I WILL start this response using the Yoruba adage; agba kii wa loja ki ori omo tuntun wo, which pre supposes that elders are stabilising forces for the peace of society. It gives pre eminence to the role of elders in guaranteeing stability and peaceful co-existence of various components of the society.
There is no doubt that Chief Bisi Akande, a former governor and pioneer chairman of the All Progressives Congress, is one of the respected leaders and leading lights, not just in the formation of the APC, but the necessary take off harmonisation and synchronisation needed for a formidable opposition. I commend their dedication, perseverance and commitment that resulted in the success and transformation of the else while opposition party to the ruling party, the first of its kind in Nigeria’s chequered political evolution.
In the context of where the APC has found itself today, the party elders, with due respect and deverence, have not performed to the admiration of most of us who see the elders of the APC as role models. The high wired political campaigns, the unity of purpose exhibited, the patriotism demonstrated by all and sundry gave the hope of an organised and united party where the love of the nation supersedes personal or section interests.
By his recent statement, Chief Bisi Akande has opened up to Nigerians the different categories of leaders in the party. Any well meaning member of the party however would understand that there was something pathetically wrong with the postulations encapsulated in the treatise signed by the elder statesman which was meant to be his own public intervention in the crisis of leadership that is threatening the long-dreamed achievement of the party.
What I found most confounding in the treatise was the high moral horse upon which the revered former national chairman sought to ride in denouncing certain actors in the current impasse within the party particularly at the national assembly. It was unfortunate that the former chairman could not openly acknowledge that the unfortunate drama that played out in the two chambers of the national assembly, and more specifically at the senate, on June 9th, 2015 was a clear demonstration of the failure of the party’s leadership to act on time. Their Rome was on fire but the Emperor was asleep.
Chief Akande confirmed in that intervention the common fear of an average northerner in dealing with politicians from the south west. In truth, but for the uncommon miracle that glued the two regions together in the last election, they have never really been successful associates in any political venture. Thus when the 2015 polls brought them together and brought out a resounding victory, many had thought it was going to be the beginning of a fresh relationship that will help shape the future of Nigeria for the better.
But now it is evident the likes of Chief Akande all along had not been happy about the marriage of the north and south-west. Maybe because in the cult of the old ACN, holding offices was by the discretion of a few men; the Old Aweri of Kongi’s kingdom who are gods and whose decisions must not be inspected, questioned or reviewed. For them, your ability to serve is tied to your age in the system, even if that has limited your exposure and makes you unable to think out of the box. For the north, that is however never the case.
Maybe that was why Chief Akande looked down with so much condescension on leaders of the north in that treatise such that he could even isolate/identify ‘democrats’ within the APC and who are not from the north. Hear him: ”Democrats among the APC leadership insisted on selection by mock elections, rather than tribal or sectional considerations. As a result of primary elections, Ahmed Lawan and George Akume emerged as APC candidate for Senate President and Deputy respectively while Femi Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Monguno emerged as the Speaker and Deputy for the House of Representatives.”
There are many questions surrounding the ‘mock elections’ in reference here, the most germane are, how was it that the two personalities that the ‘democrats’ had openly canvassed for were the eventual winner? In that mock election, was every member of the national assembly elected on the platform of the APC present? If some of them had boycotted out of anger or for whatever reasons, didn’t elderly wisdom dictate that the party’s leadership should have suspended the mock elections to make it truly transparent and all involving? Is this not the same thing that happened in the senate and for which the ‘democrats’ now want to hang Bukola Saraki and co?
It was most uncharitable and unbecoming of an elder of Chief Akande’s status in the politics of Nigeria to cast wild aspersions on the generality of northern leaders and group them in the same camp as oil/drug barons and criminals. So his group was aware they were dealing with criminals all through the elections period and they were comfortable to be associated with such in public and private? So Baba Akande was aware of a meeting in the house of Alhaji Kawu Baraje with the intent of hijacking the APC for the PDP and kept silent all along? Or should we rely on the textual analysis of his statement and argue that he was only reporting an hearsay? Then should an elder statesman rely on hearsay to make such wild allegations?
Assuming, but without conceding that a meeting actually took place as is being alleged and that the focus was to see how the nPDP would benefit from the current administration, how has that become a crime, particularly if those involved, for instance, had begun to see deception in the way the ‘cult of elders’ in the old ACN, were going about as if the APC is their sole property? Another issue agitating my mind is the sudden media onslaught against Saraki and co. Well, why this is not unexpected given that the old ACN is well known for such. But Baba Akande and his fellow travellers should understand that if they used the media to pull down Goodluck Jonathan, now they are in power any attempt to pull down Saraki, a member of their party but whose action they currently deride, will lead to the fall of the party. It will be unfortunate to see such old men using their own hands to scatter the same house they had laboured to build, just like the fabled Akogbatugbaka of Fagunwa’s world of fantasies.
My caution to Chief Akande and co, is that while truly Nigeria has much to benefit from the control of the central government by strong political elements from the South-west given their political sophistication, they should not forget that that element has never been able to bring them near power even when they sought marriage with the south-south or south-east. The north has population and that was what helped the APC in 2015. The records are there for all to see.
Alao writes from Ibadan