Our attention has been drawn to the press conference addressed by the National Publicity Director of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Debo Ologunagba over the weekend.
In his characteristic manner of crying wolf when there’s absolutely none during contests for political offices, Ologunagba said attempts are in the works to “intimidate, harass and threaten lawmakers-elect” through arrests of those of their members “who are considered to be strong proponents of the independence of the legislature” before the commencement of the elections of the presiding officers of both chambers on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
In advancing this delusional, puerile and jejune argument, the PDP spokesman would want Nigerians to remember their better-forgotten years in our country’s governance saddle with the falsehood that their party “believes in democracy” as it has “had the privilege of midwifing” it “for 16 years” before the Nigerian electorate decided that they had had enough in 2015.
Considering the unassailable reality that an imminent defeat awaits the PDP in the 10th NASS where Godswill Akpabio and Tajudeen Abass will emerge President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively just as they were shellacked during the presidential election, it wouldn’t have been necessary to dignify a party that’s apparently at the end of its tether as a formidable opposition.
But since Ologunagba is not only trying to prepare the minds of his party’s supporters for what awaits them at the next National Assembly but also desperately attempting to create alternative facts for his party’s past sordid records in governance and its democratic credentials, the party’s spokesman should be reminded of some home truths just in case some kind of senility or selective amnesia (or both) may be manifesting.
Firstly, there’s no basis whatsoever for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to engage in any form of intimidation or harassment through arrests of legislators-elect who are members of opposition political parties because of the unusual cohesion and unity of purpose (save a very infinitesimal Instability minority) members of the ruling party in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Secondly, most of the major contestants in the ruling party have since jettisoned their aspirations and are now publicly in support of the party’s choice of presiding officers. What’s more, Betara and Gagdi have thrown in their towels and are now solidly behind the Abass/Kalu ticket in the House after a last-minute intervention of the presidency.
Thirdly, it will interest the PDP spokesman to know that a significant number of not only his party’s lawmakers-elect honored President Tinubu’s invitation for a meeting recently, which signifies their willingness, if not readiness to cooperate with this administration in having a peaceful development-inspired National Assembly, but that members of the opposition have openly come out to say that they will not cast their ballot for the Presiding Officers of both chambers based on party affiliation because they’re now unequivocally convinced that President Tinubu truly means well for Nigeria. Hon. Amobi Ogah, a lawmaker-elect from the Labour Party from Abia State is a case in point.
Fourthly, and perhaps more importantly, it will be said without equivocation that adherence to the rule of law and strategic thinking through consultations and consensus building will be the hallmark of the Tinubu government.
From the foregoing, therefore, Ologunagba’s predilection for red herring during political contestations should be discarded forthwith for his own good.
It is indicative of shamelessness, if not insulting to Nigerians’ collective intelligence that Debo Ologunagba would glibly talk about the PDP’s belief in democracy and that we should be proud of the privilege it had in “midwifing this democracy for 16 years.” Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Perhaps Ologunagba, in his self-conceit admonition that the PDP “believes in democracy” was a typographical error. We wonder where he was when their patriarch injected his gunboat democracy into Nigeria’s body politic when a party chairman was forced to resign at gunpoint and governors were yanked off their seats by a handful of State Houses of Assembly members in private homes in the name of impeachment.
What he called “midwifing” our “democracy for 16 years” has resulted, through brigandage and sleight of hand, in some form of serious deformity for our democracy which the APC has been painstakingly making surgical corrections of since 2015 till date.
Debo Ologunagba should, in the Nigerian manner of speaking, go and sit down somewhere as his weekend press conference was a form of harassment that should not go unchallenged.
© FEMI ODERE
Convener, The Godswill Project (TGP)
Monday, June 12, 2023