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Political flattery

Published by The Nation on Mon, 20 May 2019

It was self-flattery when the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), made up of All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, presented awards to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on May 10 at the Presidential Villa. The theme of the event: Moving Nigerias Democracy to the Next Level. Buhari was honoured for his outstanding leadership qualities, according to the organisers.Whose idea was it' The organisers were overenthusiastic. SevenAPCgovernors received accolades at the event: Rochas Okorocha (Imo State); Alhaji Kashim Shettima (Borno State); Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State); Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State);Ibrahim Giadam (Yobe State); and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State). A former OsunState Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, was also honoured. They were honoured for their leadership qualities and services to the APC since its formation in 2013.Of course, it was a time to further celebrate Buharis re-election for another four-year term. PGF Chairman and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha said in his address: Mr President, let me be personal with you this morning, the truth is, and you may not know, that you are a God-given asset to this nation. I am not saying so for purpose of flattery or praise-singing. I have observed all categories of leaders in this country, but you seem to have distinguished yourself. Most of the leaders in this country are those who either buy their love, fame or political position, but in your own case you dont spend one naira and you have love come your way and you have leadership come your way. That is the only judgement I have to say that you are destined by God to govern this country. If this wasnt flattery, it was flattering. The Buhari award event organised by the PGF under Okorocha made those involved look small. It was an example of vainglory.Predictably, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had disputed Buharis electoral victory, and is in court over the issue, came down on the ruling party. The opposition partys reaction dampened the APCs celebration. A statement by the PDPs spokesman described the Buhari award as image laundering, adding that the Buhari administration had failed to find a solution tothe killings and kidnappings in Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, Katsina and other states of the federation.It is true that insecurity still poses a major threat to Nigeria. Indeed, the Federal Government needs to tackle the security crisis with a sense of urgency. The celebrators should have been guided by the reality of insecurity. Giving an award to the Commander-in-chief when the war has not been won is strange and sycophantic.Obviously, it isnt enough for the Buhari administration to declare that it is fighting corruption and tackling insecurity when the results of the efforts are insignificant. The countrys corruption crisis and security crisis are of epic proportions. Solutions are needed, not a sycophantic celebration.It is interesting that Okorocha, who presented the award to Buhari, was among the applauded governors. Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State presented Osinbajos award to him. Three days earlier, Okorochahad lamented to journalists in Abuja: The evil I feared in the PDP has befallen me 10 times in the APC. Last week, I wrote a letter to INEC for the first time informing them of their wrongdoings and illegal actions to withhold my certificate on mere allegation of duress which was never founded, neither was there any committee set up to investigatethe matter.The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had refused to give Okorocha a certificate of return validating his victory in the February 23 senatorial election, following an allegation by the Returning Officer, Prof Francis Ibeawuchi, that he had announced the outgoing governor as winner under duress. Okorocha, who has taken the matter to court, was quoted as saying he did not want to bother President Buhari by asking for his intervention.In a display of crude godfatherism, Okorocha and Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun had shamelessly supported the governorship candidates of political parties different from theirs in the March 9 governorship election.Okorocha and Amosun of the APC had clearly carried godfatherism too far. It wasnt surprising that their party decided to punish them. It was surprising that the party delayed the punishment till March 1 when its National Working Committee (NWC) suspended the governors for anti-party activities. In a statement, the partys National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the NWC has also taken a decision to recommend the expulsion of the suspended individuals to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.The APC statement stated that the NWC had earlier written to the suspended governors on their anti-party activities, and several other steps were taken to ensure they desist from taking actions that are inimical to the interests of our party and candidates. Notably, these individuals have not shown any remorse and actually stepped up their actions. The party accused the suspended governors of serial anti-party activities, and noted how the suspended members have continued to campaign openly for other parties and candidates that are unknown to our great party. They have in fact constituted themselves as opposition to APC candidates in their respective states.It is strange that Okorocha and Amosun were honoured for their services to the APC. It reflected the flattery that characterised the PGF event. Having both been elected to the senate, if Okorocha wins his case, it is a cause for concern that they will sit in the Red Chamber pretending to be men of honour.When Osinbajo said Okorocha was extremely commendable, on May 17, while inaugurating the state governments projects in Imo State, it was another instance of flattery. The Vice President said: As a matter of fact, on one occasion, we went to see one of the universities that he had just completed. When I went round that university complex, I realised that there is simply no other university that has the kind of physical facilities that university has, at least in the history of Nigeria.Osinbajo added: Ive always found him very strange. I must say so because hes otherwise someone who is not quiet but decided to keep quiet about his achievements. Ive not been able to understand that because anybody who knows him will not say hes a quiet man. I want to say that he has done extremely well in this past eight years and sometimes his contemporaries will choose to make loud noise for very few they have achieved. This portrait of Okorocha is too good to be true.When politicians publicly indulge in self-praise and flattery, they must not forget that the attentive public is watching.
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