In the cause of the presidential campaigns in 1992/1993 the handlers of Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the Presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention, NRC knew very well that Tofa was no match to Chief MKO Abiola, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. These obvious and painful self-evident truths gave them goose pimples. At every angle the organization was dazed with the weighty and heavy credentials of Chief MKO Abiola. In every issue, Tofa could not get it and had no answer to any question thrown to him. Devastation, embarrassment and confusion hit the organization and there was no solution in sight. Suddenly an idea came to the campaign organization.
Now what did the campaign organization headed by Dr Doyin Okupe do? They told themselves that since they cannot match Abiola’s moving train on capacity, experience, boldness, wealth, education, character, charisma, local, national and international connections, intelligence, common sense etc the best thing to do is to try as much as possible to pull down Chief MKO Abiola by any means possible from his towering height to Tofa’s Lilliputian level. But did they succeed? They never did. It was an exercise in futility, all noise and no substance, a tale told by some nitwits full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Chief MKO Abiola won a land slide victory.
22 years after, history is repeating itself in Nigeria. The All Progressives Congress, APC was formed last year to challenge the ruling Party PDP whose leaders had claimed that it will rule Nigeria for 60years. Realizing that if nothing tangible is done to stop Nigeria from becoming a one party state and consequently turning into a full blown dictatorship, the ANPP, ACN, CPC and a faction of APGA came together to form APC after an excruciating and daunting exercise. Nigerians are living witnesses of how these legacy parties walked through the mines, drilled the deepest well, bite bullets, and faced many battles with bruises and pains to achieve this feat. From when the idea was mooted till when it held its successful national convention last month, the PDP and its supporters manufactured, sold and cultivated the notion that the APC will never come to be. To their chagrin, at every turn, the APC walks away intact, growing from strength to strength and buoyed each day by the support of Nigerians who are frustrated that in sixteen years of misrule. PDP has ruled Nigeria for 16 awful years and what better report of its stewardship than that life has practically screeched to a halt as nothing works in a country of estimated 160 million which international economic experts project will have the largest number of poor people in 2015. Yes, Nigeria is being projected to have more poor people than India, with 1.1 billion people and China, with 1.3 billion people! These are the three top nations habouring the largest number of poor people globally. You can understand with China and India, with their over one billion people, but with Nigeria? It is a shame! This was the PDP legacy that informed the birth of APC.
Despite the doomsday prophecies and wishes of the PDP and its supporters, APC was registered as a political Party and it immediately became the biggest opposition party in Nigeria. Few months after registration some governors moved from PDP to APC and instantly took control of 16 states in Nigeria and PDP was left with 18 states. For a party that once controlled 33 states but now tentatively holding to 18 states, it was a real and potent danger and it had to fight back by every dirty means at its disposal. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Anxiety, panic, confusion, fear gripped PDP right, left and centre. Not knowing how to deal with the enormity of the challenges facing them and the imminent danger of collapse of the party the leaders of the party including President Dr Goodluck Jonathan have resorted to blackmail, intimidation, subterfuge, harassment, religious politics, propaganda, bribery, influence peddling, and name calling.
First they said APC is made up of failed politicians and rascals. When APC began to wax stronger despite their gambit and lies, they started insinuating that APC has links with Boko Haram. Infact, they claim that APC is funding Boko Haram. Soon and in their own very eyes they tagged APC a Boko Haram party. Now this is the greatest danger. If you tell a lies a thousand times, some ignorant people will begin to see it as true. Now these lies must stop.
Let us start with the history of kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria. It all started when PDP governors in the Niger Delta started arming gangs and cults to steal elections for them. After election, these gangsters used the guns to start a ferocious act of insecurity that blossomed into general insecurity that has crippled many states in Nigeria today.
On Boko Haram, let us recall it started during the tenure of late President Yar’Adua when PDP boasted of having an unlimited control of the country with a vast number of states in its control. Then, there was no APC and PDP rumbled from one end of the country to another. As this became worrisome, Yar’Adua rounded up the leader of Boko Haram and killed and this led to a declaration of war by Boko Haram. Because Jonathan and his handlers believed that it can con sympathy from Nigerians, it did nothing and allowed Boko Haram to overwhelm the country’s security. Meanwhile, Nigerians still recall the advent of bombing in Abuja when an Independence Day bomb incidence shattered the peace of Abuja. Jonathan and his handlers, playing desperately to its deadly politics of benefitting from the woes of the country, blamed it on its opponents, even when MEND claimed responsibility for the incidence. Later, Raymond Dokpesi was alleged to be behind the bombing. Today, Nigerians still ask what happened to the investigation on that incidence or had it been buried in PDP’s deep labyrinth of conspiracy?
The late General Azazi, former National Security Adviser to the president told Nigerians at the beginning that Boko Haram was a product of PDP’s infighting and struggle for political office and supremacy. As the National Security Adviser and a kinsman of Jonathan and a retired five star General, the late Azazi knew his terrain and domain very well. He understood the game very well, he was familiar with this kind of movements and struggles, he understood the job and he had information from above and below. So when he said that Boko Haram was a product of PDP’s craze for power was that accusation investigated? Did anybody take him serious? Was he given the chance to prove his case? No they did not. They sacked him as NSA and the man eventually died under questionable circumstances in a plane crash.
Have we recalled that Senator Ali Ndume a PDP senator was once quizzed for Boko Haram allegations and he swore to an affidavit that Vice President Namadi Sambo approved his contacts with Boko Haram. Pray what had a government that steals trillions of Naira every year on the guise of security votes but which believes that its opponents must carry its cross, do about this grievous allegation?
We have seen this type of game plan before in the days of the locust. The late General Abacha threw bombs in Lagos and went ahead to arrest the Yoruba leaders and accused them of being responsible for the crime. When Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was murdered also by Abacha agents of death, the same Abacha gave orders that some prominent Yoruba leaders for the heinous crime. This is the way of dictators all over the world.
The man died and so were his findings and reports. APC offered solutions but was ignored by the powers that be. Today a party that went through many troubles to be where it is now is being given a bad name in order to destroy it, and some Nigerians are ignorantly buying the idea hook, line and sinker. Initially when Boko Haram was targeting Churches, motor parks, government buildings many Nigerians including this writer thought the war was targeted on Southerners and Christians only until they started attacking everybody including their own brothers, sisters, school girls and even some traditional leaders in the North. Right now, nobody is safe anywhere in Nigeria. Everybody, every institution, every market, every school is now a target.
Boko Haram is no longer a threat to Northern Nigeria only; it is now a threat to Nigeria. It is no longer a Northern affair because nobody is safe. To me I think it is now a global scourge. They came to Mali and France forced them out. They are in Kenya, they are in Cameroun etc. But what do the government ran by PDP do in the face of this ruinous threat on the entire Nigerian polity? It signs off trillions of Naira as security votes every year and makes a song of its opponents sponsoring Boko Haram. As a party in government, the onus falls on PDP to prove its case but it is not doing so because they want these to remain fables to be used to shore up their politics after failing woefully in governance. For a party that met 40 million poor people in 1999 and has grown the figure to 130 million (World Bank statistics), it is right and fitting to use Boko Haram to tarnish its opponents and rip off Nigerians with continued stay in power.
I think APC leaders must roll-up their sleeves as it did when the legacy parties came together. They must fight as they did before the registration of the great party. Yes APC must fight back and those who know must also stand up to be counted. If APC and well informed Nigerians allow PDP to continue to sell this bad news to Nigeria and the world, then the real danger is here.
The world must know also that President Goodluck Jonathan has not helped matters in the fight against Boko Haram. He spends more time in the Churches these days as if he is a president of Christians in Nigeria only. This is dangerous. He is the president of 150million Nigerians. He and his party have polarized Nigerians so badly along religious lines and this continues to conflate the Boko Haram crisis. Mr. President controls the Army, Navy, Police, Airforce, DMI, SSS, NDLEA, Mobile Police etc. but APC control nothing. Now if APC funds Boko Haram and the President and PDP that control all the machineries of law enforcement agencies cannot discover Boko Haram base and who are behind them, then something is wrong. APC has invited the world to investigate Boko Haram activities and their sponsors in order to put to rest these allegations. We have called on credible international investigative agencies to dip deep and unravel the real sponsors of Boko Haram for the world to see that the suspicion that PDP is responsible for the origin of Boko Haram and tactically contributes to its present intractable nature because in its thinking, it will help its very bad electoral standing and it will give them enough grounds to continue pillaging security funds as we have seen in Nigeria today. This is the way to go, and Nigerians need this investigation to unravel the misery of Boko Haram. We expect the PDP to take up this challenge and join us to call for credible international probe of Boko Haram origin, sponsors and sources of strength.