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Past poison, future poison | The Nation Nigeria

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By Olakunle Abimbola

It’s amusing to watch PDP gripe over old poison it brewed for others.  But it’s equally heart-rending to see APC set itself up for that same poison.

So, it was rather comic, the other day, to hear Kola Ologbondiyan, the goodly PDP national publicity secretary, whine the ruling party was snatching its governors and other elected members.

“Governor [Bello] Matawale did not defect to APC because the party has any democratic credentials, as erroneously claimed by the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,” went the apologia, after Ologbondiyan had dismissed the Zamfara governor’s defection as an ‘unpardonable act of betrayal’, “but [he]only surrendered to intimidation and cowardly joined those behind the killings and acts of violence in Nigeria.”

Then, a furious Ologbondiyan threw everything — the proverbial kitchen sink, vulgar abuse and all — at his party’s oppressors-in-chief: “Of course, the APC, as a party of political bandits, does not have any democratic credentials to attract well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians.”

Phew!  That grape must be sour!  The griping, so gripping and painful! But pray, what does Ologbondiyan expect, given that PDP itself was a soulless partisan predator, at own high noon of power?

Just match Dayo Adeyeye’s old cry — against Ologbondiyan’s new screech — back then at the PDP poach-and-swallow glory days!

“The Vice President is not in a position to teach anyone lessons on principle or ideology,” Adeyeye blazed at VP Atiku Abubakar, who had waxed triumphant in Ibadan, at the defection of an AD senator to PDP, in June 2002; and asked his ruling party to repeat, in 2003, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) electoral magic that collapsed the 2nd Republic (1978-1983).  ”His party is populated by politicians without principle — the Abacha apologists of yesterday.”

Adeyeye was spokesman for Afenifere/AD, then at the receiving end of PDP slaughter!

But AD wasn’t the only PDP quarry.  There was also the All People’s Party (APP),  rechristened All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).

For the APP, it was clinical, political guillotining — lob off the head, and the body would shudder, stagger, lumber and surrender!

President Olusegun Obasanjo simply appointed Senator Mahmud Waziri, the APP national chairman, his special adviser, on “inter-party relations”; and watched, with intense pleasure, APP lull into slow death; with his PDP hailing that rare master stroke!

With its present gale of defections, therefore, PDP only chokes on own noxious fumes. But that would sure be APC’s future fate, the way it too celebrates its current swallow-and-fatten tactics, under interim national chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.

Indeed, the celebrants have been well and truly shocking: President Muhammadu Buhari, as coy of realpolitik as former President Obasanjo gloried by it.  Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman, whose tenure struck hard blows for progressive policies, ideology and discipline in APC ranks.

But both have celebrated the Matawale “capture”, to ape that triumphant lingo of the PDP power years!

You really must ponder that old poser, from the English Godfrey Chaucer, of the famous Canterbury Tales: if gold rusts, what will iron do?

Now, there is a lot of talk about APC and PDP being virtually the same.  That is not entirely true — at least, not from the policy front.

Since 1999, there have been some PDP governors, pushing progressive principles and developmental tactics, a temper so rare with PDP central power, from Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo to Goodluck Jonathan (1999-2015).

Cross River, under Donald Duke (more or less continued under Liyel Imoke) was one.  Rivers, under Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, was another.  By the way, what happened to those beautiful public primary and secondary schools, Amaechi built?

But the most spectacular, it would appear, was the Ebonyi case: David Umahi, within a four-year gubernatorial term, transformed Abakaliki — once upon a time, “as dusty as Abakaliki” — into a glittering model capital, gleaming with smooth roads and sturdy flyovers, alluring fountains, and even airport runway-like side lighting, which aids night driving, outside the conventional street lights.

But even forget the capital’s near-magical transformation: you still see solid concrete roads piercing the state’s hinterland, gifting the rural folks good roads all-season; and less hassled evacuation of crops to urban markets. Sadly, Umahi too quit PDP!

But flip the coin.  Unfortunately, there can’t be PDP vs specific parties’ contrast, way back to 1999 — no thanks to ruling PDP’s active subversion of opposition parties.  But even from those ruins, a consistent story springs.

Since 1999, under AD, or Action Congress (AC), or Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) or now under APC, Lagos, from Governors Bola Tinubu to Babatunde Fashola to Akinwunmi Ambode, and now, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has been a national reference: in fights for states’ rights in a flawed federation, fiscal federalism, judicial reforms, not to talk of upgrading critical infrastructure, to cope with its galloping population.

In Oyo and Osun, benchmarking progressive tenures against PDP regimes tell definitive policy — and developmental — tales.  The late Abiola Ajimobi epitomized what a brilliant policy mind could do to spruce up a state and gift it a new sparkle.

Chief Bisi Akande and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, sandwiching PDP’s Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, tell the difference, for Osun, in pro-people policies and developmental thinking.

Outside the South West, Borno’s Prof. Babagana Zulum, as Kashim Shettima before him, is pushing new developmental frontiers, despite the Boko Haram challenge, while many of his northern and southern peers, with less challenges, mouth excuses.

Zulum and co are APC governors; or belonged to pre-APC legacy parties.

Now, leave the states and, one-on-one, compare and contrast PDP and APC governments at the federal level.  Even with much diminished revenue, the present Federal Government is posting more verifiable achievements, in physical and social infrastructure; aside from strong showings in food security — and in much less time, and in a far harsher season too!

That means it is funneling more funds to the care of the Nigerian majority, than the PDP federal governments of yore, which seeming credo appeared just stuffing its crony elite-parasites, with gravy that belonged to all!

Still, is APC then the ultimate?  No.  The much diffused insecurity is a blight; a possible election-time albatross — if insecurity doesn’t roll back most of its gains much earlier.

On the policy front, however, it boasts enough developmental appeal to drive its politics.

That’s why APC should do less of the Buni gobble-and-expand gambit (that was what bloated and “killed” the PDP); and play more to its pro-poor and developmental strength.

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