On Tuesday, the political atmosphere was charged and our distinguished senators and honourable members treated us to another round of Nollywood drama. The worst kept secret in recent times, was exposed in a badly written script on Tuesday.
About 14 senators and 37 Reps members left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). For the last three years, the APC had been a classic case of how not to be a ruling party. The party, which was a merger of CPC, ACN, ANPP, APGA and nPDP was bursting at the seams and the parties later realised they had nothing in common.
The APC failed to manage its victory and just a simple case of deciding who become the senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, was bungled by the APC. Even President Muhammadu Buhari did not help matters as he was acting like an independent candidate who rode to power without a political platform. He created a vacuum and the party was hijacked by mercenaries. The politicians, who would have done the politicking for the president, were shoved aside. The president’s aloofness, coupled with the effete leadership of former chairman, John Oyegun, was a perfect recipe for disaster. Three years later, the party has started reaping the fruit of this.
I am still trying to get my head round the police laying seige at the residence of Senate President, Bukola Saraki. I still don’t know who are the advisers of the police or maybe it’s just a clear case of tomfoolery, the siege was ill-advised and it only succeeded in drawing sympathy and winning more allies to Saraki.
Trust Nigerians, Saraki has been given a lot of nicknames and meme on the social media, he has been called Jack Buaer, Lord of the Rings, Game of thrones and chess master. The Senate President has outsmarted the police and his political enemies and for now, he holds the four aces.
The police have come out to deny laying seige on Saraki’s house but we know Nigerian police is synonymous with lies, so they know nobody believes their story. It is abundantly clear that the Nigerian police have missed their calling…
Let me come back to the defection, in a way, it’s good that some people are leaving the APC. The party was controlling the National Assembly but this is probably the most hostile legislature since 1999. Most of the lawmakers opposed to goverment policies and actions are APC lawmakers. PDP lawmakers in the Senate were sleeping because their APC counterpart was doing the work of the opposition for them. President Buhari’s nominees were discarded by APC senators.
I was not surprised that Senators Dino Melaye and Isa Misau have defected. My surprise was why they had not defected earlier. The Kwara Senators and Reps members are tied to the apron strings of Saraki, so you will expect them to leave. They don’t have a mind of their own and even if Saraki moves to KOWA party, they would move enmasse with him. Some just have to move for their political survival. If you think they are moving for altruistic reasons, then you belong to the group of #yourmumuneverdo#.
What’s at stake in 2019 goes beyond control of the Senate, House and presidency, important as that is. Up for grabs as well is our basic understanding of how Nigerian politics works now. Mergers and coalitions are the easiest way to grab power in Nigeria now. The question is what happened in 2015, was it an aberration or the start of a new normal?
The next few months will be interesting indeed.
Direct Primaries: The Way To Go
The All Progressives Congress (APC) recently adopted the direct primary system for the Osun gubernatorial primaries. The direct primary is a system where all card carrying members of the party in the state get to vote for their preferred candidate in the primaries unlike in the delegates system where some few people get to choose the candidate.
Most delegates often look forward to primaries for both the gubernatorial and presidential elections. They leave the election with bulging pockets. There are unconfirmed reports that during the PDP presidential primaries, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his challenger, Atiku Abubakar, were giving between $3000 and $7000 to delegates. I remember during the PDP presidential primaries, most of the hotels were booked in Abuja, same for the APC primaries in Lagos.
Some politicians book hotels for the delegates and in some cases, all their phones were seized and the delegates would be taken in a single bus from their hotels straight to the convention venue to avoid them being hijacked or offered better deals by other aspirants. The same scenario replicates itself in state’s gubernatorial primaries.
All political parties should adopt the direct primary system. It is more democratic and will effectively reduce the cost of governance. With the delegate system, only moneybags win elections. People with ideas and vision are muscled out.
I heard some governors are not happy with the decision of the APC to start using the direct primary system for all its primaries. The direct primary system will effectively take power from their hands and governors will no longer impose their candidates on the party. I commend the APC for this initiative and it should be sustained for all their primaries going forward.