This week, Nigeria witnessed a terse change of guards on the various levels, of elective political offices with holders who had battled and come out bleeding but victorious in the March general elections. While numerous cases remain in election tribunals and courts of law across the country, there has been no greater evidence of lingering bad blood than the blatant show of a lack of solidarity during the swearing in ceremonies.
This is further to the drama that took place April, when former Governor of Lagos State Akinwunmi Ambode invited President Mohammadu Buhari to the commissioning of some of his flagship infrastructure projects in the state. The absence of the APC national party leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu had got tongues wagging, unnecessarily as far as some quarters were concerned.
For others, it was evidence or indication of deep cracks in the party walls. This theory was further cemented by the presence of the party’s enfants terrible- Former Ogun Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, in the same company. The inauguration of Lagos’ Babajide Sanwo-Olu saw the absence of his immediate predecessor, and it was little to do with the early morning rainstorm; while it was a row of empty seats at the inauguration of President Buhari, which had been earmarked for former heads of state of the federation.
In Ogun, some road construction projects that were left unfinished, purportedly at the behest of the outgoing governor, threatened to block off access to the MKO Abiola stadium venue of the inauguration ceremonies of the incoming Dapo Abiodun. Observers claim it was deliberate. In the entire political space, there are rancours everywhere, both within parties as well as between. The tone of political rivalry has changed, and it has become unpleasant.
It was once said that political opponents only tackle one another in public in order to entertain outsiders. In private, there are no political foes, according to this theory. This is clearly changing. Even ethnic jingoism is becoming more meaningless by the day. Otherwise, how would one explain the ongoing rancor between Kano State governor Abdulahi Umar Ganduje and the Emir of Kano Muhammad Sanusi II, who was unsurprisingly absent at the searing in ceremony of the former at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, to complete his second term as governor.
There is bad blood everywhere, and these are not acts anymore. Nigerians don’t care, because the two major political parties have had opportunities to run the country, and both have failed woefully. Warring political factions might as well go and jump over Lagos’ Third Mainland Bridge, for all Nigerians care. In fact the wider the gulf between members of the political class, the happier Nigerians are. On the eve of the inaugurations, Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari belittled the efforts of an initiative of her husband’s administration, more or less accusing the Social Investment Program- a scheme domiciled ‘to the office of the Vice President- of misappropriation and incompetence.
It would not be the first time the wife of the president would be severely critical of the administration but this time, another prominent woman of northern extraction is in the line of fire. Maryam Uwais, Senior Special Assistant to the president on Social Investment has come out smoking and vehemently refuting Aisha’s claims. Clearly, this is not over. Newly chattered Governor of Imo State Emeka Ihedioha ought not to take the advice of Rochas Okorocha,, who reportedly told him of the office of the First Lady, “it cost millions to maintain that office and you can not afford it. IMO is in a mess. Your wife is the first lady of your house and heart, let her continue with her career”.
Maybe, just maybe the spoils of office could have caused Hajiya Buhari to be less shrewd, more blind, more frivolous. As it stands, the president’s wife is not encumbered by any special paraphernalia of office. She is not worried that a second, third or fourth wife is going to charm her darling husband into replacing her in the state House. To all appearances she is on the same page as the wife of the Vice President Dolapo Osinbajo, who turns out to be the perfect politician’s wife. She is generally not a drama queen, so when she complains, Nigerians listen and take her seriously.
Still it is in bad taste to begin to complain about something so important at a time like this when matters could fizzle out of control. Little pockets of dissension here and there definitely has the potential to erupt into violence or equally unsavoury states of affairs. Nobody is more aware of this fact than foreigners doing business in Nigeria, in whose community there was a quiet exodus in the weeks preceeding the elections in March.
We alone take for granted the smoothness of the inauguration ceremonies across the country Wednesday in the face of increasing bitterness and bad blood amongst active political players. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with healthy debate, even amongst women, engaged in with the sole aim of bettering the lives of every Nigerian. Anything else is not welcome.