Interrogating APC’s Muslim-Muslim leadership option in NASS By @AriyoAristotle
By Ariyo-Dare ATOYE
The jury is still out. So, this piece could also qualify as an open letter to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Wisdom is very profitable to direct in leadership. Strategic leadership is central to the progress, stability and unity of every society. Obviously, we have come to a point where we must ask the “main” drivers of the ruling APC to declare the party’s unwritten codes; unwritten because the party’s dictates have been found to be consistently contradictory to its constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
At this juncture, the Smart Alecs regaling us with falsehoods that this regime is for everyone should stop. There is absolutely no need for further pretension about what is unfolding in the polity. We have suspected the President long enough; so, it is about time we openly discussed what the APC truly represents to our nation and democracy. This could help us to better agitate for the alteration of sections 10 and 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The former dwells on our secularity and the latter on federal character principle. Again, I repeat that time has come for us to face our demons and deal with them squarely.
The ruling party lacks fidelity to its own law book. The preamble to the constitution of the APC reads: “We, the true progressives and patriots, determined to render service at all levels of governance; and to build a nation which will guarantee equal opportunity for all, mutual and peaceful co-existence, respect and understanding, eliminating all forms of discrimination and social injustice among Nigerians, rendering selfless service that will rekindle a deep sense of patriotism and nationalism; hereby make, enact and give the following constitution to ourselves for effective governance of our Party and promotion of its ideals, aims and objectives.”
This preamble was framed based on, first, Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides that: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from afew ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
And, second, Section 10 of the same constitution provides thus: “The Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion”. This important section, which declares Nigeria a secular state, had, however, consistently and reasonably operated in the consciousness and thought process of previous administrations, national leaders and stakeholders, deliberately guiding them in showing sensitivity to religious diversity. But since Gen. Muhammadu Buhari returned in a civilian garb in 2015, executive provincialism has attained an unprecedented level, fueling concerns over Islamisation plot.
The sectional and demographic profiles of his appointees validate a deliberate refusal to show fealty to the constitution, his oath of office and fairness to all. President Buhari has been duly observed to have, in breach, honoured his own pledge to the nation that he did not belong to everyone. The Punch Newspaper, in an Editorial on August 1, 2016, said: “Buhari’s sectionalism is not only unprecedented, it could not have come at a worse time. The reality today is that Nigerians are deeply divided. Seventeen years of dashed hopes of progress under a democratic dispensation have reopened the deep fissures in the polity and polarised the populace into mutually suspicious camps.” It might get worse in 2019.
The APC has told the nation that the President was consulted over its proposed leadership composition of the 9th National Assembly before it settled for Ahmed Lawan (North-East) as President of the Senate and Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West) as Speaker of the House of Representatives – a Muslim-Muslim ticket. And according to the party, Buhari has endorsed this option. Interestingly, the possibility of the duo also fielding Muslims as their deputies is also very rife. Femi Gbajabiamila’s camp has already settled for Idris Wase (North-Central), a fellow Muslim for the choice of Deputy Speaker. Religious concern is resonating because only recently, Gbajabiamila’s campaign manager Abdulmumin Jibrin, made an arrangement for him to lead an Islamic prayer in a desperate bid to appeal to the Islamic-centred Buhari regime and Muslims in the North. Jibrin frantically displayed this in the social media and the intent of it did generate concerns. Not convinced, Jibrin has also ensured Gbajabiamila visited Saudi Arabia.
An insensitive ethno-religious game is on in the APC. While Senator Ahmed Lawan is yet to openly make commitment to anyone, his fellow senator also from the North, Kabiru Gaya, who has openly declared his interest to vie for the deputy senate president’s slot, has however told the South to perish the idea of securing the number two seat in the Senate. “It is not fair because with six million votes, 20 senators, I think North West deserves the deputy senate president slot,” Gaya said in a recent declaration statement.
The Hausa-Fulani Muslim North is in a majority-take all mood in the APC. The body language is to win Nigeria forever for themselves. And Northern irredentists have started telling us to perish fairness. Doom looms. The President is unperturbed and has not deemed it fit to question his party’s arrangement that would not reflect the country’s ethno-religious diversity. Remember when Gov. Nasir Elrufai told a bewildered nation that he had consulted the President before he settled for a Muslim-Muslim ticket in Kaduna – a state with more than 40 per cent Christian population, and which had, in the past, maintained a tradition of religious sensitivity and balancing. Also recall when the APC brooked the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticked ahead of the 2015 Presidential election before former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other notable Nigerians kicked against it. The whisper about the APC being an Islamic party is getting louder.
Resentment. Unease. Bad blood. Mutual suspicion. Hidden Agenda. These and many more are the consequences of the avoidable agitation that will ensue post the leadership arrangement being proposed for the National Assembly by the leaders of the APC. Head or tail, the “real drivers” of the APC have plotted an arrangement that is a Muslim-Muslim agenda for the National Assembly except the lawmakers themselves oppose it like they did in 2015. It would be disastrous for the country if the lawmakers endorse what is gradually emerging as ethno-religious conquest of the country.
According to APC proposition, this is how the first-line leadership composition of the country might look like after June 11, 2019: Executive arm – led by Buhari (Muslim), Legislative arm – President of Senate – Ahmed lawan (Muslim plus a likely Muslim Deputy), Speaker House of Representatives – Gbajabiamila (Muslim plus a Muslim Deputy), Judiciary after the conspiracy against and removal of Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen – Justice Tanko Mohammed (Muslim, plus other headships of the lower courts). Today, Nigeria is led by a party that is pursuing an ethno-religious domination of the country. Nigeria risks being consumed by deep-seated resentment that could blossom into serious agitation and political instability.
Every administration must be conscious of “the need to promote national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.” One Nigeria has become a mirage under Buhari as Hausa-Fulanis plus Kanuris – tribes directly related to Buhari – dominate every arm and agencies of government at the expense of over 340 other groups. Political conquest? It is a shame and very unfortunate. I could as well have titled this piece, “NASS Leadership and the Islamic Republic of the APC.”
· ATOYE contributed this piece from Abuja via email@example.com