The myth of party supremacy in Nigerian politics(1)

25102015C APC PDP“Party is the madness of many for the gain of a few.” Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ,  p 181).

This Sunday, October 18, 2015, of one national newspaper had as it’s lead story: “Jonathan’s minister tried to return N50bn through me – el-Rufai”.

A sub-lead story said “Ex-minister turns against associates, petitions EFCC.” On the same page we were told that “EFCC invites Akpabio again, grills him for nine hours.” There are enough materials in those two stories alone on which at least six to ten weekly columns can be written. The most obvious story concerns the changing fortunes of people who were once regarded as untouchables.

They were the closest to the seat of power. History is replete with evidence that the closer you are to the seat of power the more vulnerable you are when power changes hands. But, Nigerians never learn from history. That accounts for the catastrophe that awaits many people close to Aso Rock until May 29, 2015. Some, undoubtedly, are already wishing they were not so close. Their “Baba” had started distancing himself by condemning his “son” for being too weak to fight corruption. Clever chap!

Permit me another diversion and we will go into today’s sermon from UniJankara. Those protesting against the citing of a prison in the South East should contact me for advice. They should not reject it. Instead they should only ask Buhari to make it a V.I.P prison – a billionaire’s jail house. With that, all sorts of vendors can establish everything from top class restaurants to boutiques selling designer under wear. Even if those imprisoned must wear prison-designed uppers, they can at least have Pierre Cardin under short! And eat steak and mushroom gravy.

Today, what interests me is the myth of “Party Supremacy” as it applies to Nigeria. As usual, our politicians have colluded, and most of us, for reasons best known to us, have allowed ourselves to be bamboozled into believing that there is something called “Party Supremacy” in the country. Unfortunately, none of the political parties we had established since 1999 can be said to have practiced it. Instead, they have all proved Swift right by quickly turning the “lunacy” of millions to the benefit of a few – especially the party leaders.

Just as the vendor delivered the papers , one former organizer for the PDP in the area was passing by. He was the “bagman” who brought the money to be shared (on two occasions in dollars) with the rest of the party faithful. Like others, he now has very little cash in any currency. He read the  lead story and held his head. “God punish these people, so they were stealing so much money while we get killed for peanuts”, he exclaimed. It was my turn to remind him that he had been warned that most of them were being used by selfish individuals.

What is true of the PDP is also true of all the political parties in Nigeria. When the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, announced at the Nigerian Economic Summit meeting on October 13, 2015, that “You find out that the elite, whether from the South-West, North-West or wherever, are willing to collaborate in stealing the resources of the state”, he revealed more than he intended. And some of it might be self-indicting. In Nigeria and in most states, the major elite group had been the political elite. Osinbajo gained prominence by serving in the Lagos State elite group since 1999. Is he telling us something we don’t know? For me, definitely not.

Invariably, the collusion to steal the resources of the state (land, “privatization” of public enterprises, concessions granted to a favoured few, huge tax exemptions, appointments to lucrative positions, land acquisition for “public purposes which are later sold to private individuals after being developed with public funds etc) are presented as part of the political party’s CHANGE AGENDA as determined by the party leadership. Nobody knows this better than Osinbajo because he was close to the decision-making process of the party which was a glorified one-man show. No decision could be made by all the other “leaders” present if one particular person was absent. Even the presence of the “Chairman” and other executives of the party counted for nothing. The quorum was not formed until their “Lord and master” is around. Conversely, a quorum is formed if only “OGA” is present – all decisions he makes are binding on others. So much for “Party Supremacy” in AD/AC/ACN/ APC in Lagos State since 1999.

I worked closely with the Buhari campaign in 2011; and Prince Tony Momoh, who was Chariman of CPC is my witness. There too, “Party Supremacy” amounted to what three or four people decide. The biggest voice was, of course, that of Buhari.  Let me finish where I started – with the PDP. When the PDP, prodded by Obasanjo, in 2003, made State Governors the party leaders in their states, they made states’ party executives redundant. All the other parties followed that example. Thus, in every state “Governors Supremacy” reigned – it is civilian autocracy masquerading as democratic politics…


“If you are looking for trouble; you have come to the right place.”

That was the sign in front of a rough and tumble bar in Kansas City in the days of America’s Wild Wild West – where a guy could receive a bullet in the gut before his drink is served. Jonathan’s people should avoid Britain like the plague – according to a reliable source in Britain. The list is looooooong!!


All political parties die, at last, of swallowing their own lies Dr John Arbuthnot, 1667-1735.(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p191).

The PDP underwent a long process before succumbing to swallowing its own lies about “Party Supremacy”; the Afenifere/AD had a longer span of life starting from Awolowo and the Egbe Omo Oduduwa.

The AD finally went into the cemetery of political parties in 2003 when the old men then the Afenifere/AD leaders decided that that AD would not field a Presidential candidate against Obasanjo, who had tricked them into believing that he would also allow the AD to keep all the governors of the South-West. Writing an article on these pages in 2002, I made the point that by agreeing not to field a Presidential candidate in 2003 against Obasanjo, the Alliance for Democracy was heading for oblivion. Governor Bola Tinubu of all the AD governors in office on Election Day 2003 was the only survivor of Obasanjo’s political “Rope a Dope” conducted on the Afenifere/AD leaders. The rest, including our dearest brother Chief Segun Osoba were wiped out. Had Tinubu not defied the party leaders and “Party Supremacy” Nigerian politics would have been different today.

From the position of “last man standing” Tinubu had built a formidable political machine against the PDP which culminated in the APC which eventually sent the PDP into the graveyard of political parties. Make no mistake about it; the PDP as a political party is dead – a victim of swallowing its own lies. The most destructive lie was the myth of “Part Supremacy”. But, the APC which has supplanted it, is also caught in the web of the myth of “Party Supremacy”. From the days of Action Group, NCNC and NPC till today, “Party Supremacy” had meant nothing more than a small clique of people, usually with one leader, who enforce their own interest as “Party Supremacy”.

A close associate and a life long member of the Board of Trustees, BOT, of the PDP, once told me how decisions, purported to have been made by the “Party Leadership” were actually made by a few. The Chairman of the BOT would call a meeting and announce to BOT members that certain decisions have been taken which they were to ratify. Zombies! Any member of the BOT who raised a point of observation or asked a “difficult” question was immediately branded anti-party. Yet, there was hardly any record of a meeting of all the organs of the party when the decision was presented for discussion and the majority approved. So who made the decision? It was the clique which had taken control of the party and its decision was final and anyone dissenting was accused of going against the party. In many of our political parties, one leader has always assumed Hitler’s dictum: “Decisions cannot always be taken by the majority. Indeed one man decides and I am the man.”

The latest in our attempts to create democratic parties where members actually decide what is the party position on any issue is the All Progressives Alliance Congress, APC.

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