By Hammed Hammed From Osun state

Unfolding events in Kano following the reinstatement of His Royal Highness Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the 16th Emir of Kano on Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf is, to say the least, very alarming.

The way and manner politics is being played, is not only recklessly insensitive to the dangers being posed to human lives in Kano, but frighteningly disgraceful and inconsiderate to whatever could be the choices of people of Kano State.

If anything, it is the kind of abrasive politics that can only be associated with military governments or leaders who come from military background. That it is being championed by an APC-led Federal Government is very shocking.

Given that APC is a party envisioned to be progressive, what could have been the objective of such a reckless show of power? To protect the traditional institution and returned the dethroned Alh. Aminu Ado Bayero back as Emir of Kano? How is that a progressive or even democratic mission worthy of risking the lives of thousands of citizens? That the Federal Government is using its might because of the control it exercises over security agencies in a partisan manner to trample on the constitutional authority of Kano State Government over traditional institutions highlight the crisis of impunity in the country.

Why President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will approve such reckless mission, which is incompatible with both the founding vision of the APC and every principle of democracy is worrisome.

If this had come from former President Olusegun Obasanjo or former President Muhammadu Buhari, given their military background, it will be understandable.

As a member of APC from the North-West, I am scandalised that my party has degenerated to a level below any democratic standard. The only rationale so far is to restore the old abrasive politics of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in Kano State by undermining the Kano State Government led by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf. We must remind leaders, President Asiwaju Tinubu in particular, that the fundamental reason why APC lost Kano State to NNPP was the reckless way Dr. Ganduje managed politics in Kano State. The dethronement of Emir Sanusi in 2020 on account of the disagreement between Dr. Ganduje and the Emir was very unnecessary and unfortunate. For Dr. Ganduje to have descended on the Kano Emirate the way he did in 2020, only created the basis for politicising the Kano Emirate, which is now reducing the tenure of Emirs to correspond with the tenure of Governors.

Could the objective of the Federal Government’s intervention be to restore the revered status of Emirs? How is that possible given the reality that, however considered, the Kano State Government has the legitimate constitutional authority to manage affairs of traditional institutions? If as is being claimed that the directive of the Federal Government to security agencies is to enforce the court order stopping the reinstatement of Emir Sanusi, how is that going to be possible? Except if the mission is to create lawlessness based on which we return to the old garrison politics of former President Obasanjo era when cheap political excuses are used to impose state of emergencies and remove sitting Governors, it is very difficult to understand the possible mission of the Federal Government in Kano State with respect to the unfolding politics around the reinstatement of Emir Sanusi.

As things are, the action of the Federal Government in Kano State can only lead to further destruction of the APC in the State and by extension in the whole North. Let no one be deceived, already the APC has been weakened both in Kano and the whole North by several factors, the most important of them is the fact that we have not lived up to our campaign promises to Nigerians since 2015.

Unfortunately, given the way we have rolled out policies that crashed standard of living of citizens under the current administration of President Asiwaju Tinubu, the support base of the APC in the North has further shrank.

Perhaps, President Asiwaju Tinubu and all those behind the reckless attempt to trample on the constitutional authority of Kano State Government should be reminded about the fact of our poor electoral performance in Kano State and the North-West during the 2023 Presidential elections.

In 2015, APC won 89% of the votes in Kano State with 1,903,999 as compared with PDP’s 10% or 215,779 votes. In 2019, APC votes in Kano State reduced to 77.5% or 1,464,768, but PDP’s votes increased to 20.7% or 391,593. In 2023, APC’s votes in Kano State for the Presidential election reduced to 517,341, PDP got 131,716, while NNPP got 997,279 votes. For the seven states in the North-West, although President Asiwaju Tinubu won majority votes in the region with 2,652,235 across the seven states as compared to PDP’s vote of 2,329,540, this sharply contrasted with the votes the APC got in 2015 and 2019 of 7,115,199 and 5,995,651 respectively as compared with PDP’s votes of 1,339,709 and 2,280,465.

This means APC got less than 30% of the votes it had in 2015 and less than 50% of the votes it got in 2019 during the 2023 Presidential elections.

With such reality, our leaders should be more interested in making amends by reorganising the party in the region and make it more attractive to citizens, if we want to return to the old electoral glory of enjoying the mass support of citizens from the North-West.

From all indications, given the response of the Federal Government to the politics being played out in Kano State around the reinstatement of Emir Sanusi, the question of reorganising the APC to make it popular in the North-West is not being considered.

In fact, the mere fact that we are retaining Dr. Ganduje as National Chairman of the APC with all his baggage and poor record of performance since his assumption of office suggest that, as a party, we are in denial of all the challenges facing us. With such denial, President Asiwaju Tinubu risked being considered as a leader who may have already conceded his election for second term within one year of his first term tenure.

Why should this be so? Many of us in APC who fought for the emergence and victory of President Asiwaju Tinubu with the firm belief that being a dedicated democrat and progressive politician who has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria, he will make a fundamental difference in terms of providing what could be estimated to be a more responsive and representative leadership, the last one year since his emergence as President of the Federal Republic is like a nightmare.

To be candid, it is depressing that both the APC as a political party and its governments, especially at Federal level, but also in many states controlled by the party have not lived up to the expectation of being responsive and representative governments.

With party organs not meeting as provided by the APC constitution, capacity of leaders and members of the party to intervene and influence changes in the direction of returning the party to its founding vision of emerging as a progressive party has been weakened if not eroded. Given such circumstance, party leaders and members are reduced to being distant observers.

It is quite troubling that an elected government under the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu will be deaf and dumb and insulate itself from all the appeals of party members and leaders regarding the situation facing the party.

This was exactly the kind of situation, which confronted late Chief M. K. O. Abiola after the annulment of June 12, 1993 election, that made him to lament about how his efforts to engage military leaders in dialogue to reclaim his mandate were ignored by the military regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha as the military leaders ‘remained like stones, neither stirred to show loyalty to the collective decision of the people of their own country, nor to observe Allah’s injunction that they should exhibit justice and fair play in all their dealings with their fellowmen.’

It is heartbreaking to admit that since the inauguration of President Asiwaju Tinubu, he ‘‘remained like stone, neither stirred to show loyalty to … the people …nor to observe Allah’s injunction …(to) exhibit justice and fair play.’ Some of us in APC who made our modest contributions towards the emergence of President Asiwaju Tinubu, both as the candidate of the party and as the President of the Federal Republic are being treated almost as offenders.

The only justification for that could be our outspokenness. Is President Asiwaju Tinubu such a gullible leader to the extent that he only wants praise singers around him? Is that the way he wants to reproduce the Lagos success story? Did he surrounded himself with praise singers when he was Governor of Lagos State? The evidence suggests to the contrary.

Why then is he handling the responsibility of serving as the President of the Federal Republic in ways that compromised his democratic and progressive credentials?

Is this not the same Asiwaju Tinubu who was in the frontline of the struggle for democracy in Nigeria in the 1990s on account of which his life was threatened and he had to go on exile? Was this not the same Asiwaju Tinubu who as Governor of Lagos State had to stand up to the Federal Government of former President Obasanjo when they attempted to trample on the constitutional right of the Lagos State Government? The inspiringly successful legal battles of the Lagos State government against the Federal Government between 2003 and 2007 are still very fresh in the memory of Nigerians. Why is President Asiwaju Tinubu undoing all his achievement as a committed democrat?

If allowed to continue, Nigeria is gradually moving back to the dark ages of garrison politics under an APC-led government, which is envisioned to be progressive with Asiwaju Tinubu as President who was undisputedly a fighter for democracy.

With APC almost disbanded given that its organs are no longer functional and handed over to Dr. Ganduje who is everything but a progressive and acting more like someone with a mission to destroy the party, the prospect of reforming the APC and return it to its founding vision is more and more becoming unreal.

All these combined, winning elections in Kano State, the North-West and by extension, the whole country for APC will almost be impossible.

If care is not taken, very soon, we will start having incidences of elected APC leaders moving to other parties in preparations for 2027 elections.

In the specific case of Kano State, the damage is already done. Give or take, whatever is the outcome of the current power struggle around the Kano Emirate has the potential of negatively affecting the electoral fortune of the APC.

Does all these then suggest that APC is lost? Even before the Kano State debacle, the APC is lost to the extent of its derailment from its founding vision of being a progressive party.

The emerging scenario whereby APC-led Federal Government of President Asiwaju Tinubu is using garrison politics to trample on the constitutional powers of Kano State Government would have damaged the democratic credentials of both President Asiwaju Tinubu and the APC beyond repairs, not to talk of returning the APC to its founding vision of becoming a progressive party.

The truth must be told that once the APC-led government of President Asiwaju Tinubu find garrison politics attractive as a means of resolving political disputes, its commitment to rule of law and respect for principles of federalism will prioritise the use of force.

Democratic rudiments promoting negotiations and consultations aimed at contracting agreements around interests would be sacrificed and undermined.

What then should we do given such an ugly reality? There must be creative way to return to the struggle for democracy in Nigeria.

Beyond elections, patriotic Nigerians must organise themselves and begin a new political initiative to build a strong political party, which must be functional with competent and credible leadership that should enjoy the confidence of Nigerians.

Such leadership should have the skills to manage and reconcile internal disputes and regulate the conduct of elected representatives such that they are able to meet the expectations of Nigerians in lines with campaign promises as provided in the party’s manifesto.

As a member of APC, I must admit, I have lost hope about the prospect of reforming the APC to return it to its founding vision given the way President Asiwaju Tinubu and many APC leaders are conducting themselves.

Unfortunately, given that all other political parties in the country are also not functional and only serve as special purpose vehicles for elections, the challenge of developing Nigerian democracy is beyond just changing political parties.

To build Nigerian democracy, we need at least a political party, which will respect its own rules, guarantee that its organs as are meeting as enshrined in the party’s constitution, it has credible leadership that will be accountable to party members, and above all have the tolerance to accommodate divergent opinions and interests of party members.

Nigerian democracy must grow beyond just elections. Democracy is as good or bad as any dictatorship when it is incapable of regulating the conduct of elected representatives.

The legal framework for the operations of political parties in Nigeria must be strengthened to compel strong compliance to internal rules of political parties.

A situation whereby in the name of democracy we end up producing emperors who operate more as garrison commanders is unacceptable and all patriots and genuine democrats should be called upon to join the crusade to change it and build a truly strong democracy in Nigeria.

The reality whereby democracy is reduced to a comedy of electoral circus must give way to one which promotes veritable consultations and negotiations driven by functional structures of political parties.

And agreements or decisions of parties should be binding and enforceable based on compliance to internal rules of parties.

That is the democracy Nigerians wanted and is the democracy we struggled and campaigned for, which we must return to!

By Hamsina

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