Bill Clinton used the phrase ‘’It’s The Economy, Stupid!’’ to frame the main issue of the time of his first presidential candidacy. What would be apt for the Nigerian clime at this hour is a tweak on Clinton: It’s The Sharing, Stupid!
Sharing and its corollary economics are at the core of the current plague in the folds of the country’s main political parties.
The fortunes of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have seen a turnaround almost as incomparable as the disparity between their sizes before the last polls. One morphed from an animated propaganda agenda to the ruling party of Africa’s largest economy. The other devolved from the continent’s largest political party to a rump begging for the promissory note of an epitaph. But both of them share the mirror image of one quandary. APC has the problem of crowded ownership: PDP has the problem of deserted abdication.
APC is contending with the clash of claimants to the booty. An assortment of knives attends the fall of the elephant. Everybody is jostling for a sizeable cut. The scramble is practically a collection of people asking themselves ‘’what’s in this Buhari win for me?’’
Two recent incidents highlight APC’s sharing dilemma.
A summit of APC decision makers convened to achieve consensus on the zoning of the Senate Presidency and Speakership ended in a stalemate. It produced more cleavages than it had meant to unite.
Last weekend, APC’s governorship candidate for Enugu State intimated his journalist contacts that the party’s South East National Vice Chairman slapped him at a meeting called to define parameters for nominating ministers from the zone. Okey Ezea asked for one slot. His slapper wanted the same prize and had to announce it through corporeal assault.
Not a shocker. A character in the Soyinka play, Death and The King’s Horseman, asked the rhetorical question ‘’ when the horse sniffs the stable, does he not strain at the bridle?’’
Sharing is also the issue in PDP’s empty nest. But what’s up for sharing is not a juicy portfolio. It is an intangible liability: Blames. Whose action and/or inaction contributed in what measure to the virtual obliteration of the party?
So far nobody in the fold has proved willing to accept any measure of responsibility. Everybody is pointing accusing fingers. Of course it is easier to apportion blame than appropriate it. It has been like that since the entire world population was a modest couple roaming in a Garden.
President Jonathan’s aides are fixing culpability at the doorsteps of the party leadership. They are demanding that the National Working Committee of the party does something exotic. They are asking Chairman Adamu Muazu and his team to commit hara-kiri. But Muazu and company have made clear that they have no Japanese DNA. They are Nigerians. They won’t resign. No Nigerian has ever set out to fulfill their enemy’s death wish by liquidating themselves.
Muazu may have had to pinch himself several times to make sure this is not a nightmare. A few months ago, he was tapped to take over the bedlam stirred by Bamanga Tukur. He calmed the secretariat and animated the party. He inaugurated a renaissance of defections, travelling with President Jonathan to admit crossover rivals. Muazu restored the party’s patina of invincibility. And he earned the nickname, the Game Changer.
But his popularity has plummeted in the aftermath of PDP’s drubbing. He now finds himself having to rationalize his continued stay in office; hedging himself against the pattern of fate that runs in the genealogy of PDP Chairmen.
Every day new voices join the chorus that says his tenure is no longer tenable. That he failed to sustain the party’s ambition to hold power for sixty years. That he became the undertaker of the party in the sixteenth year of its reign.
They allege that Muazu and his party executives squirreled away a large part of the money set aside to procure victory for Jonathan and PDP. Jonathan lost because more money was stolen than ploughed into the vote bid. Had the expenditure been more responsibly conducted, the result would have been different.
The Muazu camp has been pleading innocent. It says President Jonathan defeated himself and the party. Jonathan made hate campaign his overarching strategy, presuming that that would win him more hearts and minds. He commissioned his wife, Patience, Femi Fani Kayode, Doyin Okupe and a segment of the Nigerian media to lift the lid of the sewer and pour abundant mess and stench on Candidate Muhammadu Buhari. It backfired. The sensibilities of many decent Nigerians were offended. And they turned against Jonathan and the PDP.
Sunday Awoniyi, one of the frustrated late founding fathers of PDP, once described the party as ‘’a basket of scorpions, stinging themselves to death’’. His decade old epithet is even more valid today.
PDP’s internal correspondence of recriminations is happening because failure is an orphan. And it is reminiscent of a drama enacted thousands of years ago in the court of King Solomon. Two prostitutes reported themselves. They were collaborators and roommates. They both gave birth in the same week. One of them, a bad sleeper, leaned over and crushed her baby with her own weight. At midnight, the killer mother awoke to her accidental infanticide. And she swapped her dead child with the other woman’s living child. A hot contestation arose in the morning. The dead child is not my child. The dead child is yours. This is your funeral.
The two mutual accusers were equals in passion, pitch and vociferousness. Solomon needed an abundance of wisdom to discern who the owner of the dead child was. And it would require like depth to decipher the rightful owner of the dead child of PDP’s defeat.
We must be grateful for small mercies, though. If this defeat had not occurred, there wouldn’t have been any disaster audit. Nobody would have been charitable enough to divulge how expensive the victory was. President Jonathan’s aides would not be pulling back the curtains on the campaign’s holy of holies and privileging us war chest secrets.
Never take for granted the spectacle of Muazu and Olisa Metu inveighing against President Jonathan. Did you have any premonition that someday a candor buried deep will peep above the ground of reverential fear? Did you know that they were capable of forming any opinion that is not explicitly flattering of him? Did you ever imagine that the President’s most fervent worshippers will go apostate, yelling, ‘’the dead child is your child! You crushed your child.’’
Pius Adesanmi has rightly pronounced that the dramatic equivalent of what we are witnessing is Two Fighting, the kind of violent porn in which the gladiators strip each other naked in the street while bartering blows.
It is surprising that the Presidency is crying over spilled milk and accusing Muazu and company of wrongdoing. President Jonathan had declaimed that ‘’stealing is not corruption’’. Maybe stealing has become a mortal sin because it resulted in his loss. But the question is where did the campaign funds that is being reported stolen come from.
The Presidency is pained that Muazu and his other human associates had less honor than dogs. A dog, as the proverb says, does not eat the bone hung around its neck. But the Presidency is guilty of the charge it lays against the Mauzu. Jonathan and his aides violated the common purse in their care. And it is a pity that the Presidency is asking us to side with it and show it empathy because it was robbed as it had robbed us.
In a sense, this represents an insolent compliment. The Jonathan Presidency works with our better angel. It conceives of us as too nice to dismiss its grievance with,’’ Serves you right’’. It reckons that rather than gloat that a cunning man has been buried by his cunning collaborator, we would instinctively forge a Tower of Babel medley and call Muazu and company, ‘’Ndi Oshi’’, ‘’Ole’’, ‘’Kparawo’’!
The Presidency is persuaded the court of public opinion does justice. It trusts that we would indict the more avaricious consumer in the corruption food chain; whether it is the primary thief or the secondary thief – the one who stole from the taxpayers or the one who stole what was stolen from the taxpayers.
The Jonathan Presidency doesn’t think that we have Minimum Rage. It doesn’t brook the thought that we may feel irritated and provoked by the bickering over a despoliation that impoverished us by billions.
However, this row bears the seed of its own redemption. And it is the admission that the PDP became the ultimate victim of its own ravenousness. That the kleptomaniac eventually turned inwards and stole itself out of the reckoning.
Nigeria is better off because the pathology of stealing caused PDP robbed itself of the opportunity to renew the lease to pillage. Those guys made a bad tradeoff exchanging the prospect of a full tenure of wholesale heist for an election quickie!