The Daniel’s Cross By Yiseyon Agboyinu
One would need to think like the Biblical Daniel to be able to appreciate what must have been going on in his mind when he was, for no just cause, thrown into the den of lions. Was he sweating? Or was he just calm all through? Even if he was, being human could he have entertained some doubts about his own faith and convictions. We all face such difficult moments in our daily lives.
Two events dominated the media and Nigerian Political space in the last two weeks; one was the resignation of the former Governor of Ogun State and Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO), Otunba Gbenga Daniel from PDP and partisan politics and, the sham called Supplementary Governorship And Houses of Assembly elections in some states of the Nigerian federation. The one I find interesting for the moment, (I can’t help the election “supplements” situation) is the Daniel’s resignation and the icing on the cake, the purported decamping or defection of same into the rival All Peoples Congress barely twenty four hours after the announced resignation.
The issues raised in this matter bother on morality and betrayal of trust. Some argue on the propriety of the time he did; too early when Atiku is still in court trying to challenge the results of the election and reclaim his “stolen” mandate.
Just like I would give more than a penny for the thought to have a peep into the minds of the Biblical Daniel to know how he felt while in the Lion’s den, I have the same compulsion to read through the mind of this modern age Daniel. What exactly was on his mind; how is he relating to all these events and controversies. The answer may not necessarily lie in Daniel’s mind but in the Atiku Presidential campaign organisation itself. How did it function? What are the interplay of forces and the intrigues which removed the strength of morality and propriety of time, consultations and trust?
The Atiku Presidential campaigns gained a lot of tractions on the strength and assumptions that there is money- heavy money to be made by a lot of people. It has the largest number of Support Groups that refused to function as Volunteers which they should be, but cut out as a paid employment in expectation of gratifications and rewards. At the last count, the number of Support Groups are over one thousand and each boasting of having membership across the length and breadth of the country with a minimum of 1,000 members each. And on the average, over one million people claim to be members of the various Support Groups. Daniel’s crime Number One: fulfilling the desires and expectations of over one million people will be a tall order so Daniel might have unwittingly thrown himself in the den by choice; he has enrolled a course in a political university where no one has ever passed with honours.
Atiku also is on record as the longest and the most recycled presidential aspirant (candidate) in the recent history of Nigeria’s democracy. In the course of the years he has built a large retinue of personal staff who remain on his permanent payrolls and have by right carved a territory, formed a paternalistic view and claim a hold on his purse. They are surely and most likely to develop a mutual distrust of any newcomer(s) trying to usurp or take a slice off their comfort territory. This is a hell hole far deeper than a Lion’s den into which Daniel plunged.
Perhaps, and most probably if Daniel was fishing in familiar territory, some of these challenges could have been easier managed, it looks like he was alone, home and dry. The PDP appears like a very hostile and uncharted water when most of his colleagues and contemporaries in the party since 2003 have left in search of other plausible windows of expressions and political survival away from the choking outhouse of PDP. Rashidi Ladoja, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alao Akala, Musiliu Obanikoro, Segun Oni, Professor Tunde Adeniran etc. the fewer remnants of leaders function only at the fringes of party activities like some hired employees to keep up space in a political party; they take instructions from where the power of the party resides.
Daniel in a conservative Peoples Democratic Party could be a total stranger and this cross he had borne ever since he got elected on the platform of the party in 2003, he has been fishing in hostile waters, his progressive political ideology have clashed severally with the party’s ideology. His political views, dispositions, conducts and temperaments have been antithetical to what the PDP stands for and he was never too far away from constant brushes with the powers that be in the party. The entire problem of PDP started from Ogun State around 2009 where he, as a sitting governor was stripped of the power to control the affairs of the same party which he nurtured for over six years. Instead, that power was vested in a totally new comer to the state’s politics; he was not allowed to install a successor in Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka.
Several attempts to stage a come back were clearly rebuffed by the “owners of the land and party”, even when he sought to lead the party as national chairman, deploying all arsenal in a nationwide campaigns for an office which was assumed to have been zoned to the South West as a strategic move to strengthen the party in the region, until he was persuaded to step down like most other contestants (Bode George, Jimi Agbaje, Rashidi Ladoja) from the South West. That was the PDP in which Daniel was ready to go into the gulag for.
Not done yet, on the strength of the colourful campaign in his chairmanship bid, Daniel got another rare opportunity to prove himself, capacity and commitment as he was appointed to lead the Atiku Presidential campaigns where he deployed his dexterity in the management of men and resources. He was able to steer Atiku to victory in a keenly contested primaries with about twelve contestants in Port Harcourt. And no sooner has he done what was considered unthinkable than the “owners of the land” rose again. This Daniel must be cut short at all cost. Daniel had only planted a tree in a dessert, and like Moses who struck the rod on the rock of life, he can only see the Promised Land from a distance, a Joshua would have to lead the “Israelites” to God’s promise. And so, it was that PDP prosecuted its campaigns like a people who have already won an election even before the votes were cast and counted.
There lies the burden of Daniel’s morality: to stay or not to stay. The moral compass which were not invoked for former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he left and torn his PDP membership card in 2014, not for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar when he moved in and out of PDP to pick the ticket of Action Congress (AC) in 2007 and APC in 2014, not for Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was changing the names and identity of his political parties at every turn, not for President Mohammadu Buhari who left from ANPP to CPC and eventually to APC, not for Bukola Saraki, for Kwakwanso and for Godwill Akpabio when they leave the same PDP in 2014 to work for and got elected on the platform of APC, now became a banner on which Daniel must be judged. It appears political morality is only a Daniel’s Cross.
While Daniel must have been imprisoned in a moral gaol of his own convictions, chained by the propriety of Time of his choice movement, to wait till the court matter for Atiku to reclaim his mandate is dispensed with, only a few give it a thought “to play what role?”. His office which is already up for grabs by less competent hands? Is he a lawyer? What other assurances of relevance has been given and accorded him. The whole of South West states where he comes from, except Oyo, are safely in Opposition hands. How many Yoruba prominent politicians are playing leading roles in the PDP at the national level. Politics of principle must be rooted in a solid foundation, and political leadership is a function of followers and those who believe and trust in the capacity of a leader to take the right decision and lead them to a safer destination. The God of Daniel stood by him in the Bible and that was why he was accepted as a Prophet and a Judge over the Israelites. Should a leader wait till all those those who repose their trust in him leave in droves or one after another before reestablishing his leadership. Those who criticise Daniel definitely are not those who want to follow him, but more of those who feel he was at a time the man who usurped their daily bread, those who felt he did not allow them to milk from the Atiku Presidential, campaigns, those who are also threatened of what they fear might be his next political moves, and of course those who genuinely felt concerned with inadequate information about the Cross he had to bear and what he must have gone through.
If Daniel’s supporters insist he should and must lead them to another party, logic prevails he must hearken to the voices of those who truly believe in him and trust his leadership and not those who he cannot truly please no matter what he does; that is the hallmark of true leadership. Of course Daniel has promised not to abandon Atiku in his trying time, but what if Atiku abandons him?
Yiseyon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a social commentator, writes from Badagry Lagos, Nigeria.