Between Defection and Governance

By Azibola Omekwe

.Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar



The other day Dele Agekameh continued the hype of Atiku’s defection from the APC to the PDP. It is clear it has generated a spirit that has possessed Nigeria in recent times. The hullabaloo is buzzing, akin to Nigeria having successfully won the World Cup, or the Nigerian economy having overtaken that of the USA and China.

More to that, it is being believed to be a criminal thing since words like “political prostitution” were used to describe this lawful and basic right of a public figure who has been a champion in the public service, business and politics. In a country where it is believed that most public office holders have skeletons in their cupboard, Atiku has thrown a challenge to the whole world for anyone who has evidence of any thievery by him to come forward with it.

The truth is that there are enemies of Nigerians who do not want him to be president come 2019. And they believe that the surest way to stop him is to tar him with corruption. But none has come forward to the challenge. This is the most delicate open declaration by someone who has been in a Nigerian cash agency like the Customs Service and has been a Vice President for eight years. The person he is likely to contest against, in an apparent challenge to Atiku, dared him to go to the United States as if that country is more concerned about corruption in Nigeria than he who claimed he was going to arrest corrupt people and jail them. But as at now, this purported austere president of ours who has led us in evidence against Atiku’s defection is being linked to one of the best built residential estates in Nigeria. Surprisingly, the press missed that. If I may ask, how can Atiku’s defection raise dust more than an exuberant First Family?

The most shocking of all is how the media has decided to oblige the present APC-led regime by being diverted to talk about Atiku defection. Why do we have to cast aspersion on what is lawful? We urge the media to rather look at Atiku’s character of sacrifice for democracy. What about his journey from grass to grace? Can the youth learn and hope in such a model? What is his position on restructuring and devolution of power? Why is he not intimidated by such a new national phase? We believe those are the things that should engage us. Why criminalise a lawful act?

Truth be told, this provides us with a choice come 2019. Should we undermine the opportunity of choice to talk about a lawful action which most politicians including the president are guilty of? If we enact a law that all Nigerian politicians who ever defected be banned from politics, we might require a microscope to sift through those who never did.

Since the advent of democracy, the Nigeria media has shown itself to be the best guardian of Democracy. They had severally mobilized Nigerians to oppose obnoxious government actions. A classic example was the role they played on the occasion of bedridden late Yar’Adua. A major newspaper based in the north in collaboration with Obasanjo told Yar’Adua to give way for the necessary things to be done. Obasanjo said exactly what Nigerians wanted. That was the deadly blow that quashed the stalemate. Barrage of opinions ensued. And then death came calling and Nigeria moved forward. The rest is history.

In virtually every sector in the country, the Nigeria media has performed creditably. On Goodluck Jonathan, they preferred a Buhari replacement thereby throwing decorum overboard. Admittedly, while many worked behind the scenes for Buhari, a handful were objective, which automatically did not work in favour of Goodluck Jonathan. The ones who wanted GEJ out went on unsolicited whistle-blowing of everything he touched. It was a hysterical blitzkrieg. Some papers did what they did under the guise of for ‘God and Country’, and for ‘trust’ while a handful of them desperately wanted Jonathan. Buhari won.

High Chief Raymond Dokpesi spoke about the written and unwritten reasons GEJ lost that election. They are obvious. Perhaps for national expediency and the tragedy that has continually haunted Nigeria, nobody would be bold enough to come out to put it in black and white. In fact, it was better we let it be and face the restructuring we want.

Coincidentally when Buhari came to power, executives of some popular media houses got appointed to ‘juicy’ positions. They are Nigerians. It is their right. They had been very critical of governance throughout the days of PDP. But we are lucky those that criticised the government came to power. Nigerians have never seen worse poverty like today. Bomb blasts have considerably been reduced with a great takeover by cattle herdsmen. There is increased insecurity on our roads. Nigerians are generally afraid to travel. Surprisingly, the media has gone to sleep on a general note. They are silent over practically everything that has gone wrong: joblessness, runaway unemployment, inflation and insecurity. They probably have decided to ‘siddon and look’ before they react.

But how come they are now agitated about Atiku’s defection when no doom statistics roused them? When foreign debt has attained a frightening position? Are they sold by the ‘righteousness’ of Buhari? How does righteous and austere living substitute for good governance? How can we trust austere character more than Nigeria’s future? Is it true that soon there will be an increase in pump price of petrol?

Lest we forget, a section of the media, political parties and civil society had insisted there must not be increase in price of petrol during Goodluck Jonathan’s regime. But this administration doubled the price of petrol and wants to do so again. However, because ‘our mumu never do’, we saw nothing wrong with it. There is no need for a strike again because some people have crossed the bridge and are no longer sorrowful. They are however on guard against anyone who defects and leaves their party for another to challenge them. They are sure of our gullibility to remind us of how staying in one party is morally right.

But then they would have us forget that the political party they started with has gone into extinction. The government of the day has performed so creditably that some columnists have decided to partner with it to make sure Nigerians remain in the government party – apologies to Dele Agekameh. In fact, those who provided a platform to tell late Yar’Adua to resign are now commissioning already-made railway and dry port with no tangible start-up facilities in the face of poverty. That Nigeria would soon produce the highest population of the poor in 2018; what percentage would the north take under Buhari? All eyes on Atiku’s defection rather, says the media.

Recently, Rotimi Amaechi accused Goodluck Jonathan of squandering the Excess Crude Account. Everybody was stupefied for this crass falsehood. In fact, the fight to squander the ECA as propounded by Amaechi was his journey to stardom then in opposition circles. We have not forgotten how Amaechi and his co-travellers rushed to court and defeated the government to bring the ECA for sharing. The future did not matter at all. But few weeks ago, he had the temerity to tell Nigerians that he fought to protect the ECA. Sadly, Atiku’s defecting noise completely dwarfs that part.

The government machinery redirected our attention to a mere moral bias that is even lawful instead of reprimanding Amaechi for peddling falsehood. The media did not find it fit to rebuke the government for Rotimi Amaechi’s action. Our children, future leaders, have been taught one lesson: if you are feeding fat, nothing matters again. This terrible silence by a section of the media has sown a seed and raised falsehood to statecraft. But can it be admitted that this government has degenerated to this extent? We were told he is a man of integrity. In short, he is on the verge of rewarding Amaechi with re-appointment as a campaign DG. Telling lies apparently is going to be the thrust of this government.

But let it be clear, this government is not really against defecting even if it happens a million times. What made Atiku’s decfectiong distasteful is that he defected from APC to a party that would unseat them. Just steal all the money you can, you could even be the most sought after guy in the EFCC. But all you need is to defect to APC then walk majestically; the chief host of the party would be at the gate welcoming you with a lot of hype and razzmatazz. Then the EFCC will eventually understand. Then the money you stole will have gone forever. Even the media does not see such commando defecting as anything. Truth is, they have crossed the bridge and feel no more sorry.

Nigerians, remember nobody knew who reinstated Abdulrasheed Maina. By the utterances of his lawyer, it shows the man is in the good books of the government and the last has not been heard about him. The latest frivolous application of the Attorney General of the Federation before the Federal High Court shows the silhouette position of the government in Maina’s case. Nigerians have moved on despite Buhari’s henchmen knowing and protecting him.

The Nigeria media and civil society that kept vigil in Abacha’s regime have been kowtowed. Emboldened by Nigerians pliability, the in-thing in town is that the dead and zombies are now on our pay roll! That is upping the stakes. Since some are preoccupied with Atiku’s defection, ghost workers now hold sway. And if you complain too much, they will tell you it was a mistake.

Atiku has defected from the APC to the PDP. We know. But how does that surpass the inaccurate lies that have characterised the fuel crisis since December last year? For the sake of hapless Nigerians, Atiku needed to defect. Some are defecting to save their loot while he defected for good governance that he is obsessed with. He can defect for the sake of the Nigerian state. Remember, even a section of the media and the civil society have defected from vigilance.

 Hon. Omekwe is a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.