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The Court of Appeal split decision that affirmed Modu Sheriff as the authentic chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) jolted the Ahmed Makarfi faction as well as sent shock waves that reverberated across the polity. As would be expected, Sheriff and his supporters have gloated and grinned from ear to ear; even issued threats against opponents such as Govs. Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike of Ekiti and Rivers states respectively. The Makarfi faction, after it recovered from the initial shock, has vowed to fight to the bitterest end. It will appeal the judgment and had, in fact, filed for stay of execution. The PDP forces arrayed against Sheriff are, on paper, formidable – all the organs of the party are not on his side, from the governors, Board of Trustees, the majority of the legislators, ex-ministers and legislators to other elders of the party. Fayose was apt when he described the former two-time governor of Borno state as a general without soldiers – at least for now because it could be suicidal if anyone were to place his neck on the chopping block for our largely opportunistic, cash-and-carry politicians. I like the Fayose description of Sheriff, though! It is apt and can be likened to a pastor without a congregation. The belief in many quarters is that the latest victory will sooner or later turn into ashes in Sheriff’s mouth. I suspect this also to be the confidence of the Makarfi group that the appeal court judgment will be nothing more than Pyrrhic victory for Sheriff in the long run. The view is emerging, however, that in the final analysis, what we will have is not what Sheriff has called a “no victor and no loser” situation but an all losers affair. We shall soon return to that.
A review of happenings in the polity still has President Muhamadu Buhari’s illness and the shenanigans surrounding it running high. The president has again reiterated that he is not coming home soon. I am confident of this, though: The president will come home one day – definitely. Whichever way, he will return. That is sure banker, like we used to say in those days when we “perm three from five…” or “nap” three, four or five “sure bankers”. My prayer – if for nothing else but for the sake of our common humanity – is that he returns home hale and hearty, chatty and humorous. But have you heard the “news” that the president is already considering resigning his office to devote full attention to his health? And that his wife, Aisha, returned from London to begin to tidy up for eventualities? Where authentic news is scarce, you surely must have generous “news” in abundance. “Usually reliable sources\competent sources”, as we often say in this profession, hinted, however, that there are a few ‘t’s to be crossed. One is, who will be Vice-President when Yemi Osinbajo takes over as president and the other is the stiff resistance of the cabal who are said to be digging their feet in the sand. They want Buhari to hang on to power till the very end. Those who will be VP are said to be running around and pressing buttons already. Will Bukola Saraki vacate the lucrative red chamber and become a hardly-used spare tyre? Who will take over at the Senate? PDP’s Ekweremadu? For Saraki, the attractions, of course, are that it automatically puts an end to all Code of Conduct Tribunal headaches as well as positions him just a step away from his goal of the presidency. Will Nasir el-Rufai be willing to heave a sigh of relief and step aside from the wild, wild Kaduna state? But how about those opposed to a repeat of the Namadi Sambo debacle, whose elevation as VP led to a Christian, deputy governor Yakowa, becoming governor? Recall that Yakowa died soon afterwards in a helicopter crash with ex-NSA Andrew Azazi? Especially now with events in southern Kaduna is not when many mullahs in Kaduna will want a Christian as governor. El-Rufai’s deputy is a Christian. Those who claim to know have hinted that ex-NNPC MD, Andrew Yakubu, in whose home was said to have been found close to US$10m, was given away because he was suspected of helping his southern Kaduna people resist Fulani herdsmen’s onslaught. Dependable sources are also saying, however, that should Buhari decide to resign, he will choose who would be VP. Again, we will return to that!
The Central Bank of Nigeria is flip-flop; policy summersault is one reason why the Naira is becoming like tissue paper. May we not get to the Zimbabwean destination before we do the needful! Godwin Emefiele appears desperate to cling to office; he collapses under pressure, very much unlike what a sound professional is expected to be, and kow-tows to politicians and influence peddlers. He cuts a pitiable and sorry sight, very much like Kogi state Gov. Yahaya Bello, who recently announced his state as the new haven of fleeing Boko Haram insurgents! CBN’s unsure steps and vacillation on FOREX policies apart, an apex bank promoting a cashless society has gone back to its vomit on a policy that taxes customers who visit the bank to take or withdraw money. And the percentages are greedily exorbitant. New, crippling taxes in an economy undergoing the worst recession in our history! I have been pestered by readers of this column to do something about Kogi. Bello is said to owe workers 14 months’ salary. It is about time this bull is held by its horns.
Have you heard the news – the putrid odour oozing out of revelations at the Edo governorship election tribunal and the committee set up by INEC itself to review the last Rivers state election? Buhari’s INEC should cover its head in shame. Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Yoruba/South-West, appointed Maurice Iwu, Igbo/South-East as INEC chairman; ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ijaw/South-South, appointed Prof. Attahiru Jega from the North as INEC chairman. Jonathan told the whole country he never knew Jega before appointing him but gave him the job on merit and allowed him perform unhindered, even when the same Jega apparently turned on Jonathan himself. Buhari, on the other hand, signalled his intentions when he first appointed his relative as acting INEC chairman but when the outcry was deafening; chose Mahmoud, a Northerner/Muslim like himself. While it is obvious that Mahmoud has not been allowed a free hand on the job; the man himself does not appear to want to be free. Thus, the modest gains of free and fair elections won through much blood and sweat have been frittered and the country is set back many years. One of the tasks of the (fast-approaching?) post-Muhammadu Buhari era shall be to reposition INEC.
Did you also hear the news of N500,000 gift or bribe linked and un-linked with Buhari? I wonder how dull some guys think we are. The facts are incontrovertible: N500,000 was involved. A lawyer who had a case before a judge admitted giving this money to the judge. He calls it a gift because he is a friend of the judge. Others call it a bribe because the lawyer had a case before the judge. The case in question was Buhari’s. Eventually, this lawyer won this case for Buhari because the judge who received the N500, 000 delivered judgment in favour of Buhari. It could have been on merit – but it could also have been otherwise. Scripture says: Flee from every appearance of evil; there is the unmistakeable appearance of evil here. A dictum of the legal profession is that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands; and to quote William Shakespeare, Caesar’s wife must not only be above board but must be manifestly seen to be so. Once lingering doubts are introduced, the harm is done already.
We return to PDP: Police said they stopped the Makarfi faction from using the International Conference Centre to couch their response to the appeal court judgment to prevent a breakdown of law and order. They could as well tell that to the Marines! What rankles, however, is that successive political leaders have failed to do something about the unprofessional conduct of the security agencies. Recall that this was the same way the PDP used the police against the opposition and the opposition complained ad nauseam. I expected that once in power, APC will quickly restructure the police and make it professional; no way, it simply settled into PDP’s shoes and has continued to exploit the security agencies the same way PDP did. In 2019 – or before then – when APC is thrown out and the PDP or another party takes over, I will not be surprised to see that this is exactly what they, too, will do. When you see a government take up the daunting task of restructuring the security agencies into a professional force to stop them being the errand boys of the ruling party, know that our salvation is around the corner.
PDP leaders accuse APC as being the hidden hands fanning the embers of its internal crises; Sheriff, they say, is the agent of APC. Latest evidence is the way a Buhari administration tardy to obey court judgments flung open the doors of the PDP secretariat to Sheriff. The argument is that APC does not want a vibrant opposition, hence, its desire to cripple PDP. It sounds logical and may as well be so. I will, however, advice PDP to also look at the issue from another angle: Is it also not a possibility that those angling for a new mega party could be interested in the disintegration of PDP? It will be in the interest of the new mega party group of politicians for Sheriff to win at the Supreme Court, which will automatically leave the Makarfi faction no option than seek refuge elsewhere. Another proposition is that Buhari’s inability to continue as president will hasten the disintegration of APC and encourage a new re-alignment of forces.
LAST WORD: Congratulations as Rotimi Akeredolu, from my Owo home town, becomes the new governor of my state – Ondo. Next week, God willing, I will do “Task before Akeredolu”.