By Abiodun Komolafe
The National Reconciliation Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to Osun State, recently, in a long-overdue effort to reconcile aggrieved members of the ruling party in the state.
Going by words on the streets, media records and all that, the expectation of Nigerians was that aggrieved members would be open to a truce in the objective interest of the ruling party and government. It’s also hoped that the openness would enable the Committee to midwife genuine reconciliation among members of the same political family.
Under the Concept of Negotiation and Reconciliation, where two parties feel cheated is a win-win. What do I mean? If two parties feel cheated, it is better to reconcile on that premise so that the ‘cheating’ issue will become mutual. However, if it is only one side that feels cheated, chances are that the other side ‘that does not feel cheated’ will be swollen-headed, thus leading the opposing camp to feel alienated. What happens next is that the ‘cheated’ party may either seek succour elsewhere or work from within to undermine (the) existing structure; that will be antithetical to the ideals of democracy and principles of development. Impliedly, the idea of a zero-sum game is not only unworkable in a search for true and ideal reconciliation, but it is also – and, usually, too – an illusion!
Reconciliation helps in removing resentment and dehumanization. It also facilitates ‘the re-humanization of the ‘other’ and transforms harmful attitudes.’ Simply put, it is like going to the market to carry out business transactions at a most reasonable price for the best of qualities. Even the one with fake wares will also want to display his stuff with a view to getting ‘a good buyer’ – obviously, to his advantage, and the loss of the buyer. In this instance, there is a side that needs to be civil enough to admit that a ‘winner-takes-all’ politics is a dangerous concept even as the other side must also know that it must let go of certain things so that the lost sheep can be brought back home. So, one expects the Abdullahi Adamu-led efforts to go beyond the ceremonial handshake. Instead, the fundamental issue should be the reconciliation of interests, which is paramount.
A political party is as strong as its membership base. In other words, much as politics is a game of power, it’s also a game of numbers. To that extent, membership base goes a long way in determining the electoral success or otherwise of a party. With these in mind, if the feuding factions or fractions within Osun APC cannot resolve their differences at a roundtable; if they cannot dance around personal issues with a view to reaching amicable solutions, the overriding imperative is like a hermaphrodite, which has the capacity to metamorphose into something else, totally unknown! It is like the crew of a boat, rowing together, but in opposing directions. What worsens the situation in Osun is that the impasse has been left for too long to fester. So, if members don’t grow up quickly and rise above their differences; or, if there are no leaders and/or elders that can call the gladiators to a roundtable, it may end up as nothing but bad business for politics.
A time it was in the old Oyo State when the now-rested Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) went into avoidable ruination because its handlers did not do enough or simply looked the other way. Instead of calling the faithful to order with a view to striking the middle course, the leaders simply relied on the strength of votes from ‘stones’ as a way of sealing the party’s coasting home to victory. Unfortunately, it is either the ‘stones’ refused to cast their vote or certain forces mightier than the ‘stones’ did not make their votes count. I was a student at Ijebu-Jesa Grammar School at the time. So, I can confirm that we all paid dearly for it!
The implosion in the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) also started with the trouble between the National Chairman of the party and, especially, the presidential aspirants. The initial impression was that the late Adisa Akinloye was about to compromise, particularly, on the issue of the zoning arrangement through which the presidency would remain in the North; and Akinloye, a Southerner, would remain as the Party Chairman, unperturbed. Interestingly, the social status ascribed to whosoever became the chairman of the party at that time was way above what presently obtains.
Dateline: December 14, 1991! The inability of the political gladiators to agree on the way forward during the 3rd Republic gave Michael Otedola the Lagos State governorship on a platter of gold. Have we also forgotten that the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) government in Osun would most likely have been victorious, had the party not succumbed to the whims of the internal wrangling that troubled its Israel on its way to April 19, 2003, gubernatorial election? Typical of fate and its wiles, Akande had long left office before he was nicknamed ‘Baba Omo Kekeke’, in recognition of his performance in office.
If the aforementioned experiences have sought succour in the ‘archives of the archaeologists’, then, the loss of the senatorial bye-election by the Osun APC in 2017 readily comes to mind. Since failure is always an orphan, July 8, 2017, happened to APC and loads of excuses accompanied the loss of the opportunity of a lifetime. But then, the party in power forgot or overlooked the essence of certain people whose duty, as it were, was to tailor the minds of the people to the ideals and norms of the society, especially, in a country where the gain of public service has taken flight. God and Caesar met at the table and … the rest is history!
Speaking for posterity, how much of the energy being dissipated, currently, against opposing members of the same party is being dispensed into convincing some already-confused voters at ‘Okada’ and ‘Korope’ terminuses that the APC-led government in Osun State means well for the people; and that it will do more, if Governor Gboyega Oyetola is re-elected, come July 16, 2022? How much confidence and assurance is being given to the mass of the people that this epitome of wellness, stateliness and unshaken hope if given another opportunity, will leave no stone unturned at ensuring that dividends of democracy are equitably distributed among the good people of Osun? Instead of showing off with attractive-yet-needless conflicts, what stops loyalists on both sides from showing forth through winning souls for the party? In the interest of democracy, what stops the gladiators from removing issues that are personal from the objective interests of the party? What stops the ‘Us vs. Us’ adherents from allowing institutional interests to outweigh personal and individual interests?
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!
KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (firstname.lastname@example.org)