2015: The Naked Dancers and the Two-Year Marathon, By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

“There is no gainsaying that the PDP is in turmoil and chaos at the moment.”

In a functional democracy, the arguments and divisions currently wracking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would be seen as a sign of the healthy debates and disagreements that are critical to democratic progression and the constant alignments and re-alignments that are permanent features of the electoral process.

But Nigerians now know better because the people currently in control of the PDP have no altruistic guiding principles and ideology to shape the party and promote good governance. The PDP’s top brass: President – Goodluck Jonathan, former president and BoT chairman – Olusegun Obasanjo, National Chairman – Bamanga Tukur, former and new BoT Chairman – Tony Anenih, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum – Rotimi Amaechi, and a number of Governors have been engaged in a naked dance that amounts to exhibition of little more than raw and unbridled ambition.

At the root of the argument is not about which approach to adopt to tackle the enormous challenges confronting Nigeria. No one is talking about how to address the problem of our 20 million youth who have no jobs and are losing hope, or how to improve our collective security. None of the naked dancers is interested in seeking solutions to the problems of growing poverty, de-industrialization, deteriorating infrastructure, rising inequality, falling standards of education or decaying healthcare. None of the combatants in the PDP’s disagreements is concerned with tackling Nigeria’s mind-boggling corruption, impunity or even how to prepare for the day when our oil revenues will dry up. The one and only thing on the minds of these PDP apparatchiks is personal ambition, the pursuit of power and the senseless looting and primitive accumulation associated therewith.

In essence, what should be a public debate between and among the ruling party members to chart the path of progress for the country it has ruled since 1999 and has promised to govern for at least 60 years has been reduced to a voluble public fight about who gets what, where, how, and knowing the PDP for what it has become, how much! Eventually, because the fight is not predicated on any ideological or principled stand, whether by the instrument of the EFCC or the sheer need to remain on the corridors of power, all the gladiators will fall back in line at the right moment in order for the party to continue its nuclear war on the Nigerian people.

A year or two ago, it would have gotten away with it, too. Except that things are beginning to change, and a two-year marathon that would determine the future of Nigeria’s 170 million people is beginning to take shape and form: From mysterious campaign posters appearing overnight, PDP governors that have gone missing for months, trillions of stolen fuel subsidy and pension funds, unneeded and unsolicited 10 million cell phones for farmers, the first lady’s death and resurrection, endless political intrigues, revelations and long knives within the PDP – up to the emergence of a new opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the tone for the 2015 elections seem to be taking shape.

Now, the issue is: what does the current situation and evolving developments entail, and what are their possible implications for the 2015 general elections, if we ever get there? Does the current discord within the ruling party signal the beginning of the end of its existence? Will the formation of the APC which is the merger of the four major opposition parties – ACN, CPC, ANPP and parts of APGA- signify the emergence of a ‘new’ and better Nigeria for the over 125 million Nigerians below the age of 35? Will the new party, APC survive its teething challenges and emerge with a manifesto and truly representative yet formidable candidates that will sweep away majority votes at the poles?

As all parties gear up towards 2015, we need to ask: Is President Jonathan capable of participating in the election without deliberately dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines for his short-term political gain? Is INEC willing, able and capable of delivering free, fair and credible elections in 2015? Can we trust INEC not to be what the opposition perceives it to be – a mere tool and toothless subsidiary of the PDP? How do we as individuals and stakeholders contribute our quota to ensure that we do not remain pawns in the hands of selfish politicians? Can we see through the antics of the false prophets who promised fresh air and transformation, only to lead us to the path of division and destitution?

There is no gainsaying that the PDP is in turmoil and chaos at the moment. On the surface, it began in January with the call by PDP governors for the sack of the party chairman – Bamanga Tukur due to the latter’s interference in the Adamawa PDP politics. This was followed by the move against Obasanjo’s henchmen in the party which led to the sack of its National Auditor Chief Bode Mustapha and his replacement by Alhaji Fatai Adewole Adeyanju while National Vice Chairman, South West, Segun Oni and National Secretary Oyinlola, were somehow also removed.

Following the above, the PDP set up its own Governor’s Forum with Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom emerging as chairman in an attempt to polarize the already existing Nigeria Governor’s Forum which has the ‘stubborn’ Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as chair. As stated, the whole saga is indicative of PDP’s desperation to hang on to power and not allow democracy take its course. It has been alleged that this new forum was set-up to trim down the influence of Amaechi who is seen as too independent and non-conformist for the current PDP leadership. Those who know the PDP well will tell you that the quarrels can easily be resolved as soon as some of the excess crude, the looted fuel subsidy and pension funds are released and redistributed – and the gravy train that is the PDP will begin to roll again. But that is another matter for another day.

For now, the newly formed APC seems to have a grasp of what they are doing. Just a week ago, the opposition governors in the APC made a bold statement by holding the party’s third meeting in Maiduguri – the capital and base of the Boko-Haram insurgency. They also donated N200m to victims of the crisis. So far, the current government has neither been able to curb the insurgency nor has it set up a relief fund for victims of the menace. It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan, once said he could not visit Maiduguri because the ‘airport was not in good shape’ and just about a month before was ‘too busy’ to visit and sent his deputy, Namadi Sambo. The APC governors have now shamed Jonathan to visit Maiduguri and recognize Borno as one of the 36 states of Nigeria!

The emergence of the APC, apparent crumbling of the ruling PDP alongside the deregistering of political parties by INEC appears to be gradually paving way for a pan-Nigerian opposition platform capable of ending the PDP’s hegemony. Although the two-party system may have its disadvantages, it would be advantageous for Nigeria by providing a sturdy check and balance as well as choice for Nigerians. It will also reduce the clutter and confusion created by numerous existing ‘briefcase’ parties which possess no clout. In fact, some political economists believe that the two parry system leads to political stability and in turn, economic growth.

In spite of the positive direction we are headed with the merger of the major opposition parties, the APC on its part has its work cut out for it to stand as a stronghold in the 2015 elections. It has to ensure that we do not eventually become another failed merger bereft of individuals who truly have the interest of the nation at heart. Individual ambitions have so far been shelved in favor of truly democratic ideals, and this is encouraging. As APC, we must reach out to the populace at the grassroots and earn their confidence rather than appease the ‘godfathers’ to ensure political advantage. It is gratifying that the inter-party merger teams led by Chief Tom Ikimi have focused on these true democratic principles in shaping the APC’s birth.

As everything is being set in place for the elections in 2015, the only way more bloodshed would be averted is by ensuring free and fair elections. This is the only way to save our nation and its democracy. Looting in advance of 2015 to buy up votes, militarization and deployment of coercive instruments will not work but only lead to open confrontation and violence. The electorate must be encouraged to vote by providing a safe and serene atmosphere devoid of any intimidation for voting to take place. If neighboring Ghana has been able to conduct several successive peaceful, free and fair elections, then we have no reason not to better that record, given our vast human and material resources.

It is time for our elites to rise to the challenge and actively engage in the political activities, and encourage the involvement of all citizens in the electoral process, knowing that sovereignty lies with them. It is time for our professionals and Diaspora to move from being armchair or online critics to work towards informing the broader electorate that it is only when we elect people with proven track records of excellence, hard work and integrity that we can truly move forward as a nation. Nigerians must understand that voting on the basis of tribe or religion has never, and will not lead to the emergence of the Nigeria of our dreams. Those that voted for Jonathan for these reasons can see the unintended consequences of their decision.

As we watch the PDP’s naked dancers strut their raw ambitions in public, Nigerians need to appreciate the power of their vote and do all they can to guard it jealously. Knowing that the PDP will do everything under the sun to remain in power at all costs despite deteriorating infrastructure, growing insecurity, poverty and unemployment in Nigeria, it is clear that we must all play active roles in what may be a tough two-year marathon towards 2015. Eventually, it is the power of our vote – how wisely we use it – and the deterrent structures to ensure PDP and its partners do not write and declare fictitious election results that will free us from the current regime of corruption, impunity and incompetence.


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  • Afam

    Pot calling Kettle black,when you spent 5 years with them you don’t know? when your Boss OBJ said to have spent 16Billion USD on power sector without adding 1MW you did not know? when Tony Anineh was said to have defrauded the country to tune of N356billion of Benin/Ore road you were sitting and dinning on the same table with them until you fall out with them due to 2007 presidential ticket….mad EL-RUFAI

    • Engr Greg

      Stupid article. Wasted my time reading nonsense. Mscheeeeew!

    • Aisha Mahmud

      8trillion is too huge compared to those, my friend, ever in d history of looting in this couintry!

  • Lanre

    Mallam El-Rufai. I am an Awoist, i.e. an ardent an unrepentant follower of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s political ideals. So Naturally, I align with the ACN and might therefore be expected to support the APC. But there is a game changer. And let me tell you right now so you can tell my fellow Yoruba Governors: The key issue now and into 2015 is going to be Terrorism (Boko Haram) and resource control. Right now I am in total support of President Goodluck Jonathan on his stance with regard to Boko Haram. He also appears to be trending towards Resource Control. I will ignore his other faults and support him in 2015. That is the truth. Where do you and APC stand on these issues. Chikena!

    • Otitoju Adamolekun

      Lanre, You are free to support PDP. That is not a problem. I am happy you revealed your PDP credentials after a very long time on this platform. Anybody can call himself an Awoist just like you have just done. But like someone asked you: Will Awo support a money launderer like Babalakin just because he is Yoruba the way you blindly support him even when he was alleged to be in bed money laundering “oil money” from “South South”? If you need oil bloc, why dont you be starightforward about it. At least that is the usual corrupt practice in Abuja. All you need is to prostrate before oil master and oil madam in Abuja. So it is not strange. But if you will and must evoke Awo’s name please do it properly. Awo does NOT favor corruption. Awo does not favor money laundering. Yet on this platform, you have blindly supported someone who is accused of money laundering and who is yet to be freed. That is Babalakin. And you did that just because he is Yoruba. So you will support corruption in the name of some ethicity!!! The nauseating thing is that your support for him is purely ethnic. That is IMMORAL Lanre. Your view is personal. And if you must evoke Awo’s name please do it against a set of respectable criteria which are democratic, liberal, moral, ethical, welfarist, pan-Nigerian, pan_african. It is people like you who read Awo wrongly and upside down that do not let people understand him properly. Please go and read Awo properly, you will see in his works a federalist, a Nigerian nationalist, a pan_Africanist, a moralist, an ethicist, a democratic socialist etc. And this is precisely his ideological connection with Nkrumah, Amilca Cabral etc. I do not know how much of Awo people like you read. But I must say that you have shown a lack of understanding of his political philosophy and that is intellectually damaging to a strong and deep pan Africanist thinker like Awo. Please Lanre stop this ethnic nonsense you hawk around.

      • Lanre

        This is my only, last and final response to you. Tell Premium Times, to block my IP address so I cannot post again. That way you don’t have to read the nonsense I post. I have always said I am not worried about reactionaries. My concern is about the so-called revolutionaries and radicals, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the fifth columnists that run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. You don’t know me and you don’t know the school of critical thought that I represent. I lived and survived Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abubakar and all the pseudo-democrats after them. I have talked and advised leaders who if they had listened would never have found themselves in the misery they are in today. I am not a social media activist for your information. Now GET LOST!

        • Otitoju Adamolekun

          I have challenged you to show me and other Nigerian citizens on the point of good thinking and logic how a so-called “Awoist” will support the monumental corruption under this regime. I say that because Awolowo represents one of the finest moral thinkers in the field of practical politics. But you have not taken up my challenge because you cannot for Awolowo WILL NEVER support the kind moral carnage and corruption under this regime. The only response you gave to my challenge is “GET LOST”. I think we need to base our commitment to Awo’s political philosophy of moral justice and equity on a deep and sober reflection on his works. Your position does not show a deep and reflective understanding of one of the most important political philosophers our continent -Africa- produced. You must be a poor and unsound interpreter of Awolowo’ political and moral philosophy. And some of us are happy that you finally reveal your political choice. The word “GET LOST” is anti Awolowo’s intellectual tradition, (Awolowo argued and acted, he never shouted “GET LOST) hence my position that you need to read and understand Awolowo more deeply and in a more sober manner.

  • Adefemiwa Simon

    @Otitoloju Adamolekun,
    From what I read, Lanre did not support corruption nor did he support tribal/religious politics. He only came out boldly to say that he would not hate Goodluck Jonathan based on d propanganda of Hell Rufai and the muslim north and muslim south. I am sure you are a muslim from south. You people see nothing good in GEJ. You only want a muslim as president and nothng more. You people with Hell Rufai will never condemn Boko Haram publicly bcos u see them as ur people carryng out your errand. GEJ has not performed efficiently but you people wit ur muslim people are d one promoting insecurity to disctract him. That evil game plan of urs for year 2015 cannot sway the christians north and south from voting for him. Continue to sponsor ur Boko haram and come out to shout that GEJ is clueless, we are no fools.

    • Otitoju Adamolekun

      I will prefer that you focus on the issues rather talk about someone who (i) is muslim from the south or (ii) someone who sees nothing good in GEJ. Please focus on the issues. Awolowo has a ZERO tolerance for corruption. And no one should be allowed to evoke a noble name (like Lanre had done and implied) in support of the massive corruption under President Jonathan and Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke’s ministry. If you and Lanre want oil license, please go ahead and meet Madam Diezani Alison-Madueke and President Jonathan and collect your own. DO NOT BRING YORUBAS into your corruption. The government of President Jonathan is filthy corrupt, and personally I will not like diversions such as yours and Lanre to stop us from getting rid of this corruption. I am not going to siddon look anymore. You can name call if you want. You have a right to your name calling. But African countries are moving. Nigeria must move. We sit down there satisfied with someone who was never prepared to govern. I can no longer tolerate the argument of “oh it is our time to rule… oh it our oil, the oil is in our backyard …so we have to rule …” etc. If you and Lanre want oil, please go to Abuja and collect your own license like other corrupt people do. Lanre should STOP evoking the name of Awolowo whenever he talks and ends up SUPPORTING the MOST CORRUPT regime in Africa and that is the regime of President Jonathan. Lanre revealed his bad morals and bad politics when he evoked the noble name of Awolwo to support a patently and intensely corrupt regime like that of President Jonathan.he should stop it. Lanre supports corruption in his support of GEJ. Lanre supports ethnic republics in his support for Babalakin who is accused of money laundering. Please check his other posts and stop this attempt to put cream on a piece of stench. Finally, you and Lanre have rights to support whatever you support, but please DO NOT bring Awolowo’s name to bless stench and corruption. We who read Awo very deeply will not allow that-FULL STOP.

    • akinyanju

      Please do not shift the goal post in an argument. Lanre declared that he is in support of PDP and President Jonathan. Lanre has the right to do that. It is a democracy. NO ONE CAN DENY LANRE HIS RIGHT TO SUPPORT PRESIDENT JONATHAN AND PDP. But one thing Lanre does NOT have right to, is to bring the SYMBOL OF CORRUPTION AS REPRESENTED BY PRESIDENT JONATHAN AND PDP NEAR OBAFEMI AWOLOWO. Please Lanre DO NOT DO IT. PDP is a worthless piece of rag, the very incarnate of CORRUPTION. And that incarnate of CORRUPTION is led by President Jonathan who DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT CORRUPTION. President Jonathan swims in it. You are free to swim with him in his corruption. But Look it is an abomination to bring Awolowo near this shameless thing going on in Abuja. It is an abomination to bring Awolowo’s name near the corruption Presdent Jonathan represents. DO NOT TRY IT. DO NOT DO IT. Why will Lanre do that and he keeps on swearing that “Awolowo is my leader”. Nobody can deny him his political choices. But people both in and out Nigerian take Awolowo’s thought seriously. For you and Lanre to bring PDP a party which is beneath contempt near Awolowo is crossing the line. Lanre crossed the line in bring Awolowo’s name near PDP and President Jonathan’s corruption, and Lanre should know. This is why I agree with those who suggest that whoever is looking for oil license should please go and ask President Jonathan and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke. But they should not bring symbols of perfection and excellence which Awolowo represents near the moral absurdity and corruption which President Jonathan and Mr Diezani Aliso-Madueke sit on. So do not mask the argument and begin to mention some religious divide. I am not going to tell you my religious faith. It is unecessary. What I object to is that wherever I go in the world I as a Nigeran , I am seen as being corrupt. And that is because of the corruption in President Jonathan’s presidency. I want to stop that. the way to stop that is to work democratically against the PDP in 2015. You Adefemi Simon and Lanre can work to perpetuate corruption in 2015, I together with other patriots in Nigeria will work towards unseating corruption in 2015 by working democratically to unseat PDP in 2015 . But you and Lanre MUST not bring the reverred name of Awolowo near CORRUPTION as symbolised by PDP and President Jonathan. Please it is an abomination. DO NOT DO IT. Light and darkness do not mix.