NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD … OR WHY THE SENEGALESE OPTION IS NOT APPLICABLE TO NIGERIA’S CHRONIC POLITICAL DISEASE
Definitely, all of the above points are very important. However, in order to lay a good foundation for our comprehensive analysis, it’s of utmost importance to first clearify the first two points in the list in part 2 of this treatise while the remaining will be tackled in coming parts.
Undoubtedly, the strong temptation by ACN to form an alliance or merge with Buhari-El-Rufai’s CPC in order to defeat PDP which has been in power since 1999 and seems invincible could be understood . Afterall, an average Nigerian who is fed up with 13 years of PDP misleadership also believes that it is only a coalition, alliance or merger of opposition parties that is capable of ending the monopoly of power by the PDP for the past 13 years. As a matter of fact, suffice to say that on the eve of the 2011 elections, I wrote a 4 part series titled “FREEDOM COALITION: $250M FUND TO ELECT MAJ. ABUBAKAR UMAR (RTD.) RIBADU AND AKUNYILI IN 2011 AND GET RID OF BABANGIDA, JONATHAN AND THE CABAL FOR GOOD! YES WE CAN!” where I suggested(going by the title of the series) the candidacy of either Nuhu Ribadu or Abubakar Dangiwa Umar and Prof. Dora Akunyili as the ideal presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively for the ACN against Jonathan Badluck.
First, before proceeding, to be honest, I want to quickly add here that I have no regrets whatsoever for my position then because based on my objective analysis which also took into account the pecuilarity of Nigeria’s political system(tribalism, rotation, balancing, South, North, Muslim, Christian, etc), and the political permutation and events as of that time, I strongly believed that the most feasible option for the ACN then was to feature a Northerner and Ndigbo as its presidential and Vice presidential candidates respectively – and Ribadu was practically the only popular Northern civilian that could be featured by ACN.
Part of my calculation then was that Ribadu’s political background, reputation as a corruption fighter, secularism which are obvious even in the eyes of his kinsman and political heavyweights like the late president Shehu Yaradua from the ruling opposition party not only makes him a very good choice, but will as well boost the popularity of ACN as a national party (and not a Yoruba or South West party as some pundits would like to label it for their convenience, propaganda purpose meant to discredit the party and limit its acceptance and popularity to one region) both in the North and South. To my pleasant surprise, ACN eventually chose Nuhu Ribadu with Chief Fola Adeola as his running mate as its flag bearer(perhaps, my series, which might be read by the leadership of ACN, played its modest role in the decision). Unfortunately, the duo came third after after Jonathan and Muhammodu Buhari respectively. Why ACN came third in the 2011 presidential elections will definitely be examined in future parts of this series.
EMERGENCE OF MACK SALLY AS SENEGALE’S NEW PRESIDENT AND THE SENEGALESE OPTION: MUCH MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Furthermore, undoubtedly, the result of the Senegalese presidental elections in March 2012 where the opposition parties joined forces in order to defeat the incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade who has been in power for 10 years and was determined to make himself a life president by single handedly changing the country’s Constitution(which limits presidential terms to 2 terms with a duration of 5 years) so that he could contest again for the 3rd term. Despite protests from Senegalese and the global community, and the fact that Wade was already 85 years old, nevertheless, he went ahead to contest. The coalition of parties came together and chose Macky Sall as a united candidate who eventually defeated Abdoulah Wade, popularly known as ‘The hare’ an animal famous in Senegalese’s folklore for his cunniness(just as the Yoruba have the tortoise in their folklore), in the elections. Wade, to the pleasant surprise of the Senegalese and the global community conceeded defeat, congratulated Macky Sall, his former Prime Minister, for victory and handed over power to him peacefully.
Despite the happy ending in the Senegalese’s elections, nevertheless, what Tinubu and the leadershipof ACN need to know is that in as much as the Senegalese option might be tempting and give the impression that all that need to be done in Nigeria too in order to achieve the same result is for ACN to apply the same tactics. However, doing so without a thorough analysis will be a fatal mistake simply because the two countries are completely different in all aspects despite the fact that they are both West African countries.
In as much as the Senegalese’s option might look attractive and tempting, we need to understand that it’s not in all cases that a solution that helped or useful in solving a particular problem in one place could be applied indiscreetly and successfully to similar problem but in another place. In otherwords, applying Senegalese’s medicine to Nigeria’s chronic political problem should not be automatic. A comprehensive analyis need to be conducted before forcing the Senegalese drug inside the throat of the Nigerian patient. Succinctly speaking, the peculiarity and difference of the 2 countries must be taken into full consideration.
WHY THE SENEGALE’S OPTION WILL NOT WORK IN AND FOR NIGERIA.
In terms of ethnic composition, it’s important to note that 43%, 24%, 15% of Senegalese’s population are made up of Wolof, Fula(known also as Fulani) and Secer respectively (total about 83%), unlike in Nigeria where the 3 major ethnic groups, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa each make up about 22%(total, about 65-70%). Furthermore, the Wolof language which is widely spoken across Senegal, to some extent, is also close to Fulani and Secer too.
Unlike in Nigeria where Islam is practised by about 45-55% of the population( about 45% in Yorubaland), and a violent and extreme version of it practised in the North of the country by the Hausa-Fulani, an overwhelming majority of Senegalese(about 95%) are muslims. Islam, being the dominant religion, has also played a significant impact in uniting the Senegalese as one and homogenous nation where they see themselves as one big ethnic group(first and foremost as Senegalese) and are only divided by political ideologies, preferences and programmes.
It’s also important to point out in our analysis that the fact that the Wolof (the largest ethnic group) alone makes up about 43% of Senegalese’s population (compared to Nigeria where the 3 major ethnic groups make up roughly 22% each) means that they could basically determine the outcome of any presidential election single-handedly if an overwhelming majority of them vote for the same candidate – and just one of the minority ethnic groups follow suit.
Unlike Nigeria which has never enjoyed political stability since independence, Senegal, in contrast, is a very peaceful and politically stable country. The Senegalese see and relate to one another as one big family with same father but different mothers.
The foundation of the unity and political stability that the Senegalese are enjoying today(unlike many West African and African countries) and which they have taken for granted was not accidental or spontaneous. It was laid by its well educated and intellectual leaders most especially the first post independence president of the country in the person of Leopold Senghor, internationally acclaimed poet, writer, statesman, the first African elected as a member of French Academy. Without counting the incumbent president, Macky Sall, who ascended office in April 2012, the country has been ruled since independence by just 3 presidents: Leopold Senghor, a christian (1960-1980), Abdou Diouf (1981-2000) and Abdoulaye Wade(2000-2012). After spending 20 years in office, Leopold Senghor from a mixed parents background: father from the Serer
tribe while mother was from the Fula tribe,a Sobornee trained scholar, ‘hand picked’ Abdou Diouf, a muslim, whose father was from the Serer tribe too (like Senghor) but mother from Pulaar(a sub-ethnic group of Fula), and made him the president.
As a matter of fact, it’s important to note here that de facto, Senghor resigned as president so that his confidant, Abdou Diouf, who had already served under him for 10 years as Prime Minister, could be the president and the election was more of a formality’ to validate his political decision and choice.
After spending almost 20 years too in office like his predecessor and political God-father, Leopold Senghor, Abdou Diouf, was defeated by Abdoulaye Wade, a Wolof in a run off elections with a margin of about 17%. Senghor conceeded defeat and handed over power peacefully to Wade. For the first time in the history of Senegal, power changed hands to the opposition peacefully after 40 years. Unlike Nigeria where ibrahim babangida, a military dictator from the Northern part of Nigeria cancelled the results of the presidential elections and refused to hand over power to Chief Moshood Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993, because he was a Yoruba man from the West or Southern part of the country, Abdou Diof, a Serer, handed over peacefully to Wade, a Wolof. To him, they were all one big and united Senegalese family pursuing a common and noble goal: catering for the welfare of every Senegalese.
Unlike Nigeria where Chief Moshood Kasimawo Abiola was eventually murdered by
the ‘Northern military cabal’ headed by Ibrahim Babangida with the connivance and approval of Britain, France and United States because they believed that it was not in their political, economic and military interests for Abiola, a very rich and independent Yoruba politician, who led a fierce and uncompromising global campaign for reparations to African countries by Western countries as compensation for slavery, Senegal had 2 very peaceful change of power. Abduo Diouf conceded defeat and handed over power to Abdoulaye Wade, a Wolof, from the opposition party, despite the fact that his party had been in power for 40 years and he had the chance to do otherwise like in Nigeria and many other African countries. Wade, in turn, conceded defeat to Macky Sall and handed over power to him peacefully.
Unlike Nigeria, which dejure was ruled by incompetent, corrupt, visionless and morally bankrupt military bandits, assasins and dictators like ibrahim babangida, the smiling devil, sanni abacha, olusegun obasanjo, murtala muhammad, abubakar and others, dejure for 38 years, but defacto for 52 years Senegal has never experienced a coup detat nor ruled even for a day by the military.
Unlike Nigeria where an Islamist terrorist group ‘Boko Haram’ are in full operation in the North blowing up fellow innocent and harmless Nigerians into pieces just because they have the misfortune to be christians from the Southern part of the country, Senegal has never experienced any religious uprising.
Unlike Nigeria, Senegal does not practise rotation of presidency on regional or ethnic basis. Unlike in Nigeria where 52 years after independence Northern politicians, governors, retired military officers gather together regularly to strategise on how to get back power and also demand that power should be returned to the region at all cost otherwise hell will let loose, Senegalese politicians, electorates and opposition party search for the best person to represent them at the polls.
Unlike Nigeria which has turned into a failed state, biggest banana republic in the world, a very sick and doomed country despite all the enourmous resources at its disposal, Senegal is a functioning democracy where everything is well organized and functioning. Senegalese leaders have always strived to give their citizens all the good things of life and increase their standard of living.
Unlike Nigeria where Northerners systematically have been murdering Nigerian christians for decades without any interference neither from the state, federal governments, police nor army, Senegal is peaceful. Unlike Nigeria, Senegal does not have devils like ibrahim babangida that send parcel bombs to journalists, deal in drugs and steal billions of dollars of his country’s money.
Unlike Nigeria, Senegal does not manipulate the result of its census in order to favour a certain region. Unlike Nigeria which is the 6th exporter of crude oil, Senegal does not have a drop of oil. Therefore, unlike Nigeria, Senegalese politicians and retired military (criminal) officers do not have oil blocks and as a result are not tempted to hold on to power forever. Unlike Nigeria, Senegalese politicians do not have billions of dollars of oil money to steal nor waste.
Unlike in Nigeria, where cases of human rights abuses, torture and murder of innocent and harmless Nigerians by the Police and Army, kidnapping, human-trafficking, etc., are rampant and have become the norm, Senegalese co-exist and go about their businesses all over the country peacefully and without any fear despite the fact that about 95% of the population are muslims.
Thus, as we have just testified, compared to Nigeria, Senegal is like an innocent child while Nigeria is a grown up, heartless, dangerous and morally bankrupt bandit.
Most importantly, unlike Nigeria with a population of about 160 million, Senegal’s population is a mere 12.5-13 million i.e. about 12 times smaller than that of Nigeria. In otherwords, the whole of Senegal’s population is less than that of Lagos state, the smallest state in Nigeria!
Finally, it is worth mentioning here some very important fact about the biography of Senegalese’s new president, Macky Sall. Though a Fula by ethnic group, Sall was born and grew up in the region dominated by the Wolof and Serer speaking people and was regarded as their own son too. Sall served from 2004 -2007 as Wade’s Prime Minister. Prior to that appointment, he headed the interior and mines ministries respectively. Macky Sall also played a significant role in the re-election of Abdoulaye Wade in 2007 as the head of his electoral campaign. After the re-election of Wade in 2007, Macky Sall was elected as the president of Senegal’s parliament, a post he held until the 2012 presidential election.
From the above information about Macky Sall, it’s obvious that Abdoulaye was succeeded de-facto by an insider who had been a part and parcel of Wade’s ruling party. In otherwords, Wade was succeeded by his former confidant who later rebeled against him or was smart enough to use the political impasse that existed then in the country, allianced with the opposition partiesin order to wrestle power from his former boss and political god-father.
The transfer of power from Wade to Sall could be rightly described too as ‘a palace political coup’ but legalised through a free and fair elections or plebiscite. Taking into consideration the fact that the difference in age between Wade and Sall is 30 years and he(Sall) had held key and strategic political positions in the cabinet for almost 10 years, in short, Abdoulaye Wade practically handed over to a trusted ally, confidant and his political son whom he can rely on to even continue his economic and political policies.
It’s equally important to note here that the Senegalese’s election that Wade lost to Sall was not really about major difference in political ideologies, economic policies nor corruption per se among the parties, but was more about the age of Wade whom at the age of 85 years many Senegalese considered him to be too old and did not endorse his ‘unconstitutional’ changing of the constitution single handedly in order to achieve his political ambition.
Another major factor that played a decisive role in the victory of Macky Sall was the fact that many Senegalese were aware of the fact that Abdoulaye Wade was grooming his own son, Karim, who was the minister for transport and energy under his father, to succeed him. The ‘p
olitical dynasty’ factor which most Senegalese were against worked in favour of Sall.
In order have a better understanding of the political thriller that took place in Senegal in 2012, we need to take our minds or memory back to 2007 when Olusegun Obasanjo tried to change the Constitution in order to conytest for the third term. Imagine that Obasanjo successfully bribed his way and eventually changed the Constitution and became the flag bearer of the PDP. But in the first round of the elections which was free and fair, unfortunately, Obasanjo was unable to ganer enough votes to be declared the winner and a run off in which only 2 parties would take part was inevitable. So, in order to stop Obasanjo from achieving his third term objective, all the other parties rallied round the second party and called upon their supporters to cast their votes for the presidential candidate of this party who had been a minister in Obasanjo’s cabinet, was the Speaker of the House of representatives or Senate president and was even the head of Obasanjo’s electoral campaign in 2003.
Now, my question is if the candidate of the second party defeats Obasanjo, would it be completely right to say that PDP or/and Obasanjo lost the election. The answer is not that straigh forward or obvious simply because dejure, though, it’s a new party that is in power now( and not the PDP) but defacto, it is still a PDP man that is in control of the country and not new faces or people with new economic and political ideas and direction for the country.
Therefore, the new president who had been a member of the PDP all his life would most likely continue with the same economic and political policies that he had been executing/implimenting in PDP. Given such a scenario, strictly speaking, we can as well conclude that ‘an offspring, offshoot or clone’ of the PDP came to power – and not a new party per se. This was exactly what happened in Senegal and was ‘wrongly’ interpreted as victory of the coalition of opposition parties.
As a matter of fact, a thorough analysis of post-independent Senegal shows that there has never been real opposition parties in the real sense of the word. Abdoulaye Wade was able to defeat Diouf because the Senegalese were just fed up the same man and party running the country for 20 and 40 years respectively. They yawned to see new faces.
Therefore, Wade’s victory over Diouf was more of ‘phsychological factor’ than political. Wade ran Senegal for 12 years. The same scenario repeated itself in 2012. This time around, Wade was the victim of ‘age and dynasty factors’. The Senegalese were just fed up of seeing the old face of Wade, who was then 85 years, and believed that they had had enough of him and it was time for him to go on pension and have a good rest. They were also against his intention to install his son, Karim, after himself as his successor.
Obviously, by voting for Macky Sall, the Senegalese were not really expecting a significant change in policies, direction of the country nor improvement in their standard of living. The Senegalese election was more about a ‘change of old Wade’s face for that of young, energetic and charismatic Macky Sall.
In essence, what the above comparison has shown is that Senegal and Nigeria are completely different countries(very far apart like the sky and earth) in all terms. I have taken the time and pain to carry out an analysis of Senegal’s politics especially the 2012 elections in order to draw your attention to the big difference between the two countries, so that ACN could get rid of the illusion that what worked in Senegal will work in Nigeria too and not fall into the trap of the descendants of Usman Dan Fodio; Muhammodu Buhari and Nasir El-Rufai. Therefore, copying Senegal blindly will not only not yield the desired result, but will even make things worse for ACN.
In a nutshell, ACN must look before it leaps into an alliance with the CPC, ANPP or any other party. The Senegalese option will not work in Nigeria, a more sophisticated, divided, tribalised, corrupt country built on lies and deceit and run since independence by bandits, assasins and despots.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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