by Samuel Ogundipe
If there’s anything the ongoing quest of All Progressive Congress to become a major, and legitimate, political party have taught us, it is that the top echelons of the merger are not politically savvy. Incessant gaffes, paucity of policy descriptions, strategic faux pas in naming the party and a plethora of head scratching decisions have come to define that party.
Or to put it rather simply, the APC is filled with naïve politicians.
Despite all these, on Good Friday during a political gathering in Lagos, disguised as a birthday bash for one of their leaders, Bola Tinubu, we learned something new, and profoundly unsettling, about the party: it may turn out to be an even worse political party than the People’s Democratic Party.
And I don’t use that word lightly.
Yet I’m unsure of how else to rationalise the statements by Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, a sitting member of the puissant PDP Board of Trustees, at the birthday party.
Ibrahim-Imam, who was the gubernatorial flag bearer of the PDP in Borno State in 2003 and again in 2007, is disgruntled. And he’s not mincing words about his contempt for the party he still belongs.
The former Senate liaison officer to President Olusegun Obasanjo has been a traitor for a while, but his statements this Friday could take the price for the most treacherous remark yet.
In a story reported on The Scoop,
“At a dinner on Friday to mark the 61st birthday of the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Kashim Imam, released a bombshell when he announced in the hall that no less than 50 per cent of the current members of the ruling party will defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) once the party is registered.”
For the apolitical, Mr. Ibrahim-Imam was the man at the centre of a double-dealing scandal that rocked the Borno State Republican National Convention, while he was the state chairman, between 1992 and 1993. He was later removed from the post by the incumbent governor at the time, now Senator Maina Maaji Lawan.
In 1999, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a political neophyte that hardly made good cabinet choices, appointed him as the Senate liaison officer to his administration. Chief liaison to the Senate seems to be the highest position he’s ever held throughout his career, if you know a higher position he’s held, drop me an email. His political capital may be more influential than one may ordinarily assume, but it’s impugnable that someone who lost as gubernatorial candidate not once but twice can be relied upon to sway half of PDP loyalists to the opposition.
But I digress, The Scoop reports further:
“I am standing here talking as a PDP member, and this is coming from me. APC is set to shake this nation, and they will win the elections,” he said.
Imam paid glowing tributes to Tinubu at the event which held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, saying that no Nigerian politician knew his onion as well as the ACN leader.
“As a senator, he sacrificed himself for another person to be Senate President. He sacrificed everything to ensure Abiola was elected President. Regretfully, the election was annulled.
“In 2003, he called me and sent me to Abuja to tell President Olusegun Obasanjo to forget Lagos in his quest to capture the South West. I left that night and told Obasanjo that we should leave Lagos alone.
“He is an incredible fellow. He is faithful to all his friends to a fault.
“As we celebrate you, my Asiwaju, there is no politician like you. People in the Villa should start packing because APC is coming to take over. I am saying so with all sense of responsibility because 50 per cent of us in the PDP will move and shake this country.”
Coming from a man who’s betraying a party that accorded him the little relevance he’d been able to muster in his life, one can only deduce that Mr. Ibrahim-Imam is making a mincemeat of himself at a public gathering. But as hysterical as he sounded, we cannot entirely conclude that no one in the audience is taking him seriously, after all, the downfall of the PDP is the primary reason for the formation of APC; and if an internal rebellion will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so be it.
If the APC will welcome up to a 50 per cent influx of PDP member remains to be witnessed, but discerning Nigerians know that the consequences will be devastating for the country should such event materialise.
Albeit the APC is a merger of several political parties, with different manifestos and personal agendas, there’s one pertinent thing that made the merger a success: they all possess the trait of progressivism. And the PDP is hitherto antithetical to that ideology.
So how would 50 per cent of strong conservative members of a party that is arguably Africa’s largest political party cross carpet to another political party without fundamentally transforming such a party? If this happens, as it most likely would, then the APC is as good as the PDP and voters will not be lackadaisical at expressing strong scepticism towards them.
However, if the 50 per cent touted by Mr. Ibrahim-Imam join the party and no significant transformation is ostensible, then it will be the most miraculous lagniappe ever witness in Nigerian political history.
The remarks also sound so good that it can almost be misconstrued for entrapment. And it might well be one: if Ibrahim-Imam, an unapologetic betrayer, bring anything remotely close to 50 per cent of PDP members to APC, it will only be a matter of time before he betrays the new party in turn.
In retrospect, there has been several high profile political cross carpeting, but we’ll make an axiom of the late chairman of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu.
Adedibu’s political career spanned over 5 decades. From his days as a chieftain of National Party of Nigeria in the second republic, to his political godfatherism in the 4th republic under the People’s Democratic Party, Adedibu is widely revered for his ability to command significant number of followers. He moved them to any party he chose and they always follow his lead.
Adedibu was the architect of the Alao Akala and Rashidi Ladoja gubernatorial success in Oyo State. Not to mention several senators elected via his endorsement throughout the Southwest. We can’t say how many followers Ibrahim-Imam can command after his imminent cross carpeting into the APC, but we do know how many he’d manage to command in the past. And they’re not many.
Conventional wisdom never gets you very far when you’re trying to understand the politics of Ibrahim-Imam. His membership with APC will most likely be counter-productive, perhaps that’s why the PDP is honky dory with his remarks.