As the dusts settle after the 2023 general elections,the losers are licking their wounds while the winners are savoring victory.
Nigerians can also heave a sigh of relief as the pall of Interim National Government, ING, that appeared to have found space in public discuss and to which the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS had sounded the alarm,has been admitted by all the political stake holders,as being alien to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, FGN and therefore ultra vires.
That also implies that the nation is looking forward to the swearing into office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president on 29 May as it does not appear as if the case against his emergence as the winner of the 2023 presidential election would be concluded at the tribunal before the inauguration D-Day established by law.
Notably,five (5) governors on the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP platform also known as the G-5 (who l like to refer to as Furious Famous Five, FFF) had rebelled against their party and remained within it,thereby introducing a new angle and drama into politicking and political party internal machinations in our clime.
In the past ,whenever party members or leaders felt aggrieved,they rebelled by cross carpeting into other parties to pursue their political interest.
But that was not the case with the G-5 governors who opted to stay put in their party and pull it down instead of switching parties.
And they successfully contributed to the downfall of PDP in elections 2023, even though they were accused or suspected, but they have not been found guilty of anti-party activities.
Anti-party is a veritable ground for the suspension and expulsion of politicians by their political parties,especially if they are proven to be working against the party to which they claim to belong.
As the conventional wisdom in politics goes: party is supreme.
It is similar to the dogma in the military: obey-before-complaining and Orders-is-Orders.
Plainly speaking,it means whatever the party decides is final as long one remains a member.
Now,there has been cases of politicians taking their parties to court to reverse decisions taken against them.
Situations where parties denied their members the party’s ticket illegitimately after winning in the primaries or where proper primaries are not conducted to produce the party’s candidates during party primaries are typical examples.
In some cases politicians succeed in compelling their parties to reverse unwelcome or unwholesome decisions against them.
The recent event in the main opposition PDP which has faced all sorts of trial in the current election season is a good reference point of a political party suspending some of its members and reversing the suspension literally in the twinkling of an eye even without being compelled by any court of law,but simply by introspection.
The suspension and reinstatement of senator Anyim Pius Anyim, ex secretary to the federal government,ex Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state and Dr. Aslam Aliyu a party leader in Zamfara as well as Prof.Denise Ityavyar,a commissioner in Benue state while the Governor, Samuel Ortom was referred to the party’s disciplinary committee for action amongst others are typical instances.
The decision to sanction and rescind the decision on some members of the party has exacerbated the already tense situation in the PDP.
It is more so because it had just lost massively in the 2023 general elections with the party suffering severe political casualties in some of the states that are originally PDP.
Take Sokoto state for instance.
The loss is particularly more serious in the south east,where it currently controls three (3) states -Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states since 2015, but would be reduced to just Enugu state in the new dispensation that commences next month.
Similarly,the number of current legislators of lgbo extraction that would be returning to the National Assembly,NASS for the tenth (10th) assembly from the PDP stable has been shrunken dramatically.
The specific number of seats nationwide from the PDP platform is yet to be established owing to outstanding elections scheduled to be held on a future date.
But by all indications, it has also significantly contracted.
Even the struggle to win Enugu state government house for PDP in the last election was so problematic, it can be comparable to the difficulties encountered while trying to cross the mythical Bermuda triangle.
It is such a striking reversal of political fortunes that the APC whose platform had no governor in lgboland before 2011, will soon be incharge of two (2) governors mansions-Imo and Ebonyi states ,while the PDP will be presiding over the affairs in just one. It is very symbolic of which political party is expanding its coasts in lgbo land and which one is declining in influence.
If any one is in doubt as to whether the PDP is doing well or not, the reality is very stark.
In fact the above narrative clearly illustrates the receding influence of PDP nation wide following its decimation in its erstwhile south east political base by Mr Peter Obi and his tsunami-like Obidients and the prying of Sokoto state off the fingers of PDP by the APC.
The immediate and remote causes of the misfortune of the PDP is indiscipline.
It is a seemingly incurable malady afflicting both the erring party members and the leadership.
The leaders of the party have some how been inconsistent in policy formulation and implementation, particularly with respect to the presidential power rotation policy.
For instance,by engaging in what l
would like to categorize as the sudden change of the goal post in the middle of a football game as reflected by the denial of lgbo people the exclusive right to present the presidential candidate of the party in 2023, and instead it threw it open,the PDP exposed itself to the consequences that it inevitably suffered.
In any case,l had no doubt that the action was bound to have grave repercussions.
That is especially if the associated feeling of betrayal by the lgbo nation was not going to be well managed before the elections through effective communication to achieve a buy-in of the easterners into the new agenda of the PDP that was thrown up by exigencies arising from the new realities faced by the party which was intent on doing everything legitimately possible towards winning back Aso Rock Villa.
Nonetheless, the case for a president of lgbo stock had been made in my book: “Becoming President Of Nigeria. A Citizens Guide”.
ln that book launched on 10th May last year, l proposed that in the event that PDP felt that there was no lgbo man popular enough to take on a Hausa/Fulani
candidate from the ruling APC,(it was suspected that a northerner Waziri Atiku Abubakar would be fielded) therefore a partnership agreement between the lgbos and the presidential candidate of Hausa/Fulani extraction would be required.
At that time,it was apparent that the seed of not sticking to the original calculus of presidential power rotating to the eastern part of our country had been sown.
But for the sake of equity ,as the presidential power pendulum had already swung to Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani lands respectively, it was ideally the turn of someone from lgbo land.
That meant that they had to be wooed seriously.
And what was supposed to be the clincher or win-win formula for both the party,lgbo nation and Hausa /Fulani power blocks was for the presidential candidate of northern extraction to enter into a solid agreement that an easterner would be the vice president and he would take over from the winner of 2023 presidential elections who would be of Hausa/Fulani extraction after serving only one term of the presidency,willy-nilly.
That was a sure bet way of an lgbo man becoming president of Nigeria without too much rancor as the power of incumbency would have improved the chances of success,with a dose of good governance also being factored into the equation to make the person electable.
That advise was offered about two (2) years before the elections,even as l had also predicted in the same book that the 2023 presidential contest was going to be between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC and Waziri Atiku Abubakar of PDP which turned out to be true.
For those interested in the Post Mortem of elections 2023 in preparation for 2027 contest,the granular details of the formula that l had proposed are contained in the book: “Becoming President Of Nigeria. A Citizen Guide”which is still available in leading bookshops.
That formula was a critical and viable way,(in my assessment) that the lgbos could have agreed to commit their votes to the PDP for the purpose of winning the 2023 presidential elections.
But the leadership of the PDP failed spectacularly in adopting or executing that plan.
Consequently, the party that was bleeding from every artery fell short of achieving its preferred plan of returning to Aso Rock Villa that it had lost since 2015 without working very hard to secure the lgbo votes that have proven to be elusive for the PDP in the 2023 general elections.
It symbolizes PDP’s calamitous loss of influence in lgbo land culminating in the catastrophe of holding only one governorship position and a paltry number of National Assembly, NASS seats in the east which is the worst humiliation that PDP has ever experienced after its defeat by the current ruling APC in 2015.
Of course one can not discountenance the Peter Obi and Obidients factor, but it could not have arisen if there was a deal for the inclusion of the lgbo nation on the table for national governance.
After the avoidable damage had been done,the main opposition party decided to tackle the virus that had developed into cancer which has inflicted a debilitating harm on it,by issuing suspension orders on a handful of members earlier listed.
And rather than be remorseful,the targets of the party’s disciplinary measures were disdainful of their purported sanction.
In fact they literally referred to the pronouncements by the party as a joke and derided the party leadership.
Despite the obstinacy and intransigence of the party members that allegedly breached the party rules by engaging in anti party activities,the PDP did not prove that it can bark and bite in order to deter other members from committing such offense in the future,but before the ink applied in issuing the sanction could dry up, the PDP reversed itself.
That suggests that the decision might might not have been well thought out in the first place,and such ambivalence would in the near future certainly imperil the party,if it has not already done so.
Meanwhile,the job of keeping the ruling APC on its toes seems to have been conceded,if not lost to the insurgent LP being led by Mr Peter Obi. And in fact, because it is adept at keeping its head above water, as it has been surviving all the rough weather that have rocked its boat,l see the APC ruling the roost beyond PDP’s sixteen (16) years reign because it has been very dexterous at managing internal crisis.
Right now,PDP seem to be the main opposition party only by virtue of being the party with the next highest number of elected politicians after the ruling APC,as it is actually the LP that is gaining more traction in its role as the main opposition party. A keen observer would notice that the LP’s candidate, Mr Peter Obi gets mentioned as the one opposing the outcome of the presidential contest in which APC candidate has been declared the winner ahead of PDP and its candidate, Waziri Atiku Abubakar.
In fact, a large proportion of Nigerians are under the impression that the PDP has withdrawn its law suit challenging Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s victory as declared by INEC.
Although to the best of my knowledge that is not the case,not many know otherwise because the party is embroiled in internal wrangling and investing all its energy in trying to quench the inferno that appears to be getting worse because of decisions that appear to further gaslighting the party.
What that suggests is that the PDP may be losing relevance while the LP is on the ascendancy.
As a way of patting itself on the back for doing a good job when it was in opposition, one can recall how the current information and culture minister,Alh.Lai Mohamed mischievously mocked PDP by entreating it to come to him and the APC for a master class on how to be a good opposition party.
Co-incidentally,as earlier stated,the APC had also been having internal wrangling as a fall out of the Muslim-Muslim ticket which is novel in our country and therefore rejected by some Christian leaders in the APC stable such as former secretary to the federal government,Mr Babachar Lawal and ex Speaker of the House of Representatives,Mr Yakubu Dogara.
But the ruling party at the centre has managed the potential crisis without serious collateral damage to the party by cleverly containing it.
That is what the PDP has not been able to do hence internal crisis has sort of become a defining feature of the main opposition,PDP.
Prior to the action of Governors Nyesom Wike and Samuel Ortom of Rivers and Benue states respectively in obtaining court orders to prevent the PDP from taking disciplinary measures against them for engaging in anti party activities,there had never been cases of members engaging in such practices in the annals of politics in Nigeria.
Rebelling against one’s party with a view to destroying it while still in the fold was such an oddity and anathema that manifested in the earlier mentioned Rivers and Benue states,as well as Abia ,where Okezie Ikpeazu,Enugu with lfeanyi Uguanyi and Oyo states having Seyi Makinde as governors, during the recently held elections.
And it is curious that only two (2) of the G-5 governors (governors Nyesom Wike and Samuel Ortom of Rivers and Benue states respectively) obtained court injunctions restraining the PDP from taking disciplinary actions against them.
That is even when all the five (5) of them were openly taking positions against their presidential candidates,Waziri Atiku Abubakar.
Their Abia ,Oyo and Enugu counterparts never secured court injunctions as antidote for their perfidy of anti party activities and they were not sanctioned.
The pertinent question is: without discipline,how can an organization thrive sustainably ?
The evolving phenomenon of obtaining court order as a preemptive and protective measure against discipline which is such an absurd concept that could impair political party administration,has the potentials of attaining epidemic proportions if not curbed or nicked in the bud.
How is it that one can take an injunction against being punished for an offense committed or about to be committed?
Does it mean that before committing fraud like embezzlement of public or private funds,land grabbing,domestic violence or homosexuality which are established crimes in Nigeria,someone can go to court to obtain orders restraining law enforcement authorities from arresting and arraigning them?
We are not talking about Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware principle in law which is a forewarning or proviso that is front loaded so that an engaging party can recognize that there are inherent risks and therefore take precautionary measures.
Getting court order to protect one from being punished for a crime that one is about to commit or has committed is still befuddling to me.
That is even though,l am aware that one time governor of Rivers State,Dr Victor Odilli probably still enjoys what seems like a restraining order perpetually baring anti corruption authorities from arresting and prosecuting him after he left office in 2007, and got entangled in a fierce political battle with his erstwhile godson, Mr Rotimi Amaechi,who succeeded him as governor.
Till date it has been difficult to wrap one’s head around the jurisprudence that supports that order or the moral justification,assuming there is a legal backing for it.
In a sort of co-incidence,one time Chairman of PDP, Mr Uche Secondus was removed from office allegedly by governor Nyesom Wike, who reportedly got Mr Secondus’s folks back in his village to sack him at the ward level, in a similar manner that Senator Iyorchia Ayu,erstwhile chairman of the party has equally been removed by his party members at the ward level in his homestead and subsequently by Benue high court.
He has subsequently been replaced by the deputy Chairman of the party (north ) Umar Damagum as chairman in acting capacity.
It is not clear if Rivers state governor, Barrister Wike enabled it via a sleight of hand,but he has been reveling in the downfall of Senator Ayu from whom he has been trying to extract a pound of flesh, literally.
It is quite fascinating that the ouster of both Secondus and Ayu were clinically executed in sinister ways at the grassroots level where their wards chairmen are claimed to have been used to do the hatchet job that got finalized in the law courts. That leads one to the question: if such a window of expulsion was open, why did Governor Wike that was hell bent on the removal of Ayu and replacing him with a southerner which is a task that he vowed to accomplish in the interest of equity and justice,not explore or exploit it earlier?
In any case,many political observers are wondering if the removal of Senator Ayu at this point in time is not medicine after death because it was the main condition that the G-5 had put forward and to which the PDP apparently turned deaf ears, resulting in its losing valuable votes in the five (5) states where the dissident governors were in charge.
The concern and even fear currently gaining grounds amongst PDP members is the fact that what initially appeared to be innocuous or uncommon after Dr Odilli, whose wife Justice Mary Odilli was at that point in time a Supreme Court justice and therefore probably leveraged her legal expertise in 2007, may become the new rule rather than exception in the manner that impeachment was weaponized by legislators as soon as they discovered it at the nascent stage of our democracy.
Thus, the political fad that seemed like it would not attain the status of the standard operating procedure during the 2023 general elections season with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state adopting the strategy before it was thereafter extended to Benue state where the governor,Samuel Ortom has also leveraged it,may be embraced by more politicians in the run-up to the 2027 general elections.
Before dwelling further on the enigmatic concept of aiming to break or actually breaking the law and then rushing off to court to obtain injunction from being punished for the offense,it is appropriate that as a postmortem we conduct a census of the losers and winners amongst the G-5 Members.
Obviously,the consequences of the rebellion did not impart all the G- 5 governors equally-negatively or positively.
But three of the governors are the biggest losers.
These are the governors who lost their states to the opposition parties and also lost their quest to become senators.
They include Mr Samuel Ortom of Benue state, who lost the state to APC governorship candidate,Rev. Hycinth Alia a cleric and thus failed to produce his successor. He also proved not to be loved enough by Benue people to the extent of enabling him win the votes of at least one third of the electorate to become a senator in a state where he is currently holding sway as the governor.
Next is Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state.
In circumstances similar to the situation in Benue state, the governorship candidate of LP Dr Alex Otti defeated the PDP candidate that lkpeazu had hoped would succeed him. He too failed to realize his ambition of becoming a senator in the tenth (10th) assembly.
While Enugu state Governor,Ifeanyi Uguanyi lost his senatorial bid,he was able to produce his successor as the governor elect from the PDP platform,Dr. Peter Mbah.
Governor Uguanyi has experienced a lesser disappointment compared to the embarrassment suffered by both Ortom and Ikpeazu who lost both their senatorial bid and their plans to determine who succeeded them in office.
In what seems like poetic Justice,the G-5 adopted a song by the hip-hop artist Timaya- ‘ as e de pain them,e de sweet us’.
It is a very nasty mocking song that the rebellious governors often use as a mantra to taunt the PDP leadership.
And it is such an irony that while it has been a very painful political season for the trio of Ortom, Ikpeazu and Uguanyi, it has been sweet victory for Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo state who won his re-election and most especially Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state who did not only succeed in installing his successor, but prides himself as the one that stopped the candidate of his party, Waziri Atiku Abubakar from realizing his dream of becoming president of Africa in 2023.
To Wike the loss of the presidential contest by the PDP to APC is a sort of vindication for him.
The Rivers state governor did not only have his way in installing his successor,Mr Siminalayi Fubarra,he might have an opportunity to play a significant role in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidency as reward for the pivotal role he played in helping him secure the critical Rivers state votes which is the state with the highest number of registered voters in south-south Nigeria.
Apparently, PDP’s embarrassing loss in elections 2023 is APC’s gain.
That is simply because as the main opposition party was bleeding it’s members from multiple parts of its punctured body such as losing lgbo votes to Mr Peter Obi ,the leader of Obidients and former running mate to PDP presidential candidate in 2019 who jumped into the Labor Party,LP wagon, there was also the exit from the PDP of another political heavy weight from the north,Dr Musa Kwakwanso that was also disappointed in the PDP and felt compelled to form his own party,New Nigeria Peoples Party,NNPP.
While all that was on ongoing,the APC that literally in 2014/15 rose from the ashes of five (5) opposition parties that got collapsed into one,was like the coffin makers and grave diggers that pray for people to die in order to enjoy patronage. For obvious reasons,the APC was praying for the PDP to bleed to death so that it can continue to be the main star constellating over Nigeria’s political firmament.
You know what they say about self preservation.
Obviously,the APC’s prayers have been heard and Wike and the G-5 in particular,also to a lesser extent the Kwakwanso led NNPP were certainly the facilitators of PDP’s fall and the undertakers as well.
And in what seems like a paradox,they are equally the wind beneath APC’s sail.
Magnus onyibe,an entrepreneur, public policy analyst ,author,development strategist,alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,Tufts University, Massachusetts,USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from lagos.
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