By Femi Ayelabowo
These are the most heart rending times for the bellicose characters of the All Progressives Congress (APC); that so-called opposition party in Nigeria, as the suspicions of its romance with the dreaded Boko Haram continues to grow by the day. The not-too -funny jokes about the party cannot be fully traced to a source as there is no concrete evidence that it harbors or promotes terrorism as a party, but the suggestions are getting louder and stronger by the day.
If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman, Olisa Metuh, is not tarring the party with a “Janjaweed” brush, most sane individuals from Borno and Yobe States are quick to point to the dramatis personae of the States as being responsible for the festering national sore. One of those characters now wants to associate with the PDP after losing out in a political battle in the APC, and Nigerians are watching and waiting to see if the ruling party will accept such a liability in its fold for the sake of winning elections.
Returnees to the PDP, like Femi Fani-Kayode, are making matters worse for the APC by suggesting that it harbors demons, that is, in other words, terror supporters. The party, rather than allow Femi to go quietly, unleashed its chief attack dog, Lai Mohammed, on him, and the party has not known rest since then, from a man who should know about the party since he was an insider. Femi can just not believe the APC will contemplate a Muslim-Muslim ticket in these times, and is screaming blue murder.
All these because Tinubu has an inordinate ambition! It was recently leaked that the party has contracted a UK-based PR firm to try wash away the image of Boko Haram that has been associated with it at a princely sum of nearly N200 million. An online publication even published documents to show the deal was put together in May, this year.
As if that leak was not enough for a high blood pressure, the British parliament appears ready to probe any association between APC and Boko Haram according to media reports. For the British to contemplate this, it means that there is more than meets the eye about the party. May be that is why a bomb or kidnap happens anytime the president is to visit some states for political rallies. Just maybe! A dangerous maybe, you may say, but think about it.
A member of the British parliament, Mr. Andrew Rosindell, according to The Cable, an online newspaper, questioned the UK Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague, on the country’s engagement with Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), over the Boko Haram menace.
Labour MP Sandra Osborne, started it all when she sought to examine allegations of links between APC and the insurgents.
Rosindell’s has posed some questions requiring a response from Hague. They include: to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will commission an inquiry into the international support network for Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon; and if he will make a statement. (Notice no. 204402); to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department have had with leading members of the Nigerian opposition party, the All Progressive Congress; and if he will make a statement; to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will discuss with his counterpart in Cameroon the need for constructive dialogue between that country and Nigeria in tackling Boko Haram; and if he will make a statement.
The Cable also revealed that, at a recent meeting in parliament, led by Henry Jackson Society and chaired by an MP, John Glen, who is a close adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, similar allegations were raised that key APC members are supporters and financiers of Boko Haram “for ideological and political means.”
Another online publication, The Will, was less charitable to APC, throwing its documents on the Internet for everyone to know that it is desperate to save its neck over Boko Haram. With the likely probe by the British parliament and a British firm handling the PR, is this a coincidence or the APC commissioned the firm knowing the searchlight was coming?
The Will online states that APC hired the London firm to help clear the growing negative perception in the international community and Nigeria that its members are tacitly backing the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The Will online says that Ladi Delano, a young US businessman, who allegedly fronts for APC chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, procured the services of the PR firm on behalf of the political party.
The Will online recalled that the APC had accused the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government of wasteful expenditure when it hired Levick, a Washington DC-based PR firm, to help manage the negative narrative his administration was suffering in the foreign press following the forceful abduction of about 230 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram.
“Burson-Marsteller is expected to help the APC improve its image by developing content and messages for the media whilst also engaging political leaders and officials in both the United States and the United Kingdom on behalf of the party, which lost a state it controls, Ekiti, South West Nigeria, to the PDP in the Governorship election held last month,” the online publication adds.
With the Osun elections coming up, and its candidate and sitting Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, known to have taken controversial decisions that have religious undertones, APC may yet suffer another loss, as a prelude to the emergence of its presidential candidate in November. Head or tail, whoever emerges may have to live with an atmosphere polluted by the tactless and thoughtless steps of the founders of the party.
•Ayelabowo, a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Ibadan.