Wednesday, 18 May, 2022

thenewnigerian

The Real Is The Rational


Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili, the eldest son of USSR leader, Joseph Stalin was captured in the outskirts of Smolensk by the invading forces of Nazi Germany. He was Battalion leader of an Artillery unit in the frontline, one of the fiercest theatres of combat. As he urged his troops on in the battle, despite receiving orders for his forces to disengage, they were surrounded and captured by a German combat group. His credentials as a fighter remain intact ago this day.

A few months later, Master Corporal Heinrich “Heinz” Hitler, the favorite nephew of the German leader, Adolf Hitler, was captured by Soviet forces. He was a signal officer deployed in frontline position. The Germans proposed to barter the high “value prisoners”. The proposal was promptly shot down by the Soviet leader, with the argument, “what about our other prisoners, who would they be exchanged for?”

This is the character of a leader. The willingness to make difficult, unpopular, and painful decisions based on cold thinking, the survival and strengthening of the party or ruling coalition is the hallmark of born leaders. (Lieutenant Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili died at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943. He was 36 years old)

On such pedestal stands Comrade Adams Oshiomhole today. He is a man whose profile and pedigree needs little introduction. A new breed of party politicians previously unseen in the annals of national politics in Nigeria. A man who dares to act, no matter whose ox must be gored.

It is often said that Africa has known two actual political parties, since the era of independence. The first was, Algeria’s National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale – FLN), a party with such political dinosaurs as, politics such Ahmed Ben Bella, Hocine Aït Ahmed, and Mohammed Boudiaf. Men who defined the texture of liberation struggle and revolutionary politics in Africa.

The second of Africa’s “real” political parties in South Africa’s African National Congress ( ANC ), with such political giants in its rank as Chief Albert John Luthuli, Robert Sobukw, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo, Joe Slovo, among others. It is often said that the only Nigerian party that remotely aspired to such heights at a point of its existence, was the Chief Obafemi Awolowo led Action Group (AG).

The question must now be asked, what makes a political party “real”, what defines the quality of a political party, and how what character must be found in a political party destined to leave a mark in the history of the political environment of its operation?

Many answers may be proposed as qualities such a party must-have, amongst which, revolutionary party managers and agents count, as well as the presence of personalities willing and able to commit themselves wholesomely to whatever objectives the party aspires to. Of superior significance, way above the aforementioned stands another factor of primary relations and the prime mover of everything, “party discipline”.

Without organizational discipline, any coalition of individual human beings becomes a picnic of fair-weather friends that will crumble and crash at the first visit of some minor whirlwind. The realization that the picnic was over, seemed palpable at the point Comrade Adams Oshiomhole ascended party leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC).

Clear to many that the party was unprepared to conduct the business of government leadership on the many levels it achieved success in its first tenure political leadership on Federal government and national parliamentary level. The rancor that attended the party’s election of leaders in the national parliament when parliamentary leaders were elected was an eye-opener for many.

From this point onward, the party displayed traces of lawlessness on the part of party members, gross indiscipline, crass insubordination, and total disregard for party leadership, structure, and organization on all levels of government was involved. From the Wards to the Local Government, State and Federal level, a single phrase that defined the party activity was, “anything goes”.

The party was one of “anything goes”, especially under its past National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. So feeble was his leadership style, that it provided very little direction in terms of party ambition, in an era that State Governors elected under the party umbrella and manifesto, conducted themselves in the same way and fashion Earls of medieval times did.

The national secretariat of the party reduced itself to a rubber stamp institution at the beck and call of these potentates, interested solely in co-opting other organs of government and every instrument of state in their domain, in the service of their capricious desires.
As the situation festered, it was clear to many that the APC was on the path followed by the vast majority of African political parties to oblivion (more recently, the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria, PDP, the country’s previous ruling party).

A tough situation calls for a tough solution, a phrase that announced Comrade Oshiomhole’s arrival as National Chairman of the APC. True to his name, the diminutive man set about his job with speed and efficiency.

At the last count, before general elections, which some predicted the ruling party would lose woefully, not a few potentates had been reduced in size. In states like Ogun, and Imo, where incumbent Governors imposed their mode of “selection”, branded as Party Congresses, in which their predetermined candidates were “nominated”, the National Chairman disagreed with the “so-called friends” of the President. Their Congresses were not recognized, and their candidates abandoned by the National Secretariat of the party.

Direct Primaries were conducted by the national leadership of the party and new candidates selected at grassroots were nominated. There was no name the Chairman was not called. “Dictator”, “Demolisher”, “Satan”, etc. The aggrieved Governors have remained not on speaking terms with the National Chairman, for doing what he considered right.

In States the National Chairman failed to impose order, the consequence was dire. In Zamfara and Rivers States, where the state Governor and other “political Earls” conducted parallel APC party primaries, party discipline was compromised, inviting conditions of eternal chaos.

These were two states the party was popular, but indiscipline cost the party everything. In Zamfara State, the action of the Governor and party members he’d disenfranchised, who were determined to prevent him from having his way, the party was disqualified on all levels, even after winning all contested election seats in the state.

Thus, aside from the Presidential elections, the Party lost every other election on grounds of technicality, because the Governor was determined to have his Congress and members elected there stand as party’s candidates for elections. While aggrieved party members clearly in majority thought otherwise, and thus conducted their own Party Congress.

The same scenario played out in Rivers State, between a faction of the State Chapter of the party loyal to Federal Minister of Transport and ex-State Governor, Rotimi Amechi, and his ex-friend, then sitting Senator Magnus Ngei Abe. Both conducted parallel party primaries, in which two sets of party functionaries and election candidates were elected and nominated.

Nigeria’s Supreme Court disqualified every candidate produced in both primaries and disqualified the APC from contesting General elections on every level in the state. From there sitting Senators, the Rivers State Chapter of the party does not have a Ward Counsellor today.

Enter Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, whose beef with the National Chairman of the party is that party Congress he appointed himself the conductor in the state, was not rubber-stamped by the Comrade Oshiomhole. Therefore, the Edo State Governor also announced that nominated candidates for elections into the regional parliament, i.e., Edo State House of Assembly, were anti-Governor Godwin Obaseki.

For this reason, he went the extra mile of ensuring that they were not inaugurated as members of the regional parliament. To add insult to injury, through a Speaker of a minority Parliament, forcefully imposed on the Parliament at the dead of the night by the Governor, a formal request was submitted to the country’s national electoral body to declare the seats of the Parliamentary majority vacant.

The height of indiscipline and open disregard for the principle and tenet of “democratic centralism” in party politics, was the Governor’s determination to again conduct a party “Primaries” that would rubber-stamp his nomination. For this reason, an edict was enacted preventing the conduct of Direct Primaries involving all card-carrying members of the party in the 192 Wards of the State.

On the grounds of complying with rules of social distancing, required at this moment of a medical emergency, with the COVID 19 pandemic, the Governor outlawed the conduct of APC Direct Primaries in 192 Wards of the state. The presumed logic being that ballot centers in which about 100 party members could be received at any hour was likely to be injurious.

However, the Governor’s preference of Indirect Primaries, in which the same number of people were required to present themselves in the same polling units to elect their choice of 5000 candidates to represent them, in the state capital, i.e., at Ogbe Stadium was not affected by “his law”.

The logic implied is that while over 200,000 party members voting simultaneously for their choice of candidates in 192 wards in the state cannot be approached and “bribed” into voting for Governor Obaseki, 5000 members of the party gathered at Ogbe Stadium could “be pressured” into voting for the Governor. As if to confirm the unscrupulous plan of the Governor, he went to town announcing that he did not believe that the National Chairman would not manipulate the voting process in 192 wards of the state.

This was the case, until the Comrade National Chairman again rose to the occasion, in conjunction with the party’s National Working Committee (NWC). expressly on the authority granted it by the statutes and on the strength of judicial precedence established at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the party affirmed its right to determine to the mode of the party primary in Edo State, by making it clear that the direct party primary mode would be adopted.

Upon which the State Government expressly promulgated the edict outlawing the conduct of APC party primary in the state, because it is not what the Governor wants. And that he “believes that as sitting Governor”, he MUST be given “the choice of first refusal”, a jargon that exists only in his political lexicon.

Some seek to reduce reality to a circus, dwelling on a pantomime parody of a “Godfather” vs“Godson” war, i.e., Mr. Godwin Obaseki was Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s choice as Edo State Governor before the latter became APC National Chairman.

These folks must now answer the question – why was he not colored “Godfather”, when the APC National Chairman led his NWC in the nullification of primaries conducted in Imo State in 2018, by the then sitting Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha? The national Chairman determined the fate of Mr. Uche Nwosu, the winner of Governor Okorocha’s Gubernatorial Primary, and the young man sought for himself another political party to run for the election.

Why was Chief Rochas Okorocha not granted the “so-called right of first refusal?”

Turn page. In Ogun State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole again put his foot down, to the chagrin of the then sitting Governor, Senator Ibikunke Amosun. The Nigerian Guardian newspaper of 7 October 2018, reported thus,

“…Ogun SWC announced that it had opted for the indirect primaries and that option, again, was thwarted by the majority of the aspirants who seemed to have stronger ties with NWC than Amosun and his state Exco…the SWC went ahead to conduct the governorship primary and declared Amosun’s choice, Abiodun Akinlade as the winner.

The state chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi, who announced the result claimed that Akinlade polled 190,987 votes, out of 201,620 valid votes cast across the 236 wards in the State…Unperturbed by the threat from the state government, Muhammed Ndabawa-led Electoral Committee on Wednesday held a direct primary at all the 236 wards in the state and declared Dapo Abiodun the winner of that primary.

‘Abiodun, who hails from Remo in Ogun East Senatorial District was said to have scored 102,305…”

Today, Mr. Dapo Abiodun as the executive Governor of Ogun State of Nigeria. Why was the then sitting Governor, Senator Ibikunke Amosun not granted the “so-called right of first refusal?”
Party discipline, and the principle of “democratic centralism” as the driving force of party organization and action must not be compromised. If heads must be smashed to install discipline, have them smashed.

While an Appellate Court sitting in Abuja may have affirmed the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomole on a charge bordering on his orchestrated expulsion by his Ward head, his achievements as APC National Chairman is not in doubt. Like a rover, he has raised the bar of discipline from dust to the skies, an achievement that is of benefit to, and in the long terms interest of the party.

The real, not the ongoing pantomime of deceit, is rational. Mr. Godwin Obaseki is not the first APC Governor to be disciplined by a party leadership willing and able to set things right.
And he will not be the last.

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