Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
BUHARI IS RUINING THE ANPP:
Professor Omo Omoruyi, mni
An Open Appeal to Chief Don Etiebet, National Chairman ANPP
Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Chairman Board of Trustees, ANPP
ANPP Governors in the Six States in the Far north
Please rescue the ANPP from General Muhammadu Buhari and save it for Nigeria.
I am writing this open letter to you leaders of the ALL NIGERIAN PEOPLES PATY (ANPP) to expel General Muhammadu Buhari because he using that party for political mischief. Please follow my reasoning; if he continues his recalcitrant fashion, the ANPP would die a natural death after May 29, 2003.
BUHARI SEES HIMSELF AS A CANDIDATE OF THE “MYTHICAL” NORTH
I say mythical north because I am a believer in the principle that states are and should be the units of representation in a federal system. But people like General Muhammadu Buhari still believe that there should be a northern candidate for in the presidential race in Nigeria whatever that means. That is the source of his intransigence and his determination for the leaders of the north to his fight against Obasanjo as their fight.
I also strongly believe in and promoted the idea of using the states instead of regions or ethnic nationalities as a basis of organizing the Nigerian political parties. Consequently I never believe in the idea of “north” that Lugard instituted before 1914 and made the dominant unit in Nigeria by the colonial government and the military before and after independence.
However there are Nigerians from the north of Nigeria despite the fact of states that still believe that there should be a “north” as a geo-political unit called AREWA.
I in the Constituent Assembly worked with my colleagues from what is called the north-central zone today that before independence was called the “middle-belt” to make the idea of “north” irrelevant as a political unit outside the states.
I still recall the powerful movement called the Council of Understanding and Solidarity (CUS), a euphemism for the current “Middle-Belt Forum” that fundamentally changed the character of politics beyond the tripod (i.e. beyond Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo) in 1977 in the Constituent Assembly. This development was well discussed in my book, Beyond the Tripod in Nigerian Politics.
For those who still believe in the idea of “one north”, “one people” and “one destiny” instituted by the immortal Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, its all well and good for them. They are the ones who are in search of a spokesman for them at every juncture in Nigerian politics. The current political miscalculation of General Muhammadu Buhari, the former military Head of State (1983-85) who came into partisan politics and sought the presidency on the two prong policy of one north and one religion tended to have posed a dilemma for the true believer in one “north”, the AREWA as part of Nigeria. They are the ones in search of a spokesman.
One would have thought that when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Alhaji Shehu Shagari spoke, that the leaders of the north had spoken and heard. It is not so with those who want to make Buhari a candidate of the north. It is not so with those who want to use Buhari’s case to be used to confront the south. They want to make his political debacle arising from his political miscalculation the political debacle of the north.
All the attempts of General Babangida and Alhaji Shehu Shagari to make the matter a Nigerian issue and not an issue of the north, the Buhari promoters had other ideas. These are distinguished Nigerian leaders from the north who had separately issued statements about the election. Yet one is still reading of the delegation of northern leaders meeting with the President and making demands on him on the way to resolve what they called “political impasse”.
ADVICE OF GENERAL BABANGIDA AND ALHAJI SHEHU SHAGARI
General Babangida counseled those Nigerian politicians who felt aggrieved with the outcome of the election to avail themselves of the opportunities created for them under the Electoral Act and head for the tribunal. One would have thought that that advice was applicable to General Buhari, the candidate of ANPP in the presidential race. General Buhari through his Campaign Organization coordinated by Alhaji Sule Hamma and Alhaji Wada Nas who both jointly also coordinated the ill-fated Abacha self-succession plan in the past makes many unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations of irregularities that are drawn from the reports of the international observers.
What is embarrassing many people is that General Buhari is using these reports to threaten the democratic order instead of taking them to the tribunal. He would not take them to the tribunal because he does not feel confident with the wild claims and assertions that would need to be demonstrated. This is the democratic way and this should have been the only option available to him after the election if he would be a gallant loser.
General Babangida’s advice to the aggrieved politicians came at the right time. It shows that he does not support Buhari’s wild claim that he would have won the election but for the PDP machination. IBB knows who can win an election having presided over a transition that delivered. Unfortunately, Buhari never believed in the power of the vote until recently. So when he made his wild claims, IBB says “go to the tribunal”. Of course he would not go and now wants to make his political debacle a northern political problem. How can?
Alhaji Shehu Shagari went further than General Babangida. He once counseled politicians shouting “rigging”, “rigging” to shut up their mouth as they were all hypocrites and guilty of the same crime. He likened such a behavior to a case of “the pot calling the kettle black” Did Buhari learn from this? That is not all; Alhaji Shagari wanted the northern leaders not to take what Buhari was saying as the gospel truth.
One gets the impression that the elder statesman is sending a message to the northern leaders that Buhari’s political travail is self-inflicted and that his political problem should not be construed as a problem of the north.
It would appear that Buhari went to some traditional rulers after the military and political class threw him out. He must have pleaded with them to appreciate his political adventure that he did on behalf of the north. This was the basis why some northern leaders were mobilized to meet the President with his grievances.
PRESIDENT SHAGARI’S BOMBSHELL
Just as when the delegation led by the Etsu Nupe was meeting with President Obasanjo, Alhaji Shagari, a Statesman that I always know him to be since we met for the first time in the Constituent Assembly in 1977 had a different idea. He thought the country should not be under any misapprehension that Buhari’s problem was a northern problem. This is the way I read the timing of his congratulatory message to President Obasanjo calling his victory, “a testimony of devotion and service to the people and the fatherland”.
How do we reconcile this with the Buhari’s wild claims? How do we reconcile this with the mission of Etsu Nupe? Alhaji Shehu Shagari did not want Nigerians to see the mission of the Etsu Nupe as one of those personal missions to bail out a drowning political general from the north. Alhaji Shehu Shagari must have been taken aback by the banner headline “Northern leaders list Conditions for Peace” as the mission of the Etsu Nupe delegation to the President. He must have been asking himself:
1. Which north!
2. What conditions!
3. When was that decision taken to send a delegation?
4. How does Buhari’s political problem become the northern political problem?
5. How does the ANPP Presidential candidate become a northern candidate?
6. How do the ANPP functionaries become the northern leaders?
General Buhari and some northern leaders acting with Buhari must have been shocked with what the Elder Statesman, Shagari had to say in his congratulatory message to Obasanjo in the following words:
Like all good things, democracy demands peace,
justice, and fair play to prosper.
It has to be nurtured with courage and patience
of the leaders and the led in order to flourish.
Alhaji Shagari’s concluding sentence in the message must have dealt a severe blow to the claims of Buhari and the northern leaders acting within. Alhaji Shagari concluded:
I have no doubt that you are bold enough
to accept criticisms, however hard and
to be magnanimous in victory.
TWO ARMS OF NORTHERN LEADERSHIP DISOWNED BUHARI
So when General Babangida and Alhaji Shagari from two of the three arms of the northern clique (military and civilian) spoke, one thought that they too had the interest of the north at heart. Their statements of the defense of the election and the winner of that election demonstrate that the interest of the north had been served from the election of Obasanjo. Their statements also demonstrate that Buhari is not a northern candidate and that the non-election of Buhari does not inflict any damage to the northern interest. One who reads the message of the elder statesman would come to the conclusion that the interest of the north is not under threat. It would appear that the third arm of the clique, the traditional rulers would still need to be convinced as some of them bought Buhari’s claim that the northern interest was in jeopardy. This was the origin of the delegation led by the Etsu Nupe to the President that did not include any of the known military and civilian leaders.
For those who are wondering as to what I mean by the three arms of the northern leadership, they are
(a) the military represented by the “Political Generals” who dominated the Nigerian military administration between 1966 and 1999,
(b) the civilian represented by the “Political leaders” who held high profile appointments in the past between 1960 and 1999 and
(c) the traditional leadership represented by the “Emirs and the Ulammas”.
It should be noted that the Arewa Consultative Forum combines these three arms in its leadership.
HOW THE RUMP OF AREWA TOOK OVER BUHARI’S CAUSE
When the Forum met immediately after the elections were released, it was obvious that the military and civilian leadership were not impressed with the case made by Buhari and hence they did not show up at that meeting to give it the stamp of authority that the Forum would have required. What looked like the rump of the Forum emerged? It consists of Obasanjo haters represented by Chief SB Awoniyi and General JT Useni still went ahead and issued a statement that looked like a leaf from Buhari campaign manifesto. This was disgraceful.
The statement of the rump of Arewa was in sharp contrast with the views of General Babangida and General Abubakar, the two Generals who were deeply involved in the transition to civilian rule from which Chief Obasanjo emerged in 1999.
The pro-Buhari statement in the name of Arewa did not go down well with the former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. One would recall that Alhaji Shagari had earlier in many words called Buhari a hypocrite from the way he was shouting “rigging, rigging” when he was busy doing the same thing in the far north.
The pro-Buhari stance of the rump of Arewa did not also go down well with the former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji MD Yusuf, a Katsina Prince and a leader of one of the political parties. He was also a presidential candidate that challenged both Obasanjo and Buhari. He was deeply offended with the position taken by the rump of Arewa. He had never from beginning expressed his disgust with what Buhari was doing in politics. He let it be known in many ways that he was not impressed with the credentials of Buhari and thought that the north would be wrong rallying round him.
“ANNULMENT OF 2003”BY THE RUMP OF AREWA BASELESS.
It is sad that the rump of Arewa unethically joined Buhari Campaign organization and some ANPP leaders from the north to reject the election and the winner of the election, Chief Obasanjo. This was an annulment of the April election. How could the rump of Arewa Consultative Forum reject an election and the winner of that election as if it were a military with power to issue an annulment statement?
When Chief Obasanjo ignored this regional/ethnic organization for what they are, a new set of northern leaders led by Etsu Nupe emerged. The delegation did not say it was under the auspices of the Arewa Consultative Forum, because that would be wrong as the dominant military wing would have disowned them. What is disturbing to Nigerians is whether the Etsu Nupe has now become a functionary of the ANPP? He and some Traditional Rulers in the north especially in the Muslim sector of the north were misinformed that the victory of Obasanjo would lead to the marginalization of the north.
BUHARI WAS MADE THE SUCCESSOR OF ABACHA BY ABACHA AIDES
One was not surprised that the appeal to the northern fear of a southern President was the cheap campaign that was associated with Alhaji Sule Hamma and Alhaji Wada Nas under General Abacha. Here they are in 2003 again managing the campaign of Buhari as the “successor to their former leader, General Sani Abacha”. They see Buhari’s succession to Abacha within the policy they developed for Abacha in 1997 that “a southern President would reverse the gains of the north since 1914”.
It should be noted that according to the policy developed for General Abacha and the northern leaders by the political team of Hamma and Nas, it would be an uphill task, if not impossible for a northerner to emerge through a free and fair election in 1997/8 as long as Chief MKO Abiola the winner of June 12 was alive and still laying claim to his mandate. This was why they came up with the “Abacha Self-Succession Plan” as the only way to guarantee that a northerner would be “elected” in the form they designed i.e. one person for five political parties. They sold this plan to the northern traditional rulers as the best defense of the interest of the north, so they argued then.
The Hamma/Nas plan that a northerner must be the President in order to guarantee that the northern interest is protected is part of the British Design for Nigeria since 1960. They saw Obasanjo regime as an interregnum that should be ended after one term. This was the basis of the emergence of Buhari and his campaign within the far north. If Nigerians would recall, it was Alhaji Wada Nas who first announced the political plan of General Buhari and sold him to the Abacha family as the able successor Abacha legacies. This was even when Buhari had not formally joined a political party. At that time, Alhaji Wada Nas was not even a card carrying member of APP that later became the ANPP. It was Alhaji Wada Nas who sold him to the ANPP Governors who in turn schemed to get him the nomination.
One would recall that before General Buhari announced his interest in the Presidency, he became the “unofficial leader of the opposition” to the Obasanjo regime in the north. One would recall how be criticized the demobilization in the armed forces and the Federal Government policy on Sharia. This is the role that he wants to play today as the presidential candidate of ANPP. By refusing to recognize the winner of the 2003 election, he believes that his defeat could be translated into a deal for the north with him as the leader of the opposition. President Obasanjo would have a lot of work to do here to overcome this perception of a southern President.
ETSU NUPE DELEGATION WAS NORTHERN WING OF ANPP.
In Etsu Nupe’s company to meet with President Obasanjo were two distinguished retired federal judicial officers, Justice Bello and Justice Nasir from Arewa Consultative Forum and also from Katsina as Buhari. The delegation included key members of ANPP and Buhari Campaign Organization. This is the way I see the delegation of northern leaders led by the Etsu Nupe who went to see the President on a face saving mission for Buhari as if Buhari’s grievances are of the north.
Should the northern political leaders be the same thing as the key functionaries of ANPP such as Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a functionary of Buhari Campaign Organization who had already made his views known about the election, the Deputy National Chairman of ANPP, General JT Useni who had already rejected the April election and the anti-Obasanjo person such as Chief Sunday Awoniyi who left the PDP because he could not tolerate Chief Obasanjo? What kind of meeting would this be?
IS BUHARI A CANDIDATE OF ANPP OR OF THE NORTH?
I have been talking about the negative role of regional, ethnic or religious organizations (Afenifere, Ohaneze and the Arewa Consultative Forum) to the prospect of democracy in Nigeria. Something would have to be done by the political class under the leadership of the President to free Nigerians from these organizations.
Look at what befell the energetic AD Governors such as Chief Segun Osoba and Chief Bisi Akande in the southwest!
Look at those who were misled to believe that there was something called Igbo Presidency Project (IPP) that could be pursued within the anti-Obasanjo campaign led by the Dim Ojukwu’s machine!.
Look at the way some northern Governors and politicians were made to believe that Buhari’s name would energize Muslims in the country to rally round him as the leader of the faithful!
The President would need to issue a statement calling on Nigerians to do the followings:
1. That Nigerians should join political parties of their choice and shun ethnic or religious organizations doubling as a political machine.
2. That Government at all levels should emphasize that only political parties that are provided for in the Constitution and the Electoral Act remain the basis of allocation of posts and services.
3. That since the Constitution and the Electoral Act make no provision for regional, ethnic and religious organizations, there should be an Act further making it unlawful for them to be associated with candidates during elections.
The recent election results in the north, southwest and southeast finally put an end to their efficacy. All candidates associated with the Afenifere and Ohaneze in the south were rejected by the voters in the southwest and southeast respectively. The Arewa Consultative Forum did not take an official position as the presidential election was concerned. It was obvious that some element in the leadership of the Forum did not like Obasanjo. This was obvious from the last minute plan by some of them to halt the series of elections. Why did it jump into issuing a statement rejecting the election and the winners? The actions of General Babangida and Alhaji Shehu Shagari ought to have made them to appreciate that they were dragging the Forum into the realm of partisan politics especially when there were many candidates from the north.
The defeat of Buhari should have been foreseen within the northern leadership from the way he ran his campaign in the country that he was not a match for Chief Obasanjo. It is unfortunate that some northern leaders saw the defeat of Buhari as the defeat of the north. From various positions taken by many northern leaders in the PDP, it should have been obvious that Buhari was not the representative of the north in the election. There was no need for the north to be afraid of Obasanjo’s regime that would emerge from the April election. The notions of “geographical spread” and “Federal Character” just make the President to be even handed and be a President of Nigerian and not an ethnic President.
WHITHER THE ANPP OFFICIAL LEADERS AND THE ANPP GOVERNORS
What Nigerians are asking especially after the visit of the Etsu Nupe to Obasanjo are the following questions:
1. Was Buhari a candidate of ANPP who just happened to have come from Daura?
2. Was he an Hausa/Fulani candidate who just wanted to use the ANPP platform to achieve a regional end?
3. Was the Etsu Nupe acting for the ANPP?
These questions would have to be confronted by the leaders of the party. How would the leadership of ANPP from the rest of the country feel? One should await the reaction to the northern take-over of the aftermath of Buhari’s defeat by the northern leaders. The leaders of the party are beginning to feel the damage to the party as a national party of the Etsu Nupe assumption of the role of defender of the political fortune of the ANPP Presidential candidate outside the party leadership.
Maybe that is the context in which the National Secretary of ANPP, Alhaji Sani El-Kanem issued a statement of clarification titled “No Deal with Obasanjo on April Polls” in Vanguard of April 12, 2003. The statement is not persuasive enough.
Contrary to the statement of the National Secretary, one should note certain facts, which are:
(a) That the ANPP is taken as a northern political party; and
(b) That the fate of Buhari is now in the hands of some northern leaders;
(c) That the so-called National Executive Committee of ANPP has no power over the political fortunes of the ANPP presidential candidate.
Those who are armed with the foregoing three facts quickly dismissed the reference of Alhaji El-Kanem to the ANPP NEC decision of May 6, 2003 as ludicrous in the face of the Etsu Nupe’s delegation to the President on behalf of Buhari, the ANPP candidate. Who is Alhaji El-Kanem deceiving? Was Alhaji El-Kanem not aware that the Etsu Nupe was out to negotiate a deal called “a political solution” to the Buhari’s legal hurdles from his outlandish claims and assertions about the elections?
One is forced to ask two questions:
(a) Whither the formal leaders of the party from the south?
(b) Whither the ANPP Governors?
Should they not distance themselves from Buhari call for a massive demonstration against the democratic order?
It should be noted that it was the ANPP Governors who brought Buhari to the party and pushed out the southern candidates to give him a free ride as the nominee of the party in January 2003. Are they in league with Buhari to overpower the democratically elected President of Nigeria because he did not win an election that he did not work for? Did they know of the political deal that Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi was working on that was later carried to the President by the Etsu Nupe?
WADA NAS AGAIN, A PROFESSIONAL BLACKMAILER
Wada Nas blackmail against the ANPP Governors is only reminiscent of his role under General Abacha. I am referring to his recent outburst in a press conference at Abuja reported in all the Nigerian media on May 12, 2003. In that press conference he accused the ANPP Governors of planning to expel Buhari for his intransigent stand about the election. Are these Governors not right? They brought him to the party; they gave him a platform to vent his grievances against Obasanjo. They financed his electioneering campaign that he mismanaged to the peril of the party. Now that he is rubbishing them after the election, they would be acting in the name of democracy, if they adopted the method of throwing him out the way they brought him in.
Alhaji Wada Nas should stop crying foul. Who is Wada Nas speaking for? Does he hold a position in the ANPP? Does he hold a position in the Arewa Consultative Forum? The day he became the spokesman of Buhari I knew that his campaign for a national platform outside the Abacha circle was doomed.
Nigerians would still recall the role of Wada Nas during the Abacha era. This was the same man in the company of Alhaji Sule Hamma, the Political Guru of Abacha who drove the Nigerian pro-democracy forces out of the country and underground in the past. What lesson are they jointly imparting to Buhari who too fought the idea of “a government of the people” “for the people” and “by the people” in the past? When did he become a born-again democrat? With a defeat in the election, his true self became manifest. Is that democracy?
One would like to hear from such ANPP leaders as Admiral Augustus Aikhomu and Chief Don Etiebet from the south-south, Dr. Ogbonanyan Onu from the southeast and Alhaji LK Jakande from the southwest. They should speak out. Their people in Edo, Akwa Ibom, Imo and Lagos respectively would want to know how they feel. Their people in the south would want to know how the defeat of the ANPP candidate became the issue in the political dialogue between the winner of the election (Obasanjo) and the northern leaders represented by the Etsu Nupe.
BUHARI’S DEFEAT IS NOT A DEFEAT OF THE NORTH
It is wrong for some northern political leaders of all descriptions to come to the aid of General Buhari, in his capacity as the presidential candidate of ANPP.
It is wrong of them to pressurize the President to do the impossible things such as performing unconstitutional act of sacking the INEC and reconstituting it.
It is wrong of them to pressurize the President to tamper with the heart of national security such as sacking the Military Chiefs and other security chiefs just to placate Buhari and some northern leaders.
It is wrong of them to pressurize the President to order new elections here and there outside what the Constitution or the Electoral Act says.
ETSU NUPE SHOULD HAVE CONSULTED DISTINGUISHED SONS OF NIGER
I was disappointed that the Etsu Nupe failed to consult the three distinguished sons of Nigeria close to Obasanjo. I am referring to Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar and Professor Jerry Gana. One is forced to ask certain questions.
(a) Did the Etsu Nupe know that his delegation was made up of the functionaries of ANPP?
(b) Did the Etsu Nupe know what he was doing, playing politics!
(c) Did he know that he was leading a party that has not formally accepted the results of the election?
(d) Did he know that the results had been accepted by the two former Heads of State from Niger, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar?
(e) Did the Etsu Nupe appreciate that the illustrious son of Bida, Professor Jerry Gana is the Minister of information under President Obasanjo had also accepted the result?
(f) How would these three distinguished sons of Niger State feel that their Etsu was leading a party that has not formally congratulated the winners of the elections including Chief Obasanjo to negotiate a future for Buhari?
(g) Did the Etsu Nupe know by his act, he would be deemed to be associating himself with a party that is threatening to disrupt the May 29 swearing-in ceremony in the federation?
PRESSURE FROM AREWA SHOULD BE ON BUHARI AND NOT ON OBASANJO.
In my view, the pressure of the so-called northern leaders should have been on General Buhari instead of on Chief Obasanjo. They should have advised him to follow any of the following actions.
1. That Buhari should be told to allow Allah to have His Way with him and with the outcome of the election. One would still recall that this was the advice that the Northern Emirs gave to Chief MKO Abiola after the annulment that if Allah wanted him to be the President no one would stop him.
2. That should Buhari persist in getting his grievances addressed, the northern leaders should have advised him to take his case to the tribunal. They should not have given him the impression that President Obasanjo could be pressurized to adopt a political solution to an issue that has a legal remedy under the Electoral Act.
3. That Buhari should be asked to follow the action that his party may advise him to take. Fortunately, his party ANPP has already issued a guideline asking aggrieved party men and women to take their case to the tribunal. Failure, which his party should ask him to shut up and give peace a chance and allow the party to commence reconstruction in preparation for 2007.
4. That Buhari should be warned against issuing provocative statements threatening fire and brimstone.
5. That Buhari should be warned not to rely on just the catalogue of irregularities from the international observers that were collected as hearsay and on one-day safari.
GET RID OF BUHARI AS BAD FOR THE FUTURE OF ANPP
It is obvious that Buhari is fighting his one and last election. Is ANPP like the presidential candidate out for the last election? Buhari in my view is finished with partisan politics. A formal military ruler that could not keep his government together and was accused by his colleagues of not being able a team player as a military ruler, would not be expected to be a team player in politics.
His colleagues discovered his traits early and got rid of him after about 16 months in office. Is it late for the owners of the party to get rid of him before he finally destroys that party? It is sad that Buhari wants the party that sponsored him for his anti-Obasanjo campaign to die because he lost an election. It is now time for the owners of the party to act and act quickly.
It is my honest view that this lone ranger who was like this as a distinguished general. Head of State would persist in his obstinate course. The party, ANPP would be the loser. The ANPP Governors should initiate the process that they took to bring Buhari to the party. They should immediately get rid of him and his fellow travelers like Wada Nas and Hamma. Buhari and his clique are ruining the political party.
The next essay will be an open letter to the political class on the need to rethink the role of former military Heads of State as members of the Council of State. I shall be writing as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Presidential System of Government that made room for the institution of Council of State. We did not have in mind someone like General Muhammadu Buhari . Please hold your fire until I come up with my arguments.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.