By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The current crisis rocking the national leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC), and underlying suspicion or is it animosity within the party in Edo state that recently culminated in the defection of Godwin Obaseki, the state Governor, his deputy, nine members of the Edo state House of Assembly and all the chairmen of Local governments, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has again exposed two separate but related sets of beliefs.
First, it has confirmed as factual the words of AL-Gore, a former Vice President in the United States of America (USA)’, who among other things noted that education alone, however, is necessary but insufficient. A well educated citizenry, he explained, is more likely to be a well informed citizenry, but the two concepts are entirely different, one from the other. It is possible to be extremely well educated and, at the same time ill-informed or misinformed.
Second and very fundamental is that by the current crisis, the party leadership has allowed history to repeat itself. As it is on record that a similar leadership failure under the same National Working Committee(NWC), during the build up to the 2019 general election in the country, saw the defection of about thirteen Senators, led by the then Senate President, Senator (Dr) Bukola Saraki and thirty Seven House of Representatives members to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In the two events, the party leadership clearly demonstrated inability to upturn ordinary political and leadership calculations.
Though the party emerged victorious at the 2019 presidential polls but then, it was obvious that Oshiomole is blessed with the spirit of activism which was needed at that moment but however, lacked good judgement and interpersonal skills. The fruit of such incapacities is what the party is again reaping.
From the present happenings, it is glaring also that like the biblical Moses, difficulties lie ahead for the All Progressive Congress (APC), and Exodus may become the most attractive choice to its members if something theatrical is not done to remedy the drifting situation.
But before then, is a crucial comparison.
With this second failure, APC’s outgone leadership in my views has become a fitting example of the old Nazi party of Germany whose members in the 1930s and 1940s were extremely well educated–but their knowledge of literature, music, mathematics, and philosophy simply empowered them to be more Nazists but were still trapped in a web of totalitarian propaganda that mobilized them for evil purposes. Going by their profiles, the outgone APC national leadership is arguably filled with people that were self- taught, best trained and highly skilled Nigerians with well cultivated intellect, yet, by contrast, they were trapped in the web of muddled leadership visions devoid of creativity. This is a wound deepened by the awareness that it was avoidable.
However, the most effective way to heal the wound can be found in a deeper understanding of how the damage has been caused and why.
Essentially, this may sound rather shocking but as someone who may not spill guts easily, or hide things either, the development looking at commentaries was long overdue as Nigerians had at different times and places expressed concern that the party and the government it formed at the centre are currently reputed for promoting democracy and human rights everywhere except where it will hurt them.
From the events of the past years, no one, when viewed from a wider spectrum, could have expected a different outcome from Oshiomole’s led exco that is less friendly to the tradition of democracy, where constructive debate is given no chance but often seen as ‘unnecessary and divisive’. Deferring political ideas and strategies is perceived as destructive to the party’s interest, and open discussion seen as a challenge to the leadership.
The situation was further nourished by contemporary frustration occasioned by the power brokers’ inability to protect, plead and listen to their friends, in order to antagonize their common adversaries.
While APC is presently preoccupied with finding road map for the restoration of the party’s health, members in this superficial exchange must not lose sight of the real and lasting meaning wrapped in the occurrence or allow the lessons to go with the political winds.
As an illustration, the crisis aside teaching members that there is little hope for them until they become tough minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truth, and downright ignorance, the challenge has further amplified the belief that their leaders are yet to internalize the consequences of their past failures or recognize that it requires a prolonged effort and productive collaboration to administer a people/group well.
The second lesson is that there is nothing wrong with power if used correctly. The new leadership of the party must learn that ‘true victory is victory over aggression and a victory that respects the enemy’s basic humanity; thus renders further conflicts unnecessary’.
Mr. President on his part must recognize that the present crisis in the party has further bartered the party’s image, depleted the party’s support structure, with the party’s chances of being intact for the 2023 general election getting slimmer as the masses are equally considering a change in their political alignment. To live under an illusion that all is politically well in the face of this alignment and realignment is one political mistake that can come at a heavy price.
And most importantly, one point that Mr. President must not fail to remember is that Nigerians are particularly not happy that the government could not redirect this energy wrongly dissipated in politicking and spend a certain proportion of it on economic growth and social progress, promoting peace and stability, collaborate agriculture and improve on the health and education of the nation. If used, Nigeria will definitely be a better place.
Converesly, aside learning that leadership is more than just abilities and activism, but a combination of courage, determination, commitment, character, and ability that makes people willing to follow a leader, Adams and members of the now dissolved National Working Committee (NWC), must understand from their present state, that when one is favoured with a position of authority, he/she must in the same vein contend with one out of the two inherent probables. If the individual is not met with a flood of blessings, chances are that such a fellow may be visited with torrents of afflictions. But all is a function of how the person in question manages the office and relates with followers.
To end this national malady, the party’s leadership in my views, must find answers and soon to the challenges facing the party. They must seek the power that knowledge gives in order to establish what is fuelling this gale of defection; they must create a new kind of politics, and try new methods and schemes which have never been tried before anywhere else.
Though Adams Oshomole has accepted his sack in good fate, his greatest achievement from what people are saying is that aside stripping Edo state politics of ideology, he will long be remembered by future historians as All Progressive Congress, National leader that could not lead his ward.
Utomi is a Lagos-Based Media Consultant.