In his “The Devil’s Dictionary”, the American journalist and satirist, Ambrose Beirce, defines politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” He adds further that politics is not less than “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage”. As cynical as the definitions are, they aptly capture the political reality of the hullabaloo that trailed the recently conducted National Assembly elections.
In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only personal interests are permanent. So, the summary of the recent political masterstroke, a big kill, of the strongman of Kwara politics, Senator Bukola Saraki, is that he succeeded in actualising his political ambition. That is the fact and any other thing is commentary.
As a candidate for the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki left no stone unturned traversing the country and mobilising political forces behind him. Those who opposed him were equally making their plans to frustrate his ambition as expected. At the end of the day, Saraki deployed his skills and showed that politics runs in his DNA, being the son and scion of a master political strategist, the late Dr Olusola Saraki. He trounced his opponents flat.
I have read a number of conspiracy theories on Saraki’s election as Senate President, yet, the truth of the matter is that his opponents are not also in a “contest of principles”. They wanted to muzzle the Senators for their private advantage too. It was for that reason that the anointed candidate of the party failed to win the Speakership position as well with history repeating itself regarding the emergence of the former Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.
Besides, the victory of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President is a further attestation to the efficacy of prayers as what was thought impossible became possible. The same way prayers, though anyone who doesn’t believe so is free to disagree, contributed significantly to the outcome of the last presidential elections, the supporters of Senator Saraki in Kwara State and beyond also prayed fervently for him. That was why all the permutations, which could have failed if God wished, eventually worked for him.
However, if Saraki made a good kill by achieving his ambition, what is rather disappointing is the APC’s overkill in bemoaning the kill. It was natural for the party leaders, from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to the rest of the leadership, to be unhappy that their plan failed but it is a serious political miscalculation for them to be fulminating the way they are doing.
So, Alhaji Lai Muhammed should not bother himself about anyone creating “obstacles for the new administration”. President Muhammadu Buhari has already indicated his willingness to work with the elected National Assembly leaders. It would amount to distracting the President and creating problems for him to overreact on the matter. Two weeks ago, I told a story here to drive home a lesson: “when you are in deep shit, it is best to keep your mouth shut.”
For many of us who have sympathy for the APC and its change mantra, it is disturbing that the party is failing to manage its success well. The APC leaders should know that you win some and you lose some in politics. The proper reaction for them was to assess the situation and plan on re-uniting the party divided by ambitions rather than exert themselves on what can lead to a further re-alignment of political forces against their party.
There is no doubt that the APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, contributed significantly to the change we have today. Like him or not, Tinubu is a man of no mean influence. He built a solid opposition where he remained since 1999 until last month, resisting carrots thrown in his way and enduring the sticks, even when his house was besieged. Being resolute and masses-oriented, Nigerians appreciate him. Nigerians also appreciate those who joined forces with him and refused to partake in the billions bonanza that dominated the concluding part of Jonathan presidency.
Incidentally, among those who also sacrificed for the current change is Senator Bukola Saraki. He played a big political gamble by aligning his forces with the new PDP, then APC, to free Nigeria from the suffocating claws of classical misrule that characterized the previous regime. He is eminently qualified for the position he now occupies and the matter should be laid to rest. There is always another day for every loser in a political contest.
The most important thing is this for those who are over-reaching themselves on the current development: Nigerians want President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed. President Buhari has indicated his readiness to work with the elected leaders. Therefore, to challenge the current status quo is to challenge President Buhari whose position on the matter is now clear.
Nigerians do not really care who occupies which post among the agents of change in whose rank Senate President Bukola Saraki towers high. As he eloquently said in his acceptance speech this Tuesday (June 9, 2015), “the change that our people voted for is a change from a life of poverty, misery and hopelessness to a life of prosperity, happiness and confidence in the future; a change from a pervasive culture of fear to a life of security and comfort; a change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability and respect for every citizen, regardless of tribe, gender, religion, region or political persuasion”.
We don’t want to hear that APC cannot fulfil its electoral promises just because of NASS elections, as spokesman Alhaji Lai Muhammad was reported to have said. Four years is short and APC should not destroy the house that it has painstakingly built. If not for anything, APC should not allow the likes of Governor Ayo Fayose and Chief Bode George to laugh at its expense. It should put its house in order, reach out to the elected leaders of the National Assembly and be on the same page with Mr President.
BUHARI, BRING AMAECHI ON BOARD
If the outcome of the last Presidential elections had turned out otherwise, the biggest loser in Nigeria would have been the Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi. While others might sustain deep or mild political injuries, Amaechi would have effectively committed political, if not real, suicide.
Till now, I understand his supporters are still being persecuted, for those of them who have not been executed. Should Amaechi be left in the lurch, many Nigerians will lose confidence in President Buhari. I pray that does not happen. He deserves to serve Nigerians in the capacity he desires. He should be in position to assure his long-suffering supporters in Rivers State that he did not risk his life and theirs for nothing.
Men like Amaechi are rare. Those who follow his ideals should be motivated that being principled pays.