The stunning take-over of the House of Representatives by opposition Action Peoples Congress at the expense of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party continues to flutter from last week when it occurred. All that the ruling party could muster in terms of action was to put out a ridiculous, no less a hypocritical call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Speaker of the House to expel the decamping members by declaring their seats as vacant. The whole world has since been forced to sit up and take notice of the unfolding political developments in Nigeria.
The question everyone has been asking is: is this just a flash in the pan or a precursor of a major political shift in the country’s politics?
Thinkers in our country are already drawing comparisons between a much reduced and diminished PDP, wittingly carving itself into a party of the old Eastern Nigeria and the old National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons,(or Nigerian Citizens) NCNC. As a political party, the NCNC was set up to champion the interests of the West African sub-region but later came to be associated with the exclusive interests of the old Eastern Region. Even at that, the NCNC faced challenges from strong leaders such Wanike Briggs who associated with the old Action Group and Dappa Biriye who led the Niger Delta Congress into an alliance with the Northern Peoples Congress which controlled the federal government.
If the President as the leader of the PDP and Alhaji Tukur, the embattled Chairman will remove their tainted lenses, they will see that the party once touted as Africa’s biggest now flounders and is whittled. With an absolute control at every level of government – local government and state, and an unbroken dominance of the two arms of government at the centre, that is, the parliament as well as the executive in Aso Rock Villa in the 14-15 years of the 4th Republic, PDP has essentially dwindled and is in danger of, not only of losing its majority control but becoming a party of a section of the country.
Until it changed its name in 1959, the NCNC had a West African vision. It included the Cameroons in its catchment not because of any hegemonic designs but a patriotic aspiration to capture the Southern part of that country for the East and for Nigeria through a process the United Nations would design.
Readers will recall that after the Allied Forces defeated Germany in the Second World War, they confiscated all German territories. These were then placed under the UN administration as Trust Territories. At a later period, a plebiscite was held, giving citizens the choice of either sticking with the French Cameroons or becoming a part of Nigeria.
As the ruling party in the Eastern Region, the NCNC lost their campaign to have Southern Cameroons in Nigeria but the opposite was the case in the North where the ruling NPC successfully wooed the northern half, the now Sardauna Province which voted to come to Nigeria.
In a way similar to what is happening to the PDP, the NCNC as briefly stated did not set out to become an Igbo, or a regional party. As a West African political movement, the NCNC was formed by a union of two massive organizations, the Nigerian National Democratic Party, and the Nigerian Youth Movement, NYM. Inside the NCNC you had a combustible potpourri of several nationalist parties, cultural associations and the labor movement. Like our own PDP at the beginning, it embraced different sets of groups including religious and trade groups as well as those that were cultural, such as the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and the labor-related including the Nigerian Union of Teachers.
It is difficult to say at exactly which point things began to go wrongly for the NCNC but the breaking point evidently came in 1951. The party won enough seats in the parliament in the Eastern Region to form the government and came second in the West. Historians say the NCNC would have formed the government here as well but for the alleged betrayal of an important ally, an Ibadan community party which crossed the carpet to back the Action Group.
Most historical accounts agree that this incident marked the formal beginning of ethnic politics in Nigeria. From here, Zik was to move to the East to remove the sitting Leader of Government Business, Eyo Ita, a non-Igbo to take over the government of the region supposedly for his Igbo kins people. This was seen to have set the stage for the ethnicisation of politics at the regional level.
Zoom to today and you will see a basis for comparison between the NCNC and the forlorn PDP which has completely lost support in the old West and seeing its support in the North gradually melt away. A party in the driving seat for 14-15 years with an absolute majority in the 774 locals councils; at one point in control of 28 of the country’s 36 states and, until a week ago in firm control of the two arms of the legislature and the the executive got the shock through its loss of majority in the lower arm of the parliament. A similar showdown is equally imminent in the Senate.
Before this time, five governors controlling states with 15-20 percent of the country’s voting population jumped ship, and more are said to planning to join them. The party continues to trumpet the view that those who leave won’t be missed. Its South-south and South-east planks go on swearing to the rest that it is either Dr Jonathan continues in 2015 or …To all who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the times have changed. The oppressed and victimized peoples of Nigeria are speaking. They don’t see a future for the country in a communally divided Nigeria. They want to throw away the evil that is corruption and wish to have a government that is open and accountable, which the present government does not represent.
The people have sounded the bugle and come 2015, they want to build a new Nigeria with the PDP if they are willing to change their ways and certainly without them should they continue to minimize the party into a deaf and a regional or tribal Organisation.
Kudos to Dr.Jonathan
Kudos to President Jonathan for what I consider a befitting response to President Obasanjo, the man who haughtily believes he made him. Someone likened the former President to the one who sold goats but won’t let go of the rope. He manipulates the system to make leaders, and wants to perpetually retain control.
Dr Jonathan impressed me by the “cool” manner of his remarkable response. As sat I in Cairo cafe reading this brief and intelligent treatise sipping my tea, I could not but feel a deep sense of appreciation for how the President kept his calm to effectively respond to Obasanjo’s fire point-by-point without himself using fire. That would have been a distraction. Jonathan destroyed Obasanjo’s credibility, assuming he had any left, showing him as an over-bearing master who vilified everyone in power before and after him- Murtala, Shagari, Babandida,Shonekan, Abacha, Abdulsalam, Atiku, Yar’adua and now himself.
Dr Jonathan was not cogent and convincing in everything he said. He chose word to escape precision in some of his answers. But he achieved something, which is that if the former President had irredeemably damaged him in his reputation as many now believe, he too has equally achieved the same or even worse effect without a resort to the crudity and indecency in language and presentation that Obasanjo manifested in his own letter.
As the two elephants go on trampling the grass, one outcome is certain, and that is the attainment of Mutually Asured Destruction (MAD).