APC: Skating On Thin Ice, By Aver Angweh
The almost immaculate conception of the All Progressives Congress was somewhat a thing of relief to the largely downtrodden people of Nigeria, although some still perceived it to be old wine in new bottles. By and large, it has been quite an onerous task to convince Nigerians that the emergence of the APC truly represents an era of change in political ideology and democratic governance in general, this is due to the lack of trust that Nigerians have grown towards their leaders, this distrust was transferred to the new party as a result of the massive decamping of some major PDP heavyweights to the opposition party. Thus a lot of people share the opinion that what we have on our hands at the moment is just a parade of the same old crooked politicians migrating from one grazing field to a more suitable one.
I’m afraid the thoughts of this cynical lot might not be too far from the reality of things looking at the way the APC has carried out its activities in recent months. A perfect scenario is the last National Convention held by the party on the 17th of June 2014 and the outcome of that convention. While the exercise was very smooth and successful due to its overwhelming spirit of consensus, one cannot help but worry about the internal rivalry that erupted from it, these grudges include the discontent of the party’s youth wing with the personality of its elected youth leader, also worrisome is the cold war between high ranking members of the party like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the party leader and one of the founding members of the merger chief Tom Ikimi,. On another hand there is a cry of foul play by the former Borno State Governor Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff aka SAS who is pointing accusing fingers at Former Military Head Of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari for purportedly shoving him out of the helm of affairs of the party leadership, it is common knowledge however that both Gen. Buhari and Tinubu share a mutual distrust for the controversial SAS and are somehow skeptical to place the man at the forefront of the party’s structure as that would entail risking the young party’s image. It is a sad thing to note that most of these in-house rivalries persist not as a result of conflict in ideology but on purely personal grounds,
The loudest of all the undesirable echoes from that National Convention is the protests from the youth wing of the party which unanimously rejected the decision electing Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo as its new National Youth Leader. According to the members of the youth wing, Mr. Jalo who contested for the Gombe/kwame/Funakaye Federal Constituency seat of Gombe State in 2011 at the age of 49 is presently 52 years of age and therefore too old to effectively represent the interests of the young people aboard the party wagon. This is an issue of major concern that must not be treated with kid gloves or swept under the carpet by the party leadership. These are very fragile times for Nigeria and Nigerians have become overly sensitive to political issues owing to the colossal failure of the government of the day. It is obvious that Nigerians are fed up with the leadership style of the People’s Democratic Party which promotes corruption, mediocrity, incompetence, geographical and religious disintegration, military harassment of the opposition and suppression of the youths. From opinion polls taken from all across the country, it is very convincing that the youths in particular have opened their arms to the APC like they have never done to any other political party before, therefore it will be wise for the APC to cease this golden opportunity to inch closer to the youths and try to win their total allegiance, let’s not forget that there are over 70 million Nigerians who are between the ages of 18 and 40 years watching the political sphere with keen interest, The APC must show the young people of Nigeria that it is different from the gerontocratic PDP in all ramifications, failure of which they will have to live with sad regrets at the end of the next general elections come next April .
The issue of youth leadership of any party is a very sensitive one, therefore leaders of this very promising party must realize that with the entirety of Nigeria’s youths behind it the sky will only be their point of elevation, the youths deserve to be pampered for the overwhelming support and loyalty they have shown to the party, they must be tamed and not forced to be led by an elderly person in whom they do not see what they require to make the great change they earnestly yearn for, is this too much to ask in return for unflinching loyalty and steadfast followership? I do not think so. The leadership of the APC has to evade these little scuffles and brace itself for the battle ahead in 2015 lest they lose considerable strength in their fighting force ahead of the D Day.
The APC must wake up to the true meaning of ‘opposition’ which simply means to differ, to differ both in ideas and modus operandi. The PDP is known to be corrupt; the APC must project transparency, The PDP is shrouded with dishonor; The APC must showcase integrity, The PDP is anti- youth; the APC must pitch its tent with the new generation which is getting stronger by the day both numerically and ideologically. This is what is needed to convince Nigerians to stay truly committed to the proposed ‘change’ they(The APC) are trying to sell, if they fail to do all these and rather choose to emulate ‘the PDP Way’ as it seems right now then Nigerians will see no need changing from one set of dirty clothes into another. The situation at hand cannot be better described than the way Dele Momodu put it in his ThisDay weekly column publication of 5th July 2014, “You can’t play the Brazilian style of football against Brazil, nothing will be more foolhardy”.
The APC must retrace its steps in the wake of its entire latest intra-party ruckus and embark on a campaign of reconciliation and appeasement, not only at the national level but in the states as well. Although it is a common characteristic of politicians to agree and disagree in politics but it usually gets ugly when push is allowed to come to shove; (re:casestudy of the PDP). Nigerian politics is still yet to be hinged on collective ideology so the hardest but paramount task any political party has to undertake is ‘the harmonization of the individual interests of both the political actors and its supporters’. With only two major political parties taking centre stage in the country today, majority of Nigerians are willing to settle for what they perceive to be the lesser evil, the APC stands a better chance in the face of this scrutiny because Nigerians naturally like to try new things, talk less of when the new thing portrays better efficiency than the older ones.
The APC’s time is now or never. Its rather sad that most of its leaders seem to be taking Nigerians for granted after getting such a warm reception, one thing they must realize is that come 2015 if they show Nigerians the same attitude of “business as usual”, all hope for defeating the PDP will be lost in the wind and there will be no second chance to rectify its disastrous first impression.
Follow Aver Angweh on twitter @DisAVERsef
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