Thursday, May 4, 2017
The Presidency, The APC And The Enemies Within By Tunde Ajibulu
Is the All Progressives Congress (APC) a glass house? Is the APC a house of straw? Is the APC a sand castle? Hhmmmm! Where do I start? I think I speak the minds of most APC members, supporters, well-wishers and the general populace, to say we are disillusioned by the pace of governance in Nigeria today.
The response time to very salient issues is unbelievably disturbing. The infighting and squabbling. I will want to focus on and within the APC. For starters, I am a loyal APC card carrying member. I believe I have contributed my quota as thousands of others did, to the party, while i am not a die-hard fan of Mallam Nasir el Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, I must say his memo to President Muhammadu Buhari which recently suffered a leak, was spot on and should be seen as a clarion call on the Presidency and the leadership of the APC if they do not want this whole arrangement to end up in any one of the above headlined categories.
The cartoon below is self-explanatory and inspired this piece.
Less than 2 weeks ago, the President appointed 23 head of Federal agencies two years into his regime!!!! The last PDP government's appointees were still running those key agencies hitherto. Today there are hundreds of if not thousands more PDP members still running or enjoying the benefits of board memberships, et al, in this administration! This is a travesty!
It is impossible for the presidency to handle all this appointments!!it has to share!! Is it a world-wide standard best political practice to divide the ‘spoils’ within the party from the most transparent and sophisticated democracies to the most despotic dictatorships... The APC leadership has to step up and defend the mandate of its members, loyalists, and supporters from the odium, the so called cabal has smeared us with. Where was the cabal when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was breaking his back, running helter-skelter to make things happen? Where was the cabal when PMB sat in the trenches negotiating, sacrificing his principles and cajoling to reach an agreement that birthed the APC?Where was the cabal when Senator Musa Kwankwaso delivered millions of votes?
Where was the cabal when the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki 'mutinied' against the sitting President and his party the PDP and led five governors to the APC, delivered the North Central States for the first time to the opposition?
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So what right does the executive/party have to condemn Saraki on Senator Ike Ekweremadu - a pdp member - emerging as the Deputy Senate President? When the country is still being run by PDP appointees, the latest being the head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)! We got to know this from the ensuing $43millin drama that the Director General of the NIA was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013! It is mind-boggling. Another shocking scenario unfolded recently when the former Senate Majority Leader (number three man in the 7th Senate) under Goodluck Jonathan’s government, Victor Ndoma-Egba was appointed the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board. Ndoma-Egba was in the Senate from 2003 to 2015 under the platform of the PDP before he lost his election. He pronto decamped from the PDP to the APC and in less than three months he was appointed Chairman of the Board of NDDC! I beat my chest and say my humble self and thousands of other APC members especially from the south south have done a lot more than Ndoma-Egba can or will ever do for APC. For God's sake he fought against APC! Does anyone understand? He is an enemy! PMB would never encourage, support this and I wonder who the people behind these callous, selfish, preposterous antics are! Issues like this are bound to destabilize, erode and gnaw away at the fabric binding APC as one solid political entity.
I have met President Buhari personally about five times, the being 1997 at the first was at the wedding of the daughter of his former deputy and chief of staff during his previous regime, Maj. Gen. Babatunde Idiagbon. The second was at the burial of this same great Nigerian… Gen. Idiagbon - where the late Maj Gen Abdukareem Adisa and myself received and welcomed him. This was on March 25, 1999. We all sat in the living room for over an hour with my bosom friend and son of the late General, Adekunle Mohammed Idiagbon, General Ibrahim Babangida- former Military President, the then Chief of General Staff, Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe, Maj Gen. Mohammed Magoro, Col Theophilous Bamigboye (then Military Administrator for Osun State), Lt Col Alade Shekoni (then MILAD Kwara state), the Emir of Ilorin,and quite a few others. It was a very terse and powerful gathering and also one of the rare times Gen. Buhari had been in an enclosed room for that long with Gen. Babangida. The tension was palpable. While others chit chatted, Gen Buhari was withdrawn, disbelief etched on his face and looked very troubled and did not talk much. It was obvious he felt a huge loss and sense of despondency. He had lost the only person he could trust completely…the only person who had showed him total loyalty to the point of death…… (apologies to Mr. Fashola who said we should pray not to have our loyalty tested)…this was a tested and proven loyalty and friendship on both sides.
I will tell a little story that I am priviledged to be privy to….it is a story of love, bravery and loyalty……during a skirmish in the Nigerian Civil War, a certain young Platoon Commander in the Nigerian Army, Lt. B.A. Idiagbon was shot in an ambush by the Biafran forces and left for dead. His troops withdrew. On getting back to base, the Officer Commanding of the company, a certain Capt. M. Buhari was informed of the death of Lt. Idiagbon. In shock, he asked for his body and was told it was left in enemy territory as they were ambushed and had to withdraw… Capt. Buhari mobilized troops and went back to recover the body of Lt. Tunde Idiagbon who was a popular, much loved brave and fearless officer. They fought their way through and retrieved the body of late Idiagbon only to discover he was close to death but still alive! Their friendship evolved to another level. The rest as they say is history……..the story goes on…
Fast forward 16 years after. It was time for the ultimate pay back… at that point in the nation's history, we had the Majors-General Buhari and Idiagbon junta ruling Nigeria. In August 1985, while Idiagbon was on holy pilgrimage to Mecca, his boss was overthrown by Babangida. Idiagbon was trapped in Mecca. Some say the only reason the coup succeeded was because Idiagbon was out of the country. The King of Saudi Arabia offered to get his family to Saudi or any country of his choice in the world, a safe haven and pension for life and vowed he and his family would lack for nothing, since the coup happened while he came to worship God, but Idiagbon refused and said he had to return and face the music with his boss. He said he wanted any fate that would befall Buhari to also befall him. What bravery! What gallantry! What loyalty! The only other documented evidence of this was by late Lt. Col Adekunle Fajuyi who refused to save his life and give up his Commander-In-Chief, Maj. Gen. Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi during the 1967 counter coup. Fajuyi insisted on sharing the fate of his boss and paid the ultimate price! Whatever happened to honour? Chivalry? Conviction? Ideology? Principles? in the Nigerian man... Well, Idiagbon returned to Lagos faced and danced to his music unflinchingly like a man.
He and Buhari emerged eventually with their lives after being detained for a few years. Their bond was so deep that Buhari named his nephew and adopted son, Tunde Idiagbon, …and as they say, the rest is history.
I met General Buhari a couple of more times in his house in Kaduna. I accompanied my dear friend and brother, Adekunle Mohammed Idiagbon, a few times on his annual sometimes bi-annual courtesy calls to Buhari since his father died. I believe he did that unfailingly for 16 years…I did not see any sign of the cabal the twice or thrice that I went with him. Buhari was then alone sometimes with an aide called Seriki. He reminisced about his friendship and bond with Adekunle’s father and his hopes and aspirations for Nigeria to become a better place…the atmosphere in his house was basic and Spartan….no frills no thrills…a disciplined and principled man with no thought for himself…..a man that understood camaraderie and valued loyalty and fairness above all else.
That is why I find it so difficult to believe a man like this will tolerate all the unfairness going on within the APC. It is obvious that a few powerful people are taking advantage of his health situation to skew things their way. Mr President, there are hundreds of federal vacancies. Do what is fair to your party and people that have supported you, been loyal to you and your cause because you do understand and value loyalty and fairness. As things stand today, you risk making the APC toothless! Give APC its due and respect. Give individuals that stood by you and built this party their due and respect. It is a political party and its machinery needs to be serviced.
Give quota of vacancies in federal parastatals to all relevant stakeholders to nominate their candidates. They also have obligations to their foot soldiers and followers. The APC executive should have an untouchable quota. The chairman, deputy chairmen, national secretary, publicity secretary, etc. must all have slots. Key members of the National Assembly must have slots! Why else do we have the Executive/National Assembly situation? Individuals like Tinubu, Kwankwaso, Atiku and Saraki et al, should be given slots. The in fighting in the APC has only served to unduly extend PDP's lease of life in the country. Change policies are being implemented by PDP appointees. So, why is it rocket science that things are so slow?
The APC has a wise but elderly chairman in the person of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun but if he is not ready to lean on the strength and new age political savvy of the likes of the National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Bolaji Abdullahi, etc, who are young men that have exhibited maturity beyond their years and have distinguished themselves politically and are a part of the obvious future of our party and polity then maybe it is time for a new chairman....The APC executive should meet with President Buhari with the list of federal positions still held by PDP appointees which I assure you, is in its hundreds probably over a thousand and first sack them so that sabotage can stop! Then we can work as fast as possible to fill the vacancies with deserving qualified party members and loyalists. This is not a government of National Unity! It is an APC government.
I urge Mr. President to work fast to come up with a political solution that will carry everyone along and expunge the insidious influence of PDP still permeating our government.
Tunde Ajibulu is a Lagos based businessman and APC member