APC: Any Difference from the Old Order? By Japheth Omojuwa
Nigeria is a tough place to be anything without being a suspect. If you praise the government for a job well done, you are accused of having been paid. If you knock the government for failing to do its job, you are accused of having been paid. If you write about why the opposition is on the right track, you are accused of being on their payroll and God help you if you knock them because then you must be tied to the apron strings of the ruling party. The reasons for these assumptions are not far-fetched; many cannot speak except they are paid. Many wish they’d been paid to speak and many prefer to believe that others are just as cheap and morally bankrupt as they are. Beyond the obvious poverty that pervades the nation, thanks to 14 years of PDP misrule, there is moral poverty that is beyond the ruling party, it is a Nigerian reality that is born out of our common desperation for wealth, irrespective of how it comes and our belief that every rich person did something immoral to get it. We judge those who are richer as having done something sinister or diabolical because we know deep within us that given the chance we’d do the same. Beyond our dirty, bloody and failing politics, our society is in such a bad place we need all kinds of revolution to fix it.
On this note, any of the blind supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) can assume whatever they want to about the author of this piece after reading it. They can write as many hate emails as they did the last time I wrote about their party. They can tweet abuses at me too, but what they cannot do is stop me from speaking my mind about a public institution. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is like a pig, no need to abuse it for being dirty because even it glories in its miasma of failures and immorality. We already know that as long as the PDP runs Nigeria, poverty will ruin the lives of the people. Anyone who’d face the fact knows that the worst thing that has ever happened to the fight against corruption in Nigeria is the elevation of corruption as a tool of political power.
The transformation agenda, for instance, has meant that Nigeria is one of the toughest places to be a nursing mother and one of the places a child would choose not to be born in if babies could choose their place of birth. The truth stares at us through the faces of the millions of jobless graduates, we feel the pain in the groaning of mothers who lose their children at birth. While some mothers marched in Abuja for President Jonathan, the ones that couldn’t were not cursing the ones that did. They understood the fact that the N1000 those who marched were given would have gone a long way in keeping their body and soul together. After all, if they had businesses to manage, they’d not be roaming the streets of Abuja like waifs. We know all about the disaster called PDP, but that will not be enough for us to hug anything that pretends to be different from this destructive norm.
Apart from throwing “fear of God” at us in its proposed manifesto, how does the APC seek to be different from the usual? Does it only need the votes of Nigerians during elections or it wants ordinary Nigerians in its fold? Will the leaders of the APC who were obviously used to being in control of small political entities now let go and let the new APC outgrow their own egos? It would be normal for the APC to go through a stormy period after its formation but it would help if the storms are more about issues than about parochial interests. How will the new party’s primaries be conducted? Will it be the same PDP way of powerful delegates who will get $10,000 for votes like they got during the 2011 PDP Presidential primaries or would the APC hold a different kind of primaries? Will it be better to allow all the biometrically registered members of the party to have a say in who becomes what in the party and through the party or will the party allow a few powerful individuals dictate the fate of the majority without democratic principles? Will the APC even have an open registration of new members that’d not be treated as outcasts just because they don’t belong to the old gang of the party’s forming units? Can the APC come to Nigerians on the platter of change while bearing the crest of the old undemocratic ways?
Change cannot come from a system that does things the same way those who have run us aground have done it. The biggest argument any party that wants to compete against the PDP will need will be the argument of performance and its demonstration of democratic principles within its own fold. The APC cannot afford to continue toeing the lines of those that have failed Nigerian people over the past 14 years. The APC must show what it can do for Nigeria by first showing what its governors have done for their states and what it has done within itself.
If the APC comes in 2015 looking like the PDP, Nigerians will stick to the original of two evils. Nigerians need change but that change cannot afford to come looking like the destructive locust of the past 14 years.
•Omojuwa teaches about Africa and its democratic struggles at the Free University, Berlin. He tweets @omojuwa
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