‎Opinion… APC and the Politics of Demagoguery in Nigeria

By Austin Tam-George

There are two forms of extremism that pose the greatest existential threat to Nigeria today.

There is the religious extremism of Boko Haram which has ravaged the North East of the country, and continues to spread fear and terror across the land.

Boko Haram is driven by bloodlust, and fantasies of an Islamic dystopia that promises endless supply of virgins to anyone foolhardy enough to blow themselves up in a crowded market.

As a result, according to independent sources, Boko Haram has murdered over 40, 000 men, women and children.

In their bid to impose a medieval vision on the rest of the country, Boko Haram has stolen hundreds of teenage girls from their school beds, seized territory and displaced over 4 million people in the past six years.

President Buhari’s imprudent claim of a “technical” defeat of Boko Haram in December 2015 has been triumphantly mocked by the terrorists who continue to launch more audacious attacks on all targets.

But there is an even more virulent cancer now spreading across the country: the cancer of the ruling party’s political fundamentalism.

Since winning the general elections in May 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been acting less as a political party, and more as an extremist group.

The APC controls the central government, it is in charge in 23 of 36 states in the country, it dictates domestic and foreign policy, controls the armed forces, the police, and the national treasury.

In other words, the APC has sufficient control of the country to place Nigeria on a new, progressive path.

But rather than rise to the challenge of leadership, the APC seems to have lost every appetite or ability to govern.

In its obsession to vanquish the Peoples’ Democratic Party {PDP} even after the general elections, APC leaders are deploying a dark, totalizing rhetoric strikingly similar to that of Boko Haram.

Like Boko Haram, APC’s territorial hunger seems to be to loom in every sitting room and street corner as it seeks to impose its brand of political caliphate on Nigeria.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgement recently affirming Governor Nyesom Wike as the duly elected governor of Rivers State, among other PDP victories, the APC has ratcheted up its dangerous rhetoric.

In a widely publicized media interview, Chief John Oyegun the National Chairman of the APC has castigated the integrity of the Justices of the Supreme Court, declaring that “Something is fundamentally wrong in the judiciary”.

Oyegun also made the bizarre suggestion that all oil-producing states of the Niger Delta region were prized assets to be acquired at all costs by the APC.

“We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country”, Chief Oyegun said.

In Chief Oyegun’s company was Mr Dakuku Peterside, the defeated Rivers State APC governorship candidate, who seemed to use the meeting to incite the military and the Federal Government against the people of Rivers State.

Among the demands of Dakuku Peterside and the Rivers State APC was the purge of alleged sympathizers “of the immediate-past federal government administration in the leadership of security agencies, especially in the Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps”.

This absolutist politics of the APC is not only a direct threat to democracy in Nigeria, but seems to be a manifesto for the open politicization of the security forces of the country.

Experts have warned that the constant deployment and redeployment of police commissioners and officers is undermining the security architecture in many states, including in Rivers State.

Dakuku Peterside’s irresponsible call for a politically-motivated “purge” in the security forces will spell disaster for Nigeria.

The APC seems to be animated not by the beneficent purposes of political power, but by the depredations that power could inflict on the party’s opponents.

But the APC is not working alone. The party is supported by a gaggle of surrogate lawyers, revisionist intellectuals, and even sections of the media, to suppress competing visions on how Nigeria should develop as a country.

We call on all Nigerians to work together to stop this fast-advancing totalitarianism of the APC.

In Rivers State, despite the threats and braggadocio of the APC, the people have made it clear that only their sovereign will prevail in the rerun legislative polls billed for March 2016.

We call on all Nigerians and the international community to challenge the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), and the APC Government to hold free, fair and conclusive rerun polls in Rivers State.

• Dr Austin Tam-George is the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Rivers State, Nigeria.

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