Politics and politicking is meant to be a means to an end and not an end in itself. It entails judicious and rational administration of the commonwealth for the betterment of society and its people. Suffice it to clarify further that politics is merely an instrument through which individuals and groups seek to acquire power for a predetermined end.
Regrettably, in our clime, especially in the Fourth Republic, we witnessed steady relegation of critical issues of good governance to the background, prioritisng, instead, politicking and politicisation of everything. The cumulative implications of this sad development is excessive monetisation of the process of getting into power. Hence, competent, good and morally upright men without deep pockets are scared away from participating in the country’s political process. This left the political space largely dominated by morally bankrupt men, whose major preoccupation is plundering the state resources.
These underscores President Muhammadu Buhari’s mission statement in venturing into politics. He came to change the status quo, believing that if things continue the way they were being done, it would be only a matter of time before the credibility of Nigeria begins to nose-dive. Though it was a huge rot he met, where politicians were used to doing everything on crooked line basis, seven years after in the Buhari-led efforts to revolutionalise the political processes and procedures was what we witnessed at the Eagle Square, Abuja, at the weekend where the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), held the most organised, rancour-free and seamless national convention in the historical political trajectory of the Fourth Republic.
Let me once again reiterate what President Buhari meant in his speech at the convention to underscore the rebirth in the Nigerian political landscape. “For those aspiring for party and public offices, your failure to realise such aspirations for party offices or to fly the party’s flag should not be a basis for a campaign of calumny against the party. We should have the spirit of sportsmanship and always support the party to succeed.”
Before now, the norm with party processes had been that political parties are overwhelmed with litigations, to the extent that precious resources that are supposed to be deployed to other demanding areas are expended in the judicial spaces. The usual attitude is, ‘its either I get it or the roof will fall’. But with Buhari leading the pack, it is now easy for politicians to key into the new political thinking that Nigeria and the party’s interests must be prioritised above pedestal or narrow considerations. Perhaps, for the first time, a political party will hold national convention without any form of pre or post convention protests. That is the new political direction that President Buhari is heralding and Nigeria’s democratic process will the best for it.
On a scale, nothing is more soothing than President Buhari’s subtle warning to the incoming National Working Committee (NWC) members to promote internal democracy, equal opportunities and ensure that party primaries are not influenced by “highest bidders” going into the 2023 elections. This should mark the most significant turning point in the history of party administration in our country: ‘de-monetisation of the political space. Though it is practically impossible to do without money in politics, we must not continue in the usual corrupt and extravagant manner.
One unique quality of the Buhari-led political rebirth is the non-discriminatory approach. Irrespective of your political party history, if you are competent and possess the prerequisite experience, you are good to go. Take for instance the just elected NWC of the party. The new party chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, was a founding member and secretary of PDP’s Board of Trustees before joining the APC. The same goes to former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, and Otunba Iyiola Omisore.
Evidence, it is said, is the end of argument. President Buhari’s military background, coupled with his quick grab of political antecedents, empowered him to do things right at all times. Instead of the usual cut-corners and mumblings, Buhari’s straight message to members of his party was that its no longer business as usual. The thinking is that we have to be short and sharp with the convention so we are not distracted from the core issues of governance.
In the ongoing political rebirth, Buhari has returned sanity to the electioneering process. Now, just like in developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, among others, Buhari has stopped extravagant spending during vonventions the way we saw in last Saturday’s APC convention. The president is channelling the moneys hitherto spent on politicking to better the lot of Nigerians through social investment programmed and infrastructural development.
In the past, politicians start politics and politicking for the next election from the day the results of elections that bring them to office are announced. Those who emerged victorious start politicking for second term immediately without recourse to delivering on the expectations of the electorate or electioneering promises. This is one if the lessons Buhari is teaching politicians: concentrate on governance and leave politics alone during off season, as it will derail governance. This is the best thing that has happened to the Nigerian democratic experiment.
It is reasonable to submit that Buhari learnt quite well after retirement and during his political sojourn through the All People’s Party (APP), later All Nigeria’s People’s Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and eventually the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following the lull in the preparation for the APC national convention, the ppposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had rolled out the drums to celebrate APC:s inability to put its house in order and hold a national convention. It went to town with its propaganda machine, telling those who cared to listen that it was the best option for them. PDP even went to the extent of approaching the court to stop the APC national convention.
But all their machinations failed and APC had a brilliant outing. This feat did not happen in isolation. It is the sterling leadership provided by President Buhari that did the magic. Those days are gone for good when president of a ruling party would point a gun and force a party official to resign.
In the last one month, the APC was in the eye of the storm. The party was embroiled in a litany of political intrigues, manipulations and fierce internal struggles. Camps tried to outwit camps as groups battle groups in wits and propaganda. It got to a point where all hell was let loose as the actors went publicly ballistic in embarrassing fights of attrition. All these narrowed down to one forte – the 2023 general elections. The APC house was near collapse until one man who undoubtedly is the rope that ties the broom waded in and in a telepathic switch everything returned to the default setting, and the ruling bounced back to life.
Buhari first warned in measured words that the party must not make the mistake of ever allowing the main opposition PDP return to power. With this sinking into the consciousness of the party faithful defined in belligerence interests, the president reeled out his intervention in what pundits now describe as mechanical and choreographed traces of purposeful leadership.
Indeed, politics is consultations laced with deep reflections given the recent happenings in the APC. The conclusion is that the president is not only fully aware of everything and everyone and all the schemings under him but has a tap on every move to the minutest details. He was just observing like a veteran war General awaiting the clinical time to strike.
President Buhari is not only in charge but fully in charge.The four meetings held within the last 48 hours is proof that he understands what is playing. First with the governors, followed by the party aspirants, the National Assembly caucus of the party and then the founding fathers of the party.
These deft moves show the man genuinely means well for APC and Nigeria. You do not ever take a General for granted or undermine their war strategy. That Buhari left everything to this injury time is, to me, a strategy anchored on appropriate timing and period when there will be no time to retreat to regroup.
Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, Presidential Support Committee (PSC).