With the broom as its mascot, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which is an amalgam of five political parties, grabbed power at the centre in 2015 purely and solely based on its proposal to Nigerians that its mission is to liberate the masses from the stranglehold of treasury looters in then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
By waving the broom which is popularly used in cleaning up rot and mess, the then main opposition party’s messaging was so powerful that it resonated very well with the critical masses of Nigerians or the hoi polloi.
And the campaign took on a life of its own when many converts started making fantastic promises of goodies that await Nigerians if the APC defeated the PDP. The incredulous promises which were made to up the ante and make the party even more appealling to more Nigerians, worked like magic.
Since it was convenient then, the APC did not deny promising the electorate what was clearly the mythical eldorado, until the election had been won in 2015 and Nigerians started feeling despondent when it became manifest that there is no fidelity in the promises made during campaigns.
Even then, while what l would like to simply term the broom revolution was afoot, not many Nigerians remembered that the broom, APC’s symbol is also infamously an object of mobility for witches as espoused in African mythology.
And following the current hurly burly in the party, which in more ways than one is manifesting some characteristics of witchcraft, Nigerians need to understand the witchcraft aspect of the broom which is the APC mascot.
At least, perhaps the enlightenment may enable the masses properly grasp the underlying causes of the current ‘civil war’ in the ruling party which has seen government agencies like the ministry of justice going against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as reflected by the Abubakar Malami, (Minister of Justice) versus Ibrahim Magu (EFCC boss) saga now playing out in the banquet hall of Aso Rock Villa with former Appeal Court justice, Ayo Salami presiding.
Apart from the Aso Rock Villa circus, the massive heist in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which exploded into the open when the sacked Interim Managing Director, Joi Nunieh, publicly locked horns with the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, is another comedy theatre for the ruling APC.
Worse still, the stench of corruption in NDDC has now been extended to the National Assembly (NASS) as the NDDC and the supervising minister have alleged that the NASS members that have oversight responsibility over them have also literally had their hands in the cookie jar.
Before the dust raised by the scandal could settle, the Chris Ngige, (Labour Minister) squabble with the management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) spilled over into the floors of the House of Representatives, as Nigerians watched with bewilderment as the chairman of the committee, Hon. Abiodun Faleke, exchanged barbs with the Hon minister of labour who was invited to defend his sack of the top management of NSITF that have refused to accept that they have been fired unless and until they hear from President Muhammadu Buhari directly.
With the above highlighted accusations and counter accusations ballooning, who will investigate the investigator when all the parties in the bid to undo each other are accusing one another of having been tarred with the same black brush of corruption?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Witchcraft is simply “the activity of performing magic to help or harm other people”.
Now, doesn’t the war of attrition between Magu and Malami; and the brawl between Akpabio against Joi Nunieh as well as the spat between Chris Ngige and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) management fit the description of witchcraft as defined in the Oxford Dictionary?
I will dwell further on the witchcraft factor in the APC and Aso Rock Villa later, but first, let’s focus on the measures so far taken by President Buhari to douse the inferno engulfing his party.
It may be recalled that in his capacity as the leader of the party, and in order to de-escalate the conflict that’s about to eclipse the APC, Mr President dissolved the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. But if he thought his surprising move was a lasting solution, he must have been surprised that the war has now gotten nastier because unbeknownst to him, he had only scratched the surface, as the epic battle for the control of Edo State between the former Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole and his erstwhile surrogate and incumbent governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, is merely symptomatic of the political undercurrent in the party which can only be comparable to magma in an active volcano waiting to erupt.
It is against the backdrop of the above scenario that the burgeoning number of tension points in the ruling party now teetering on the brink of implosion should be situated and such crisis point must elicit more than a passing interest of the leadership of the ruling party.
As the saying goes, a fish starts to rot from the head.
Incidentally, the turf wars that have been raging in excess of five years inside the Aso Rock Villa between the various cabals in the Presidency, which saw the DSS and NIA facing off with the EFCC when a former DG of DSS – Ita Essien Ekpeyong was to be arrested by the EFCC, affirms the aforementioned aphorism that a fish starts to rot from the head.
Hence, the popping up of cesspits of corruption as reflected by the malfeasance in the EFCC with a putrefying smell; the NDDC mess now oozing of massive decay; and the rot in NSITF that’s emitting pungent odour, as well as the relationship of incest that legislators who are supposed to perform oversight functions, are having with the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) festooned with corruption badges of dishonor; are currently causing Nigerians indigestion and nausea.
As the heads of the MDAs and our lawmakers slugged it out in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly a couple of days ago, Nigerians were initially shocked, miffed and aghast.
But become weary, some members of the public seem to be so overwhelmed by the sheer quantum of the sleaze emanating from government agencies that they now appear to be acquiescing with the stomach churning revelations about the monumental fraud being perpetuated by politicians and their acolytes.
Perhaps to save themselves the torture of the realistic cognition that their commonwealth is being brazenly pillaged by those that they entrusted with the mandate to manage their affairs, the hilarious dramas from NASS such as the fainting by the NDDC lnterim MD, Professor Daniel Pondei, while being quizzed in are being converted into comedic skits for personal entertainment.
The trivia could have been funny were it not for the fact that it involves the very serious crime of re-looting billions of naira by those charged with recovering what had been looted.
Hopefully, the outcome of the ongoing inquest into EFCC, NDDC and NSITF would not end up like the case of Abdulrasheed Maina who was assigned to head a task force charged with reforming pension processes and recovering stolen pension funds worth several billions of naira ended up practically re-looting billions that had been recovered from pension funds thieves before he was finally arraigned sometime in October last year.
Now, before going further, it would help if l put things into context and proper perspective by revisiting the article that l wrote and published on mainstream and online media platforms on January 18, 2018 and aptly titled “On Corruption: One Thing Buhari Must Do To Regain Moral Authority”.
My advice to President Buhari in that piece in 2018 remains relevant today as it was two years ago.
Hence, it is a sort of déjà vu to me because as a nation and under President Buhari’s watch, we had descended to this inglorious level of treasury looting and constitutional brigandage barely two years ago and it was expected that having resolved those issues, such subversion of the interest of Nigerians would not be repeated.
Permit me to reproduce an excerpt of my 2018 article: “Let’s commence by reminding ourselves that the final straw that broke the camel’s back before the last administration was booted out of power in 2015 was the stench of corruption oozing out of Aso Rock Villa, which had become unbearable.
“Of all the allegations against the federal government under President Buhari’s watch, ranging from the lopsided appointments into public offices in respect of which l wrote and published several opinion articles including one titled ‘Federal Republic of Inequality?’, financial impropriety by top Govt officials has been the weightiest.
“These include corruption allegations against about half a dozen members of the current federal cabinet in their previous functions; a military service chief, immediate past Secretary of the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Babachir Lawal, ex Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director General, Ayo Oke. The others are Group Managing Director, GMD, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Acting Head of EFCC, as well as Inspector General of Police (IGP).
“Except for the SGF and NIA DG that have been sacked after a long period of dilly-dallying that created a negative impression of acquiescence in public eyes, the Presidency and the relevant agencies that are supposed to act on the multiple allegations and indictments against the seeming untouchables around the corridors of power by driving the investigations to logical conclusions, have been practically silent”.
As the narrative above clearly indicates, the erstwhile untouchables such as then IGP and NNPC GMD have been retired by President Buhari, so while things seem to have changed in the past two years since l wrote the essay, nothing has really changed for the better.
Instead, the political, economic and social circumstances in Nigeria have apparently taken a nose dive as corruption and governance have become unhinged as reflected by the news of the unprecedented and monumental financial sleaze now being perpetrated at all levels of the public sector and dominating television and radio airwaves, newspaper front pages and social media platforms.
What would be immediately manifest to the discerning would be that the unfortunate events of corruption in the corridors of power recorded in 2018 as espoused in my article that l earlier referenced have now snowballed into monumental hijack of our common patrimony by a few individuals ensconced in Aso Rock Villa and seemingly buffeted by the Presidency as evidenced by the alleged fraudulent activities in the Ministry of Justice/EFCC, the Niger Delta Ministry/NDDC/NASS and Ministry of Labour/NSITF.
And l would expect that the verdict of keen observers of developments or otherwise in our country, would be that since the current ruling party rode into Aso Rock Villa on the back of the broom, literally implying that it was on a mission to clean out the Augean stable, given the political and financial malfeasance now swirling around this administration, it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Another tipping point for the ruling party which l had diagnosed at the nascent stages of the amalgamation of five main opposition parties in 2014 preparatory to divesting then ruling party the PDP of its continued hold on to power in Aso Rock Villa, is contained in an article titled “Internecine War In The APC: Who Will Speak Out For The Casualties?” that was widely published in November 2017.
In the piece l made the following argument:
“After President Buhari was sworn into office on May 29, 2015, the next line of action, which was the inauguration of the Eighth National Assembly, provided the opportunity to cascade political power down the ladder.
Being a party that is formed by five distinctive parties with diametrically opposing philosophies, which were subsumed by the common goal of supplanting the PDP and particularly, then President Goodluck Jonathan, it is not surprising that the APC has become a cauldron of sorts”
That the APC is boiling now like a witchcraft cauldron is not a surprise to me.
In another article titled “The Inconvenient Truth About The APC” that l also wrote and published widely, in November 2017, l drew attention to the dire consequences of the APC not following the entity formation principle of Forming, Storming , Norming and Performing as enunciated by Bruce Tuchman.
I made a case that without going through the storming stage which comes immediately after the forming stage, and where the peculiar interests of the collaborating parties could have been canvassed , the ruling party was only postponing the evil day.
That dreaded day had come upon the APC, when over three people were laying claim to its chairmanship in the aftermath of the court decision that stripped comrade Oshiommole of the role. But President Buhari, who is the leader of the party once again succeeded in ‘kicking the can down the road ‘.
However, the ghost and specter of implosion will definitely haunt the party before or during the convention that the interim leadership has been mandated to organize in 6 months time.
Now, let’s conclude by delving into the mythology of the broom as a witchcraft transportation platform and its effect on the ruling party and its leadership now bedevilled by crises.
My good friend Dr Rueben Abati, who is a respected newspaper columnist and television anchorman, also one time co-occupant of Aso Rock Villa by virtue of his stint as presidential spokesman, in a scary essay titled Rituals, Blood and Death: The Spiritual Side of Aso Rock Villa and published on the back page of ThisDay newspaper in October 2016, shared his horrifying and blood cuddling experience with ghosts that he believes may be haunting Aso Rock Villa seat of power. Bolstered by that narrative, I imagine that ghosts may likely still be lurking around the villa and could have entered into partnership with the witchcraft forces associated with the APC broom that have the capacity to hurt and harm according to the Oxford dictionary definition earlier cited.
The sudden passage into eternity, about three months ago, of the former Chief of Staff and personal friend to President Buhari, Mallam Abba kyari(God bless his soul), who was the subject of my book: ABBA KYARI: PORTRAIT OF A LOYALIST, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Sides Of Public Service In Nigeria, was attributed to complications from COVID-19. His passage while on active service in Aso Rock Villa lends credence to Abati’s treatise about supernatural forces in the seat of power.
Just as l was ruminating over that possibility, barely three months after that unfortunate incident, another political associate and good friend of President Buhari, Mallam Isa Funtua, (May his soul Rest In Peace), who was the doyen of journalism in Nigeria, also passed away without warning.
Despite several promptings by some stakeholders, I have restrained myself from carrying on with the editing of a book/compendium in his memory, which l had titled “Isa Funtua: Exit of a Bridge Builder”, not because he does not deserve it, after all, his firm Bulet constructed most of the remarkable structures in Abuja and he also built human bridges via journalism. But simply because l don’t want to be tagged a dirge writer; having recently written Beyond Loss and Grief , The Story of Kikaose Ebiye-Onyibe, A Survivor’s Guide for Coping With The Loss of a Child, which is a book in memory of my daughter that passed away under strange circumstances in 2017.
After all is said and done, I’m of the conviction that increasingly Mr President may be feeling lonely now as his circle of close friends have been significantly diminished in just a space of three to four months. With President Buhari’s reputation for not having a large pool of friends, are these fallen friends replaceable and could the tragedies be by providence or mystical powers of witchcraft in the presidential seat of power?
Based on my studied assessment of how President Buhari functions as a leader (l may be wrong), he relies a great deal on trusted coadjutors. That much was elucidated in my piece of May 17, 2018 titled “Who Is Advising President Buhari or Who is He Listening To?” where l made a case that President Buhari can be second-guessed. Amongst many other guesstimates, I cited the strategy of President Buhari not taking on ex president Olusegun Obasanjo, OBJ frontally after his incendiary criticism of President Buhari’s second term ambition and l was correct. I know that because in a subsequent interview, President Buhari disclosed that he restrained his team from counter attacking OBJ as they are wont to do whenever their principal comes under attack, irrespective of the moral, religious or cultural standing of the individuals or institutions. Softening his hitherto hard stance by accepting the futility of continuing with payment of fuel subsidy and not floating the naira are other clear indicators that he listens to his advisers.
So by and large President Buhari consults and listens to the wise counsel of members of his inner circle of friends before he formulates policies.
Under the present circumstances whereby most of his key and critical buddies are no longer with us, what does the future hold for Nigeria in terms of quality of governance politically, economically and socially?
–Magnus Onyibe, an entrepreneur, a public policy analyst, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and former commissioner in Delta State government, sent this piece from Lagos.