APC: From Vuvuzella To Voodoo Politics Part 1 By Frank Ofili

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Let me make an open confession from the onset. At the time the idea of a mega opposition party to be known as All Peoples Congress (APC) was muted I fell in love with it. It was my belief then (still is) that a formidable opposition party was necessary as a counterweight to the tragic incubus that the People’s Democratic Movement (PDP) has become.

Despite the controversies surrounding its birth, vis-a-viz the contradictions inherent in some of its legacy parties, I still kept faith with the then emerging APC. I was excited by the prospect of an ultra-conservative, uncompromising, taciturn and recalcitrant General Buhari agreeing to shift grounds a bit to accommodate progressive pretenders from the south-west. Buhari demonstrated his disposition towards reaching an accommodation with his hitherto political opponents when he swallowed the public embarrassment Chief Bisi Akande, the interim national chairman of the party, gave him during a press conference.

My faith in the party was also not shaken by its failure to conduct simple due diligence before filing registration papers with INEC. PDP was to quickly cash in on that gaffe by registering a body with the same initials, African Peoples’ Congress (APC). The obvious marginalization of the south-east in the make-up of its national exco did not also dampen my confidence in APC. Well……until it started playing its overly loud, self-righteous, attention-seeking politics – something I call, for want of a better description, vuvuzella politics.

At every opportunity APC top shots displayed this vuvuzella brand of politics by playing to the emotions of Nigerians, and claiming that it has arrived to save Nigeria and Nigerians from the comprehensive misrule of PDP. You would expect that a political party with such a laudable objective would be scrupulous enough to at least articulate how it wants to achieve it, if only to prove that it is better than the ruling PDP. I once put a mail across to a friend and top-shot member of the party requesting to be briefed on how APC intends to achieve its objective. The response I got back was anything but impressive. The man was all evasive like Vice President Namadi Sambo was on the day of the 2011 election Vice Presidential debate.

I had expected my friend to start by explaining the underlying meaning of the broom in the party’s flag. I would have been satisfied if he had explained that the broom symbolizes a mission to sweep away the rubbish caused by the PDP since 1999. But the man fell far short of my expectations. Since then, my faith in the party started developing some cracks. This was not helped by the fact that already I was beginning to notice that the much respected Prof Pat Utomi who had indicated interest in the governorship of Delta State, and one of the very few credible fellows in the party, inexplicably began to keep a respectable distance from the party. It is not difficult to know why. No man of integrity would put up with what APC is doling out to Nigerians every day in the name of party politics. This writer was privileged to interview the respected professor in 2013 and in response to a question; he revealed that several times he had to turn down ministerial appointment because he could not see himself serving on the same cabinet with some questionable characters. Could this be the reason for keeping a distance from APC?

Anyway, APC did not stop at merely making a claim to having the magic wand to fix Nigeria. It drew up an acting script comparable only to Nollywood. Five episodes on the script would suffice as samplers.

Act 1 scene 1 in the script was acted when the stowaway kid from Edo State, Daniel Oihkena was offered scholarship by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and a group with links to the APC. It would have been okay if the scholarship was offered quietly with a reprimand. But trust APC with its political drama. The errant, delinquent school boy was instead unwittingly promoted to stardom by the undue media attention given to him by the APC high command. Apparently governor Oshiomhole and his cohorts in APC did not see the poor judgment in important personalities in government embarking on such media blitz holding Oikhena aloft as though his misadventure was worthy of emulation.

Act 1 scene 2 played out when the Lion of Bourdillon, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, returned from his medical sojourn abroad over a minor knee surgery. A whole section of Murtala Mohammed International Airport was effectively invaded and closed down to traffic by APC sycophants, hangers-on, praise singers, area boys and street urchins who came to welcome the Ashiwaju. And Ashiwaju and his friends in the APC echelon did not disappoint. They turned the airport into a political campaign ground, bashing and deriding everything PDP. It never dawned on the former Senator and Governor of Lagos State, or his APC colleagues, that not only was his medical trip abroad for a minor knee surgery laughable, but also that if he had conscientiously played his part when he was Senator and governor, he wouldn’t have needed to embark on that expensive medical trip.

Act 1 scene 3 appropriately titled “Go and Die” again with Governor Adams Oshiomhole as the lead actor attracted much public outrage. Governor Oshiomhole had indignantly upbraided and “verbosed” against a poor widowed street trader, Mrs. Joy Ifijeh, telling her to “go and die” in response to her pleas to spare her wares. Mrs. Ifijeh’s offence was that she displayed her wares for sale along Mission Road Benin City, an act the governor said obstructed free flow of traffic. Following public uproar, the governor publicly apologized to the impoverished woman, offered her gift of N2 million, a job offer to join the War Against Indiscipline campaign against street trading, and scholarship for her son. The governor went further by inviting the woman to Government House where he shared a cup of tea with her and turned it into a public spectacle with press cameras appropriately positioned to beam it live on television.

The sub-plot of this episode was the governor’s encounter with “The plantain girl” during an inspection of New Benin Market. The Governor and his entourage were passing by when some children hawking got scared and took to their heels. However, a little girl hawking fried plantain chips stood her ground and greeted the governor instead of running. Stunned by her boldness, Governor Oshiomhole allegedly walked up to her, bought some plantain chips from her, brought out his pen and wrote her a cheque for N1 million. Excited, the girl threw away her wares and began to scream with joy.

The final episode in Act 1 involved Senator Magnus Abe representing Rivers South East Senatorial District. The Senator who had allegedly joined Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to decamp from PDP to APC was allegedly shot with rubber bullet by the Police while attempting to abort a rally of the Save Rivers Movement at the College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, Port-Harcourt. Few hours later, the Senator arrived the Bridge Hospital London for treatment, although he showed no evidence of bodily harm or physical injury. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC chieftain promptly paid him a visit at the hospital and took time to take photographs with the senator lying on the hospital bed, apparently for media effect. This writer had questioned if injury sustained from rubber bullet was so fatal as to warrant flying the victim abroad for treatment. From hindsight, it is now obvious that these charades, and some more, were carefully orchestrated to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

We will conclude this Nollywood film next edition where we will move on to Act 2. Keep in touch.

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