From my Reporter’s Diary
The signs are clear that Nigeria is once again facing turbulent political times. Of course, this makes the future seem bleak for the fifty eight year-old nation. No thanks to the inordinate ambition of politicians who parade the country’s landscape in the manner of predators and scavengers out for preys to devour.
Pictures below are:
May 29, 2019 marks the end of APC’s first four years in office. From the look of things the road to the election year appears filled with thorns and nails, if not land mines.
Political analysts, (not fanatics) are finding it difficult, if not herculean to hazard a guess as to the eventual outcome of the on-going shenanigans and the poll itself.
However, it is instructive to go down memory lane and take a cursory look at the country’s political antecedents as they affect movement of politicians from one place to the other.
Prior to independence, precisely January 1952, defections, better known in those years as “capet crossing” cost Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe his deserved position as the first Premier of the Western Nigeria. It was an unexpected treachery that reduced NCNC’s majority in the house to a minority party.
Zik was betrayed on the floor of the House in Ibadan when unexpectedly, seventeen legislators with whom the NCNC had concluded a pact stood up, one after the other and crossed over to the AG’s side.
That betrayal, apparently hatched by Chief Obafemi Awolowo during their nocturnal meetings had terrifying effect, such that Chief Festus Okolie-Ebo rushed to his leader, Azikiwe and broke down in tears. Azikiwe’s balloon of expectation was deflated in just a minute. Ethnic card played out. The defectors and their instigators could not comprehend how an Omo Igbo could preside in Ibadan, the heart of the Yoruba nation.
Still on defection.
After independence, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola who succeded Awolowo as premier of the Western Region was in the news.
The Chief, adorning tribal marks on the face ditched his Ikene master, prompted by Ahmadu Bello, Sarduana of Sokoto and premier of the Northern Nigeria. It was a pay back time to Awo who had earlier conspired against Zik.
Awolowo had all along suspected his deputy. He accused Akintola of treachery and planning to supplant him. Akintola and his group defected from AG to the newly formed Nigerian National Democratic Party, NNDP which consequently formed alliance with the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC with the name Nigeria National Alliance, NNA.
The mission was to capture the West at all costs. 1964 and the repeated October 1965 elections in the West presented itself for the achievement of their ambition. Incidentally, The United Progression Grand Alliance, UPGA, an alliance between the NCNC and the remnants of the AG resisted the rigging machinery of the ruling party. Dr. Michael Okpara (NCNC) and Chief S.N. Adegbenro (AG) were the UPGA leaders. It was Armageddon, to say the least. Law and order broke down irretrievably. The West under Akintola degenerated into lawlessness with the attendant wide spread killings, preceded by widespread election riggings, perpetrated by the unpopular regime and backed by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Federal Government.
As the Mayhem went on unabated, Azikiwe, Nigeria’s President warned: “events of the Congo would be mere child’s play should Nigerian politicians continue to play to the gallery.” In 1962, Congo was engulfed in political crisis during which the Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba and other leaders were brazenly assassinated. The rest is history, suffice to say that three months after the presidential warning, a group of fire-spitting soldiers under Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu struck, wiping out, not only the belligerent politicians, but also their accomplices in the military.
Then came the second republic.
The ill-fated accord between the Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP and the National Party of Nigeria, NPN cost the NPP some of its chieftains who were appointed ministers by the Alhaji Shehu Shagari led regime. Prominent among those who left the NPP and defected was Professor Ishaya Audu who was the vice presidential candidate of the NPP before he was appointed Minister of External Affairs on the strength of the accord. Also four NPP Senators from then Anambra State followed suit. Senators Basil C. Okwu, Nathaniel Anah, Offia Nwali and Onyeabo Obi. Only Senator Isaiah Ani remaind behind in support of Azikiwe and the NPP.
NPN, wielding authority as the incumbent in power threw decency to the winds and harvested politicians from opposition parties to enable it coast home to victory.
The contentious 1983 poll was massively rigged and manipulated in favour of the party to the consternation of Azikiwe, Awolowo and other candidates.
All the presidential candidates cried foul and protested while Shagari merely dusted his long cap, known in those days as “Shagari Cap” for another swearing-in ceremony.
Awolowo vowed never to contest election again in Nigeria. Zik warned on the grave consequences of allowing such unpleasant phenomenon in a country that had just been extricated from the clutches of military rule.
Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, political adviser to President Shagari described Zik’s expression as, “rantings of an art”.
In his emotion laden statement entitled, “History Will Vindicate the Just,” Zik entreated President Shagari, “to profit from the lesson of history and not allow his heart hardened like that of Pharaoh Ramses who flouted all the laws of decency and imposed a dictatorship upon the people of Israel only to have his formidable army perish in the Red Sea and re-write the history of the Middle East with the blood of the oppressed and down trodden his polloi.”
According to the Owelle, “if Alhaji Shehu Shagari and his cohorts have any qualms of conscience, it should have dawned upon them that the last presidential election was unfairly maneuvered to enable an unpopular, but powerful political party exercise power at the expense of the silent majority of the electorate of Nigeria.”
Again, three months later soldiers led by Generals Muhammadu Bahari, Tunde Idiagbon, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha etc., struck and politicians, with the memories of the 1966 coup scampered for safety.
General Theoplilus Daujuma regretted in the following words: “We were naïve in that we handed over power to nobody in 1979”
He continued: “Democracy had been in jeopardy for the past four years (1979-1983). It died with the elections. The army only burial it,” he told West Africa magazine. On the Buhari coup, Danjuma said: “It is an idea whose time has come”
The former Army Chief of Staff who along with General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Musa Yar’Adua handed over power to Shagari in 1979 described the 1983 scenario thus: “All the parties were involved, but the greatest offender was the NPN. NPN had the largest gathering of the worst human beings Nigeria could produce.”
Today – 2018, the politicians are at it again, playing the old game, beating war drums in a manner that incites people against the other.
Sonny Okosuns of the blessed memory in his celebrated track asked the country’s politicians, “WHICH WAY NIGERIA.”