By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
Fraud, Moneybags and CPC
Both Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) do shoulder the responsibility of stopping the ongoing fraud in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) regarding the use of fake cards in its ongoing membership registration exercise. In this task, the responsibility of the former is largely moral, while that of the latter is constitutional. Desperate politicians who thronged the party are setting new records of fraud in the history of our political culture in their bid to use Buhari to hoodwink the masses and capture power in states where the presidential candidate has large followership.
The call has become necessary because, surprisingly, the party leadership is backing the fraud, a practice that is an antithesis of its promise to use the party as a platform for progressive politics. If the fraud is not checked, it has every potential to wreck the prospects of the party and spoil the legendary image of Buhari himself especially given his position as the party's Chairman, Board of Trustees and, understandably, its natural presidential flagbearer.
The story is simple. Many gubernatorial aspirants in the party do not want to play the game by its rules. They want to singlehandedly determine every stage that would lead to their nomination. Aiding their ambition and encouraging it is the poor financial state of the party. Whoever has money will have the upper hand. Simple. He will have everything twisted in his favour regardless of any INEC procedure or the provisions of the party's constitution. And the source of his money is not an issue. What is essential is to have the money, pay the party leadership, contribute handsomely to funding the party and the way becomes his. The entire state executive of the party will be dissolved at his instance; an interim leadership that is favourably disposed to him will be sent to his state; it will solicit for his funding; and it will approve his wishes.
It is not therefore surprising that the complaints are the same across the affected states, whether in Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna or Bauchi. Such aspirants who have earned the goodwill of the National Chairman of the party are sponsoring candidates for the chairmanship of the party executive bodies at state, local government and ward levels. Through these aspiring chairmen, or directly on their own, such gubernatorial aspirants have printed hundreds of thousands of fake party membership cards and distributed them among the masses, waiting for the party congresses that are just about to hold. At the congresses, the fake membership cards, which outnumber the meagre genuine 50,000 maximum which the party sent to each state at its debut, will be used to elect the executives nominated by such gubernatorial aspirants. When inaugurated, such party executives, who according to the existing guidelines of the party will be the party delegates at all levels, will back the candidate who sponsored their success. A gubernatorial candidate of CPC has then emerged. Then Buhari will take the lead in backing such a candidate. The masses, working on their trust for Buhari, will vote for the candidate, as they did to Isa Yuguda in Bauchi in 2007. Your Excellency is then formed!
The person supporting this scheme is the National Chairman of the party, former senator Rufa'i Hanga, who within a short time has earned the bad reputation of being extremely unreliable. Supporting him are many close associates of Buhari himself who have their 'boys' working in concert with the Chairman. There is a fundamental difference between Buhari and these people. They focus on winning elections, hook or crook, in line with the ideologies of their former parties - the PDP, the ANPP and the UNCP (the 'PDP' of Abacha if we can recall). To them politics means power; and power yields money. As they play it, politics is livelihood. Buhari, on the other hand, as we all know, believes power is for service which must be hinged on the rule of law in government; then power itself in a democracy must be attained through internal democracy and free and fair elections. As he plays it, politics is a cause, not a livelihood.
These schemes will only produce governments that are inept and corrupt, like the one we have in Bauchi now. It is totally worthless though it came to power on the platform of opposition politics and with the backing of Buhari. The present membership of CPC is overwhelmingly from ANPP and PDP, and so is the majority of its aspirants for political offices. There is the need for the party to prove itself better than both PDP and ANPP by being transparent in its conduct and prudent in its affairs. So far, its national chairman has not proved that difference.
Tomorrow, Monday, 29 November 2010, the national leadership is sending a delegation of lawyers to defend the use of fake cards in its registration exercise before a federal high court here in Bauchi. An order was duly secured by aggrieved members of the party. It baffles me that a party that goes about dropping the name of Buhari can stoop so low to defend a clear case of fraud. Nothing can be more shameful. Bauchi is just one out of many cases. Its masses will pitifully be deceived again via the same route if care is not taken. The intention is to usher in a stooge governor who will allow outsiders to once more ransack their treasury and leave them without water, healthcare, education or security.
The solution fortunately is simple. The party should print millions of cards if it wishes and sell them to interested members through due process. However, it must validate previous ones that were genuinely sold by the former excos in various states while rejecting any fake card printed and distributed by any contestant under whatever circumstance. Then it can conduct its congress and primaries accordingly. If time is against it, let it use only the genuine cards distributed so far. It is assumed that any serious member must have acquired his long ago. There are about ten gubernatorial candidates in the state, for example. Let them all contest on this level playing ground. Simple.
Buhari needs to be firm on this matter in his characteristic measure. He carries on his shoulder the trust of the masses who will always subscribe to his judgement and presentation. He stands to account for that trust on the day of judgement. He must be under no illusions about that. His popularity is a gift that engenders a responsibility. "Then you will certainly be asked, that Day, about the favours (of God)." He can easily do this through his position as the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, its highest decision making body. No fake membership cards. No worshipping of moneybags. Period.
INEC would also need to wade in, just in case Buhari's effort does not yield the desired result. It has the duty to ensure that all political parties live to a certain standard of transparency in the conduct of their affairs, including congresses and primaries. These are the embryonic stages through which governance is ushered, whether good or bad, and to which neither the body nor we, ordinary Nigerians, can afford to turn a blind eye.
In conclusion, for the avoidance of doubt, I would Iike to state that I am not a card carrying member of any party. On the affairs of Buhari, I have maintained an advisory interest while I keep to myself the constitutional freedom to express my opinion regarding any issue that partains governance in my fatherland, Nigeria. I am thus also interested in the affairs of other candidates. As it relates my state, however, I owe its citizens the responsibility to aid in blocking any further attempt to hoodwink them, regardless of the platform that may be exploited to achieve that ignoble end.
28 November, 2010