2011: Consolidating politics of bread and butter

Casmir Igbokwe

The late chief Lamidi Adedibu popularised amala politics in Oyo State. In Kwara State, the only party that can win elections appears to be the unregistered Saraki Peoples Party. In Abia State, former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu and his mother, Eunice, a.k.a. Odiukonamba, used to hold sway until very recently. There is a similar trend in the other parts of the country.

Soon, the 2011 elections will come. Godfathers and their followers are strategising, aligning and realigning for total victory. Only a few people are talking about issues. The majority are after the candidate or political party that will best butter their bread.

Their main strategy is to jump from one party to the other. The Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, is the current face of this type of politics. He once had a cordial relationship with former governor Kalu. 

With the support of Kalu and his Progressives Peoples Alliance, he became the governor of Abia State in 2007. Then, Kalu was disenchanted with his erstwhile party, the Peoples Democratic Party. He poured invectives on the party and vowed never to have anything to do with it.

But politicians are masters of doublespeak. Kalu has since rejoined the PDP. Some of the members he left behind are finding it hard to accept him back though. His political son, Orji, has also left the PPA. With fanfare, the All Progressives Grand Alliance welcomed him to its fold. APGA chieftains hailed the migration as the best thing that would happen to Abia people in recent times.

APGA victory dance was still on when rumours made the rounds that the PDP was wooing Orji. He gave the party conditions before he could rejoin. One of these conditions was that the authorities of the party should dissolve the state executive. That was done. But an Abuja High Court has stopped the action. Last week, the ruling party formally readmitted Orji into its fold. Not too long ago, the Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim; and his Bauchi and Zamfara state counterparts also decamped to the PDP.

Last Monday, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, organised a reception in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State to announce his defection from the All Nigeria Peoples Party to the PDP. A few days after, the Bauchi State chapter of the PDP disowned him, saying he did not follow the party’s constitution.

These politicians have no shame, no ideology, and no principle. The PDP chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo, had warned governors to stop coming to his house. They should come to his office if they want to see him. And that should be without any Ghana-must-go bag. But the governors had defied this directive. “Anyone who tries it again, I’ll disgrace him publicly,” Nwodo warned.

But he underestimated the power of the governors. In their meeting last Tuesday, the governors barred him from attending. It was President Goodluck Jonathan that reportedly intervened to save him from removal.

There is near breakdown of governance in the country. To the majority of the leaders, their welfare comes first. The end result of the plots to get to power revolves around how to get a bigger share of the nation’s resources.

Nigeria has reportedly earned N34trn in oil revenue from 1999 to 2009. Every month, millions of funds are allocated to states and local governments across the country. The allocation for June was shared in July.

My local government, Aguata, in Anambra State, got N137, 431, 757.88. The allocation for Southern Ijaw Local Government in Bayelsa State was N154, 336, 569.83. Alkaleri LG in Bauchi got N161, 215, 691.23. Can any of these local governments and others tell us what they have done with this money?

Do we talk about the National Assembly whose members allocate jumbo salaries and allowances to themselves for going to the chambers to exchange fisticuffs? Do we talk about state governments that tar a few roads here and change some street lights there? We clap for them and say they are the best thing to have happened to Nigeria. One or two rainfalls, the roads are washed off. Some local governments sink one or two boreholes and give out some pittance to some cronies and hangers-on. We shout halleluiah, the messiah has come!

We are deceiving ourselves. At the end of the day, we all suffer the consequences. When kidnapping started, we thought it was meant for only expatriates. Today, we are all feeling the pinch. Doctors are always on strike. Patients die in their thousands everyday in our hospitals. Some universities in the South-East are currently on strike.

Our own way of ameliorating these agonies is to purchase more aircraft for the presidential fleet. I hear the cake they are making for our 50th anniversary celebration is the biggest in the world.

I’m sorry for this country. Where is the Nigeria Labour Congress? Where is the National Association of Nigerian Students? Why have they not organised protest marches to put a stop to this perfidy? We are not asking questions because ours is politics of chop I chop. Only a few people are bothered about issues of development.

Unfortunately, the so-called opposition parties that should be sensitising the people are neither here nor there. Some new ones are coming up, promising heaven on earth. The newly-formed Mega Progressive Peoples Party is promising quality leadership. Its National Leader, Rasheed Shitta-Bay, said the party would change the course of our nation for good. Great!

There is another party that goes by the name National Emergency Rescue Mission. The leader of this party, Kayode Oluwatoke, was reported to have said that the greatest events since the world began were about to start unfolding in Nigeria. And one of their major assignments is to arrange a sovereign national conference that will discuss Nigeria by Nigerians. Interesting!

In 1999 and 2003, the ANPP and Alliance for Democracy presented a formidable opposition to the PDP. Today, where are these two parties? Since the last election in 2007, at least 28 members of the National Assembly have defected to the PDP.

It’s a matter of bread or cash if you like. And nothing brings this home more than the threat by a certain women group to go on sex strike if President Jonathan did not declare his intention to run for the presidency in 2011 by August 27.

We are in trouble!

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