NIGERIAN POLITICS AND 2007
By Dr Abayomi Ferreira
The platform for public political discussion in Nigeria is being deliberately and consistently abused by the very intense concentration of efforts and energy on the Third Term Bid allegedly being promoted by Olusegun Obasanjo, but strictly more by the PDP governors and the political godfathers that dominate the Nigerian political terrain. Virtually all the newspapers and commentators are psychically fixated on Third Term politics and its associated plots manifesting in the PDP geopolitical zoning of the candidacy of the next elected President of Nigeria. Both issues, if pursued to any reasonable lengths of consideration are patently against the provisions of the Constitution that keeps Nigeria going as a state in global geopolitical considerations. The main proponents of both the issues and concurrent public debates remain the military politicians (Obasanjo, Babangida, Marwa, Buhari, Ahmadu Alli) and their ever-available civilian collaborators (Atiku, Lar, Gambo, etc). Their political party platform is the Peoples' Democratic Party PDP. With the inevitable fracture of that platform in the emergence of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy MDD, Movement for the Restoration of Democracy MRD and Advanced Congress of Democrats ACD, Nigerians are being subjected to a new phase of interpersonal political bickering at the expense of the necessary public discourse that should focus on the process of economic development of Nigeria. As is usual with the reactionary politicians who dominate Nigerian politics, opportunists in the other weaker platforms, the AD and ANPP in particular, have joined in the affray to occupy front or second row seats in the new phase of the continuous decimation of the Nigerian polity. A detailed report in the "Punch" newspaper of 31 December 2005 took the reading public to the climax of the absurdity by giving some details of the agenda for the Third Term Project. Such mind-boggling details include
… Obasanjo's plan to seek World Bank endorsement for the anti-constitution and unconstitutional project, presumably by being acclaimed as the only person who is capable of "fighting corruption" in Nigeria.
… The campaign is to be flagged off in this month, January 2006.
… Ministers, advisers and political cronies are to tour the country to "convince" themselves of the desirability for the project.
… The cabal in power is to convince the armed forces and other "critical segments of the polity" to support the project.
… Obasanjo is to visit Great Britain and the USA to inform the imperialists of his indispensability.
I had earlier decided not to involve my time in making any public comments in the unwarranted debate. The usually active Presidency, including Femi Fani-Kayode have not made any comments on the "Punch" publication, thus pointing to the veracity of the substance of the publication. As Nigerians yearning for authentic economic development, we cannot ignore the exposition. I know that any attempt by any group to replay the recurrent display of tenacious adherence to political power will fail, just as their predecessors in the First Republic and later Abacha failed. Apart from the project being unconstitutional and anti-constitution, it is a an unwarranted repeat of the Abacha adventure when in 1997-98, "all the political parties" that were allowed to exist by military political manipulation, his five leprous fingers kept pointing to Abacha as the only possible "elected" ruler in the land. Essentially, the same people who masterminded and promoted the Abacha project are still the same people trying to repeat their self-seeking folly at the expense of economic development in Nigeria. They will fail simply as they failed in the Abacha project.
Secondly, the details of the project as published in the "Punch" cannot just be swept aside. American spokesmen are already making public comments on the 2007 elections in Nigeria. They were fully involved in bringing Obasanjo from his publicly announced retirement and disinterestedness in contesting the 1999 Presidential elections to contest and win that and the subsequent elections. To date, Obasanjo has not told Nigerians why he suddenly changed his mind. A further report in the "Daily Independent" in the New Year tells of the American short-list of five possible successors to Obasanjo. To that, Fani-Kayode quickly quipped to Herman Cohen the American spokesman to keep off giving lessons to them on democracy or constitutional rule. Further, the World Bank is the sitting monitor of Nigerian governmental activities under Obasanjo. The local experts of the World Bank are arguably the most powerful force in the present Nigerian government. The present plan towards possible self-succession in 2007 further exposes the controls that America, Britain and the World Bank maintain in the Nigerian political process. The foreign powers, through their undercover involvement in Nigerian politics and the World Bank, are fully poised and protecting their economic interests in Nigeria, interests that shamefully supervene over the economic interests of our improvished peoples. The ruling and dominant political practitioners are their local agents. Obasanjo's role is to keep our people militarily cowed down whilst the Nigerian economy runs smoothly to ensure sustained profits for the foreign investors, mainly American and British.
Thirdly, the details of the project named the armed forces as one of the critical segments, without naming the others, of the polity. This is one of the deliberate misinformation, indeed miseducation that the ruling politicians use to mislead our people. It is the basis of the many decades of military dictatorship that ruined the process of development in Nigeria. It is a creation of the politicians and their foreign masters. The armed forces are not a political force. There may be ambitious politicians masquerading covertly in military uniform. These are the usual materials that collaborate with reactionary politicians to desecrate the constitution. The present Constitution in spite of its inherent weaknesses, like all the previous Nigerian Constitutions that they wilfully desecrated, is very clear on the role and functions of the armed forces. The published annotation shows very clearly the psychological orientation of those who occupy the political space in Nigeria. In a true democracy, the critical political force is the people operating through the activities and programmes of authentic and patriotic political parties. There is no other critical segment. However, Nigeria today is in the grips of an oligarchy of military politicians, including Obasanjo, Gusau, Mohammed, Danjuma, Babangida, Abdulslaam and one other whose name has not yet reached us. When Obasanjo was initially announced as a prospective PDP presidential candidate in 1998, he publicly declined on the ground that he had once been a head of state and had nothing new to give. He went further to pooh-pooh Gowon for coming out as a presidential candidate by asking Gowon, "What did you forget in the State House that you want to go and retrieve?" Danjuma publicly assaulted our national sensibilities when he boasted that he would leave Nigeria if Obasanjo were not made the President. Earlier, Abdulsalaam had used the presidential powers of the prerogative of mercy to release Obasanjo from Abacha's gulag. The rest is history, but quite significant history, particularly with the continuing dominance and control of politics and power by military politicians who had desecrated our national constitutions repeatedly and entrapped our country in the current and persistent quagmire of political coma and economic collapse.
Fourthly, the ministers, advisers and political minions whose Third Term assignment is to tour Nigeria belong to the same ideological cabal that has
misruled Nigeria in the past 45 years. They are principally kleptocrats whose concept and knowledge of political economy do not go beyond legislative budgeting and executive distribution of contracts for skills, materials and purchases to foreign companies with themselves serving as the comprador conduits for the funds. The emergence of the MDD, MRD and ACD is not because of any fundamental disagreements or discord on programmes for development (which they do not care to have), ideology (which is self, tribe, region and religion), philosophy or plans for the country, but strictly for personal controls of political power for self-enrichment which has been the driving force of Nigerian politics for 55 years of party politics. The names that have come up with regard to the conception and ambitions of the so-called new formations are the same names that have contributed to the running aground of the Republic of Nigeria. What with the roles played in the constitutional, political and economic destruction of Nigeria by such "new" defenders and restorers of democracy as Gowon, Buhari, Babangida erstwhile military dictators and desecrators of the national constitutions, or Atiku, Ikimi, Gambo, Ogbeh, Lar, Nwobodo, Adedibu and Chris Uba who are ever available as collaborators with military politicians. The roles played by Muhammadu Gambo the pro tempore chairman of the MDD in the Abacha adventures have conveniently become shrouded in unexplained executive silence and forgetfulness. The MDD, MRD and ACD have nothing new or different to offer Nigerians from what Nigerians have tolerated in 55 years from the NPC, NPN, PDP, AG, NCNC, the military political parties of Babangida (NRC and SDP) or the five Abacha leprous fingers and the many splinters that have so far survived from the repeated fractures of the establishment parties.
What is the solution? I have published in the past, and I repeat in this comment that the seeds of Nigerian political recovery have been planted in those five political parties that have no historical, philosophical, ideological or programmatic linkages or relationships with the reactionary political parties that have dominated the Nigerian political scene in the past 55 years. Most Nigerians have been misled to think of tribe, region and religion as the key issues in Nigerian politics. One gets disheartened when one repeatedly read or listens to discussions by highly educated Nigerians rating political debates and discussions on tribe, region and religion. The reactionary politicians, to serve self, are exploiting these politically base sensibilities. And many fall into their trap. That is why our people remain backward and improvished. It is high time that our people are provided with an authentic political approach to national development. The five political parties to provide the required human and programmatic materials are the Democratic Alternative DA, Peoples'Redmption Party PRP, National Conscience Party NCP, Movement for Democracy and Justice MDJ and National Advance Party NAP. We have developed this thesis in a book that will soon be available to the general public, "Savagery in politics: the hindrance to national development". The political efforts and energy of our youths, workers, students and the millions of unemployed should be garnered within the five formations to commence the rapid development of Nigeria. I learn that an organisation has been formed to fight the Third Term project. Obviously, the organisation will use leaflets, public demonstrations and press releases to engage the political predators. The results of such a fight will not be different from the results of the numberless protest political fights that we have conducted between 1960 and 2005, a period of 45 years. There may be some apparent victory. It is only apparent. Such a victory, if any will only gain sustainability on the platform of a truly popular and peoples oriented and committed political party that will fight to take over power from the native exploiters and local compradors of foreign imperialism. The central political issue in Nigeria today is the mobilisation of our extensive natural and national resources for the rapid development of the economy to raise the quality of life of 126 million Nigerians to a standard and quality comparable with what is acceptable for human beings living in the 21st century. The politicians who dominate the Nigerian political terrain and the chambers of political power today cannot and will not address that central issue.