BY OWEI LAKEMFA
A MAN, Victor Giadom, virtually unknown in the country, arose one day and declared himself the Acting National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. It all seemed a joke as the media tumbled on each other trying to unravel the identity of this person that appeared to be an impostor. It turned out that he was Deputy Secretary General of the party before resigning in 2019 to run as Deputy Governor of Rivers State.
As late as a week ago, a top official in the power hierarchy, was still arguing that Giadom was a worthless, weightless joker. He argued that a party with Deputy and Vice Presidents and a Secretary General, cannot have such a low officer, made the Acting Chairman. I pointed out that apart from his seemingly outlandish claims including at the level of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Giadom had scored stunning victories at the High Court and Court of Appeal which upheld his claims. That the law is said to be an ass, and the courts interpret it as such. My argument was that analysts should not just be concerned about the masquerade; it is more important to unmask the person masquerading as Giadom. While it is true there are spirits in the political parties, they are not extra-terrestrial powers, but human beings.
As to the argument that a lone Giadom cannot take on the entire National Working Committee of the party, I pointed out that with human backing a dog can kill a monkey. So, look not at Giadom as a person, but the powers backing him.
It might have seemed like a joke when he summoned an emergency meeting of the APC National Executive Council, NEC, for last Thursday. But I am sure nobody still thought him a joker after the Presidency not only announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s recognition of Giadom as the party boss, but pledged to personally attend the factional NEC.
Since then, the comedy has not stopped. First, the meeting took place right in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa which meant that the chief host was the President himself. As you know, only those he permitted could attend such a meeting in the Villa. It meant there can be no gate crashers or dissenting voice wanting to serve a court injunction stopping the meeting. A meeting of the APC simply became a state affair and top security matter.
As expected, there was no room for debates; the APC was no longer a political party, but an agency of the Presidency. It wasn’t that it was really a party, but at least it pretended to be one. There was an oracle at the meeting; the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic whose word was law.
Buhari made it clear he was not there as a party member. He told the gathering: “I stand before you today to speak as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…” He told them that the matter of discontinuing: “…all litigations involving members of the Party, which are connected to issues of the Party …must be made a Resolution of the Party which must be effectively enforced with dire consequences for members who choose to ignore the directive.”
He then dictated the four resolutions he wanted passed: “a. approving the immediate discontinuation of all pending litigation(s) involving the Party and its members, b. ratifying the primary election conducted in Edo State; c. dissolving the current National Working Committee, and d. appointing Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee for the Party”
Participants merely clapped and endorsed his speech as the communiqué, which interestingly, was issued by the Presidency. The APC meeting was more like a military parade where the chief spoke, issued directives and the men and women on parade saluted, even clapped to show loyalty, and the NEC stood dismissed. Otherwise busy governors were stuffed into the Caretaker Committee which was given powers to exist for the next six months, and given marching orders to organise a national convention within the stipulated time.
After the ousting of the party’s elected leadership, the Caretaker members were sworn in by no less a personality than the chief law officer of the country and Attorney General of the Federation who is concurrently, the Minister of Justice, Honourable Abubakar Malami. I am sure that but for the short notice, the swearing in would have been performed by the Chief Justice of the Federation.
In response to criticisms that the disabled party NEC should not have been held in the Presidential Villa as other political parties would not be allowed the same facilities for their meetings, party hailers said the President has a right to hold a meeting anywhere it pleases him. I agree, and suggest that the next meeting be held in ‘the other room’ and the national convention, in the Banquet Hall of the Villa.
It is instructive that President Buhari can speedily sack elected party officials whose continuation in office has no direct bearing on the wellbeing of Nigerians, but cannot bring the same urgency to bear in sacking his appointed service chiefs whose incompetence he has attested to, and whose retention has serious implications for lives and property in the country.
What happened at the so-called APC NEC meeting was not about party discipline, superiority or correctness, but the dictatorship of one man who constitutes the party majority. A lone tree that claims to make the forest; anyone Buhari supports automatically becomes the majority in the party. I do not see any principled dissent arising because many in the party are afraid of their shadows or hope to get crumbs from the Presidency. In other words, as far as the APC goes, sovereignty belongs to President Buhari from whom all power flows.
Personally, I will not lose any sleep if the contraption called APC were to collapse. In the first place, it is a worn-out garb presented to Nigerians as if it were new or different from the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP. The APC is like a seventy-year old who because he had undergone plastic surgery, swears to an affidavit that he is 35; but nature will always reveal the difference. I do not see the usefulness of the APC to the Nigerian people; a group that cannot observe its own basic rules or be fair to its leading lights, cannot successfully lead a country. In any case, by the 2023 elections, it might have become a political liability.
As for Giadom, his usefulness has expired; he has been used, and would be dumped. It is not for nothing that he allegedly summoned an emergency meeting of his party, where he is sacked and he seemed quite elated about it. May our country never lack people of integrity.