By Tunji Adegboyega
Iwo la ri bawi,
Iwo la ri bawi,
Iwo to f’aya won too fe’y a won,
Iwo la ri bawi! (it is you we blame, you that married their wife and not their mother; it’s you we blame).
In a sense, it is President Muhammadu Buhari that one blames for the resurrection of the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after wobbling and fumbling for more than two and a half years since the 2015 General Elections. The erstwhile ruling party had been enmeshed in one crisis or the other since losing power to the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) government headed by President Buhari in that historic election. Although PDP, once referred to by Reuben Abati, one of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokespersons as “Papa Deceive Pikin”, has managed to conduct its convention where Uche Secondus got the big job of the party’s chairman, it is not clear whether that signals the end of the animosities that have dogged the party since its defeat at the polls.
Without doubt, the country needs a vibrant opposition party to put the Buhari government on its toes. This is a sine qua non in a democratic dispensation. The lack of a vibrant opposition has not been in the country’s interest, even as it has not been in the incumbent government’s interest. It probably explains why it would take ages for the president to kick out someone like Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) despite the huge whiff of scandals surrounding him. Nigerians had thought the government was slow in firing him because of the ailment that took the president abroad for medical attention. But when the president returned and still retained him about three months after, Nigerians began to insinuate. Anyone would, especially so that the president had saddled his deputy with the task of investigating the former SGF as far back as April. Still, mum was the word from the president after returning from abroad until public outcry forced him to fire Babachir in November. I am deliberately silent on Ambassador Ayo Oke, the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency that was investigated alongside Lawal because he was just seen as an attachment; Lawal was the reason why many Nigerians felt the president dilly-dallied on Oke’s case too.
Again, President Buhari had promised to shake up his cabinet, with a view to reinvigorating governance. We had thought money was the reason why the government has not done this, but the president said this was not the case: “On the other hand, I am keenly aware that our supporters are very eager for these appointments to be announced. By the Grace of God, these appointments will be announced soon, especially now that the economy is improving, we will have the resources to cater for the appointees,” President BUhari said. More than six weeks after, we are still expecting that long overdue cabinet reshuffle.
Even with regard to the constitution of the boards of some Federal Government parastatals, this is yet to happen more than two years after the government assumed office. President Buhari gave indication of this ‘go-slow’ approach to governance early in the day when for about six months after taking over, he could not form his cabinet.
Then the issue of the criminally-minded herdsmen who are bestriding the nation as if it is their fiefdom. Not a few Nigerians feel they are being treated with kid gloves because they are of the same Fulani stock with the president.
One needs to highlight these issues for the president and the government to know why some people now have the audacity to say they want to bring back the PDP from the dead. While it is true that these people are able to come together again because they have no shame, it is good to let the government too know that some of its actions have tended to give those now trying to revive the moribund ruling party the opportunity. Indeed, in a decent country, no one would want to identify with a party like PDP because of the grievous harm its members had caused this country in the 16 years they were in power. But here we are again; some of the party’s leading lights are even complaining that its chairmanship went to the highest bidder at the just concluded convention. Yet, these were the same people that more or less legitimised money-politics in the country. Now that they were beaten to their own game because their time is past, they are complaining.
Then there is also the anti-corruption war which has not succeeded in jailing a significant number of our high profile thieves here at home despite the fact that we have a surfeit of them, whereas their colleagues who were unlucky to be tried abroad picked up jail terms as if they were picking cowries in the ocean. This weak or corrupt (or both) nature of our judiciary is what Diezani Alison-Madueke, President Jonathan’s petroleum minister wanted to exploit by asking that she be brought back home from the United Kingdom to be tried for the alleged crimes she committed against her Fatherland here in Nigeria, instead of answering corruption charges in the UK. She knows that here, she will escape justice and all she needs to do is to hire a retinue of Senior Advocates of Nigeria who would look for all manner of subterfuge to ensure her trial lasts forever. So, chances of paying for her crimes may never arise.
She is not alone.
– This piece was written by Tunji Adegboyega/The Nation