SUNDAY NARRATIVE: Let APC Not Multiply PDP’s Impunity
I have a fervent prayer to render and I hope some people out there will join me. I’m saying; Oh Lord, let the sins of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not be multiplied by the All Progressives Congress (APC). Oh Lord, let the APC not fall into temptation, to misbehave and dwarf all the wickedness the PDP had amassed in the name of ruling party. It is very difficult to have the knife and yam, and not misbehave. Very difficult; almost impossible to control the National Assembly, Judiciary, INEC, EFCC, The Police, DSS, Military, and not become drunk and mad with power. Oh, Lord, grant the APC the humility not to become arrogant and imprisoned by power. Let APC be magnanimous in victory, may they not pay PDP evil for evil. Amen.
I was alarmed, when former spokesman of the APC, now minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, responded to the PDP’s painful yell in Taraba on November 7, after it was bludgeoned at the governorship tribunal. Mohammed said PDP was paying the price of Impunity.
In a sense, it is true, that the PDP had to pay a price for misruling itself as a party. The PDP started off on a modest note, along with the other two parties — Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Peoples Party (APP) in 1998/99. Even though PDP had some slight advantage on account of a veiled preference for it by the outgoing military government, the party was not initially greedy not to recognise the boundaries of commonsense. It was on that note that the playing field was left relatively level for the three parties. At the end of the first general election in 1999, there was something for each party, relative to what was brought on the table. Comfortably, the PDP had the majority of states, and in the National Assembly, while both AD and APP were comfortably represented in their areas of strength. No party over-reached itself.
But by 2003, PDP had tasted power and became drunk. It went into the territories of others, stole elections and enticed fickle-minded members of other parties to dubiously swell its ranks. By 2007, PDP had become uncontrollable and nearly wiped out the opposition. It also became so arrogant not to abide by its own laws and internal governance instruments. In 2011, PDP managed to repeat its unbelievable winning feats. If the party had been careful to balance its electoral conquests of 16 years with undeniable deliverables, it probably would have awed the polity and forcefully extracted a vote of confidence. But that was not to be. The party offended voters and offended itself. It became ungovernable and had enemies within and outside. Year 2015 was time of reckoning and the PDP was disgraced.
If you thought the PDP story is sufficient lesson for other parties, particularly for the APC that purports to be a change agent, there is no evidence of that yet. Just five months into the administration, some of us, lovers of democracy are apprehensive, that if care is not taken, the APC will soon surpass PDP’s 16 years of imperialism. It is written all over their body language, expressed in the actions of their Department of State Security; in the manner they have hounded former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki. The man is on trial, meaning that he remains innocent until he is proven guilty. Ordinarily, he still has his freedom to live normally and travel wherever. But the man is pursued everywhere by the DSS. A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that he be allowed to travel. As at yesterday, reports said he was still hounded.
The APC has shown in the Dasuki instance that if unchecked, it has the tendency to be lawless and autocratic. What the APC needs at this stage is to switch on its internal systems of checks and balances and not to surrender to the rule of one man. But if the party decides to be greedy without restraint, and bare all the fangs of presidential powers, very soon, some Nigerians might begin to queue up at some embassies for their safety. If the APC does not refrain from the desire to outdo the PDP in gross acts of impunity, very soon, some Nigerians would be unable to approach our international airports, because the DSS would be there, waiting with a list of enemies.
Or how else can we explain the storming of Akwa Ibom Government House in September, by the DSS, act that replayed frightening memories of power show experienced in those dark years of military rule. After they carried out that uncivil invasion of the Akwa Ibom democratic space, they were uncouth enough not to tell taxpayers their findings. Instead, their silence spewed indigestible tales of seizure of large cache of arms and bales of dollars.
The same DSS brutally invaded the fragile peace of a camp for Internally displaced Persons (IDP), in Uhogua, Ovia Northeast Local Council of Edo State, on August 13, in an attempt to forcefully relocate hundreds of children to places in the North, without following due process. It was the plaintive cries of the children that melted the hearts of the operatives. That was the worst advertisement for the APC, and eye opener into its capacity to be sadistic. In sane climes, there would be punishments, but till date, not a word of apology from the party’s image launderers.
Another area of great worry for some us is how fast and far APC would push itself to surpass PDP’s electoral conquests. And this is where the Taraba judgment and others come in.
By last Monday, November 9, 30 people had been reported killed in Wukari Local Council of Taraba State, provoked by the previous Saturday’s ruling of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja that sacked Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared Aisha Alhassan of the APC as winner of the April 11, 2015 poll. The exact casualty figures cannot be determined now, because the embattled governor has promised to appeal the judgment. So for now, hostilities are suspended, pending when the final outcome is reached, perhaps at the Supreme Court.
Taraba is one of the hotbeds of fierce tribal wars in the North-central, even at normal times. My impression of the state and people is that they are very warlike and do not take nonsense. All those who want Nigeria to have internal peace, apart from the trouble in the Northeast, should not disturb trouble when it is sleeping. PDP did all of that and now it is humbled. According to the judgment, PDP was foolish enough not to conduct governorship primaries in Taraba State. Yet, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that did not witness any primary accepted Darius Ishaku as the PDP governorship candidate. After the elections, the man was announced winner and was issued a certificate of return. It is shameful and sad to hear that the PDP, once the largest party in Africa, could after 16 years of conjuring elections still be found in this sort of mess. That is the cost of impunity.
But even as an unlearned man, not being a lawyer, I could still tell the APC in my capacity as a political reporter not to push its luck too far. They are pushing their luck too far in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Taraba. The PDP has messed up, but that is not to say it should be exterminated. Let APC manage what it garnered from the 2015 elections and commence the process of improving on the electoral template left behind by the PDP.
For all its misrule, the PDP managed to sanitise the electoral process, particularly under President Goodluck Jonathan. The appointment of Attahiru Jega as INEC chair boosted INEC’s image and voter confidence in the process. The empowerment of INEC to experiment with the voter card and the data capture enrolment of voters also helped to encourage the electoral process.
If I may ask, what is the APC bringing to the table in terms of nourishing the electoral system? The PDP underthe late president Yar’Adua commissioned the Uwais panel, whose recommendations are far-reaching, but largely not implemented. Let the APC take cue from there and put something into the system, to show that after being at the receiving end of poor electoral systems for 16 years, it now has a better understanding of the type of electoral cleanup Nigeria deserves.
Let me add, that some of the acts of impunity recorded for the PDP are traceable to acts of the judiciary, particularly election tribunals. Let APC not surpass PDP in stage-managing victories. We do not want to record more politically motivated deaths in Taraba, Rivers or Akwa Ibom!