When I led a team of The Point’s editors to have a Democracy Day chat with Pastor Tunde Bakare, in his presidential Amazing Grace Villa residence, I honestly did not bargain for the explosive nature it took.
I did not also envisage that the interview would, in a very short time, trigger some jockeying and realignments for the soul of the South West, ahead of the 2023 elections. Well, that is news behind the news.
Yes, Pastor Bakare had told us that 2023 would be decided before 2023, and those interested would know where things would head immediately the COVID-19 pandemic challenges were over.
But I was not expecting the telltale signs to be this vivid barely three weeks after that interview, and right in the thick of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Between the date of that interview and now, many Nigerians have died from COVID-19 related complications.
In fact, about four top All Progressives Congress leaders and legislators, including a former Governor of Oyo State, and Deputy National Chairman of the party, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; and Lagos Senator, Bayo Osinowo; among others, have passed on.
But the pains associated with these unfortunate deaths have not halted the ruthless groundwork for the real battle ahead.
First, it was the dissolution of the National Working Committee of the APC.
Though, many people would say it was long overdue, not many saw it coming that close.
It was amazing that the same President Buhari that had looked away as Oshiomhole knocked heads together, before and during the 2019 elections, all in the name of settling some unexplained scores in the ruling party, could assume what was left of his military toga to deal ruthlessly with Oshiomhole and his camp.
Never mind the media dressing that followed the NWC dissolution.
That the President backed a Victor Giadom, who the pro-Oshiomhole National Working Committee had labelled an “impostor”, and honoured an emergency National Executive Committee meeting he convened, which they kicked against, should reveal to even an apolitical Nigerian that Giadom might have acted a winning script along with powerful directors.
Oshiomhole’s cup had been full a long time ago.
Master strategists must have been waiting for the right time to allow him pour the liquid on a sacred face.
The opportunity fortunately presented itself about four weeks ago, but not without a colossal loss to the APC in the person of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Disqualifying Obaseki, who has been governor with the same certificates, on the platform of the same party, for four years, citing strange anomalies, was the height of political blunder
Away from insinuations that, because he would no longer be running, he would also look the other way even if the closest of his friends in the ruling party would break each other’s heads in the jostle for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket, the President took a firm stand to save the image of the party.
And he had genuine reasons.
One, it was clear that with three different claims to the Chairmanship of the party, at the national level; and the scandalous verdict of the APC screening committee, which kicked out the incumbent governor on account of defects in his Higher School and NYSC certificates, the party was already on a sure path to an irredeemable collapse.
And that is not even over yet!
Disqualifying Obaseki, who has been governor with the same certificates, on the platform of the same party, for four years, citing strange anomalies, was the height of political blunder.
The President said, “Confronted with these issues, it is obvious that the fortunes of the party are currently in jeopardy, administration of our party is becoming impossible and there is consequently an urgent need for intervention to immediately arrest further drifts and internal wrangling, which may lead to total disintegration.
“What we see clearly emerging, is that we are beginning to self-destruct. This, my dear party members, is not just regrettable but utterly gut wrenching.” He got it so right!
Anyone who thought, at that particular moment, that the embattled Oshiomhole NWC would reconvene for a showdown, even with the initial threats of court action, would have only been dealing with surface reports as offered by largely biased players.
Even their comrade leader chickened out before he could be persuaded.
Why? He is good at smelling the kind of trouble that he cannot handle, even from afar.
I would have touched the case of the Ondo House of Commotion, where the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, decamped to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, and refused to resign; where the Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde, also dumped the Rotimi Akeredolu government and told the masses that they rigged the election that produced the governor in 2016; and where the lawmakers are embroiled in an impeachment scandal against the deputy governor even when the Chief Judge of the state has refused to set up an impeachment panel against him for reasons she enumerated.
But the scenario, as painted, is nothing as scary as the shocker that the APC administration gave Nigerians exactly a week ago.
Last Monday, the news of the arrest of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, first filtered in like a rumour. Minutes later, the Department of State Services, in the usual annoying ‘Nigerian’ style, refused to call a spade a spade and caused confusion across newsrooms with a statement that initially denied the arrest.
The events that happened in quick succession, after that, which have led to Magu sleeping like a common criminal for seven nights, as I write, in a police cell (whether common or Executive), have long exposed that statement as one issued in a state of perplexity.
But there are three ‘hefty’ questions to ask here: If the Buhari administration rode into power on the wheels of zero tolerance for corruption, why did it take five good years to discover that the same ‘bride’ that was too good to be dropped, despite the unyielding refusal of the Bukola Saraki-led 8th National Assembly to confirm him in substantive capacity, was a ‘blood-sucking witch’, as implied by the Presidential panel’s various allegations against him?
Has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo unwittingly soaked himself in some oil that could give impetus to some kind of agenda against him?
If the looters of the controversial loots had received the right treatment under the law, what punishment awaits ‘relooters’ of recovered loots under the Nigerian Constitution; and what name would Nigerians call the government under which this unique ‘relooting’ occurred?
Yemi Kolapo is the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Point Newspapers