Is the APC Taking a Nap? By Sabella Abidde
In collating the findings of an informal and unscientific survey, I suggested last week that President Goodluck Jonathan would trounce the opposition parties during the 2015 presidential election. I also suggested that the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, has been nothing but a colossal disappointment because, amongst other reasons, it has not been able to differentiate itself from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. But more than anything else, it lacks coherent message and the pertinent infrastructure to match or outperform the PDP.
In a few minutes, I will get back to what the APC is and what it is not. But first, an overview of the opposition parties and why, collectively, they may be headed for oblivion and damnation.
As of today, the Independent National Electoral Commission has legitimised 26 political parties. Twenty six! Why does Nigeria need, and why would the INEC register these many political parties? Not only is the number absurd, it is senseless. As senseless as the situation is, many more are clamouring to be so recognised.
Other than INEC bureaucrats, I doubt if a good number of Nigerians have ever heard of, for instance, the Accord Party and its chairman, Mohammad Lawal Nalado. And of course, there is the Action Alliance headed by Tunde Anifowose Kelani. It’s hard to believe we have the Kowa Party, Citizens Popular Party, Mega Progressive Peoples Party, or the United Progressive Party headed by Chief Chekwas Okorie. For a budding democracy like Nigeria, it needs not have more than three parties, five at the most.
And here is why. There is strength in number. By having these many parties, the opposition has simply diluted its power and competitive edge. Second, it leaves room for indiscipline, disarray and political corruption. Third, such an outlandish number may confuse voters. It makes sense for the opposition to form well-organised and well-funded organisations with clear and distinct message that’s capable of dislodging the ruling party and the President.
Unless they want to remain in the opposition for the next four or five election cycles, they should dissolve and reorganise themselves. Frankly, it is in their best interest– and the interest of Nigeria – to have fewer parties. The current situation is not only ill-advised; it is a recipe for catastrophic failure. It makes one wonder if the opposition knows anything about politics and power-sharing and nation-building.
During the next election, all President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo, need do is to secure 50 per cent of the votes to win the Presidency. The 25 other candidates sharing 50 per cent of the votes will definitely put them in the losing column. That democracy allows for easy entry of contestants doesn’t mean anyone and everyone should contest elections. Elections ought to be very serious business taken seriously by serious-minded people.
Back to what I was telling you about Nigeria’s main opposition party, the APC. You get the feeling that the party is afraid to nominate its biggest star. The endless search for a perfect candidate will add to its demise. What the party needs is a winning ticket, not a perfect candidate. As of today, millions of Nigerians cannot tell the difference between the APC and the PDP.
If the APC wants to be a regional party, that’s fine; but it should stop pretending to be a national party. It is conspicuously absent in the South-East, South-South and the Middle Belt, the presence of the likes of Rochas Okorocha, Chris Ngige, Chibuike Amaechi and Timi Sylva notwithstanding. Something else: It allowed the PDP to pin the Boko Haram emblem on its forehead to the point where many Nigerians now associate the APC with religious intolerance, insatiable violence and ethnic bigotry.
And of course, many members of the APC, more often than not, act individualistically – as opposed to acting like a group of men and women with a common goal, common agenda and common destiny. That it has several dozen political stars and intellectual giants is by itself not a negative. This only becomes a hindrance when they act independent of one another and jettison the ideals of a serious and purposeful collective.
While Jonathan is generally regarded as the face of the PDP, who is the face of the APC? The party has too many faces and contradictory messages. What’s more, the APC is politicking mostly on the pages of the newspaper and in social media. You need people and other resources on the ground. Somehow, the party seems to think that media domination will earn it several government houses and majority parliamentary seats and the ultimate prize, Aso Rock.
Unrelenting attacks against Jonathan is not a strategy. He is who he is and the masses understand that. The masses know this too. The PDP has been wasting the people’s time and resources since 1999. Well, that’s not new. They get it. They understand the picture they’ve been staring at since 1999. The question is: What can the APC do? In what ways would life and governance be different if the ruling party is thrown out of the Villa? What would they do about crimes, corruption, job creation, poverty reduction, electricity and transport? Tell the people in a clear and concise manner.
It is not enough to say, “Jonathan is bad…clueless…ineffective and condones corruption” and all that. No! What’s the alternative? Without a believable alternative – in terms of candidate and leadership and message – Nigerians will not budge! They will not vote Jonathan out.
Two issues I alluded to last week seem to be Jonathan’s most potent weapons. I wrote: “In Abuja, I was pointedly told by more than three cab drivers that ‘Jonathan would have been a better and more effective President but for what the Northern elite are doing…Boko Haram is one of their tools to make governance impossible.’ In essence, what the military officer termed ‘northern hubris’ and the ‘deployment of Boko Haram to hurt’ Jonathan seem to have, in unexpected ways, helped the Jonathan government and his candidacy. Nigerians, it seems, are blaming ‘the North and Boko Haram’ for Jonathan’s real and perceived shortcomings.”
Political wilderness is not fun at all. Not enjoyable. It can be debilitating. It can be lonely. It has a way of messing with the mind and the body. If the All Progressives Congress wants to avoid this damning fate, it should reorganise its house and its message. It should restrategise. Otherwise, it should prostrate on the ground and let the PDP walk over it. But more importantly, it should stop giving the electorate false hope. Turn on the light and let the party begin, or turn off the light and continue to nap.
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