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OPINION

Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEF And Imminent Waterloo

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That men irrespective of background and status have short memories is a statement of fact, generation after generation.

That is why, time and time again, we are daily inundated with tales of people who refuse to learn from history, most times for pecuniary benefits.

Curiously, some of these elements have more than enough resources to take care of their ostentatious lifestyle and that of their unborn generation. In the case of Nigeria, the giant of Africa, the elite in particular take advantage of their status in the society to hoodwink the people, most of whom are illiterates and poor.

These elites most times use ethnic and religious baits to fool the people under the guise of fighting for the rights of such people, while some of them have turned themselves into professional agitators, administration after administration.

Though they most often operate under the umbrella of ethnic and religious organizations and pretend to be apolitical, the truth is that they are captains of politics of the stomach!

Whether under the military or civilian regime, their target is one and the same – to get those in authority to dispense patronage to them and their cronies, not minding the source.

That was why it was not surprising that retired Colonel Hamza Al-Mustapha, former chief security officer (CSO) to former head of state; Gen. Sani Abacha, accused some elites of receiving patronage from the Abacha regime in the name of June 12.

He specifically accused Afenifere leaders of benefiting from that regime, while pretending to be negotiating the release of the winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election Bashorun Mikio Abiola.

So strong was Afenifere during that era that the group was revered beyond the shores of the country, while its members were the leading lights of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which played a prominent role during the period.

It was this larger-than-life image of Afenifere/NADECO that made former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, who succeeded Abacha to reach out to the group as part of measures to move the country forward. That was then.

Years after, it is rather sad that some elements within the socio-cultural organisation in league with similar elements have abandoned the noble cause they once fought for, when one looks back today.

That is why one cannot dismiss the allegations levelled against these leaders, by the retired army colonel.

Even in 2015, Afenifere, PANDEF, Middle Belt Forum and Northern Elders Forum were in the lead when former President Goodluck Jonathan was desperately seeking re-election.

The plank of the endorsement was that they were out to support Jonathan because of his hurriedly-put-together national conference, which gulped a colossal part of our resources, at a time the economy was almost grinding to a halt.

But Nigerians saw through the script because they knew that idea was not Jonathan’s as he had pointedly told the world that holding the conference may lead to the balkanization of Nigeria.

It was during the same period that the media was awash with tales of how millions of Dollars meant for arms procurement were being used to buy endorsements across the country by the former President.

This was at a time even Jonathan could barely attend public functions as Boko Haram had virtually taken over Abuja, where it brought down the United Nations (UN) building and bombed the heart of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It was therefore unsurprising that in unison, Nigerians voted out former President Jonathan, paving way for President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence.

Four years down the line, a repeat of part of what we saw in 2015 is playing out before our very eyes, with yet another bizarre endorsement of former Vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. Few days ago, some factions of Afenifere, NEF, PANDEF, Ohaneze Ndibgo and MBF gathered in Abuja to endorse Atiku for President in the coming poll.

Looking at those who were at the event, one cannot but remember that these were the same elements who endorsed Johnathan in 2015.

The good thing however is that many of those who belong to these groups have been crying foul over the act as they were not contacted before the endorsement.

Even the Ohaneze Ndigbo is under fire from its Secretary-General and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State over Atiku’s endorsement.

Even when these groups were not in tatters and not as presently constituted, they got serious whipping from Buhari, who is undoubtedly the most accepted politician in our recent history.

The icing on the cake today is that the President has even become more popular among Nigerians with his myriad of achievements in critical sectors, including economy, security, fighting corruption and infrastructure.

Everywhere he goes, he never fails to flaunt his achievements in railways, upgrading of airports, agriculture, and empowerment of the poorest of the poor through Trader moni, market moni, N-Power etc.

For his opponents, their agenda, according to them is to sell our national assets, including the NNPC to their friends and grant amnesty to looters of our national treasury.

As the coming polls gradually approach, the choice of where Nigerians are headed is surely clear, as we cannot afford to go back to Egypt. This is because Buhari has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he has the credibility and political will to take Nigerians to where we deserve to be in the comity of nations.

Therefore a million endorsements by some traders masquerading as opinion leaders cannot overshadow the Nigerian spirit which is globally acclaimed as a major positive attribute which brings out the best in Nigerians, even in very critical moments would definitely be at play on February 16, 2019, when we all go out to elect our president.

Even without endorsements, President Buhari is surely on his way to another landslide victory, as our recent experience has shown that endorsements don’t win elections. If it does, former President Jonathan would have won in 2015.

– Umohinyang, a social commentator, wrote in from Lagos  .


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