The Chickens Are Back To Roost

Ben-Lawrence

Ben-Lawrence

 This is a season of carpet crossing because the name of the game of politics in Nigeria now is gold digging. It appears nobody believes in anything in Nigeria today aside in mammon. The mallam from Kano switched over to the ruling party a few months ago and was rewarded with a ministerial job. The godfather of Boko Haram followed and certainly some juicy appointment may have been laid down for him. The APGA/PDP governor is the latest in this carpet-crossing season. It does not surprise those of us who saw the politics of independence struggle and the early military regimes because we found that the introduction of the new-breed doctrine changed the political tone in Nigeria. APGA’s Peter Obi was assured of a cabinet position before he ended his tenure. Whereas independence struggle and the challenge to “militocracy” sharpened opposition to dictatorship, the new-breed ideology that came with the aborted dream to return to civil rule in 1993 practically addressed no evident political, economic or social issues. The founders of the PDP wanted to rekindle the spirit of loyalty to ideals, but they lost out to the agents of the nebulous Washington circle. Olusegun Obasanjo destroyed ideals. Abubakar Shekarau, Ali Modu Sharif and Peter Obi did not share differing aims and objects when they ruled as governors. It was the same song of privatisation, search for investors even while existing industries were collapsing and non-commitment to the people’s welfare.

And so poverty, unemployment and their attendant social consequences enveloped the Nigerian political and economic landscape. How many of the states in Nigeria can boast of any addition to the structures and industries left by the military in 1999? They could be counted on the fingertips. Kano has battled in the last four years to return to its glorious past. Kano used to have a working population of four million which dropped to 500,000 between 1999 and 2007. All the thriving industries in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Nnewi, Benin became shells, their premises converted to Pentecostal churches. Only a few are now receiving the kiss of life. So it is no surprise that politicians now change parties as frequently as Marilyn Monroe changed her corsets. But there are still sticklers to the old ways of politics based on ideals. This was what forced me to call veteran journalist and political scion of the old centre left, Olusegun Osoba, on telephone to know his stand on the rumours about a bid to change his political colours.

Blackmailers will be surprised to know that Osoba will disappoint them because it is too late in the day to wear a cap different from what he has donned since the 1960s.

Osoba was an Action Group sympathiser before military rule; a Unity Party of Nigeria supporter in the Second Republic and a Social Democratic Party, SDP, governor in the Third Republic. When readers of those flying sheets that go by the name of newspaper pestered me with stories about his crossing to the PDP, I was initially amused but when it gained some intensity, I decided to hear from the horse’s mouth.

Osoba said he did not tell anybody that he was dumping the party he helped to father for no dream. Really, those who have watched the political terrain must have seen how he criss-crossed the country making friends with governors of the ruling party to open their eyes to the apparent dangers of an inept and non-performing centre. He does not have the pot of gold like Bola Tinubu, for example, but he has been the major matchmaker in cobbling what is now a powerful opposition in Nigeria. Most of the politicians in Nigeria do not see Osoba as a tribal jingoist. So they feel free to deal with him. The nature of his profession aided his facility to make friends being a scorer of scoops as a reporter. From Maltama Sule to Alex Ekwueme through Aminu Kano to Nnamdi Azikiwe and Shehu Shagari, Osoba was at home in socialising without annoying Obafemi Awolowo, the leader of the political party he supported. In the journalism of means we practised of old, we were thought to speculate based on facts. But facts must be based on the truth. Do people jump from one party to the other because of mere personality clashes or over disagreement on ideals? There must be differences in human dealings and the ability to reach cordiality towards a common goal is the essence of group formation. When the late Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, picked Nuhu Ribadu as presidential candidate it became a laughing stock in the South-west. Here was the hatchet man of Obasanjo being anointed a crown prince because one man he helped to cover the tracks of licking the pot dry has a long purse to repay his aiding him to escape justice. Ribadu stayed longer than expected in opposition because he has always been a Goodluck Jonathan’s man. Why didn’t people ask questions about why his dismissal from the Nigeria Police Force was changed to retirement and the triple ranks he gained without going through the Police Service Commission, reinstated? That was executive pressure. And the APC still has Nasir el-Rufai. Femi Fani-Kayode has crossed to his real home. Oby Ezekwesili is pretending to be relevant in opposition. Methinks all these characters should join Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to help finally sink Nigeria.

Nigeria needs a healthy opposition force. People are known by the friends they keep. It is too early to forget Pentascope and the calamity it brought to NITEL, courtesy of el-Rufai.

But whoever wants to beat Jonathan in the next race must realise that he has gained more allies. The State Security Service spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, has made no secret about that organ now being an addition to INEC as an extension of the PDP outfit. Hear her vituperations about Osun election. She openly played the part of an interested party. Must she be seen or heard? Nigeria is the only place that the Secret Service has a spokesman. It was not like that in the past. It is not like that in Britain, France, the United States, Germany and Russia. They only speak through their political bosses to parliament if summoned to do so. Nigeria now oddly advertises its intelligence operation. Whereas those great men of the intelligence service were never seen or heard while in service, the new ones print complimentary cards. Nigeria we hail thee: The chickens are really returning home to roost.

For God’s sake what is the business of SSS with election? The M15 or M16, CIA, or FBI, or KGB commenting on elections? Ogar is cheapening the SSS. What use of a mole whose cover has been blown?

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