THE nation is agog with the inauguaration of Muhammadu Buhari as the President and Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Many congratulatory messages and recommendations are in the media by way of editorials, press releases,view points, analysis and advertorials covering several issues of national importance. Mine is by way of advice to Mr. President on a critical issue that may be the beginning of erosion of his excellent leadership credential or reduce the momentum of his reform and restoration agenda if not carefully handled or avoided completely.
In a democracy, political parties are the engine room for fertilisation of ideas before they are introduced to the public or implemented by the government. Events in a ruling party is always crucial to the success or failure of its government. Therefore, it will be wise for Mr. President to keep an eye on the internal politics of his party.
In doing so,it is important for the President to note that the problems of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, started with recklessness and we don’t- give-a-damn attitude of the party leadership. A small seed which germinated into a big barren tree was sown as soon as the military handed over power to the PDP. One would easily recollect the sad emergence of “Ghana- must -go- bags” as an instrument of money transfer in politics and executive interference which led to the unfortunate imposition of late Chief Evans Enwerem as the President of the Senate against the clear wishes of senators who preferred late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo (oyi of oyi) as their leader.
Initially, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo was not willing to be drawn into the contest but when all manners of blackmail and misinformation including alleged conspiracy by his then Vice,Atiku Abubakar , was applied by his associates and confidants,Obasanjo entered the fray to enforce the imposition of Chief Enwerem. That singular act started the game of musical chair in the leadership of the National Assembly for the rest of 16 years of PDP’s stay in power and ultimately unleashing a chain of unpleasant events that led to the loss of power by the party.
Today,history is about to repeat itself if lesson is not learnt from PDP’s failure and warning of political pundits absorbed by APC and it’s leaders. President Buhari has made it clear that he does want to be drawn into leadership contest in the National Assembly. But no one can say how long he will resist the machination of the “magicians” who are using all sorts of subterfuge to draw him into the arena of conflict.
The President as a necessity, must beat off every effort aimed at pushing him into making the mistakes of his predecessors in office because as it is, he may likely be the only beacon of hope in the moment of crisis which looks certain to erupt in his party as time progresses. His statement that he will stay above board in the National Assembly leadership contest like “Caesar’s wife” is statesmanlike. It is the type of leadership that is expected from him and such behaviour explains the reason for public adoration and respect.
However, manipulators of the system and power mongers within his inner circle are not expected to leave him in peace. They will be unrelenting in creating many unpleasant scenarios about some aspirants just to suck Mr. President into the vortex of the conflict. But Buhari should always keep in mind his high standard and principle. These qualities are personality profile that will be handy at critical times within the life span of his Administration. He must continue to stand firm like the Rock of Gibraltar to withstand the intrigues and power play in Aso villa and his party.
Like it was with the PDP, this is a make or mar assignment for the APC. Will the exercise be characterised by ‘Ghana-must -go bag’ and imposition of leaders thereby setting a strong foundation for the eventual implosion of APC? How far can internal democracy and free choice be allowed to go in the contest?
Or will wheeler dealers succeed in pushing the President into abandoning his lofty pedestal by endorsing aspirants to leadership positions in the National Assembly? What manner of National Assembly does the APC want? Is it a docile and pliable National Assembly or a vibrant and development oriented one?
Is it a Leadership responsible to its members in particular and Nigerians in general or a leadership responsible to Godfathers and top party apparatchik? These questions and few others will be answered by President Buhari and APC in the days ahead. It is then that Nigerians will find out for themselves if hope in President Buhari and APC is justified or misplaced. The emmergence of National Assembly leadership will clearly indicate whether it is business as usual or whether the nation is indeed about to experience a nice breath of fresh and vitalising air.
There is no controversy that the greatest undoing of the PDP was impunity characterised by power to “one strong individual “alone. Will manipulators drag Buhari and the APC to walk the same infamous path. It is only time that will tell. The contenders of leadership in the National Assembly are strong supporters and,in local parlance, “boys” of President Buhari and it will be impolitic for him to tilt the balance against one side thereby igniting a dangerous political tremor within the rank and file of the party. There won’t be any justification for president Buhari to set in motion any action that may destroy the present solidarity in the APC.
There is no justifiable reason for President Buhari to negate his now famous inaugural speech: “I belong to Everybody and I belong to Nobody”. The leadership contest in the National Assembly is the first test of that statement.
Mr. Mike Nkwocha, a political analyst, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.