President Muhammadu Buhari’s rise to power is a parable of tenacity and the happy pendulum of fate. No one counted on him at one time. His big and mighty foes feared his appeal. They waited for his venom to expire. Before the expiration date, however, he struck.
Then those who pooh-poohed him, who sneered that he was no more than a grand and populist irritation, began to see him as the wisdom of the hour.
They no longer flaunted their superior airs and credentials. Rather, they flocked to him. They morphed into cheerleaders and wiggled their waists in the same band. But they rehearsed a different genre of music.
When it was time to sing, their incongruous tunes collapsed under the throaty sonority of the majority.
Now the majority’s symphony fell silent, we started to hear the dissonance of toads and crocodiles.
Nothing tells this story more than the ambitions and cynicisms of three men. The first is the Owu chief, Olusegun Obasanjo, the peripatetic harlot of Nigerian politics, Atiku Abubakar, and the Kwara renegade, Bukola Saraki.
As for the rise of Buhari, it calls back the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. All three were outsiders of the vortex of power. In the case of Lincoln, he was too tall, ungainly and ill bred. Churchill was a loud mouth, boor and subversive. In fact, former United States president, Richard Nixon, noted in his memoirs that he drew inspiration from Churchill. His obituary was written off late in his life in the House of Commons. He turned out to be the greatest prime minister in memory.
As for de Gaulle, he was an outcast in an age of national treachery when Petain and other French leaders sold the pride and birthright of France to the butchery of Nazi Germany. His contemporaries regarded de Gaulle as rebellious, foolish and puerile. Churchill plotted to fly him out of Paris in the turbulent flush of the blitzkrieg. Churchill remarked that de Gaulle’s soul encased the French pride in that flight of escape.
Once these men became their nations’ leaders, they waxed from pariahs to messiahs. All who looked down on them later bowed. Those who did not bow wheeled into subterranean intrigues and acts of subversion. They wanted to torpedo the popular will.
The APC crisis is still called crisis in spite of what some of its leaders call reconciliation. It is the act of papering over the cracks. The men who do not wish the party well only wish for the party their ambition. They do not love Buhari. They only sat in the train or rode in the same carriage because he was the only one in whose company they could clutch their selfish dreams.
Their schemes are coming home to roast, not roost.
Their plan was simple. Let us win in the Senate, make it a fate accompli. Later, we can con the president onboard. They took the president for a simpleton. Atiku formed the dubious coalition with Saraki and Obj because of the ambitions of 2019. The man who won 2015 has not settled down to office, their 2019 ambitions want to unsettle his administration.
Yet we know that Obj, Atiku and Saraki are strange bedfellows. They are too ambitious for their own good. An Obj will not endorse an Atiku ambition. Atiku knows this. Saraki, for whatever egoistic delusion, thinks he can be Nigeria’s president.
But in all these, they want to throw cats in the pigeons of the president. After causing confusion, they want to present themselves as angels of peace. That is the so-called reconciliation move. It is capital self-delusion and hypocrisy. They want reconciliation without truth.
They say the Lawan and Gbajabiamila groups should accept the fait accompli of Dogarra and Saraki leaderships in the National Assembly. Now, how do they want to explain two irrationalities. One, the party arrived at one candidate. Saraki defied it, plotted with the enemy, waylaid the party and disgraced the majority vote. They forget that Lawan was Buhari’s candidate. After the fact, the governors of the party tried to save face. How do you live with the fact that a party decides something, some members flout it, and no penalties are imposed. Does that not turn the party into an impunity machine? Was that not one of the capital reasons the PDP was flushed out on March 28? Is the APC not going back to its vomit by starting off embracing the enemy’s mistake?
All those behind Atiku, Saraki and Obj want to wield their influence to let the matter slide. Well, they won but it does not feel like victory. That is why they keep calling for peace. In spite of that, they show their true colours. Saraki said recently that inability of some state governments to pay salaries could be traced to corruption. Saraki has no right to talk on corruption until the charges hanging over his head are cleared. He cannot vault himself into sainthood overnight. He became Senate president on a corrupt lie, overthrowing the party convention. His is a victory without honour. That is why he remains the Kwara renegade.
That leads to the second point. If they wanted reconciliation, why did Saraki and Dogarra spurn the party letter? The argument that the law is more important than the party is a self-serving line. The law towers above all, but law is itself based on honour. When we manipulate the law and defrock it of honour, we work against the very spirit of law. That was what the Saraki group did. It is haunting them, and it will haunt them forever. Reconciliation without truth is going to the future without memory. It is like pursuing an end without a beginning. If we reach where we are going without knowledge of where we are coming from, we will not know why we started the journey.
Last weekend featured the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The speakers, including former President Clinton, stressed the need for reconciliation but it must be based on truth. We cannot wish truth over unresolved issues. It is like prospering on a lie. In South Africa, truth was sought before reconciliation. Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace tapped into the theme of truth and reconciliation by looking into the story of a professor who takes advantage of a female student and thinks he can get away with it by merely leaving his job. He spends the rest of his life grappling with the consequences. Booker Prize novelist Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant, looks at the unresolved crisis of the birth of Britain to show how a past of division cannot be glossed over by mere prosperity. The author referred to Bosnia, Kosovo, the second World War, etc, as some of the inspiration for the work, a fantasy of gnomes, elves, dragons, etc.
Part of Nigeria’s problem is that we have not resolved many issues and we move on. But we never move on, and unresolved issues haunt us always, so woes pile on woes in our national life.
Obj, Saraki and Atiku have a choice. They have to decide whether they belong to APC or they want to form an alliance to form another party. Atiku has PDM that never wins anything, and he cannot stand on his own. He has to play whore with others to get something. In his present style and content, he has not, and he never will, be Nigeria’s president.
The choice still dangles before this group and their men. It will determine whether they want to work with Buhari or stalemate him.