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Danjuma, El-rufai & Ribadu: Strange bed- fellows new political platform

Source: huhuonline.com

It is a sign of the growing frustration and desperation on the state of the nation as we cower in the cold embrace of the incompetent administration of the PDP that hardly a day passes without someone or groups of individuals announcing their

intention to form broad-based national political platforms to wrestle power from the centre in 2011.

In keeping with the trend, the The Nation newspaper of Sunday, October 4th reported that the erstwhile Defence Minister General T. Y. Danjuma, the pioneer Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former FCT Minister Nasir el-Rufai have teemed up in the latest effort to retire the PDP from the corridors of power. The other members of the new group listed included the former Senate President Ken Nnamani and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Bello Masari.

By all accounts, members of the new group, like the others before them, are eminent Nigerians in their individual capacities. And whether for negative or positive reasons, their contributions to national development cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

If the report in The Nation is true, the new group was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission with the name 'Best Practice Initiative.' It has also secured offices in all the six geo-political zones in the nation to start what it called 'a massive recruitment process.' An insider from the new group concluded that the essence of all these ''to build the party from the grassroots and make it a people oriented party.''

Ordinarily, the news should gladden the hearts of millions of Nigerians who have suffered the most from incompetent leadership over the past ten years. The alarming scale of our national degeneration since 1999 in particular also dictates that any viable alternative to the current status-quo deserves the attention and support of the rapidly declining tribe of Nigerian patriots wherever they could be found. But that is about as far as I am willing to push my enthusiasm on their chances of unseating the PDP. I have my reasons.

First I must express my resolute apprehension at the membership of the group, composed as it were of very strange bed-fellows. It is true, of course, that Nasir el-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu are mutual soul mates whose friendship appears cast in granite. While they headed the National Assembly, Ken Nnamani and Aminu Masari hardly rocked the boat in the affairs of the legislative arm, which enjoyed a higher degree of stability compared to the past. But where do we place T. Y. Danjuma in the mix?

It is no secret that both el-Rufai and Ribadu enjoyed a chummy relationship with former president Olusegun Obasanjo. As of today, there is nothing to suggest that the three have completely parted ways. It is an even lesser secret that T. Y. Danjuma transmuted from the strong supporter of Obasanjo to being his mortal foe in the later half of his forgettable presidency. In fact, Danjuma derogatorily called 'Aremu of Ota' in an interview published last year. Nnamani on the other hand superintended over the emphatic defeat of Obasanjo's third term project along with Masari.

Now, I am fully aware that in politics, as much as in international relations, there can be no permanent enemies or friends. Still, given the deceitful nature of many Nigerian politicians, the serious matter of their compatibility needs to be established before they can be taken seriously.

Have Obasanjo and his protégés completely parted ways? What influence has he on the new group? Better still, has the relationship between Danjuma and his former boss thawed over time? If we stretch the matter further, is the composition of the new group itself a reflection of the reported gulf between President Yar'adua and his benefactor Olusegun Obasanjo?

But there are more fundamental issues why Nigerians must treat the new group with great caution. If I read the report correctly, the group's first point of call was the Corporate Affairs Commission. The unnamed insider for the group also spoke about opening offices in the six political zones and 'mobilizing' Nigerians. He said nothing about the central theme or ideology of the group to which Nigerians dissatisfied with the performance of the PDP could rally!

Like most other pretenders to the PDP throne of mediocrity, the new political platform has equally made a tragic miscalculation. By merely expressing the intention to 'mobilize' Nigerians without presenting them first with a distinct ideology or a set of principles or goals to which they can aspire, it seems the group is only after power for its sake alone.

It also shows that like the PDP, it will be inclined to regard our votes purely as commodities of exchange! Sadly, it indicates also that the vital process of party formation and evolution was equated with the registration of a limited liability company! For all Nigerian victims of rigged or disputed elections, nothing could be more discomforting.

To be fair, a leading member of the group Dr. Sam Amadi was quoted to have said: “Ours is just a political movement, it is not yet a political party; it is a good experiment and we hope it works.” That may be true, but as my Esan friend reminded me the other day, it is only possible to catch a black goat in the daytime not in the night!

Another observer also noted that the new group was made up of 'men of proven integrity' on the political scene. But how many times have we said that about our politicians in the past before they expressed their preferences for the integrity of their own stomachs?

I will be the first to concede that T. Y. Danjuma is not in search of a meal ticket in this new endeavour but even he knows that the jury is still out on the exact reasons why he parted company with his former boss Olusegun Obasanjo. That hardly diminishes his status as a civil war hero of repute.

In spite of his current travails and alleged excesses in office, we must also concede that the Federal Capital Territory would have degenerated into one of the world's biggest slums but for the courageous efforts of Nasir el-Rufai. Ordinarily, his legacy of performance should qualify him for any office in the land.

Before he became Obasanjo's political tool, Nuhu Ribadu was also my role model for the manner he sent the legions of scammers that eroded our national esteem scampering for cover. In my estimation, we also owe a national debt to Ken Nnamani and Aminu Bello Masari for the deft manner they de-robed a despot in broad daylight by sounding the death knell to Obasanjo's third term bid.

And yes, all these men are intelligent individuals, no doubt. They must know that membership of successful political associations worldwide is not the same as subscription into an exclusive club. To succeed they must tap into and harness the mass frustration and hysteria in the land by given the people a symbol and a theme to which they could rally.

To succeed the theme must be attractive to all Nigerians. It must transcend ethnicity, religion, and creed. It cannot succeed by simply mobilizing people for the sake of power itself. For Nigerians to take them seriously, they must avoid the mistakes committed by similar aspiring political movements in the past as highlighted herein. Certainly, what they cannot afford to do is to give the impression that they are desperados for power for the sake of political survival or even vendetta.

by Muhammad Al-Ghazali