Ondo election and elite conspiracy - @niranadedokun

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The worms of deceit and duplicity which dwell with politicians are rapidly eating at our dear President Muhammadu Buhari. And that is an awful shame.

Here is a man who rode on the back of his universally acclaimed integrity to become President, but is now like a sheep who having strode in the company of dogs for a season, now feasts on faeces. The President has been in company with politicians for enough to turn facts on their head and try to con Nigerians into believing that what is, is not. A sad turn at the twilight of any human being.

Or, what else can you make out of his testimony that the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress was transparent, credible, free and fair? Even if it were, the level of acrimony that this exercise still generates within the party requires a level of quiet discretion from the President.

On the day in which the President made this comment, notable political leaders in the South-West, including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who literarily strapped Buhari on his back during political campaigns last year, stayed away from the commencement of the governorship campaigns of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, the torchbearer of the APC in Saturday's election.

The absence of these leaders that also included Tinubu's loyalists like former Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande as well as governors of Lagos, Oyo and Osun states, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, Abiola Ajimobi, and Rauf Aregbesola respectively was on the score of the same election that Buhari declared immaculate. That call that he made is therefore nothing but a blatant slap on the faces of the disgruntled people in the party. Nothing, to my mind, less than calling the bluff of Tinubu and people who sympathise with his position on the Ondo APC primary. I do not think this is an advisable posture for a father who hopes to keep his family intact.

But there is something worse than that. And this is that the President's assertion is far from the truth of the situation even by mere consideration of the widely speculated report of the appeal committee for the primaries, which Tinubu alleged was overruled by the National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun. In addition to that, one of the candidates in the primaries, Dr Olusegun Abraham, is challenging Akeredolu's emergence at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. The import of this is that Akeredolu's candidacy still stands on miry grounds and it is pathetic that the scuffle defies the wisdom of all party machineries, including the Presidency!

The situation gets more dispiriting when one recalls that the PDP was also in a battle of wills over who will fly the flag of the party in the election until Wednesday, three days before election that the Court of Appeal put the issue to rest.

Facts on the PDP situation are in the public domain but it is expedient to establish the fact that the two factions of the party presented different candidates and that the courts became a major playground in the absurdity that the party presented until the Supreme Court marched down on the perfidy that was festering.

 Before the Supreme Court gave leave to the Appeal Court to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by one of the parties, a Federal High in Abuja had given the edge to Chief Jimoh Ibrahim.  But the candidate of the Ahmed Markarfi faction, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, filed an appeal over which Ibrahim and his lawyers deployed all forms of judicial theatrics, including the blackmail of judicial officers to hold on to the ticket, while Jegede was not letting off. This would have dragged on until after the election but for the redemptive intervention of the Supreme Court, although it came late in the day.

Even the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, Chief Olusola Oke, cannot be said to be on safer grounds than any of Akeredolu and Ibrahim.

Having left the APC in protest of the same primaries that Buhari resolutely validated, Oke had joined the AD, promptly clinching its ticket. The irregular manner in which Oke became the AD candidate is also generating tension in the party, hence he cannot be said to be home and dry.

All of these reflect the immaturity of our political processes and institutions. A system that allows a politician gain such speedy favour in a party that he didn't belong to until a few days before he attains that status is nothing than a joke.

How does a party sponsor a person unknown to it, someone who is not conversant with the ideology and ethos of the party he hopes to represent except that our politics is devoid of any sound ideology?

Another evidence of Nigeria's failure to work for the advancement of democracy is that as I write this article, three days to the Ondo poll, only one of the major political parties has a definite candidate by the grace of the judiciary. But then, this administration is on a determined mission to strip the judiciary of its respect and freedom! Yet, in spite of existing party constitutions and conventions on resolution of conflicts, leaders of all parties are unable to sort out any of these issues amicably.

If we accept this as inherent of democratic development, we cannot but worry that institutions like the Independent National Electoral Commission and the judiciary allow politicians manipulate laid down rules and regulations for their selfish benefits.

What this implies is that INEC, political parties, the judiciary and the Presidency (which should, in the interim and on matters of the integrity of the electoral process, defeat temptations to be partisan) are all working against the interest of the people to choose their leaders. When political institutions battle with such instability, governance is always at the receiving end, suffering endlessly.

This is why very few of those elected into offices in Nigeria have any evidence of performance at the end of their tenures. They battle with political issues that institutions should tackle with tact and speed and allow unimpeded governance. It is the reason why Nigeria has remained on the list of countries where people still die from avoidable causes like pregnancy, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis and a host of others. It is why we have the highest number of out of school children in the world; why poverty increases by the day and many Nigerians are becoming incredibly dehumanised.

You hear arguments about how we should give Nigeria a break because its democracy is in a state of infancy but I think we are merely being escapist.

We should recall that the Nigerian National Democratic Party, the first political party in the country, was formed by the late Herbert Macaulay in line with the Clifford Constitution circa 1923. This implies that we will be celebrating the centennial of political parties in Nigeria in seven years' time! Are we suggesting that political parties and processes will crawl in this country forever!

What I see in the impending election in Ondo is the subjugation of the will of the people for the desire of a few members of the political elite. This, in fact, is what the political process in Nigeria has become. Entrenched disrespect for institutions and processes and an abuse of democracy.

Unfortunately, this tears at the very fabric that holds society faster than we imagine. A country where leaders do not respect their own rules on how to attain power is a society at war with itself. Nigeria currently plays on this turf and it is a menace that must be checked.

Twitter@niranadedokun


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