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‘Soldier go soldier come, barracks remain’

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‘Soldier go soldier come, barracks remain’

The above is a popular saying in Nigeria and is the scenario currently playing out on in the polity of the country which has seen the ruling party imploding right before our eyes.
The All Progressives Party (APC) was “born” on February 6 2013 when an alliance of the nation’s then three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – merged to take on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the general elections then two years away.
Twenty-five days later on July 31, the party was given the green light from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to become a political party so that it could take part in the 2015 elections.
Of course to the discerning Nigerian it was crystal clear that the main glue (if not even the only one) binding the vastly different personalities together was their desire to end the PDP’s 16-year stranglehold on power and take over the keys to Aso Rock, especially after four failed attempts (1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 polls).
It was reported that Senate Bola Tinubu, one of the prime movers of the APC, realised that as a splintered opposition there was no way they would be able to replace the behemoth called the PDP that not only held sway in the centre, but also had the majority in both houses of parliament, which was why he did everything possible to get the merger done.
In an interview he granted the media not too long after the new party became the first to dislodge a sitting government in a peaceful poll, he said that he had jettisoned whatever ambitions he had to ensure that Muhammadu Buhari, who despite being in a relatively weak party, the ANPP, was still able to garner so much grassroots support especially from the north.
He realised that should the former military ruler have a bigger platform then all would benefit from his grassroots crowd pulling power – which is essentially what they did to wrestle power.
Sadly though, once they did achieve their aim, then dark sinister forces came out of the woodwork and clandestinely took charge of the “victory,” nudging those who had worked hard to achieve it aside.
In fact, whispers had started going round soon after the victory that a “cabal” believed that with their man in the presidency they could do away with others especially the “main man” whose overbearing influence on the fledging party they believe must be curtailed.
I learnt that was why in the early days of the victory and before power was officially handed over to the new president those close to him ensured that he stayed away from the South -West and instead held court in Katsina, the Defence House in Maitama and his personal residence in the Asokoro district both in Abuja where he received many guests.
However, publicly the dramatis personnel tried very hard to keep up a semblance that all was well by constantly uttering the right words even though actions were at variance with the words.
Right until inauguration day on May 29, 2015 efforts were made to keep the anger and bitterness simmering beneath the surface in check for the unity of the party.
However, the first clear indication that all was not well took place on June 9, 2015 when in defiance to the party’s position the 8th National Assembly elected its principal officers with Dr Bukola Saraki emerging Senate President and Yakubu Dogara occupying the Speaker’s seat in the House.
The party had wanted Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan as Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker.
But clearly what was more galling to the party was the fact that in emerging President of the Senate, Saraki entered into alliance with their “enemies” the PDP – the first of its kind.
Part of the “agreement” was that Ike Ekweremadu would be Saraki’s deputy thus effectively denying the ruling party another plum position in the Upper Chamber.
All efforts by the party to right the wrong failed and President Buhari did not help the party, who rather than back the party hierarchy, said he was ready to work with whatever set up at the National Assembly.
This action would later haunt the President as rather than enjoying the luxury of having the majority of seats, his party virtually became the opposition in the National Assembly, giving him stress at almost every opportunity.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the cabal was still entrenching itself to the detriment of the larger interests of the party so much so that none other than the President’s wife, Aisha, clearly unhappy with what she was seeing, was to publicly criticise goings-on in government barely a year into her husband’s tenure.
In a damning interview granted the BBC in October 2016 the President’s wife of 27 years, said: “The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.
She then warned that if the situation continued she would not support a second term bid.
“I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.”
Unfortunately rather than heed the advice and whittle down the powers of the cabal, President Buhari dismissed his wife’s claims of a cabal having hijacked the Presidency saying: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”
Now sadly, two years down the line the chickens have come home to roost with APC going from the dominant part to the minority party following the mass defection of its members to the PDP.
This took place a few weeks after the emergence of the Reformed APC, which had complained of not only being alienated but also accused the APC of deviating from its original goals and failing to keep the promises which had ensured it swept into power three years ago.
And with the next general elections only seven months away it is clear that the twists and turns, scheming and jostling for position will only intensify.
But sadly in all of this “soldier go soldier come in the end barracks still remain” all that is being played out is not for the good of the generality of the populace but mainly for the benefit of the politicians!
MY ERROR
Two weeks ago (July 14), in my piece titled: “From ‘unknown soldiers’, to unknown politicians” I wrongly wrote that the military invasion on late Afro beat musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s house took place in 1997 whereas it actually happened in 1977. The error is regretted and I must thank some of the readers who were quick to point it out too me.

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