Opinion: APC As Sick Baby – By Sam Omatseye
In those days as a child, I was enamoured of The Jeffersons, an upbeat sitcom to upend the narrative of the black as a race of the poor. George Jefferson, as the family patriarch, was a superfly and boastful man in well-cut suits and exaggerated gait. He never let anyone forget he was swathed in riches. He carried his braggadocio to the extent of propagating his peccadilloes as a gift. In an episode, he played down his ulcer until a friend spoke of it as familiar pride of the rich. Then he held up his head and quipped, “I get my ulcer all the time.”
Sometimes it is the pathology of some humans to toast their own illnesses, to boast their frailties into graces. Nations have honoured their own collective coughs and sneezes. Nazi Germans saw Jew hatred and slaughter as acts of worship. In his novel of Nazi Germany called Tin Drum, Nobel Laureate Gunter Grass paints his character Oskar with his drums of hysteria like a fanatic of worship.
Or northern Nigeria in the 1960’s when Igbos and other minorities became mincemeat of irate bands, the chants and pursuits became like a force of Heaven. This also goes for political parties. In Europe, we have seen political parties rally like a tenet of faith behind xenophobia and against Islam. In Trump America, many whites turned against minorities, crowds exhaling with catharsis. Mass apoplexy was like a revolution. So, sickness can be bad, but it is worse when the sick does not know it. Sickness within sickness.
That is APC’s diagnosis. I don’t think I have heard anyone call the party sick. Its kind of sickness is family dysfunction.
The party acted without a convention. It is like holding a birthday party without a venue, date or celebrant. It did not see its rot until it hit a rut. When it was clear it could not do without a convention, it decided to adopt IBB’s Maradona style. It said it would hold a convention in late last year and reneged. Then it picked a month, this one. It picked no date and venue, but notified INEC. It was like an invitation card to an in-law to a wedding without a date or venue or even the bride and groom. When it decided to fix a date, it did not state a venue. When it decided on it, it was then it dawned on the caretaker committee, it should have procedures and processes. It is like the Harold Pinter play, The Birthday Party, that critics have described as a “comedy of menace.” In the play, nothing is certain, not time, not place, not identity, not even language. That is what we are seeing with the sick party of Nigeria.
They fixed a day for the party, which is February 26th. News have it that it tried to persuade the president to change the date. Even before that, it called for aspirants to buy nomination forms. But as a party chieftain and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, explained to my TV show, it was an invitation to chaos. How do you call for nomination without zoning the offices? So, if the party chairmanship is zoned to the North central eventually what happens to those who buy forms from the Southeast or Northwest or Southwest? It is hugging anarchy.
A new controversy is swirling with the caretaker committee, whose name reads like a Chinese company, that lawmakers should be disenfranchised in the convention. What is its reason? It would not say? It is a ploy to cancel some voters, to wage war against a section of the party. It does not believe in democracy. It believes in internecine conflicts. It wants brothers to fight against brothers. It is an extension of the battle between some governors and lawmakers. It wants to make governors the monarchs of the party politics. It is a monarchisation of the APC. To legalise anything, they first regalise it. The governors are the royals, and they must control things by first aggregating their interests. Even at that, they are one or not, and they are not sure that they have control. So, they are looking for the party chairmen to conspire to postpone the convention. As I suggested to Governor Akeredolu, it seems Governor Buni and his cohorts want to railroad the party into postponing. They want not to be ready, so they would be forced to put off the convention. Buni wants to provide the president and others with a fait accompli.
Buni and his cohorts are not explaining to anyone why they cannot decide to hold a convention. They want to act like the Nigerian Judicial Commission. They want to be the judge in their own cause. Their first instinct is to sit tight and preside over the convention and elections. This way they would choreograph the proceedings and hand-pick their men. Their intention is to turn the presidential primaries into a fait accompli. They want a consensus. They are unhappy that the lawmakers did not play plaint. The electoral bill does not want consensus. Buhari seems reluctant to sign because Buni and his men are trying with Malami to twist the old man’s head.
With a flourish of a smile, the president told Channels Television that his successor is not his business. That is an ostentation of indifference. Malami and company, which includes Buni, are funnelling their subversive thoughts to the president’s medulla oblongata. Buhari knows that if Buni fails, it will be largely a presidential disaster because he put Buni there and Buhari, not Buni, is the head of the APC.
The president ought to ask the head of the China-sounding committee and his attorney-general what they are afraid of. Or is it who they are afraid of? Why can’t the party act as a democracy instead of cabal of intrigues. This is the first time that holding a party convention has become a quagmire, an act of desperation. When it is not a quagmire, it is a rigmarole, when not a rigmarole, it is in a standstill, when it is a standstill it is in danger of being like Lot’s wife: a pillar of salt. May hot rain not swoop on it.
Buni has been AWOL from his state as governor. When he goes there, he could be called, “His Excellency, the visiting governor.” He is domiciled in Abuja. Yet, he has succeeded neither in reconciling the party nor doing his first task of setting the stage for a convention. It is what, in soccer terms, is described as losing both home and away matches. This scenario is making the family dysfunction a peculiar APC disease. As novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” in the opening of his novel, Anna Karenina.
Buni and his cohorts may not be familiar with the words of Ernst Junger, one of the top German thinkers of the 20th century, “Health is good. The disease can sometimes be even better. Illnesses are questions, they are also tasks, even honours. It all depends on how one notes them.” In the top miracle of the Old testament, a man resurrects after his body touches Elisha’s corpse. He became a celebrity dead. What does APC want, a final death or a resurrection or illness as an epaulette, a badge of honour?