THE DELICATE ETHNO-RELIGIOUS ROAD TO 2023” and “LEARNING TO WALK AGAIN INDEPENDENTLY AT 62”, I delved into issues bordering on ethno-religious factors in the country’s political arena; such as, the alleged jettisoning of the zoning arrangement in the PDP; the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket; the call for Senator Ayu’s resignation; and, the tribal and religious tendencies of the third force movements. These cases were looked into from non-partisan perspectives by outlining the inherent dangers and discouraging the people from allowing the facts in issues to push us back to the unpleasant situations of the bygone days. Flowing from the aforesaid, I (as an interested Nigerian) would want to crave the indulgence of the leadership of the party to come to equity with clean hands to consider this unique review with the aim of finding workable and lasting solutions to the imbroglio.
READ ALSO: PDP Crisis Deepens As Wike’s Camp Shuns Atiku Campaign, Insists On Ayu’s Removal
The issue of zoning arrangement or understanding which is the foundation of the problem could be addressed from both legal and political angles. Looking at it from the legal aspect, the party has not contravened any known law or rules in the process that led to the candidacy of H.E. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the flag bearer. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended); the newly promulgated Electoral Act, 2022; and, the Constitution of the PDP did not make any provision for the zoning of the office of the president. If this is anything to go by, it means that there is nothing wrong for any eligible person from any part of the country to contest and emerge as the candidate of the party. From the political perspective, the party also made spirited efforts towards ensuring that no particular region or zone was unjustly treated by the setting up of a committee to deliberate on the issue of zoning before the primaries. It was this committee that threw the contest open for every region/zone to vie for the position (even though anything contrary would have been inconsistent with the subsisting law); and, by so doing gave further credence to the right of every eligible individual to contest regardless of his region or zone of origin. Thus, the thoroughness of the selection process adopted by the party is very germane; and, this could be said to be in order.
On the issues pertaining to the chairmanship position, the party did not also breach any known law in the process that produced Senator Iyorchia Ayu as its chairman. Thus, the call for him to resign because he is from the same northern zone with Atiku cannot hold water in the face of the law, since, the subsisting legal framework guiding the process did not preclude any one zone from holding the positions of presidential candidate and chairmanship of the party simultaneously. In the same vein, the allegation of his biasedness during the primaries which was fueled by the mere statement credited to him where he addressed H.E. Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state (who earlier stepped down from the contest and urged his supporters to vote for Atiku) as the “Hero of the Convention” would have to be proven on a balance of probabilities by the plaintiffs (the proponents) before a court of competent jurisdiction; and, this is perhaps, the reason why seeking judicial relief was not activated by them. Another point that Ayu gave his words that he will relinquish the position of chairman should a northerner emerge from the primaries; and, the promise Atiku gave to Wike that he would ensure that Ayu is removed will also fall like a pack of cards before the law. However, when the issues are weighed from political or partisan point of view, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Wike’s group has a crucial point for the thoughtfulness of the leaders of the party. The first area of cruciality is their call for balanced representation at the helm of affairs of the party (though, the imbalance was not illegal). To this, the North has conceded the position of the chairman of the Board of Trustees and a Southerner in the person of Senator Adolphus Wabara has taken over in acting capacity, but, the aggrieved parties are still insisting that Ayu must give way for somebody from the south.
At this juncture, it is very important to mention that electioneering is a game of numbers; and, it is very paramount to hold on to the numbers that you have as tightly as possible, especially at a crucial time close to a major election. Members of the Wike’s group are too important to be pushed aside at this critical time; and, as such, there is the need for both sides to make vital sacrifices through effective negotiation towards achieving a WIN-WIN situation. The use of threats or imperious style of seeking redress is uncalled for and should not be encouraged in order not to send wrong signals to the outside world. At this time and age where the most civilized and potent means of achieving conflict resolutions are through negotiations, mediation, conciliation and arbitration, it is very worrisome that this issue is taking a demeaning dimension. A lot of people are trivializing the matter because it is happening within the PDP but, the fact is that, if care is not taken, it could go out of hand because, if the dissenting group should align with any of the southern candidates, the northerners will see it as a direct affront against the north and, before you say jack, the electorate will be divided into the north against the south. Gradually, it will come to a time when governors and national assembly members will be ganging up and revolting against the government at the centre and leadership of the national assembly on ethnic or zonal basis on issues that should ordinarily be resolved within the ambit of the law. One may wonder how this could happen in the face of the law but, the answer is that, the present crisis that has taken this strange dimension is also happening in the face of the PDP’s constitution. The party is in a dilemma because elections are very close; and, it will be unwise to take disciplinary actions against these members but, the fact remains that the issue is not being handled properly. The confrontation the federal government is presently facing on the issue of procurement of automatic weapons for members of a local vigilance group is a typical example of what we are saying.
READ ALSO: Wike, PDP Leaders’ Meeting Ends Without Solution To Crisis
From the foregoing, it is therefore not an exaggeration to say that all the exchanges of derogatory or demeaning statements/remarks going around all over the media and the flying from one country to another in the name of holding crucial meetings are disappointingly unnecessary. They can only worsen the situation rather than helping the cause of action. As I said earlier, this review is not meant to take sides but to say it as it is because the larger picture is more delicate than what is presently playing out. Whether it is pleasant to mention it or not, the fact remains that all the frontline candidates are already playing ethnic and religious cards and, the PDP crisis can compound the situation in the coming weeks/months without proper handling. Therefore, it is my considered opinion that all parties should embark on principled negotiation to arrivie at a WIN-WIN position. Under this arrangement, supercilious mindset(s) are prohibited because parties should be prepared to make sacrifice(s). Whether the individuals involved like it or not, the fact remains that Nigeria’s democracy will still survive without them or their party. The NPC, NCNC, AG, NPN, UPN, NPP, PRP, GNPP, SDP and NRC to mention but a few, were once vibrant political parties in Nigeria and, most of them have either been proscribed or transformed to new parties but, our democracy still survives despite the numerous military interventions. In the present circumstance, Ayu is backed by the law to hold unto his position as chairman but, there is nothing also stopping him from stepping aside or resigning for political expediency, if doing so will lead to or guarantee the overall objective(s) of the party in the coming elections. However, any action to be taken in the cause of settlement must be weighed pari passu with the legal/constitutional implications in order not to push the party into a precarious position where all actions taken will come back to hurt it.
As a result of the aforesaid, I will recommend that the party’s team of legal luminaries should be drafted into the committee already set up to find amicable resolutions to the matter (the committee should be enlarged to also include all the governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party). This is necessary because there is the need to look into what the laws say concerning the resignation and replacement of the chairman of the party. In this case, can the party replace the chairman without going through the process of a convention? Can the party replace the chairman with somebody from a different zone or region in the event of resignation? Is the time frame to effect this change still feasible considering the tight schedule for campaigns and other crucial engagements?; and, what other arrangements can be put in place in the case of infeasibility to satisfy the legal requirements to effect the proposed change (this is very crucial in view of the uncertainty posed by the recent Federal High Court judgment nullifying the nomination of H.E. governot Isiaka Oyetola as the candidate of the APC in the last gubernatorial election in Osun State as a result of the alleged illegality of the actions taken by the then caretaker chairman of the party).
If the laws permit, Ayu can take the position of chairman of the Board of Trustees while another person from the south is elected to take his place as the chairman of the party. However, if this process of resignation and change is not supported by the law, then, the Wike’s team should also be prepared to concede and respect the status quo based on concrete plans on paper (writing) for an all-inclusive and balanced composition as soon as practicable (most probably after the elections). The sacrifice made by Atiku himself during the 1993 SDP convention in Jos should serve as a very crucial reference point to buttress the fact that the people should also make sacrifices or concessions for the overall interest of the party.
READ ALSO: I Won’t Resign, Wike, Others Were Children When We Formed PDP – Ayu
Meanwhile, the chairman as the leader and father of the party should tender an unreserved apology to all members for any unwarranted action or statements that must have been made inadvertently or intentionally before, during and after the primaries. Also, Alhaji Atiku should personally apologise to Wike and members of the committee set up to profile and recommend a vice presidential candidate (if feelers that leaked into the media that the committee actually recommended Wike but Atiku opted for H.E. Ifeanyi Okowa are anything to go by). I am of the strong opinion that, if Atiku had confided and explained the rationale for not going by the recommendation of the committee to Wike before going public with the choice of Okowa, things would not have been as bad as they currently are. Wike and his allies are now of the strong conviction that they need better assurances before they can give their commitments (in view of the failed promise of Ayu and the action taken by Atiku which are now seen as warning signals). When all these have been accomplished, it is only those that have skeleton in their cupboard or that have made up their mind to destroy the party that will refuse to shift their grounds for settlement.
Once again, it is very important to put it on record that this write-up is my humble response to the statement made by the chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu during the flagoff of the presidential campaign in Uyo, that “Nigerians are not interested in the crisis going on in the party”. Though, I am not a card-carrying member of the PDP or any other party for that matter; but, the facts in issue of the imbroglio are very delicate and capable of snowballing into a humongous problem in the country if not handled with care. Therefore, every committed and well-meaning Nigerian will not shy away from showing concern and, that is the reason why I took it upon myself to show that we are indeed interested in the crisis.
Please, TAKE NOTICE that this review is WITHOUT PREJUDICE to anyone or group.
Raymond Oise-Oghaede writes in from Suru-lere, Lagos; and, he can be reached via email@example.com.
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Who Needs Counseling In Nigeria?
By Leo Igwe
In January, I registered for a professional course in counseling at the Attitude Development Institute (ADI) in Lagos. After my doctoral program in religious studies, I thought I was done doing any other academic course. But I was mistaken. I recently noticed that something was missing in my academic and learning accessories. And I needed to rectify it. So I started this professional diploma program. I embarked on this course in my quest for a more competent way to assist people who contact me for help and support. Many contact me saying that they are tired of life and could not find anything meaningful to do or to earn a living. Many attribute their problems to ‘village people’, witches and wizards, generational curses, evil spirits, jinns, demonic attacks, etc. Many attribute their failures, setbacks and misfortunes to juju or harmful magic. I decided to do this diploma in counseling because I felt that something was lacking in my knowledge and understanding of human beings and human problems.
Last year, a lecturer on guidance and counseling at a college of agriculture in Ebonyi state invited me to come and talk to some of his students. Some of the students wanted to do money rituals and he was worried. This lecturer asked me to come and persuade them against engaging in this futile and criminal venture. But how could I do this professionally and effectively?
I wondered what else to tell these students apart from what I had repeatedly said in the past. That money ritual was a superstition, and the belief had no basis in reason or reality. But will that help? Will that be enough? Will the students be persuaded by that proposition? I asked. I felt that telling them that ritual money was a myth would likely be an exercise in futility. It would likely be inadequate and would not yield effective results. I felt that young people needed a more structured way to get them to change these thoughts and behavior. Anyway, I went to that college of education and met with some students and spent time talking to them, advising and persuading them not to indulge in money rituals. I urged them to try and complete their education and then seek out other evidence-based ways of making money. I do not know if my talk yielded any positive results.
Before and after this incident I encountered many who strongly believed in ritual money, and who, given the opportunity could kill, or use human body parts for rituals. Last year, someone contacted me from Kwara state. He inquired how he could do money rituals. I offered similar advice. Some people have contacted me seeking some other forms of help and support. Someone called from Imo state asking how he could stop gambling. That it was ruining his business and that his friends were pointing accusing fingers at his landlady. They said the woman was a witch and was responsible for his dwindling fortune. I offered him some words of advice. Also, in advocating against witch persecution, I have come across people who had anxiety, and mental and emotional disorders but who attribute these psychological problems and other existential challenges to witchcraft. I have been looking for competent ways to manage witchcraft believers and suspecters. I have been searching for more professional ways to support traumatized victims and survivors. I have been seeking a skillful mechanism to empower, guide and enable entertainers of witchcraft fears and sufferers of witch persecution to heal, recover and take control of their lives.
Beyond that, there are personal reasons. I am the first son in my family. I started dealing with family issues at a very young age without any knowledge of human psychology. I was socialized to help my younger brothers and lead even when I barely knew my left from my right. I was made to manage and resolve family-related issues even when I was a child with barely an understanding of how life worked. I was not self-aware or socially aware. I did not know human personalities and temperaments. I was not allowed to grow like every other child. I was pressured to behave like the first son, the deputy head of the family, and to intervene in family issues including my parents’ marital issues. Even now my father has passed away, I manage family issues and deal with members with personality disorders and untreated traumas, including my siblings who engage in micro/transferred aggressions and other negative behaviors rooted in childhood experiences. They intentionally make life miserable for me; they complicate matters to settle childhood scores, to punish or deal with me for some real or imagined privilege that they thought I had enjoyed as a first son.
In addition, I started teaching at 17 years, I taught at a local seminary and helped in nurturing children. I did not know children and educational psychology. It was like a child teaching children. It was while studying for my bachelor’s in philosophy that I did some psychology courses. I learned about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Ivan Pavlov and their explanations of human behavior. But it was all theory. Then my focus was on getting good grades and passing examinations, not applying the knowledge to real life and issues. In the course of my humanist work and campaign, I have come across people suffering from religious trauma, and victims of religious oppression and persecution.
I would like to offer them effective help and support. As a humanist celebrant, I help families that are grieving, couples who are getting married, or those celebrating the arrival of a new baby. To provide effective help and services, I realized that I needed some professional training in counseling. I searched online and got some information about one Counseling Association of Nigeria. I contacted them and registered. But I realized that the focus was mainly on guidance and counseling in schools. That is important. But that was not what I wanted. My impression was that the association was mainly for teachers and lecturers. I needed some training that could qualify me as a professional counselor. I went online and saw some information about two counseling institutes in Lagos. They offer professional training.
One is in Ikeja, which is the ADI, and the other is in Victoria Island. I spoke to some counselors and one recommended ADI. After some telephone conversations and WhatsApp exchanges with the director of the Institute, I enrolled in its diploma class. The classes are held once every week. I joined the second week. After my first class, I realized that I was in the right place and that the program that they offered was what I was looking for. It was a twelve-week program, very intense. The courses included the foundations of counseling, counseling theories, and skills, children/teenage counseling, marriage/family counseling, and crisis/trauma counseling. Some of the courses focused on Christian counseling, grief counseling, sex therapy, and mental health. When I started I was worried that the lectures would be bland, another monotonous exercise in issuing handouts, but they were not. The lectures were interesting. And the lecturers were engaging and entertaining. They were very articulate and used so many examples to illustrate their points. The program occasioned some intellectual shocks and dissonance. It has helped me to correct some misconceptions about counseling and counselors. First I realized the importance of counseling and counselors. Look, human beings suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Both injuries are treatable. While medical doctors help treat physical wounds, counselors as therapists help treat emotional and psychological injuries. Again, counseling is widely understood to mean advice. We were told several times that counselors were not advisers. They do not advise their clients. A foremost counselor, Irvin Yalom whose book, Love’s Executioner, we reviewed throughout the course said the task of a counselor was to make himself or herself obsolete. Yes, it is tacitly saying that for the counselee to live, the counselor must die. He noted that the counselor’s role was to help the client take responsibility for making himself or herself better. Instead of advising, counselors support counselees to take control of their healing and living.
Again, throughout the program, the lecturers made it clear that one of the characteristics of a good counselor was listening. A counselor must be a good listener. He or she must have good listening skills. Also, counseling was not meant for some people, some psychologically troubled and maladjusted people. Instead, the lecturers made it clear that counseling was for everyone, for both the counselors and the counselees. In the course of the lectures I kept flashing back and recalling so many people that I have met in life who needed counseling. Everyone is grappling with some trauma or emotional issue at one time or the other. They encouraged the trainees to go for counseling. Each class was indirectly an exercise in group counseling and therapy because the classes provided opportunities for members to pour it out, to draw from their life, work, and family experiences in discussing the topics.
Yes, I realized that everybody needed counseling. And nothing illustrated the need better than a particular incident that happened during the program. Due to some miscommunication, one of the counselors managing the program communicated the wrong date for the class graduation to the management. When she came and informed the class, she was told that she communicated the wrong date. And this counselor became furious(meanwhile her name is also Fu…something). Discussions became quite heated and tense because she continued to insist that she communicated the correct date. The room became very noisy and rowdy because some people were trying to correct her but she refused. At some point, a member of this class set that calls itself, Ignite, raised her voice. She is in this class of women with a huge and imposing stature, looked quiet from the outside, and could be mistaken as phlegmatic. She said emphatically while pointing her five fingers at this counselor and swinging the hand up and down: “You are not listening”, “You are not listening”. At that point, the counselor tried to calm down. A senior management colleague intervened and urged the counselor to leave the room. As soon as she left, another class member said: “She needs counseling”. And some class members chuckled.
So, everybody needs counseling in Nigeria.
Igwe,PhD, is a trainee counselor at the Attitude Development Institute, Lagos.
Professors On INEC’s Will (4)
By Tony Afejuku
These past three weeks have been three supreme weeks of supreme value to all of us who have been gluing ourselves to this column for the right reasons: No room for lying; no room for deceits; no room for propaganda; no room for vanity. No room, no room, no room for what should not be here. Thoughts of the streams, thoughts of the spheres, music of the streams, music of the spheres enhance the column in diverse ways.
Our debaters for the past three weeks have demonstrated this. Each of the professors (all of them, in fact) has demonstrated this in the geometry of their presentations, in the minds of their geo-biographies, in the arithmetic of their convictions and persuasions. They in varying degrees did not support the will of INEC in the presidential election, even though the INEC chair is one of them, a fellow professor in the sphere of the humanities. In going over the longitude and latitude of the flow of our professors, of our debating professors, in their authentic and responsible sphere of spheres the clarity and precision of the geo-biography and nature of patience moved towards me. This may not be the right way of putting it, but I found and still find each debater to be a patient debater. Goodness! How a patiently patient listener and presider over the debate Professor Olu Obafemi was/is! The rhetoric of his ears or of his eyes or of his tongue was/is the rhetoric of the sage. If I imagined this, I imagined it well. His rhetoric was/is not the creation of this recorder, but it is the rhetoric of the music of the shaping of the debate and the words of the debaters who like him are fellow writers and creators.
Now I present to our readers the summation of Professor Olu Obafemi who presided over the reported affairs of the literati:
“This debate has gone on very well and quite enlightening. I have learnt quite a lot from the various positions eloquently proffered here. I like to chip in this bit: (1) there will not be much ideological departure from PMB to BAT. We will still operate a neoliberal economy, fraught largely with parasitism and consumerism. It is very likely, from his experience in investment, creative commercialism/commodity consciousness and cosmopolitanism in governance, Tinubu will be a lot more distribution-prone, more productive, and more people friendly than his predecessor; (2) having operated in comprador praxis in the US, Tinubu will engage globalization with discretionary envisioning (these are loaded, unconventional concepts that may require greater elucidation in future; (3) having not operated unitarist governance strategy that we have had since Ironsi till date, and with his governance experience in Lagos, including standing up to OBJ to run a well-structured State in Lagos, BAT will be more of his own man who will surround himself with talent rather than a cabalistic instinct (I am talking here about power delegation as opposed to power relegation); (4) we have good reason to believe that Tinubu will not go for a winner-take-all, conclave-prone governance and will strive to deliver goods and services— democracy dividends more generously/humanely. May the future be better and more tolerable for our people and all of us in this country, and all our fellows and compatriots in foreign lands, that is, the diaspora.”
But the pastor-spirit as well as the track of traditional culture in him elicited from Professor Ademola Da Sylva what amounted to a kind of vote of thanks to Professor Olu Obafemi and the co-debaters in the literati.
“Many thanks, Baba O.O., for your thoughtful, clinical and lucid interventions; and IBK’s, (and others’) too! So palpable and infectious are the feelings of hope, and delight of the innocent, that you have demonstrated in your concluding postings, and my silent response was a loud A-m-e-n! Then I turned to God the Almighty, and said, “Baba-God, these genuine feelings expressed by these great minds, aggregate what is uppermost in the mind of the Nigerian people at this point of our history. Can you, please, do this one last favour for the masses of this country? I believe it is not beyond what you as the Almighty can do for an otherwise potentially great country like Nigeria! Simply protect BAT, from the powers that have constituted themselves into human principalities in the corridor of power; completely and permanently seal the mouths of those demonic lions labelled as Cabals in Aso Rock that have, thus far, truncated Nigeria’s destiny! AMEN!” Perhaps we should remind ourselves that our hope was this high when many Nigerian voters, including yours truly, trouped out to vote in Buhari as President! Now, I remember, “demonic forces” written about by Reuben Abati during the Presidency of GEJ, unfortunately, like some nameless hydra monsters they always rear their ugly heads with every new administration, these Aso Rock principalities. PMB has his good share of them in the Abakyaris, and very familiar ones, for obvious reasons, like the Ngiges, et al, never for once did they allow PMB to be! They took advantage of his visibly infirm state, to take over the reins of governance in what could be described as a “civilian coup” and ran-over the ship of the country crashing against the Aso rock! The reason we are where we are, right now! BAT like PMB, also has a visibly infirm visage/characteristic unless we pretend to not acknowledge it, a new set of cabalistic demons would join forces with the existing ones, after all, it is still the same Political Party, to take advantage of BAT’s current clinical status! BAT of 20 or 10 years ago, isn’t the same BAT today on account of age and health. Yes, unless God Almighty does something about these principalities through His human agents, they might yet soon take over the affairs of Nigeria under BAT too, to do what they know best: to steal, to kill and to destroy, and ensure that the status quo remains as it has always been, in the spirit of Ted Hughe’s very famous poem, ‘The Eagle’!”
Well, well said, O debaters. But let the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist have the last word. The time won’t be long to ask INEC this simple question: Did INEC lavish allegedly over three hundred billion naira to register the paltry figure or number of voters for the 2023 elections? Did the very small number (below ninety or so million) match the more than very huge sum of money that INEC got for registration of voters and for other election related matters, duties and responsibilities? How much money in millions upon millions did not allegedly go under and distributed to “principalities” and “demonic forces” hovering over Aso Rock and the Presidency of the presidencynologists? Any clear or unclear answers to these questions cannot or may not but tell us that the presidential election in particular was INEC’s will. Our debating Professors will not say on oath that they did not know. Did the presidential and other elections meet the expectations, wishes and will of the people generally? INEC has the answer. And our debating professors will bluntly tell the chairman of INEC this.
Because our professors are fellow writers, I must terminate the discourse by drawing their attention to the following poem “For the Consideration of Poets” by Haki R. Madhubuti (original name Don Luther Lee), the 81 years old African-American poet, author and publisher, and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas:
where is the poetry of resistance,
the poetry of honorable defiance
unafraid of lies from career
politicians and business men,
not respectful of journalists who write
official speak void of educated thought
without double search or sub surface questions
that war talk demands?
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion
not in the service of the state, bishops
not in the service of beautiful people
and late night promises,
not in the service of influence,
incompetence and academic
The above lines speak volumes. Let them stay glued to our memories day by day. And may INEC’s chairman become the poet and historian of resistance after finding time to read this!
Terminated for now.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
Iwuanyanwu And The ‘Political Rascals’ Rhetoric
By Promise Adiele
Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play Waiting for Godot avails itself of multiple interpretative tools with a compelling grip on the moral imagination of the audience. As a timeless drama, it thrives on the hopelessness of the human condition dramatized by two vagabonds, Estragon and Vladimir who waited for a mysterious, titular Godot that never came. One of the features of the absurdist literary tradition portrayed in the play is the failure of language in the verbal context as a means of communication. The verbal exchange between the two vagabonds is evident of misinterpretation. One says one thing, the other interprets it differently. Thus, it calls to question the potency of language in the verbal medium as a means of communication. The preceding analogy reminds me of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his purported insult to the good people of the Yoruba ethnic group. Perhaps, misinterpretation currently manifests as an inexorable content of Nigeria’s absurd credentials.
Last week, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, philanthropist, accomplished businessman, the Balogun Babaguwan of Yorubaland, Ahaejiejemba of Igboland and elder-statesman, while reacting to events that happened in Lagos during the last election when many Igbo people were bloodied and harassed, assured the world that “the Igbo and Yoruba are not at war”. On the heels of that statement came another one “they are Yoruba political rascals”. A syntactic analysis of the two sentences affirms that the Chief never meant to insult the entire Yoruba ethnic group. Rather, he was referring to rascals in Lagos who maimed, killed, and vanquished Igbos, non-Yorubas, and even some Yorubas with Igbo semblance, stopping them from exercising their voting rights during the election. He also said “we know them and we will deal with them”. Language scholars know that Chief Iwuanyanwu did not mean to insult the Yoruba. Sadly, some social nitwits, victims of acute cognitive impairment, went on a rampage to misinterpret and manipulate his statement to suit their treacherous, mischievous purposes. It is absurd.
Anyone who knows Chief Iwuaynanwu’s antecedent will never ascribe offensive rhetoric to him. He is soft-spoken, conciliatory and peace-loving. Like every sensible person around the world, not just the Igbo, he was aghast with lurid photos and video evidence of harm against the Igbo in Lagos during the last election. Unfortunately, people who ordinarily frolic in the whirlwind of ethnic hate have seized the opportunity to insult the Igbo ethnic group while using acerbic words on the revered Chief. These people, in their degenerate and diseased mentality, are trying to install a wall of hate between the Igbo and Yoruba. Let me state categorically that the Yorubas are wonderful people whose spirit of brotherliness, conviviality, and tolerance speaks volumes across the world. I have maintained over time that the Igbo and Yoruba share a cordial, interwoven relationship in marriage, business, friendship, association and neighbourliness. The two ethnic groups can never be involved in a conflict. Many Yoruba people have helped many Igbo people to their destinies and many Igbo people have helped many Yoruba people to their destinies too. An attempt for one ethnic group to harm the other will result in serious harm for the two. It is as implicating as that.
Since the presidential elections, keenly contested by different candidates from different ethnic groups in Nigeria, some people have desperately sought to reduce the entire development to an ethnic affair. It is myopic and at once condescending. Does Peter Obi represent the Igbo? Does Bola Tinubu represent the Yoruba? Does Atiku Abubakar represent the Hausa/Fulani? These candidates all have supporters across the country. Of course, they will have a preponderance of support from their ethnic base. That is the way of politics. Unfortunately, ethnic jingoists have, in the inerrancy of their bleak convictions, reduced the entire political discourse to an ethnic affair especially Yoruba vs Igbo. These people, stranded in the realm of ethnic hate and communal intolerance, have done everything within their powers to inflame ethnic tension to crucible dimensions. It is wrong for anyone to insult a whole ethnic group in whatever guise. In Chief Iwuanyanwu’s case, he has put the records straight by clarifying what he meant, insisting that he was quoted out of context. But the morbid and decadent will not hear of it. They insist that Iwuanyanwu and all Igbo should be roasted alive. As far as these simpletons are concerned, the Chief spoke the mind of all Igbos. How idiotic and harebrained can anybody be?
Recently, some people have also indulged in ethnic slurs. Unlike Chief Iwuanyanwu that clarified himself, Bayo Onanuga offered no apology and insisted on standing by his words. Onanuga spoke for himself and couldn’t have insulted the Igbo on behalf of the Yoruba. MC Oluomo, while registering his socio-political disorientation, spoke for himself when he threatened the Igbo on an election day and went on to make good his threat which the police shamelessly called a joke. FFK has also made inflammatory remarks which were his personal opinion and not the opinion of Yoruba. It is therefore, a function of disabled, primitive awareness for anyone to insult an ethnic group based on the comment of one person. Such insults and abuses expose the quiddity of phenomenal foolishness which, hitherto, was concealed in some people by the façade of education. No, these hate mongers belong to the stone age. Nobody should be deceived by their pretentious liberalism.
The question is, are there political rascals in Nigeria? Definitely yes! These are the particular people Chief Iwuanyanwu referred to concerning what happened in Lagos during the last elections. Of course, all parts of the country have their share of political rascals. It is not peculiar to one ethnicity. Political rascals are those who walk the streets, snatch ballot boxes, stab people due to their ethnic origin and prevent them from exercising their civic rights. They are not educated. They are thugs, street urchins and never-do-wells employed by politicians to advance nefarious objectives. There are also some educated political rascals. They don’t walk the streets, but demonstrate humane deficiency of unimaginable proportions using social media and sundry news outlets. They spread hate, provoke enmity and fan the embers of war. They incite the uneducated, urging them to bay for the blood of ordinary citizens. Their social media handles are replete with expletives and insults. Abusive engagement allows them to flourish. Another category of political rascals populate government establishments like INEC, the Police and different security agencies. These people compromise the electoral process in exchange for financial inducement and material gains. They are unconscionable, desperate and invidious. Are these people from another planet? No, they are among us. We know them.
The ethnic hate narrative is a device enunciated by the political class to keep the people divided, breaking their rank and file to unite and fight a common enemy. The opposition LP and PDP are convinced that the election was marred by sharp, underhand practices and therefore have gone to court. Is going to court to challenge the outcome of an election a legitimate practice? If it is, why can’t detractors of equitable process allow the law to run smoothly? The call by some decidedly frustrated fellows in search of relevance and pecuniary patronage for the arrest of the opposition presidential candidates is from the pit of purgatory. The propaganda that there is a plan to disrupt the handover ceremony is a bundle of falsehood from the depths of Hades. Although many Nigerians regard the judiciary with a pinch of salt, people of goodwill should advocate for a peaceful resolution of Nigeria’s political challenges. Ethnic rhetoric should stop immediately. People should sheath their swords. Let us all close the road to Rwanda.
Adiele, PhD, writes from Mountain Top University.
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