The most consequential Nigerian political news of last week slipped under the radar.
Here is it: The executive of the ruling All Progressives Congress huddled together with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House. They reported their party’s cash crunch and implored President Buhari to start funding the party!
A cartoon buff who encounters the story is sure to instantly conceive a drawing idea: APC Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, and the dozen plus company on their knees, desperate suppliants, praying a throne-seated Buhari to give them this day a character after the image and likeness of Sambo Dasuki!
Newspaper reports say it was a closed door meeting. But it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to surmise that Oyegun presented the plea in the standard way Nigerians make request of their ruler. He must have delivered it like sandwich.
Buhari would have been repulsed if Oyegun had gone straight to the point. “Mr. President, your party and our party, the All Progressives Congress, desires you to officially approve that the party be a parasite on the national treasury!’’
Oyegun, former governor and a man of gray hairs, knows better than to breach cultural protocol. He could not have dared to beseech the president without first performing the foreplay of flattery to make the ruler attentive, receptive and disposed to granting the yet-to-be named favor.
And so, Oyegun may have cherrypicked some positive developments attributable to Buhari’s tenure, exaggerated their significance and declared that Buhari has wrought more feats than other Nigerian leaders living or dead. Then, Oyegun would sneak in the request wrapped with euphemism. And then, Oyegun would end by praising Buhari again, smiling with the fakest authentic smile his facial muscles can be mobilized to contrive!
Thankfully, Oyegun’s hypnosis failed. President Buhari rejected the poisonous pitch. Buhari refused to commit himself to being the party’s financier. Buhari asked Oyegun to search for clean ways of funding the party’s operations.
Ordinarily, Oyegun and co should have known that no other answer was possible in the circumstances. Even if Buhari was not a strict ascetic, even if he was not a man of lean taste, even if it would have been out of character for him to accede to their demand, that proposition was against the spirit of the times.
This is a season when the whole nation is still reeling from the revelations of how President Goodluck Jonathan underwrote the prodigal politics of the Peoples Democratic Party. People are outraged that a leader and a political party that were elected to govern worked hard to bankrupt the country. The anti-graft agencies are still wrestling with the impossible arithmetic of summing up the heists of the Jonathan days.
So weird is the miasma of the disclosures from the state-sanctioned vampire politics of the PDP that Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, felicitously compared the scale of Jonathan era looting of the Nigerian treasury to the apocryphal story of Africa’s first class buffoon, Idi Amin, ordering the Ugandan mint to print him money to spend!
It’s probably the most inappropriate time for Oyegun and his cohorts could have chosen to ask Buhari to license APC to continue the thievery of PDP!
Oyegun, former governor and a man of gray hairs, is the face of a new party that marketed itself as a corrective savior. APC’s motto was and still is ‘’CHANGE’’. Last year, he sold that theme of CHANGE to the constituency of disenchanted voters. He repeated countless times that the CHANGE APC was offering is the alternative reality the Nigerian people deserve.
While stumping for Buhari and other candidates of APC, Oyegun rhapsodized that the putative difference between the philosophies of APC and the PDP was the reason the electorate should break up with the party that has misgoverned Nigeria for 16 years. He told the rallies that a new future was at the finger tips of Nigerians. They could recreate their future by deploying their thumbprint.
After APC won the presidency and the governorship of majority of states in Nigeria, Oyegun promised that his party would wear power responsibly. APC would be a governing party. Not a ruling party.
Nobody knew that given the opportunity of audience with President Buhari behind closed doors, Oyegun, former governor and a man of gray hairs, would not advance the leader of Africa’s most populous country constructive counsel or a policy proposal. Oyegun would, instead, urge Buhari to destroy Nigeria. Oyegun would advise Buhari to unleash APC on the treasury–to calamitous effect!
It should have been obvious to the Oyegun delegation that Buhari would disappoint them. Buhari, a man who owes both his public persona and very human essence to a claim to rigid integrity, cannot be swayed to replicate the fraud of feeding the ‘’party in power’’ on the national treasury. The tiniest credible leak of such arrangement would precipitate a spate of events that would erase Buhari’s very existence!
Oyegun and the adults he took on that shameful mission know this. But it seems that they were deceived by their own optimism. Buhari might indulge them if they tried. And they would experience fairy tale enrichment like Anthony Anenih, Olisa Metu, Haliru Bello, Jim Nwobodo, Olabode George, Attahiru Bafarawa, and others.
Or probably, Oyegun and his associates were, indeed, cognizant of the irredeemable foolishness of their agenda but had, nevertheless, collectively decided to push it. Maybe they had hoped that their sheer number would exert a magical effect on Buhari.
Oyegun probably curses his stars. He is the chairman of the wrong ruling party. If he had been the chairman of the PDP in the days of Jonathan, Oyegun would not have to cry for funds, like a baby cries for its feeding bottle. Oyegun would be in have been in Jonathan’s bosom, sucking nourishment non-stop!
Consider the request one more time.
Oyegun and his team had not asked Buhari to make a one-off intervention to help APC address a financial emergency. They did not ask him for a one time bailout. They had asked him for perpetual funding. Feed us money every day.
In a manner of speaking, they asked Buhari to construct a pipeline of petro-cash, stretching from the presidency to APC national secretariat. He would build the conduit and maintain the flow. Money must be ever surging at the right velocity. So that Oyegun, other officials and chieftains of the party may be protected from lack. So that they may be eternally happy. So that the may remain loyal to the source!
Now, how does Oyegun expect Buhari to conjure the windfall to foot the party’s bills day by day, week by week, and month by month and year by year? From Buhari’s private bank? From Buhari’s half-presidential salary? Through some money ritual?
Oyegun, without doubt, presumes that President Buhari sits atop Nigeria’s riches. Buhari has the carte blanche to spend taxpayers’ money as he pleases. Oyegun also believes that it is right for the leader of a democratic nation to channel the resources of the entire citizenry to the mundane affairs of the one political party of his preference.
Thus, Oyegun, might be said to be blissfully unaware that he was a tempter, prodding Buhari to felony. Never mind that Oyegun has authored and signed about ten press statements, disparaging PDP and its leaders for robbing Nigeria and Nigerians under the pretext of doing the duty of governance.
Oyegun believes his party is entitled to its own spoil time. CHANGE to Oyegun means a set of would-be thieves displacing the old occupying gang. And the new thieves stealing with the old thieves’ playbook!
Oyegun’s concept of a political party is flawed. His idea of a ruling party is one that wins power as a means to hijacking the national treasury. His interpretation of the party in power is the party in money!
And, it may well be that Oyegun’s vision is to make APC overtake PDP in infamy!
Now, why did the APC turn to Buhari for funding? Is he the party’s benefactor of first resort? Is the party Buhari’s private concern? Is Buhari the only member of the party?
By asking him to assume the obligation of financing the party singlehandedly, though his total legitimate earnings as head of state would prove grossly insufficient, isn’t the APC goading Buhari to rob the country to pay the party?
It looks yesterday when APC conducted a nationwide registration of its members. While the exercise progressed, the party announced that it was close to capturing the particulars of 25 million people in its digital register!
The natural question to ask is, where are the million members APC had touted. Have they all vanished from our shores? Or are they so small in number their dues can’t fund the party?
Before Oyegun and his vanguard of august beggars destroy Buhari, I am constrained to advise that Oyegun and APC executive stay away from the Villa and look elsewhere for funds. If they are incapable of enhancing the President’s ability to govern whenever they engage him, they should not inflict themselves on precious presidential time. They should not make a thief out of Buhari.
Oyegun, instead of pestering Buhari to gift APC a Dasuki-like ATM, should ask Google how political parties of advanced democracies fund themselves!
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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