Unfortunately, with the recent events in the party, such hopes now appear to be ill-founded. In fact, the feeling among most CPC supporters is that the leadership of the party no longer has the moral ground to castigate the PDP for lack of internal democracy. General Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly told Nigerians to defend their votes. Ironically, the CPC, under his nose, doesn’t respect the will of the people. Instead, the leadership of the party has adopted the unjust and undemocratic policy of imposition. A case in point was the submission of the names of losers at the primaries as candidates of the party to INEC.
The submission of the name of Colonel Lawal Ja’afaru Isa to INEC as the CPC gubernatorial candidate for Kano State to replace Mohammed Abacha, who was massively voted for during the January 12th gubernatorial primaries, is the most flagrant disregard for the will of the people. During the primary election, Mohammed Abacha won 144,000 votes to defeat Lawal Ja’afaru Isa who came second with 78,971 votes. Despite the fact that the party leadership had a moral and legal duty to announce the winner of gubernatorial primaries without delay, they deliberately withheld the results to enable them buy time to substitute the will of the people. Since the outcome didn’t favour their preferred aspirant (Ja’afaru Isa), they waited until the 11th hour submit to submit his name to INEC as the CPC gubernatorial candidate.
In the illogical calculation of CPC leader under General Buhari, the best way to outmaneuver the actual winner of the primaries was to substitute his name with someone else at a point he would be helpless to resist the injustice. And that was why the CPC leadership waited until the INEC deadline for the submission of party candidates to smuggle in Lawal Ja’afaru Isa’s name, who curiously was a loser in the gubernatorial primaries. The CPC leadership was fully aware that if it had announced the name of the actual winner of the January 12th CPC gubernatorial primaries in Kano State from the beginning, it would have been impossible for them to impose a loser as candidate at any point. In fact, they deliberately withheld the results so that it could not frustrate their unjust plan to impose a candidate contrary to the original intention of the voters. The whole idea of substituting the winner with someone else at the 11th hour is ungodly, unjust, egregiously inequitable, blatantly indefensible, morally repugnant and shamelessly against good conscience.
Even a casual observer cannot fail to notice that Mohammed Abacha is the most popular CPC leader in Kano State. Indeed, even if you repeat the CPC gubernatorial primaries a hundred times in Kano State, he will maintain his commanding lead. When the results of the gubernatorial primaries didn’t favour their preferred candidate, the CPC leaders should have cancelled the election and ordered a re-run. But even at that, they had realized that no other aspirant enjoys popular support like Mohammed Abacha in Kano State. He has a formidable following, thanks to his compassion, philanthropy and other social causes, which have endeared him to millions of voters.
Mohammed Abacha is impossible to displace through free and fair election. The CPC leaders therefore, took the politically dangerous step of achieving their selfish agenda by imposing a candidate the people didn’t elect. The imposition of candidates by political parties is a direct challenge to the integrity of Professor Attahiru Jega. How can he conduct free and fair elections this year when leaders of political parties such as the CPC are treating the will of the people with utter disregard? Professor Jega should have the moral courage to reject candidates who didn’t emerge through a transparent process. Democracy is founded on the will of the people and you cannot squash it without ultimately killing it. General Buhari’s personal integrity is of no consequence if he doesn’t have the courage to defend the principle of fair play.
Nigerians are now seeing the CPC leaders in their own true colours and the exit of Chief Mike Ahamba is a revelation to those who once regarded the party as the citadel of genuine democratic standard. Can General Buhari now preach against imposition, disregard for the will for people and substitution of candidates, which were once perceived as the evil characteristics of the ANPP PDP? As a Buhari admirer, one is now finding it hard to defend him against valid criticisms that he lacks the moral courage to stand behind those who are genuinely cheated. He seems to have allowed his loyalty to Sule Hamma, Buba Galadima and Tony Momoh to overshadow his moral duty of resisting injustice against any party member.
In fact, even within the PDP, they are quietly celebrating the demystification of General Buhari as manifested by the imposition of candidates by the CPC leadership. A PDP friend of mine taunted me publicly and asked me why a party associated with General Buhari should be ever be involved in the evils of imposition and substitution of candidates. In fact, he told me that General Buhari would have been worse than General Obasanjo if he had been elected President. His contention was that General Buhari has inherent disregard for public opinion, let alone, respecting the will of the people. With the submission of Colonel Lawal Ja’afaru Isa’s name as CPC gubernatorial candidate to INEC without being the winner of the primaries, I stood stupid and speechless before a PDP critic of General Buhari.
Let it be clearly argued, however, that any CPC candidate who was never elected by the people but imposed by the party leadership, would be confronted with a pricking conscience. Beneficiaries of injustice such as Ja’afaru Isa, Aminu Masari and Hannatu Musawa should know that they are holding a stolen mandate. As a Japanese proverb goes, “success without honour is a failure.” The American humourist, Mark Twain, also added that “it is better to deserve something and not to have it than to have it and not to deserve it.” And for General Buhari, let him be reminded of the words of Edmund Burke, who said evil thrives on the silence of good men!
Jalal, a Kaduna-based social critic, wrote in from No. 39, Katsina Road, Kaduna.