FEATURE ARTICLE

Olanrewaju AjiboyeTuesday, December 19, 2006
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lanreajiboye@yahoo.com
Canada

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TALE OF TWO PARTY CONVENTIONS


wo broad based political parties from different continents-North America and Africa-conducted their party's convention to elect national leaders who will lead their parties to inter parties' elections in their different countries. One is Liberal Party of Canada often called The Grits and the other is the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria, PDP.


The Liberals concluded their Convention on the 3rd of December 2006 with pomp, pageantry, fun, camaraderie, the spirit of give and take and maturity. In addition, it was an issue-oriented convention laced with thought- inspiring speeches of vision for Canada by each of the aspirants. Past leaders also reassured delegates and Canadians and gave them hope for a brighter future. The party dedicated part of the night to give tribute to the leader to be succeeded, Paul Martin and no doubt, that tribute must have inspired young and upcoming talents to want to, one day aspire for leadership.

Howard Dean, Chairman, National Committee of Democratic Party of America, a southern neighbour was invited to give speech to a political party of same ideological persuasion. The convention was the climax to the vigorous, rigorous and diligent process of leadership evolution that started about ten months earlier. The candidates had scouted for delegates support, they had campaigned, they had had rounds of debate and the general electorate had had the good knowledge of the stuff they were made of. The third favourite in Opinion polls eventually carried the day after about four rounds of voting. No candidate was intimidated, each acted according to his or her free will, and in fact, a leading contender gave his supporters free choice of voting for the last two candidates when he decided to bow out after the third round of voting.

The PDP on the other hand had just concluded their "Awada Keri Keri" Convention, which saw the generalissimo's anointed candidate, Governor Umar Yar'Adua, carry the day. There were no previous selling of the contestants apart from what had been known of them before and what they are, presently. The winner did not carry the day based on intellectual discussions, nor outstanding credentials, nor good grasp of the issues of the Nigeria project, nor any soundly wrought election platform. Rather, it was a choice arrived at by three Ds: Decoy, Deception and Deceit. No contestant gave a speech to sway the opinions of the delegates, one of the aspirants was reported to have gone on her kneels in the full glare of camera pleading on behalf of her colleagues to be allowed to address the delegates. And of what importance is the request for speech by the aspirants? The most important speech to the so-called delegates is that free money that will line their pockets, which they have always collected to mortgage their future and that of their children's children.

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Visiting the Liberal Party's Convention again, virtually all the candidates that contested for leadership are eminently qualified to lead the party and the country, yet the delegates still filter them for electability and credibility. This is so because the party knows that Canada's electorate are not politically daft and they as a party cannot manipulate the electoral process as are often the case in Nigeria where the Notion is "whether you vote for us or not, we have won".

In Societies where Democracy thrives, Political Party Convention is a Process. In Nigeria of today, especially within the rampaging ruling party, it is a hollow ritual. A symbolic act that precedes an assured "tsunamic Moonslide Victory". Not that Nigerians are politically daft; it's just that they are politically lazy to see through, a process. The predators know much of this about them. They have come to realise that no matter the amount of injustices or insults hauled at their collective aspirations, they lack the tenacity of purpose to insist on due process.

Opposition infected with the PDP Virus: The history of Nigeria's struggle against military and civilian dictatorship between 1993 and 2007 will not be complete without a conspicuous space for Bola Tinubu, the present governor of Lagos State. Sadly enough, he seemed to have been infected with the virus from the dictators he had all along been their nemesis. All the people who made his consistent fight against tyranny comfortable in a way are today disappointed by his perceived betrayal of the cause he had always championed. He is accused of imposition of candidates, which had made some aspirants defect to another party. Femi Pedro has defected. Remi Adikwu Bakare reputed for being very valuable for Tinubu's second term victory has joined others to seek court redress to the perceived injustice in AC governorship candidate's contest. Afikuyomi was full of support throughout Tinubu's travails of certificate scandal. Agreed, there is only one Governorship seat, but it would have been ideal if the AC, the party of hope has been more transparent in its handling of the party's primaries especially in Lagos. The governor's political odyssey is an enough sermon for him. Alhaji Ganiyu Olawale Dawodu was an accomplished politician in Lagos State, if there was any issue that affected him in his last years; it was the issue of favouring a candidate over another, which put him and the governor at loggerheads between 1999 and 2003.

The issue of imposition or favouritism also led to a divided house in the Afenifere camp. This division did them in during the 2003 elections in the South West. Late Bola Ige never came to terms with what he perceived as a betrayal in the 1999 primary between him and Olu Falae. Imposition of candidate also gave victory to Sir Michael Otedola in SDP/NRC contest of 1991/92. J.S. Olawoyin of blessed memory, distanced himself from bitterness to support Cornelius Adebayo who defeated him in a staggered primary in 1983. Adebayo became the governor of Kwara State by the combined effects of his own goodwill, Olawoyin's support and that of Oloye Saraki who had issues with his party's candidate, Alhaji Adamu Attah.

Bola Tinubu is politically savvy enough to know the import of his actions; a leper may not be able to draw milk, but sure capable of splitting it. Tinubu should not push his luck too far, if the situation is irredeemable to call for a fresh contest, he should bend backwards to keep all aggrieved members in the fold. The aggrieved members should also sacrifice for the larger interests of the party, the people and the State.

Another Swashbuckler spawned: Oh God, I pray to you not to allow the people of a South West State to drink from this cup of a Swashbuckler who has just clinched his party's gubernatorial ticket. God, your anointed, Jesus Christ, at a prayer in Gethsemane, asked for your favour that the "cup" pass over him, but because the Scripture must be fulfilled, he succumbed to your will. However, your people in this particular South West State are not Jesus, they are not Mohammed, indeed, they are not anything near any of your prophets; they are ordinary mortals created in your image. They have had enough of jungle life in this micro jungle within a macro jungle. I supplicate on their behalf that you spare them further hardship by thwarting the ambition of this "luciferic loony".

God forbids, if by act of omission, commission, happenstance, intrigue or by any other means he emerged the governor, Fayose's infamy and inglorious era would pale into insignificance. It will be the real journey to perdition for the people residing in this particular state. In fact, the people of the state should expect to feel first hand, the real Hobbesian State of Nature. I am raising this alarm because of the level of insight about this character and I am not exaggerating. Through the past ignoble processes, we have always called democratic processes, this character, a survivalist and a political fox had always benefited immensely for his own well-being. Today he is wearing the full garb of a Machiavellian.

Nigeria as a country had had the misfortune of being ruled by different dictators; two among them very deadly and satanic. It has been years these twosome had exited the seat of government, but the country is still grappling with and groping under the effects of their psychoses. A Civilian Dictator is on his way out or so it seems, no doubt the vast majority of our people cannot wait for him to exit. Ekiti State had the misfortune of an impostor before nemesis caught up with him. He desecrated on the homes, on the paths, on the towns, on the villages, and the psyche of his people. Today, he is a fugitive but before he eloped, he had created a conducive environment for Ekiti to be under a State of Emergency. These inferences are just to buttress the fact that an ill wind will always blow no good.

Prayer:

O! God the Gracious, the Compassionate,
Slow to anger and rich in Love,
Owner of Everlasting Kingdom,
God you guide not the disbelievers,
God you are the Custodian of Wisdom and Power,
Counsel and Understanding.
What you tear down cannot be rebuilt,
The one you imprison cannot be released,
Likewise the one you set free cannot be imprisoned,
O! God when you decree a thing, you only say
"Be" and It is. Great is your name, Glory be
to your name.
As we approach May 2007, turn the counsels of every "Ahitophel" into foolishness, let every Evil Scheme of enemies of your people result in undesired consequences, and liberate your people.