December 24, 2013 – Wole Soyinka Condemns APC Party Member’ Meeting With Obasanjo & Babangida
Professor Wole Soyinka has flayed the All Progressives Congress (APC) for its membership drive which has been targeting prominent politicians in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Soyinka, according to a report yesterday by an online news medium, Premium Times, described the opposition party’s approach as lacking in moral focus and tantamount to political prostitution.
His criticism of the party came just as Kano State Governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, disclosed that more PDP governors were expected to defect to APC soon.
Soyinka queried the propriety of APC’s attempts to get Obasanjo and others to join the party and expressed doubt if the party had deeply pondered over its initiative before embarking on the exercise.
He said his reaction was triggered by media reports that an “APC-led group has been paying courtesy visits to former heads of state,” especially a report that said: “Tinubu added that the APC had resolved to rescue Nigeria, appealing to Obasanjo to lead the mission. We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you as navigator.”
He said: “Would it be correct to state that their purpose is captured in the following mission statement? If this attribution is correct, may I urge you, as an urgent public service, to advise families to begin the stockpiling of lifebelts for the guaranteed crash.
“Don’t forget to alert the coastguards – ECOWAS, AU, UNO, etc – to be on the alert for possible salvage operations.
“By the way, if General Sani Abacha were alive today, would he also have been on the ship’s complement? As captain perhaps?”
The APC leaders has in recent weeks embarked on a membership drive with visits to some former rulers, including Babangida, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
The party had also visited seven aggrieved PDP governors and succeeded in persuading five of them, Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), to defect to the opposition on November 26.
However, criticising the party’s membership drive, Lagos-based lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the APC leaders were recruiting the former leaders who had lost out in the power struggle in PDP.
“In bourgeois politics, the ongoing development is called ‘realignment of forces’. In the process, those who have been excluded from the ‘come and chop’ policy of the PDP are now being asked to choose their place at the table in case the APC takes over power in 2015,” he said.
He expressed concern that the APC leaders seem not to have plans to woo the youth who constitute over 60 percent of the country’s voting population, adding that the mobilisation of past leaders and other PDP chieftains has shown that APC is only interested in power.
Amid the criticism, Kwankwaso yesterday disclosed that more PDP governors might soon join APC.
Responding to questions on the Hausa Service of the BBC, he said some unspecified number of his colleagues in the ruling party would soon join the five of them who had defected to APC.
“We are anticipating that more of our colleagues in the PDP will join us in the APC soon. The APC is for all Nigerians. There are no new comers or strangers in it,” the governor said, in a veiled reply to his predecessor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who had been busy protesting his (Kwankwaso’s) takeover of the party structures in Kano.
He described APC as a merger of parties into which the G7 led the PDP governors, increasing its strength in a way that made it the second largest legacy group in the party, coming behind the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“In the not too distant future, we expect more PDP governors to join us. And if this happens, we will have more governors in the APC than all other parties in the coalition.
“My call to Nigerians is that they should all join the APC because as it stands nobody is a card-carrying member as of now,” the governor added.
A member of the House of Representatives who along with 36 others had followed their governors to the APC, also told the BBC Hausa Service that they would not be moved by the offer of automatic tickets offered them by the PDP, saying that their defection is irreversible.
Hon. Aminu Suleiman said they would not be cowed by the threat of a court order or be enticed by the lure of automatic tickets to return to the PDP.
“For three years that we have been in the House, the PDP was unable to resolve its in-house problems,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has faulted PDP’s efforts to have the seats of the lawmakers who decamped declared vacant.
Referring to the PDP as sounding “like petulant spoilt brats”, he said: “I cannot count the number of members that have crossed to the PDP from other parties in the last two years with the party rejoicing and celebrating the crossover and yet no one’s seat was declared vacant.”
In a statement e-mailed by his Personal Research Assistant, Wasiu Smart Olanrewaju, the lawmaker added that it was not enough to say that the party where those who had defected to the ruling party should have complained and not PDP as the beneficiary.
“He who comes to equity must come with clean hands and he who seeks equity must do equity. In law, you cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. They must learn to lose gallantly.
“The party needs to stop its wishful thinking and get its act together. We are happy to take over the House. The PDP need not be ashamed or get its knickers in a twist. This is the present structure in the United States of America; perhaps the most advanced democracy in the world, where the the ruling Democratic Party is in the minority in the House which is controlled by the Republican opposition.
“We welcome the strengthening of the age-long democratic principle of checks and balances. The Nigerian people are the ultimate beneficiaries,” he added.
[Muhammad Bello with agency report, This Day]