By Adeolu Ademoyo
The Change Mission of the Nigerian people during the past 2015 general elections was an emerging liberal democratic ideal based on an emerging vibrant, and lively political party life (no matter how inchoate) that hoped to put a stop to stealthy regional and ethnic calculations that had stalemated Nigeria in the past.
In our chronicle of this emerging, but now temporarily stunted, genuine liberal democratic ideal based on a robust party life rather than some religious and regional calculations, Nigerians must not be in a haste to forget that the then APC we knew seemed to have things worked out geopolitically.
While, pragmatically, the presidency went to the North, the Vice Presidency to the West, the Senate Presidency was going to the East, with the House Speakership going to the South-South. With the sad reality of APC failing to win a senatorial seat in the East, treachery and betrayal of an erstwhile vibrant political party life – driven by stealthy regional calculations – were revived, with these swooping in on the innocence and, perhaps, naivety of the Change Mission.
Hence, the treachery and betrayal of the innocence of the Change Mission through the process that produced Abubakar Olubukola Saraki as Senate king and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House has raised a lot of concerns in contemporary Nigeria’s murky, furtive, dark and deadly polity. These concerns include ethics, politics, the appeal to party democracy and supremacy before the fact/election on one hand and its strange and shocking dismissal on the other hand after the fact/election, cash-and-carry politics, God and religious faith.
However, Nigerians are missing the God and faith component of this treachery and this reminds me of the beginning of the fall of ex-president Jonathan’s government when every act of the PDP against the Nigerian people was attributed to “God”. It got worse when the PDP and ex-president Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency mobilised the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) under Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor to bless the continuous acts of the PDP against the Nigerian people.
Today, as we continue to document, for historical purposes, the early days of the Buhari presidency and the induced crisis in APC’s Eighth National Assembly, given the benefit of historical antecedents and hindsight, some emerging events are shedding more light on the murkiness and deadliness of the Nigerian polity and the last National Assembly “elections.” One of these two things is Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s statement on record that his emergence as the Speaker of the Eighth House of Representatives is “the act of God” and that his election as Speaker “was made possible by the intervention of the Sultan of Sokoto and others.” Those are Speaker Dogara’s words.
Now one is very careful here for one is unsure whether what Yakubu Dogara meant was the act of the true God of people of genuine religious faith or the act of his own god of people of horse trading, regional calculations, and political trading. Presumably, the report is that Yakubu Dogara is a Christian, hence the ambiguity when he referenced “God” in his emergence as House Speaker. So, when he said his emergence as Speaker of the Eighth House of Representative was an “act of God”, one must ask a pointed question: which “God” or god?But Speaker Yakubu Dogara gave more away and betrayed his account of his “god’ when he added that his election “was made possible by the intervention of the Sultan and others.” Those are his words as documented.
On the other aisle of the ocean and religion, far away on a lesser hajj, something close to Dogara’s god, came via Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President under the PDP. Senate King Saraki could not hide the role of Atiku in the collateral scheming against the liberal democratic Change Mission, when he, Atiku, was the first person Saraki visited after he emerged Senate King. So when from the lesser hajj, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was said to have appealed to the APC leaders to allow “peace” to reign, and to move forward, one must chuckle at the Alhaji’s cynicism of the Change Mission!
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is supposed to be (presumably) on a spiritual retreat in his pilgrimage. When someone is on a spiritual retreat, on a pilgrimage, he/she is in a meditative mood, meditating on the divine nature of the true God. It would have been better for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to avoid talking politics from his lesser hajj, given the reading of the faithful meaning of a pilgrimage as a period of meditation on the true nature of God – one who cannot be a God of treachery. Thus, given his role in the treachery against the Change Mission and the Nigerian people, one is inclined to ask: Is Dogara and Atiku’s “God” or god the “God” or god of treachery?
But the joke is on the strange defences from different quarters of Saraki and Dogara which found it very easy to pooh pooh a basic tenet of liberal democracy based on a vibrant and ethically inclined political party life, as represented in the emerging APC party life, rather than crude regional calculations as revealed in Dogara’s betrayal of the regional calculations of the Sultan of Sokoto and those around him in his emergence as Speaker.
These strange defences scream at and against a “god father”. But with Dogara’s betrayal of the political regional investments of the Sultan of Sokoto and “others” in his emergence as Speaker, those who defended Saraki and Dogara need to do a rethink. In this set up, has the Sultan of Sokoto not secretly, furtively and unknown to all of us (but as revealed by Dogara the beneficiary of this secrecy) played the role of a god father in violation of the open liberal democratic Change Mission? And I ask fellow Nigerians: Is that correct? Or is the assumption that one god father is preferred?
If truly bourgeois politics is all about calculations of all kinds, why deny this by putting a “nice’ face on a set back of the emerging liberal democratic party life and practice? Why do we hide and screen off these stealthy Sokoto Sultanate palace-driven calculations that went into the emergence of Saraki and Dogara in violation of party life, while defending it on questionable grounds?
Sadly, Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s false “God” and his betrayal of the regional calculations around the Sultan of Sokoto have gone down into history of the stealthy and snaky Nigerian polity, especially with regard to the 2015 elections. And let us face it, the now publicly known regional role and calculation of the Sultan of Sokoto in openly violating the innocence of the liberal democratic party driven 2015 Change Mission has the potential of reviving other regional calculations Nigerians thought they were leaving behind under the then emerging vibrant liberal democratic party life of APC built gingerly around the morality of a Change Mission.
With Dogara’s betrayal – in print, and in black and white – of the regional and ethnic forces behind his emergence as Speaker, it is going to be challenging for the Change Mission to retain its moral and political integrity as it was originally and innocently conceived during the 2015 elections; it is going to be difficult for other Nigerians not to look at the emerging process from regional lens.
I learnt it was Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio who said that “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it.” I will like to conclude by moving Shiekh Usman Dan Fodio forward by adding that: “Conscience is an OPEN wound, only OPEN truth and trust can nurture and heal it in an OPEN liberal democratic space”. Sadly, Nigerians did not see that in the last 2015 National Assembly elections as betrayed by and in Speaker Dogara’s “God”, the Sultan of Sokoto and “others”.
Adeolu Ademoyo, [email protected], is with the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.