By Shaka Momodu
It is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has successfully installed its preferred members at the helm of the National Assembly. The victory dance and partying is still on. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for my beloved country. Nigeria has become a carnival feast for the APC. Who knows when the sun will rise again and break this incantation of darkness that has gripped this land?
There is a general consensus amongst Nigerians that the ruling APC does whatever it wants and does not give a damn about morality, the rule of law, values or tradition. When discussing with people, evaluating developments and situations, they readily tell you, “Ha ha!! APC is not the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) oo!!” “They don’t respect rules at all.” “They do whatever they like unafraid of the consequences unlike the PDP that showed some restraint in the face of opposition from the public.” “It’s either their way or no way!” And to achieve their way, the party is prepared to bring down any institution of state.
Those reactions didn’t just fall from the sky. It is the character portrait defined by the behaviours of party members which have largely shaped the perception of the APC in the last four years. While it campaigned to restore order and morality to governance, it repeatedly posed the greatest danger to such values and ethos that hold society together. The APC blurs the line between good old precious values, as we knew them, and bad behaviour and outright criminality. Previously forbidden behaviour is now the entrenched gold standard to advance one’s political career under the APC. Some of us who thought the PDP was bad are sighing wearily in regret and consternation at the monster that Nigerians have elected (someone said they selected themselves) to replace it.
For some who thought change had come to Nigeria, it’s a rude awakening to the reality we are dealing with. Many were even still languishing in deep denial as the party of change wasted no time to break PDP’s worst records in every area and showed its true colours the moment it tasted power. Come to think of it, what did you expect when a man of doubtful integrity joined forces with his companion in Lagos who has become a parasite on the state he once governed and still “governs” – a controversial and stupendously wealthy politician whose sources of wealth and influence will scandalize an island of vermin, and whose sense of right and wrong is governed by profiteering?
When the full extent of his looting of the state is audited and laid bare, it will arguably trigger an avalanche of mega protests. There will be calls for swift and decisive justice from the people. All those who aided and abetted him will not be spared. A man who should have lost any legitimacy long ago has now found himself more powerful and influential than ever. Every time he opens his mouth on national issues, he offends the moral values of the country and our sensibilities.
Now, they have successfully installed men with criminal tendencies in leadership positions of the people’s parliament.
As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila is now number four in the political hierarchy in the country. APC chose him despite his not-too-sterling past while in the US. His alleged debarment by the Georgia Supreme Court, after allegedly pleading guilty to charges of professional misconduct, was said to have earned him a 36-month practice suspension. His conduct was repugnant to the American sense of morality, values and code of behaviour. While Gbajabiamila may have been “extremely remorseful for the consequences of his conduct” before the disciplinary authorities that tried him in the US, the party of change that fielded him back home as a lawmaker and promoted him to the position of Speaker had no scruples about the message and implications of having such a flawed character as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Here again lie the inherent contradictions between the stellar qualities that drive society’s moral code and the vices that constantly strive to shortchange those values.
I am just as crestfallen by the emergence of Senator Omo Agege as the Deputy Senate President. It’s a pity that many of our people stand for nothing. The APC has come to symbolise all that is wrong with Nigeria and Nigerians. Let me refresh your memory. On April 17, 2018, Omo Agege led thugs in a commando-style operation into the hallowed chambers to steal the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate to protest his six-month suspension from the Senate. It appeared to be a carefully planned attack with security agents unfortunately looking the other way. His thugs stole the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. We were later told it was found under a bridge in Abuja. Case closed.
No charges were ever brought against him for the obvious crimes he committed simply because he prides himself on his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari and as you know, the system is subservient to anyone who claims to be a Buhari supporter. Instead, he was astonishingly rewarded with the number two position in the Senate by the APC leadership. How can we ever explain this to our children?
Orji Uzor Kalu is now a senator. Oh My God! Who did Nigeria offend? Kalu has been on trial for corruption and money laundering charges for over 12 years. He and his lawyers have been using every tactic in the book to frustrate the conclusion of the case. Kalu is mocking the country and its legal system. He is having a good laugh at our expense. And he is succeeding in gaming the system. I am astonished that the judge handling his case gave him the latitude for the shenanigans he is rubbing in our faces. He is either asking for an adjournment to enable him travel to Germany for surgery or to attend to a pressing matter. Few days after he will travel to Buhari’s town of Daura in Katsina to receive a chieftaincy title and shower accolades on the president.
After each worthless title he receives, he assaults our sensibilities by splashing photos of the event in the newspapers. He has stalled his trial by making excuses after excuses not to be in court. What kind of judge tolerates and allows such contempt for his court? He has been strutting around trying to get the attention of the president. He even had the audacity to say the South-east should not expect anything from Buhari since they did not vote for him. Only in Nigeria can this happen. This is the man the party of change gave its platform to become a lawmaker to make laws for people like you and I who have stayed on the straight and narrow path.
The mind-boggling revelations of fleecing and reckless looting of taxpayers’ money coming out of Zamfara, Bauchi and Imo States, hitherto presided over by governors of the “party of change”, leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth. Former Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State was alleged to have spent a whopping N251 billion on fictitious contracts. This was a governor who was always in Abuja. His state is the poorest in the country and has the least national common entrance enrollment. Yari brought no development or progress to his people, instead he pauperised them and left the state worse than he met it. He was one of the star governors of the APC until he fell out of favour with the national leadership of the party. Yari has not been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies and charged to court to account for his stewardship.
Former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, who spent more money on the building of worthless statues than on provision of social infrastructure, will remain a blight on Imo State for a long time to come. His emergence as governor is similar to the whirlwind expectations and hope that heralded Buhari to power – where the people thought in him they had found a saviour. Unfortunately, as in Buhari’s case, he was a disaster. A wicked and callous man. He was said to have looted N50 billion worth of property belonging to the state. Until there is a full audit of his tenure, we may not know how much he took and the extent of the damage he wreaked on the state. He has NOT been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies. Instead, he is walking free as a senator.
What do you have to say about Bauchi State where the former governor Mohammed Abubakar was said to have spent N2.3 billion in five months on burials? This is one of such moments that leave you breathless and dumbfounded by a combination of man’s ingenuity and ruthlessness in stealing public funds. The full extent of his management of Bauchi State is yet to be ascertained.
He too has not been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies.
Former Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola ran his state aground during his 8-year tenure. He left over 30 months’ salary and pension arrears unpaid. He has NOT been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies to account for his stewardship. Instead, he has relocated to Lagos, interfering in the new administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu. Aregbesola, a certified failure in governance is said to be eyeing ministerial position after mismanaging his state for eight good years. Should he get it, it will be the greatest tragedy ever committed in human resource recruitment.
When you compare all these with the speed with which the EFCC moved against the former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, then you begin to appreciate the ‘One Nation Two Moralities’ principle of this APC government. The party sure knows how to protect its own.
The discontinuation of the trial of former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje through nolle prosequi has not only exposed the insincerity of the anti-corruption sing-song of this government, it has consolidated the fraud and grand deception being perpetrated against the Nigerian people. This sudden disinterest in prosecuting Goje came after he was prevailed upon to step down for Ahmed Lawan in the race for the Senate Presidency. It was rumoured then that the trade-off would be the discontinuation of his corruption and money laundering trial. Few believed it then. But as everything about this government that usually starts as a rumour, it has come to pass.
Instructively, the very same week the government’s anti-graft body, the EFCC was lavishly celebrating the court-ordered forfeiture of jewelry, watches, trinkets, etc. belonging to the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke, the federal government entered the nolle prosequi on the Goje’s corruption case. Buhari’s vocal supporters have no problem with such brazen abuse of power and double standard. They have suspended their reasoning ability in matters concerning the president’s shenanigans. Buhari’s government sure knows how to throw those it considers its enemies under the bridge.
Who will save Nigeria from these people?
The party of change and its promoters had shouted from the rooftops claiming superior moral calling in the past. It is vexatious and highly provocative to say the least that they simply spewed pious platitudes about trying to rebuild and reorder our country; even proposing pathways to moral and fiscal rectitude. But what we have seen so far is a party populated by vandals with a destructive heritage and thieving culture. It is an irony of immense proportions that it now poses the greatest danger to Nigeria’s corporate existence.
We are trauma-fatigued by the volume of despairing and seemingly endless stream of bad news we are now daily force-fed by this APC-led government. I can bet my bottom kobo, there will be no respite any time soon. Provocative proposals we had once thought were inconceivable, are proposed daily by this clueless and incompetent government. It is hard to be an optimist in the face of all this.
The president came to power with an ethnic agenda. His character portrait very well forewarned us about the danger he poses to Nigeria’s corporate existence. Some of us warned relentlessly about the dire consequences of electing Buhari but were called names. Those who were more experienced, and far more familiar with the actualities of Buhari’s historical fumbles with the Nigerian state – intellectuals, businessmen, journalists joined the bandwagon of anarchists, feudalists, primitive wealth accumulators, etc. to railroad one of the least qualified persons to the most important position in the country. Since his ascendancy, the country has moved from the promise of hope to the agony of nightmare. Who will save this land from bloodbath flowing everywhere?
It should be recalled that Buhari’s first consideration immediately he was sworn in as president in 2015 was a grazing bill. That action fitted perfectly with the rumoured agenda of the president. When it was shot down, the herdsmen unleashed unprecedented violence on communities across the country, particularly in the North-central zone as the government looked on with perplexing indifference. Then came the idea of cattle colony, it failed also. Sensing that their patron saint was on the ropes, there was a sudden lull in the herdsmen’s reign of terror and the proposal for the cattle colony was put in abeyance as the presidential election approached. Having secured another term of four years through a very flawed election stolen for him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari in rapid succession reportedly proposed a N100 billion payout to Miyetti Allah to stop the kidnappings and killings and approved a repackaged older product (colony) as Ruga. Buhari knows what he is doing. Those who think they have heard the last of Ruga had better remain vigilant. Buhari is not going to give up until he uses the power of his office to give advantage to his ethnic stock. And for those who sold him to Nigerians as the best thing to happen to this country, I hope they will be courageous enough to take responsibility for the tragedy the country has become.
Who will save Nigeria?
The answer is blowing in the wind.