Shortly after Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s jolting victory in the 2015 presidential election, some politicians obviously realised their mistake of not disavowing the then President Goodluck Jonathan and his ill-starred party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But all hope was not really lost – they attempted to salvage their wrecked political fortunes. Some immediately denigrated their political parties and declared their allegiance to the winning party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Others were subtle. They did not want to be seen as brazen opportunists who were ready to sound the death knell of the party on whose platform they had attained socio-economic and political leverage. Thus, they declared their retirement from partisan politics. It began with former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s reported dramatic tearing of his PDP’s membership card. However, the former president was recently quoted as insisting that he never tore his card. Obasanjo’s example of retiring from politics was quickly followed by a former Chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, the political godfather of former President Jonathan, Edwin Clark and others. The only difference between these and Obasanjo was that they were never involved in the razzmatazz of tearing their party membership cards while quitting active politics.
We need not interrogate the real motive of the afore-said politicians who chose to quit partisan politics. Again, we need not reckon with the fact that Obasanjo’s action appeared to have smacked of ingratitude for abandoning the same political party on whose back he held the presidency for eight years. Let’s accept that their exit from the political space was necessitated by old age – they were only bowing out for the younger generation to take over.
But now, it is clear that self-survival is the leitmotif of the current trajectory of politicians abandoning their parties. They do not leave their parties to channel their energies elsewhere; they are still actively involved in politics and their next destination is the APC. Clearly, when the carapace of the self-serving excuse that they are joining the APC to better serve their people is broken, we are left with the discovery that these are politicians who are only fleeing to the ruling party as a refuge from probe for corruption.
Remember, Buhari has declared that no member of his cabinet is corrupt. This was what informed his clearing of his Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai of the charge of corruption for unaccountably owning assets in Dubai. This is also why despite the accused judges’ allegation that Rotimi Amaechi tried to use them to pervert justice, he is not being probed. In fact, just last week, a robust defence of Amaechi came from the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay. According to Sagay, Amaechi should not resign since the charges by the judges were not only baseless, they are targeted at depriving the Buhari government of the great contributions of Amaechi to good governance.
Since it is now clear that joining the APC is a sure defence against being tried for corruption, it is not surprising that there is a continued haemorrhage of other political parties, especially the PDP, whose ultimate beneficiary is the APC. The latest decampee to the APC is a former Abia State Governor Orji Kalu. He was received with so much enthusiasm when he decamped to the APC from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). The leaders of the APC described Kalu as a great asset to the party whose contribution would redound to the development of the country. Kalu was even quoted as saying that he only decamped in response to the persistent wooing of the APC leaders. It does not matter to the APC and its leaders that Kalu is being prosecuted by the same ruling government for the charges of laundering about N3.5 billion. Kalu’s membership of the APC has automatically turned him into a saint since the APC is a party of saints. As Kalu rightly expects, despite the heavy allegations of corruption on him, there is the robust possibility of his being given a responsibility to serve the party or the nation. After all, were we not here when Timipre Sylva contested the Bayelsa State governorship election on the platform of the APC while he was being prosecuted for misappropriating several billions belonging to his state?
The surprise now is why some people are not availing themselves of the cleansing power in the APC. Why have these people chosen to suffer in detention when they can be free men by simply joining APC? Take Sambo Dasuki for instance. All the former national security adviser should have done since was to pledge his allegiance to the party of saints and he would have been at home in Sokoto to give his father, Ibrahim Dasuki, former Sultan of Sokoto, a befitting burial. His sinful past of capriciously disbursing over $2.1 billion to the cronies of Jonathan instead of using the money to buy weapons with which to fight Boko Haram would have been forgotten. That Ijaw fugitive from justice, Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo should not be in hiding. He can easily regain his freedom when he identifies with the APC. His charges of stealing over N45 billion would not only be forgiven, he would be given a hero’s welcome to APC. By now, even Supreme Court Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and other judges who are being tried would have realised their mistake – they failed to identify with the APC government. But it is not too late, they can still join the APC while they are facing prosecution like Kalu and others.
The new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen probably understands this survival strategy more than them. When he was being sworn in as acting CJN, Onnoghen vowed to support the anti-corruption campaign of Buhari. Not for him the insistence on the caveat that the rule of law must be upheld in the fight against corruption. He struck the right chord with Buhari and APC when he vowed that many of his colleagues would be flushed out of the judiciary because of their involvement in corruption. And why is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnmadi Kanu wasting away in detention when he can be free? All he needs is to declare that in the place of his much-cherished Biafran dream, he is now committed to the APC.
The presidency really understands its environment. It knows that the opposition camp is fast fizzling out. It is sure of Buhari retaining Aso Rock beyond 2019 as it declared last Monday. The presidency’s optimism is not ill founded. Consider a situation where all the leaders of the opposition are decamping to the APC, who is left to contest against the APC in 2019? Don’t mind those who think the hardship in the country would make the citizens not to vote for Buhari. And not even the rising popularity of Jonathan as demonstrated by calls for him to return to power during his visit to Sokoto would stop Buhari’s return to the presidency in 2019