Opinion: Before The Party – Sam Omatseye

Opinion: Before The Party - Sam Omatseye

Compare our political parties to a man who is neither alive nor dead, happy nor sad, partying nor mourning, drunk nor sober. We might call it a recovering coma, a never-never-land of ambiguity.  That is our two political parties today. The APC thinks it is in office whereas it merely enjoys officialdom. The PDP, now limping out of a court victory, is an adult in diapers.

That contrasts with the state of the country itself. Hunger reels in most homes. Infrastructure, whether as roads or power, flounders along. We are in the after-heat of whether we are running Muslim or Christian curriculum when greater debates like the absence of chairs and literate teachers lurk over virtually every school. Our president is gushing with our money in an unnamed hospital with an undisclosed affliction abroad when he has no clear vision for the poor Nigerian dying daily from malaria and malnutrition.

Above all, the nation roils in an existential boil as to whether we want to be together or asunder. Biafra cries, Afenifere clamours, militancy still skulks in Niger Delta, Boko Haram is on a sort of rebound, herdsmen defy and slaughter humans like their cows, a senate coos for corruption, a governor who mocks an idea now lead its panel, southern Kaduna a metaphor for northern minorities, the northwest is a lone pro that cons the debate to restructure.

Yet, no political party can be said to be robust at this moment. How can we then move forward? The Makarfi PDP has hailed the court verdict. But it is a Machiavellian victory over a Machiavellian. Sherriff was the first Machiavellian. He fell for the bait of party leaders frail from the 2015 defeat. They preyed on Sheriff’s pocket while the party gathered its limbs.

Sherriff raved with a few court victories. But the Supreme Court ruled for order. Not for Sheriff a carpet bagger, an opportunist. The Makarfi faction was no saint either. It was an opportunist upending another opportunist. This is no moral victory, even if we agree it is a legal one.

Though in diapers, its big and battered mammals are emerging from hibernation. These include ex-governors, businessmen and ministers.

They will be gunning for relevance. They do not have the big barn of government as resources. It will belong to those who have deep wells. Some of them may be wary. Others may show off to wield influence. But now is the time to craft spheres of influence.

It implies a party in throes, in the process of calibrating its powerhouses and titans. How are the power blocs going to emerge? Who will yield for whom? How does it pick its flag bearers and pitch them against a possible APC candidate post-Buhari?

As for the APC it ceased to be a party in a cohesive sense once the Bukola “Eleyinmi” Saraki became senate president. It was due to raw miscalculation or wilfulness of President Buhari not to understand that presidential power does not begin and end with executive powers. It works with coalition. His naivete birthed confusion from the beginning. Eleyinmi’s forays to undermine the acting president started before Buhari limped out of town. He has been for nobody, including himself and his party.

Even his presidency has been in disarray with two factions fighting over Magu. Also, the National Assembly has railed at the executive’s fight against corruption, and wants Magu out. Eleyinmi crowed over EFCC hounding high-profile thieves because his case was in court. He goes free from the law, not from conscience, a terrible thing when “it accuses man or boy,” according to Charles Dickens. But for men of Oloye’s ilk, they don’t see the ink stain. Their consciences have been “seared with hot iron,” according to Apostle Paul.

As if to mock the process, Nasir El Rufai heads the APC committee on restructuring. Is he there to recant, or recount the opportunists?

The APC is not sure who is Judas and who is Jesus. Speculations abound of those raring to join the PDP. Will Buhari return to meet faith among his party men? What will the old New PDP men who helped the greatest party coalition in history do? Will they hop back home? If they do, will it put APC in a vulnerable or honourable shape? Free of backstabbers? The so-call NPDP mavens may turn PDP into a house of horrors with giants wrestling for power and glory.

Such tensions will grip the parties while the nation bleeds with hunger and ignorance. Our political parties are in what psychologists call a state of fugue, neither dead nor alive like the main character in the new play, While I am Waiting, by Syrian writer Mohammed Al-Attar on his war-ravaged land. Everyone is trying to help a dying man while all of them confess their roles in his dying.

We hope the party of jollification comes like in Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Wolf’s novel. Everybody’s antic is unveiled before the party. Not many know if the party will be a happy or sad one. Barbarians of hunger are at the gate. The army – our political parties – are not ready.


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