Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Intrigues Of Who Succeeds Obasanjo
culled from VANGUARD, October 26, 2005
THE recent affirmation of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s interest (at the fidau prayers for ex - Gov. Lawal of Kwara State’s mother) in being the president of this nation provides food for thought.
The rumblings in the Peoples Democratic Party now (in my view) become clearer. I remember in one of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s speeches, during the several transition programmes under his regime he said ‘we do not know those who will succeed us but we do know those who will not’. The incumbent President, General Olusegun Obasanjo has also made statements to that effect, that is: " I will not allow certain types or categories of people to take over from me". When he said this, speculations were rife about who/those he was referring to, most had General Ibrahim Babangida/his cohorts as the person/ people being referred to. But recent proclamations from the PDP's National Executive Council/ National Working Committee vis-à-vis non-elective congress suggests that his utterances then, were aimed at his second-in-command, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Turaki Adamawa.
This non-elective congress clears the way for General Babangida to become the President as he will surely be the Presidential candidate of the PDP and the party is in control of the various electioneering agencies, that is INEC, Judiciary, Information, Security (Armed Forces/ Police) and EFCC. President Obasanjo might not necessarily want or be in support of General Babangida but he has no choice as Babangida’s political machinery is an amorphous octopus and he (Obasanjo) does not have the wherewithal (intelligence and sincerity of purpose) to dismantle or overcome it. The Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa option will not fly without the support of key Northern constituencies (not geopolitical constituencies) who are more likely to pitch their tent with General Babangida due to lessons learnt from the Obasanjo Presidency (1999 till date). General Babangida is the only one with the political and administrative savvy capable of rolling back the socio-political and economic gains of Southern Nigeria while keeping the entity Nigeria together.
Alhaji Abubakar Atiku must be regretting not heeding the advice to dump Obasanjo in 2002. The lessons of the 1992 Social Democratic Party convention in Jos were obviously forgotten by him or he learnt the wrong lesson. As in 1992, in 2002 (10 years later) he was the determinate and this time around he chose immediate political relevance - which was a safe move - believing that come 2006 he will be annointed/rewarded for his ‘loyalty’. Unfortunately, that convention of 2002 exposed his tremendous grip, strength and appeal and also his weakness - of always backing down/playing safe - to his political opponents. Thus the battle of 2006 had already begun without his knowledge, hence the calculated/strategic moves to force him and his ardent supporters out of PDP, while using the carrot and stick approach for his not so ardent followers.
Should the PDP break up (which is most likely), it will be a case of the fewer the merrier as those left will be in total control of certain key electioneering agencies and have unfettered access to manipulate the electorate to their whims and caprices.
Democracy is a system under which the populace exercise power directly or through representatives who are periodically elected by the populace. Periodic elections provide the opportunity to change or retain the existing status quo. The current selection by affirmation of the Peoples Democratic Party does not allow for changing the current party executives at all levels, ward, local government, state and national and is thus in my opinion undemocratic. The implications of this move are far reaching, as these executives are the ‘umpires’ who would conduct party primaries for candidates for elective public offices. The view that affairs of the PDP vis-à-vis selection by affirmation is not ‘our’ (non-party members) business is extremely myopic and to believe that the other parties would take advantage of these rumblings in the party is to behave like the ostrich (refusing to acknowledge clear and present danger) - stupid.
The opposition parties are opposition parties in name only, as either they are embroiled in leadership crisis or are bereft of strategy, financial wherewithal, and most times focus. In the absence of any credible opposition parties, we are heading for a ‘democratic dictatorship’ peopled by ex-uniformed men and women. The time has come for all patriotic Nigerians, civil societies and professional bodies (especially the Nigeria Bar Association) to rise and Nigeria’s call obey.
The Professor’s Itse Sagays should please come and let us know if the Nigerian Constitution allows a political party duly registered under its laws to use undemocratic means - selection by affirmation - to appoint umpires, that is party executives at all levels for candidates for elective public office. The earlier we began to resist these despotic moves by these ex-military officers who under the guise of not truncating our ‘nascent democracy’ are breaking every rule governing democratic system of governance the better. Had we resisted vehemently the intrusion of the military in 1983 we would not be where we are today. I truly believe we would have gone full circle and by now have a stable, equitable polity.
•Mr. Ashibogu writes from Abuja.
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