Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFCC boss expressed his anguish during a two-day summit of Northern Development Focus Initiative (NDFI) in Kano last week. He was troubled by the fact that the 19 northern state governors and the 414 local governments have nothing to show for the N8.3 trillion that accrued to them between 1999 and 2010.
On the contrary, Ahmadu Bello and his team, with an annual budget of N44m which is less than what a local government collects today maintained law and order and ensured effective security of life and property, built Ahmadu Bello University, Ahmadu Bello Stadium and NNDC conglomerate in addition to well paved roads, etc.
But what Ribadu like many of us seem to have forgotten was that Ahmadu Bello, like Awo his counterpart in the West, made those giant strides using their political parties, the Northern Peoples Congres (NPC) and Action Group (AG) not just as tools for the mobilization of the masses of their people for electoral purposes but also as participants in the policy thrust of their administrations. The political parties of the first republic, apart from serving as channels for recruitment of political leadership, were modernization agents.
They had taken a cue from Herbert Macaulay’s Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) which he introduced in 1923 as a response to Hugh Clifford 1922 constitution with defined objectives of seeking a “municipal status for Lagos, local self government, compulsory primary education, non discriminatory private economic enterprise and Africanisation of the civil service.”
In the same manner, the foundation of NPC was laid by educated and dedicated northern youths, first, through the Bauchi General Improvement Union and Youths Special Circle of Sokoto in the mid- forties. Both metamorphosed into Jam’yyar Mutanem Arewa, Northern Nigerian Congress (NNC) in June 1949 through the efforts of Dr. A. R Dikko and D. A .Rafih. The main objective of NPC as stated by Dr. Dikko, its first president was ‘fighting ignorance, idleness and injustice’ in the northern region’.
The AG, nurtured by Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Bode Thomas, Anthony Enahoro, Adekunle Ajasin and other young educated elites of the region was inaugurated in August 1950. Besides its unstated purpose of reducing the influence of Zik in the West, it had a well articulated manifesto which promised free education, free health, and full employment among many others.
Political parties of the first republic were created as agents of modernization by dedicated youths who had their eyes on history as against what obtained today where we have gangs with garrison commanders engaged in squabbles over the sharing of our common wealth among its members.
The travails of our party system as modernising agents started with the onslaught of the military. Ill-informed and ill-trained Ironsi and Gowon banned the parties because they could not just understand that they were in fact index of political development.
Babangida tried to create political parties in the image of the military. But because they were government creations in name but orphans in reality, Tony Anenih of SDP found it easy to trade off his party’s victory while Tom Ikimi of NRC settled for the position of a foreign affairs minister. Both opted for short term advantage.
Abacha came up with, the UNCP, CNC, NCPN, DPN and GDM which late Bola Ige described as five fingers of a leprous hand. Ige was proved right as all the five so called political parties adopted Abacha as their presidential candidate even before he publicly declared his interest.
The PDP emerged from the G-34 during General Abubakar’s 11-month transition program. But it was soon hijacked by retired soldiers and their contractors. Using vicious military tactics, PDP was able to easily infiltrate AD and ANPP leaving each to behave like a woman with three husbands.
What Buhari, Tinubu and their colleagues are being called upon to do is not just an inauguration of party to win an election. That job has been made easy by PDP’s self-inflicted damage. All the new party needs to do is to celebrate the credentials of all those who are today fighting over the soul of PDP starting with Obasanjo, followed by other vicious leaders like Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Alli, Bamanga Tukur, Bode George.
Nigerians have already known through judicial pronouncements the invidious role of Anenih ‘the Fixer’ in the states and federal elections between 1999 and 2007. The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts only last week declared that Anenih, the newly appointed chairman of Ports Authority, must appear before it to answer some questions regarding his role in the alleged N20 billion road contract scam.
Before then there was the suppressed Heineken Lokpobiri Senate transport probe report which alleged that from 1999 to 2009, some N645 billion was spent on 4,752 kilometres of road; shortchanging the government to the tune of N49 million on each kilometre of road purportedly constructed.
Ahmadu Alli has often been trailed by crisis. As chairman of PDP, he was alleged to have nominated his son and wife for board positions. As chairman of PPRA, he and the current minister of petroleum presided over the theft of about N2 trillion by some of the over 140 independent oil marketers they appointed.
Goodluck Ebere Jonathan is a harmless man PDP leading light imposed as president, sacrificing in the process their party’s constitution. He is as a result said to have sold Nigeria to PDP whose other name has become ‘corruption’. Former World Bank Vice President for Africa Oby Ezekwesili, who was Education Minister in the Obasanjo administration, has just alleged that the PDP administration of Jonathan squandered $67billion reserves left by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Government spokesman said it was only $43.13billion that was left. Amidst the war of figures, the one thing government has found difficult to do, is account for either of the figures.
Nigerians can therefore take the right decision if as Chief Bisi Akande recently put it, ‘the Independent National Electoral Commission will provide a level playing ground whereby due process will be adhered to.. and if the security agencies will be fair and impartial and will reject advances that could taint elections’.
What Nigerians want from Buhari and Tinubu is inauguration of a modernising party in line with what obtained in the first republic and elsewhere in the developed democracies. The challenge before the two and their colleagues is to replace the current political parties moulded in the military image, with garrison commanders as party leaders who supervised the squandering of N8.3trillion in 10 years by the 19 northern state governors and something closer to that by their southern counterparts.
Achieving this noble objective calls for a sober reflection on the parts of the main actors. Apart from Buhari’s rigidity and offensive image of ‘blood, dogs, monkeys,’ he seems to have started well by cancelling an elaborate 70th birthday bash Nigerians know he could ill-afford on his own, but organized by those who would have used public funds.
What these times call for are men with eyes on history; men who would emulate the Republicans Jeffersonand Adams, the Republicans Jefferson and Madison of USA of the 1790s, the British enlightened elite that established parties as modernizing agents after the Britain reforms of 1832, their French counterparts who did the same after French revolution of 1789 and the Japanese leaders after the Meiji Restoration of 1867.
Buhari and Tinubu have the goodwill of Nigerians. They are both blessed with educated, dedicated youths and professionals who look up to them to provide leadership so that they can jointly write their names in gold as they map out a better future for our children. This task is not unattainable.
culled from Hot News Naija