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If there is any yeoman’s job to be done, go for the man who can do it.
That in my view is what President Muhammadu Buhari has done by picking Ahmed Bola Tinubu, senator and two-term governor of Lagos State and the widely acclaimed national leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, to undertake the difficult assignment of reconciling members of the party.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I wager that in this country today, as at this moment, and in the current circumstances, there appears to be nobody better qualified and better suited for this assignment than the Jagaban of Borgu. An astute and street wise politician and a dogged fighter for democracy and human rights, Senator Tinubu, popularly called Asiwaju, was in the trenches in the fight for democracy during the Abacha’s days of infamy. He stood solidly by Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election to fight for the actualisation of his mandate.
His entry into full time politics in 1993 when he was elected senator was due most probably to the June 12 fight. As a passionate politician and humanist, he has not looked back since then. His greatest political feat aside from the great legacy of sound vision that he left behind and on which Lagos thrives today, is the successful fusion of his party ACN with CNC and ANPP and the break-away factions of PDP, APGA and others to form APC which, in an unprecedented political triumph, uprooted the PDP and sent an incumbent president packing.
In his place was installed General Muhammadu Buhari, a confessed born-again democrat, who had tried three times and failed three times to clinch the presidency until divine providence brought these once disparate groups together to form an alliance of progressive forces. The rest, as they say, is history.
Undoubtedly, the Asiwaju would like to give all it takes to succeed. In fact, there is enough motivation for him to do so.
A greater impetus for success which is known to only those close to him is the fact that cynics have already dubbed this assignment as a difficult and risky assignment. As a risk taker, the more the risk the more Senator Tinubu is lured into it.
The Asiwaju’s mission in politics may have been informed by the type of nationalistic fervour which fired General Charles De Gaulle to seek the presidency of French Fifth Republic after successfully dismantling the disparate and fractious political parties in the parliamentary system that were pulling France in various directions. De Gaulle wanted power not for what it could do for him but for what he could do with it.
Richard Nixon, discussing the leadership qualities of De Gaulle, in his profile of world leaders, put it this way: “What separates the men from the boys in politics is that the boys want high office in order to be somebody, the men want high office in order to do something.”
This assignment would be another test of Tinubu’s political sagacity. In going round the country in the course of finding a common ground for various interest groups in the party, he would discover that the party he helped to build is now in a state of disarray almost at the level the fractious PDP was from 2014. Truly, the state of APC today is akin to the Hobbesian state of nature: “a war of all against all.”
The party, according to informed insiders, is broken into four factions - one for the president, one for the National Assembly, one for the duo of Governor Nasir El Rufai and Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi and a huge chunk of it for Tinubu himself. At the core of it is a combination of factors - preservation of one’s own turf, greed, winner-take-all phenomenon, ego, immaturity and plain maladministration.
Take Kano State for instance. Former governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso is locked in a bitter political battle with his successor, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. Both of them seem to have vowed not to see eye to eye.
In Bauchi State, the governor, Mohammed Abubakar and the House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara are sworn enemies. Kaduna State is fielding three political gladiators, Governor El-Rufai and two Senators, Shehu Sani and Suleiman Uthman Hunkuyi. Ditto for Zamfara State where Senator Kabiru Marafa and Governor Abdulaziz Yari are sworn political enemies.
The most notorious theatre of war is Kogi State where there has been no peace since Yahaya Bello was picked to replace the late Abubakar Audu who fell to the cold hands of death during the governorship election that he was poised to win. Governor Bello and James Faleke who was Audu’s running mate in the said election have been bitter political enemies.
Strangely, Senator Dino Melaye who played a prominent role in the transition and inaugural committees that ushered Bello into office, has since fallen out with Bello with allegations and counter allegations of attempts on human lives and the law enforcement agents playing a dubious role in the whole saga. What makes the case of Kogi particularly disturbing is the fact that even state executive council of the party is not in harmony with the governor.
Numerous efforts at reconciliation have failed woefully. One committee was headed by the respected Prince of Auchi and former minister of information, Prince Tony Momoh.
Various groups made their views known to the committee but till date nothing has come out of the exercise. The latest committee was headed by Colonel Garba Idris, a former military governor. Like the previous ones, the committee’s work came to nothing.
The only sure way for the Tinubu assignment to fail, is to narrow reconciliation efforts to only the famous gladiators in the various theatres of political war at the expense of the ordinary APC card-carrying members who toiled day and night in the sun and the rain to ensure the success of the party at the various elections but who have now been left in the lurch.
Another way not to succeed is to fail to examine some fundamental failures of the party. Apart from the name, it is clear to majority of Nigerians including party members now that there is virtually no difference between the PDP and the APC. They are all typically and proudly Nigerian.
One says it is fighting corruption but its leaders are grossly enmeshed in corrupt practices. The other one does not pretend to fight anything and its leaders do not need to do anything under the table. They trade corruption in the open with impunity.
In APC there is now a yawning gap between what the party professes and what it does and it is embarrassing, to say the least. Public offices were known to be publicly and unabashedly hawked to the highest bidders. Even those who were never members of the party trusted their money to pave way for them into public office. And the party leaders at all levels did not see anything wrong with this egregious hypocrisy. They hardly realise that any little bit of corrupt practice that happens diminishes the integrity of the party and the government it controls.
Injustice thrives on corruption. Those who are unjustly deprived today because they played by the rule, with premium on honesty and integrity in line with the public avowal of the APC administration to fight corruption, cannot and can never be reconciled with injustice.