Some days back I had the bizarre experience of reading a statement made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman, Olisa Metuh, on the just concluded nationwide membership registration exercise by the All Progressives Congress (APC). Bizarre, because, not only did Mr Metuh accuse the APC of a plot to disrupt the 2015 general elections using its membership registration as the platform, the premise of his allegation lay on the notion that the APC would collude with INEC in order to manipulate the electoral process.
PDP, through Mr Metuh, alleged that the opposition party was planning to register 28 million phantom members, which it maintained the APC was planning to use as a plot, in conjunction with INEC, to claim victory in the 2015 general election and to “truncate the current democratic process”. Mr Metuh further stated that part of the plot by the APC was to use the “fraudulent membership” registration to hype up a phantom public support, after which it would declare a particular bogus figure and create a false impression of massive public followership ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Hopefully Mr Metuh, understanding the sheer hypocrisy of his claim will appreciate the irony of the black pot trying to call the teakettle black in this instance.
At first glance, I suspected that the statement was a cleverly disguised satirical piece; Mr Metuh was not trying to be serious, he was trying to prove that in addition to being an eloquent and skilled orator, he is also a master of the ever-subtle art of ironic humor. For if not that, why would he speak and make suggestions to the Nigerian populace in a manner that one would address kindergarten students on their very first day in school?
The allegation he made that INEC is in collusion with the APC to rig the 2015 election is indeed so absurd and incongruous that one can’t imagine how he kept a straight face when making it. While we can come up with all sorts of punch lines for such a joke, it must be said that, on the contrary, it is believed by a large number of Nigerians that it is the PDP that has, since our nascent democratic dispensation, been in connivance with the electoral body to rig elections.
As proof for the purported connivance between INEC and APC, Mr Metuh went ahead to present the fact that the APC registration-exercise was being conducted in INEC election centers and buildings. In reality, the INEC buildings in question are public infrastructures and public buildings, such as schools and people have the right to use these buildings legally.
In fact, in various localities where the registration took place, the indigenous people recognized the right of the party to utilize these structures and, in all cases, lent their full and unwavering support to the party. Accordingly, and in a swift reaction to the allegation and claims of the PDP, INEC debunked the claims that it was aiding APC, adding that the commission has no monopoly, right or control over public structures.
To accuse the APC of planning to rig the 2015 elections is one thing, but to further allege that the APC is carrying out some covert and Machiavellian scheme, together with INEC, in order to rig the 2015 elections sounds ridiculous to the average human brain. The thought of INEC working with an opposition party in order to topple a government that it has allegedly been unfairly assisting in the past three elections is an interesting and laughable notion.
But it would be very difficult for anyone to be convinced that Mr. Metuh does himself believe that INEC is unfairly working with an opposition party, against the ruling party in this day, in Nigeria. Or perhaps he believes that come the 2015 elections, Martians will descend from Uranus down into Nigeria (INEC specifically), and blow green fairy dust into the eyes of the electoral umpires which will equip them with the super power of creating a level playing ground, of which PDP will not be given an undue advantage over every other party.
Although the entirety of Mr Metuh’s statement was laced with the usual bravado expressed by the PDP, a more intense scrutiny exposes nervousness on the part of the ruling party, which most likely was triggered by the acceptance and overwhelming support the APC has been getting and generating.
A great deal of what Mr Metuh described takes the form of a cleverly scripted, tried and tested strategy. Almost as if he was describing the kind of strategy that the PDP has been allegedly accused of applying in past elections. Call me sneering, but there just maybe some truth to the adage; “it takes one to know one!”
If, as the ruling party described, pupils and students were being lured by the APC to get the passport photographs of their parents in order to have them secretly affixed to the APC membership forms without the knowledge of the parents, then the PDP has a responsibility to expose this or any other fraud or face the accusation themselves that they know about this strategy solely because it is one that they may have used in the past.
But out of the whole statement that Mr Metuh made, the most shocking was the claim that the APC is “currently using every foul means at its disposal to build a particular membership figure, running into tens of millions, which it intends to use as a justification to fault, dispute, reject and subsequently take to violence when it loses the 2015 general elections.” Forget the fact that Mr Metuh used the mandatory term ‘when’ as opposed to ‘if’, giving the impression that he’s some sort of clairvoyant with the power to see that PDP has already won the 2015 election, one would hope that accompanying such a serious claim of violence would be some evidence. Or are we supposed to accept this solely on the fluffy words of Mr Metuh?
Curious however, is that despite the harsh tone and dire warning of Armageddon woven throughout his statement, Mr Metuh ignores the fact that he has raised a very serious and dire security alarm, of which he has a duty, as a Nigerian, to report to the appropriate security department and furnish them with the evidence to support such a strong claim, especially in the present volatile atmosphere in Nigeria. If Mr Metuh genuinely believes that the APC is already planning for violence should it loose the 2015 elections and he knows for a fact that APC will loose the election, then he really has a duty to step up and offer any information he knows to the state security so that they can investigate, first the threat of violence and second, the conspiracy to rig the 2015 election. Even if the party of which he speaks for is part of such a conspiracy and desperately wants to maintain this diversion tactic ruse, he has a patriotic duty to step up and do right by Nigeria.
Forging ahead in his bid to discredit the gains the APC has achieved within a year of its formation using the words and method that he did, what Mr Metuh really did was expose real fear on behalf of the PDP. If anybody thought otherwise, Mr Metuh’s statement has made it very clear that the PDP is troubled by the popularity, acceptance, and alternative Nigerians have accorded the APC.
After all, in just over a year of its existence as a political party in Nigeria, it currently occupies about 58 seats in the 109 seats in the Senate, 172 seats out of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives, and 16 governors out of the 36 states in the country. These commendable figures are expected to increase tremendously after next year’s elections, as the APC is poised to upstage and unseat the ruling party in many constituencies. Maybe that would explain the real reason why Mr Metuh is already fidgeting and representing PDP in the light of the party that cried wolf.
Despite Mr Metuh’s accusation of an attempted declaration of a particular bogus membership figure running into tens of millions, creating a false impression of massive public followership by the APC, there is little doubt that he himself, surreptitiously also believes what most the rest of the world knows to be true: that the majority of PDP members are unceasingly abandoning the party and joining an alternative platform. For now, APC seems to be the biggest beneficiary. And as a result of that and the fact that the APC is a merger of different opposition parties — Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and part of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), APC is bound to be larger than any of the legacy parties were before. This would indeed automatically explain the increase of its membership figures, boosted by new and formerly undecided and disillusioned Nigerians who are merely looking for a way out of the confused quagmire the nation finds itself.
Instead of praising the party for its contribution so far to the democratic process by creating an atmosphere where Nigerians are interested in participating in the political development of this nation, Mr Metuh choose to view the cup from a position where it appears to be half empty. Instead of commending the APC on its fulfillment of the requisite political plurality obtainable in other democratic climes and opening up democratic liberty so as to enable Nigerians choose whichever political party platform they so wished, PDP has resorted to cheap quibbling, crying wolf and attempting to deter optimistic Nigerians who are so desperate for change, desperate for something new.
In fact, one could say that Mr Metuh’s rhetoric is a deliberate attempt by the ruling party to dissuade the enthusiastic teeming populace from coming out en masse in partaking and becoming members of an alternative and formidable party, the first of its kind since 1999, capable of wresting power from the ruling party.
The intended audience of Mr Metuh’s speech was meant to be the average Nigerian but, of that audience, only those who are willing to gullibly be led down the dark alley yet again would have fully absorbed the marrow of his words. Nigerians have for too long been the naïve cheerleaders of the power brokers who have done us so wrong. But the scars from 15 years of PDP corruption and lies have left profound grooves in the minds of Nigerians who dared to hope and believe while they were so compellingly made.
Nigerians have evidently had enough. When the PDP puts out a statement saying: “We wish to remind the APC that no political party has the monopoly of mischief,” one can only laugh out loud. Because, despite the fact that PDP is the party that has allegedly thrived on mischief, guile and deceitfulness over the past 15 years, they are the ones who are unashamedly crying foul loudest in the face of a formidable adversary.
Thus, as the PDP and Mr Metuh continues to cry foul about election malpractices, one hopes that they fully understand the sheer hypocrisy and irony of their claim. And if one was ever to look for a case of the pot calling the kettle black, then they need not look any further than this PDP’s cry wolf.
Ms. Musawa, an attorney, community activist and public affairs commentator is a syndicated columnist for PREMIUM TIMES. Kindly follow her via her twitter handle @hanneymusawa. You can also visit her website www.facebook.com/hannatu.musa