The third term agenda of the current administration has indeed ruffled some distinguished feathers across the nation: from civil society, to human rights activist and to some journalists, the congregation has risen in unison to condemn the personification of politics and its attempt to change our lives through the backdoor by the Obasanjo administration and his cronies. Indeed, while the administration have continued to deny the existence of such ambition, all you need to read is the various statements from Ojo Maduekwe the chief henchman of the party and Falana the official trumpet of Aso Rock.
We can read between the lines, and Nigerians need to be on guard. After going through the current constitution one can be put to rest (albeit belatedly) that such attempt will easily be found unconstitutional by the nation’s courts if it is ever attempted by the current administration, especially under the clause that denies those who amend the constitution from becoming beneficiaries of such amendments.
However, like the law of unforeseen consequences certain individuals with evil past- men of yesterday, that pillaged the resources of our nation and entrenched corruption in our land and happen to be feeling the heat of the Ribadu led campaign, are now using the third term agenda to start their own mini-campaign to stop the well intentioned anti-corruption drive. They have come in different shapes and sizes, but what binds them all together is that if not for the kind of country we live in their official places of residency should be in Kirikiri prison.
The so called Movement for the Restoration of Democracy will really do Nigeria a favor if they do a little to restore their own credibility. The Northern politicians dominated movement is made up of men of yesterday like Rimi, Buhari, and Awoniyi and of course Jimeta (the most corrupt Inspector General of Police before Balogun). What they really intend to restore is corruption in the land. What they all have in common apparently is a deep seated hatred for Obasanjo (and to confess sincerely, I am not an Obasanjo fan either). But these men could not find any better problems with Nigeria, than their avowed determination to stop a well intentioned push to amend the military constitution their cronies handed over to us. Many among them are promoters of the immunity clause as well as the Unitarian structure of the current document, yet in their infinite wisdom Nigerians should ignorantly subscribe to their rail roading tactics and abandon a credible amendment for no amendment at all. Truth be said, most Nigerians will live in a nation with Uncle Sege as president for another four years, than Awoniyi as the helmsman for one day – what do these men have to offer?
The other twin of this group is a mini grand alliance between the South West and Middle Belt, more like a reincarnation of the UPGA group of the 1960s. This group calls itself the Movement for the Defense of Democracy. In my opinion, the membership is quite formidable (at least they have people in office) and it very well looks like it is another PDP with no clear ideological standing. Because I find it very hard to believe Gemade and Ogbeh are in the same party or that Ikimi (Abacha’s henchman) is in the same party as Bola Tinubu. Apparently this group is after power and for disparate reasons. While the likes of Ogbeh and Gemade will like a position in government to pay back the Obasanjo boys in their own coin, Ikimi sees it as another opportunity to loot and clown around the land, while Tinubu really wants to be the Senate President in this next dispensation (may be he can get to entrench federalism in the center if he does, who knows?) The populist tendency of this party was even laughable to the extent they included Nigeria’s inability to qualify for world cup as one of the missteps of the current administration – haba!
Beyond all these commentary however, the occasion that have given rise to these movements has been long in coming. Since the feud between the President and his Vice became public, it has been an all out war between the Presidential camp led by the President himself, using Buba Marwa the anointed successor for 2007 as a proxy and the Vice President camp using Bola Tinubu as a swagger stick. There is no doubt in my mind that the President is afraid of his legacy after 2007, he said it already that while he does not know those who will succeed him, he knows those who will not. This statement as it is happens to be partial truth. Sources close to the President have confirmed that he is very warm to the idea of a Marwa-Odili presidency; you don’t need any evidence but the repeated visits of the President to Rivers state and the fact that the President’s son heads Marwa campaign machinery. Certainly, Tinubu have never been known to really like the President and like a true politician that he has always been would relish the breaking up of the PDP that have tormented him in Lagos for the past eight years, who wouldn’t?
Furthermore, the penchant of the President to equate his ideas to that of the party have driven his party apart and caused so much disharmony that any right thinking Nigeria will see this as a God send political realignment. The result of a huge majority and overwhelming political presence of the PDP in this dispensation have been the death of true opposition, corruption in the land, inefficiency and a gradual drift to a one party state or a one man rule that every Nigerian should resist with every bit of the strength. But those that should lead this fight should not be the thieves of yesterday, and that is what a MRD-MDD alliance will constitute. But if Nigerians are between the devils (PDP) and the deep blue sea (MDD-MRD), my bet is that we can always take a beach walk between them both without losing a sleep!
Looking into the crystal ball, the MRD-MDD alliance will be a marriage of strange bedfellows, if the rumors turn out to be true. Not only is the group truly disparate, with the MRD conservative fellows marrying the more progressive MDD, this marriage is bound to implode on the exit of their common enemy which is Olusegun Obasanjo. What is happening to PDP now is bound to happen to any MRD-MDD alliance that will develop from the present philandering taking place between their leaderships.
But like every political discussion, the question should be what Nigeria stands to gain or lose from the ongoing earthshaking shifts in our political landscape. No doubt, these realignments are good for Nigeria. Not only will it offer more choice, they will provide a catalyst for future alignments that will take place after the next election cycle. While the PDP will emerge with a purer ideology after the exits of its MRD-MDD elements, becoming more capitalist-conservative oriented, the AD is bound to die while the MRD-MDD will be the pseudo-PDP waiting to eat the crumbs of this alignment. Not to forget the ANPP, the ANPP will become a more sectional oriented party based on Shar
ia and Islamic philosophy, setting up Nigeria for the first time for a truly competitive election between three weaker parties. The new MRD-MDD movement built around Atiku-Tinubu alliance will command a sizeable following in the South West, Middle Belt and North East. The PDP on the other hand, will maintain its stranglehold on the South-South, South East and parts of North Central. The ANPP will continue to dominate the North Central and North West for the near future, provided sharia continues to be in its manifesto and Buhari its presidential standard bearer.
There is no doubt in my mind that the race towards 2007 has begun. This race is directly between two personalities Marwa (backed by OBJ machinery) and Atiku backed by PDM and remnants of the AD. The key to winning in 2007 will be the choice of Vice Presidents. A North/South-South ticket is definitely the hottest hand in the next election, so an Atiku candidacy can only pull weight with a Niger Deltan on his side, a gimmick of pulling someone from the South East will by far be the worst political mistake of the century (apologies to my eastern brothers, no harm intended). Nominations for the past for this slot have mentioned people like Senator Ibru and career men like Gamiliel Onosode. These will definitely be a sign of good omen for the Niger Delta that truly deserves a shot at the Presidency sooner rather than later, but whose interests have since been sold by the majority ethnic groups in the country in the name of power shift. How these alignments will play in the light of the new election system or a new constitution needs to be watched closely as well, because any of these developments can change the equation for all political juggernauts in 2007.
Conclusively, it is sad to see many Nigerians equating the presidential ticket of the ruling party to a direct ascendancy to the sit of power. It shows how bastardized and personified our political mentality has been for the past four years. However, while the PDP is in a process of cleaning itself of past misdeeds let the other parties and political players remember that their time will come. The success of PDP house cleaning will also be best self-evident if the likes of Uba can be eased out finally, because it is hard to justify the inclusion of this criminal in the board of trustees of an anti-corruption focused party. The fight for Nigeria’s future has begun and the third term agenda is bound to fail regardless of MDD or MRD. What is certain is that it is not yet uhuru, and that we will do this sometimes again in the very near future because things have fallen apart, the center cannot hold; anarchy might be loosened upon Nigeria!
“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”