By Comfort Obi
I don’t know how many of you who read what the out-going governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, said after the PDP Presidential Primary in PH, Rivers state. I read it.
In the aftermath of the failure of the urbane Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to clinch the presidential ticket due to former Vice President Atiku Abubarkar’s landslide victory, Fayose’s anger boiled over. So, like a wild fire, he has been raging. And he is threatening the PDP with fire and brimstone. He says he may leave the party.
I know most Nigerians have been on edge for months and counting, but nothing compares to what we’ve been through since the primaries of political parties peaked two weeks ago. In almost all the states, it has been tears, blood and deaths. We have witnessed violence during these primaries as never before.
At least, 12 people have lost their lives. And dozens have been seriously injured. Houses and vehicles have been razed. During the APC governorship primary in Imo state, one man was killed in Orodo, Mbaitoli LGA, as guns boomed. At least four vehicles were burnt in the same LGA. Elsewhere in the state, gun shots were the order of the day.
In Anambra state, during one of the Senatorial primaries in Amawbia, gun shots sent everybody, including Iyom Bianca Ojukwu, Dim Ikemba Ojukwu’s wife, running for their iives. In this particular incident, we must thank God for little mercies. Just imagine if Bianca had been hit by a gun shot. I shudder to imagine what MASSOB, IPOB, BIM, and other such groups would have done. Real fire would have been on the mountain.
In Lagos state, at least, three people were killed. Some lucky ones escaped with serious injuries.
In Abuja, an angry mob locked the gates of the APC national headquarters with padlock and chains. It took the Police to force the gates open.
A couple of days later, another angry mob held the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, captive. One protesting group called him wicked. Some other groups, including state governors, asked him to resign. And, at least, two states, Ogun and Zamfara, have either barred Oshiomhole from entering their states, or asked him to keep off completely from their affairs.
Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, accused him of working to scatter his state. Former IGP, Suleiman Abba, publicly rained curses on him because he was disqualified from the Senatorial primary.
And, all these just for the parties to choose their candidates from among their party men and women.
If party primaries were this bloody, I cringe at what our fate will be during the real elections in 2019. Condemnations of the Primaries have been like claps of thunder. But, here, I choose to comment on two of them – those of our beautiful First Lady, Aisha Buhari and Governor Fayose.
Since she became Nigeria’s First Lady, nobody has been in doubt of what this woman is. Disarmingly beautiful. Brilliant. Bold. Courageous with plenty of spunk and panache to the bargain. She has commented and/or intervened in national issues like no other First Lady. An activist, she speaks truth to power.
Her first shot was when she warned the APC not to relent on its promise to feed school children free. But she has since upped the ante. Just a few.
She told us her husband’s government has been hijacked by, total strangers to her and her husband, the President. She threatened she would neither campaign for her husband’s re-election nor encourage any woman to do so if nothing changed.
She soon chastised the Medical Director of the State House clinic over its alleged poor running. There were not even consumables in the clinic the day she went there for medical attention. She told her story publicly, and asked for a probe to account for all the millions of Naira budgeted annually for the clinic. This order day when the story broke that her ADC has been arrested by the Police and detained by the DSS over the sum of over two billion Naira, she revealed that the guy has been defrauding people using her name. By the way, what is the status of that case now?
Aisha does not suffer fools gladly and pulls no punches. Yet nothing compares to her recent comment on the Primaries of the APC. Writing on her verified twitter handle, she rubbished the process. Nobody has pointedly confirmed, but speculation is that her outburst was because her younger brother, Halilu Ahmed, was defeated at the governorship primary by the incumbent governor, Muhammadu Bindow. But Aisha held nothing back in her criticism of the APC primaries process and Oshiomhole.
Aisha: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard-earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously, yet, found their names omitted on election day. These forms were bought at exorbitant prices.
“Many others contested, and yet, had their result delayed, fully knowing that AUTOMATIC tickets have been given to other people.
“All Progressives Congress, being a party whose cardinal principle is change, and headed by a Comrade/actvist, whose main concern is for the common man, yet, such impunity could take place under its watch. Then, the bomb.
“It is important for the populace to rise against impunity and for voters to demand from aspirants to be committed to the provision of basic amenities such as potable drinking water, basic healthcare, (primary healthcare centres)
“Given this development, one will not hesitate than dissociate from such unfairness, be neutral, and speak for the voiceless, education within conducive and appropriate learning environments”
I wouldn’t want to analyse Aisha’s comments except to say this: The First Lady has given the entire APC primaries a red card. She gas rubbished it. She has accused the party of fraud. She said she would speak for the voiceless – not for the APC. She has also advised Nigerians to shine their eyes while voting, and rise against impunity.
Phew! Strong words. Criticisms like no other. Some guts. No wonder the PDP has been using Aisha’s exact words to hit at the APC. Was she passing a message? You be the judge.
But enters, Fayose, the garrulous, controversy-prone out-going Ekiti state governor.
For the records, I took to him during his first sojourn as governor. I liked his ordinariness, his unassuming nature and his visits to Amala joints to eat with the common people. I just liked him. He had my sympathy when I felt he was being persecuted as a governor during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. When he was removed as a governor, my sympathy was also for him. When he staged a comeback, four years later, I rejoiced with him. I liked his fighting spirit. I liked it that he never allowed anybody, or his circumstances to put him down.
In fact, I even liked his foul-mouthedness, until he began to over-do it, like he did during the 2015 presidential election. He spoke at every drop of the hat, and often made outlandish claims. There were no limits.
But he won my heart again when he endorsed his deputy to succeed him in office. Of course his manner of endorsement, just like he does some of his things, was untidy. Yet, I was impressed that he did what most governors don’t do – back their deputies to succeed them. But he mishandled the campaign, just as he mishandled the endorsement, thus, alienating many of his party men and women.
It was like Fayose was still contesting for governorship. Nothing much was heard from the real candidate.
A professor, he was like a zombie, following Fayose, and missed the opportunity of selling himself to the electorate. Several reasons, including the overzealousness of security personnel, combined to cost them the election. Several questions have been asked. But, like they say, it is what it is.
For weeks, Fayose’s tongue was arrested by the loss. He became dumb. Even during the controversial Osun governorship election, he said little or nothing. And the EFCC allegations against him have not helped matters. Obscene as the EFCC’s celebration of his sudden vulnerability was, his letter to the Commission informing it of when he would make himself available to it was unnecessary. But his response when the Commission wanted to strip him of his immunity, as a governor, through the back door, by inviting him to its office for interrogation was apt.
But it seems Fayose has, in his frustration, found his voice again given his recent outburst. Two days after the Atiku victory in PH, Fayose issued a weightless threat to his party. He threatened to leave it because his preferred candidate, Tambuwal lost to Atiku.
Fayose: “We have no regret aligning with Governor Nyesom Wike to support Governor Tambuwal for the presidential ticket, and no apologies either.
“We kept the party alive and strong when most men became women. We never compromised. If any group feels it can do it alone, we will see how far they can go.
“I may renounce my membership of the party if the need arises. In the meantime, I and others will continue with our consultations while watching the turn of events.
“We cannot but appreciate leaders who have intervened so far, but this release become necessary to avoid fresh crisis or misrepresentation.”
Fayose’s threat has no weight and substance. My advice: The PDP should call his bluff, and encourage him to immediately leave the party.
The convention ended on Sunday, and Atiku declared winner same day. By Monday, Fayose was already talking about the sidelining of some people. He was already talking about those wanting to do it alone. Unless, there is something we didn’t notice, but watching the process on the television, and listening to all those who spoke – Atiku, Senate President, Bukola Saraki who spoke on behalf on his fellow aspirants, Party Chairman, Uche Secondus and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Chairman of the Convention, one saw no bitterness and, didn’t get the impression Fayose is creating.
Even Governor Nyesom Wike whose name Fayose is flaunting, immediately toed the line of the delegates who decided the winner. When Atiku visited to say thanks to him for being a good host, Wike said that in any contest, people support different candidates, but once a winner emerges, all hands are on deck to support the winner. That is the spirit.
So, why is Fayose trying to be more Roman Catholic than the Pope? Tambuwal, for whom Fayose is boiling is not complaining. Instead, as a democrat, he has congratulated Atiku, and pledged to work with him for the success of the party at the polls in 2019.
Of course, everybody is important, but in case Fayose does not know it yet, he needs the PDP more than the PDP needs him. I don’t want to say that he is more of a liability now than anything else.
He is an out-going governor, and brings nothing to the table to either the PDP or any other party he may go to, if he has the liver to carry out his threat. I don’t know how many people who would leave the PDP with him in Ekiti – certainly not NASS members, House of Assembly members, party state executive members, his Executive Council members, LGA and ward chairmen. He has lost the clout.
One of his main supporters, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Kola Oluwawole, has just been impeached. His other supporters have also been suspended. The APC has taken over the House of Assembly. So, who are his followers?
Fayose is not a Bola Tinubu. Only a handful of politicians would command the influence the Jagaban commands out of office.
Truth is, it will be uncharitable of the PDP to concentrate only on the “big people” who left the party, but later re-joined it. If other people did not stay back, there would have been no party for the prodigal sons to come back to.
Fayose is not the only one who stayed back to build the party. There are many others, including former Senate President, David Mark, former Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, former Anambra governor, Peter Obi, and thousands of others. So, Fayose cannot blackmail the party on that score.
But finally, an advice for him. When this order day, Governor Wike mis-spoke and threatened his party, the PDP, if it did not hold its Presidential convention in PH as earlier planned, he understood the implications of that threat, and quickly apologised to the party and his governor-colleagues. Nobody is an Island. And that was Wike, the governor of Nigeria’s richest oil state, with plenty of money and so, influence. He apologised.
Fayose should toe Wike’s line and apologise for mis-speaking. Most times, gra-gra does not help. It is cheap.