APC, Wake Up, Save Nigeria! By Segun Tomori
The birth of the All Progressive Congress (APC) on the 31st July, 2013 sent the nation into an unusual frenzy. The Nigerian populace, wearied by 14 years of lethargy and indolence characterized by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led Federal Government roared in excitement at the prospect of a new “mega” party unhorsing the PDP. The merger which culminated in the APC, the first successful in the nation’s history, raised hope in an otherwise hopeless situation in which citizens had resigned to fate. The new party thus came into lime-light with so much goodwill and acceptance from majority of the people who saw it as a potential vehicle for positive change. The party moved swiftly to consolidate and build on the support it garnered at inception by consulting with eminent leaders and elders across the country. This coincided with the disenchantment raging in the PDP which soon yielded fruits as 5 of the 7 “new” PDP Governors and some House of Rep members defected to the APC.
The defection of the Ex- PDP governors though enlarged the political base of the APC, from 11 to 16 Governors, it also reduced its support base. Some people now saw APC and PDP as birds of a feather with some averring that the difference between them is that between 6 and half a dozen. I beg to disagree. The major tendency within the APC is progressive and welfare-driven. We are witness to the giant strides of the defunct ACN Governors of Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Edo to mention a few. Gov. Okorocha of Imo, d lone APGA Governor in the merger has also being credited with massive investment in education, bursaries to students from secondary schools among other achievements. So it is safe to conclude that APC governors are progressives who merged with a genuine intention to salvage the sinking ship of the Nigerian State. That however is my opinion and that of an enlightened few. The independents and undecided that are the primary target of the APC to win the forth-coming elections think otherwise. They believe the disgruntled PDP elements that joined the party has polluted the revolution.
The APC will have to do a lot to convince this category of people and likeminds that politics is a game of numbers, you don’t chase people away, rather you persuade more people into your camp and convince them to share your ideals and ideology. That’s the essence of democracy and that’s why the majority wins the race! I believe this was the strategy adopted by the APC to talk to like-minds across party lines to form a coalition that will be capable of dislodging a non-performing and utterly clueless incumbent President and his party!
The APC as if following a well-crafted action plan proceeded to conduct its membership registration in all polling units in Nigeria last February, itself a record first, in Nigeria’s political history. The exercise which held simultaneously for 7 days across the length and breadth of Nigeria was largely successful and credible. The masses trooped out in their numbers to identify with a party they believe can herald positive change. The APC moved swiftly to retain its consciousness in the people’s psyche by holding its national summit to present its manifesto tagged “A roadmap to a New Nigeria”. The event was devoid of unnecessary sloganeering and niceties but imbued with every seriousness that is needed at this critical juncture of our national history. The Keynote address delivered by World Bank Vice-President and Ex-Minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili was unsparing to even the APC and dealt punches below the belt across party lines to the obvious discomfort of some APC chieftains present at the event. That itself shows the APC is ready for business unusual and that it has primed itself for the task of thinking out of the box to procure purposeful leadership for Nigeria.
If the APC had expected President Jonathan, with an eye for an immensely unpopular second term bid to sit idly and watch her dislodge him, then she was mistaken. The Otuoke-born lecturer thoroughly flustered and diminished by the rampaging new party has now swung into a vicious counter-attack to recover lost grounds with scant regard for the rule of law or constitutional encumbrances. Having no record of performance to showcase and with his poor handling of the abduction of chibok girls doing incalculable damage to his image at home and abroad, President Jonathan has shed every toga of a democrat and has fully adorned the garb of an unapologetic tyrant gone berserk to crush perceived and imaginary opposition.
The amiable and performing APC Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State was the first casuality of war. The military led the Jonathanian onslaught, virtually locking down the State about three days to the gubernatorial elections. Governors Amaechi and Oshiomhole had bitter tales to tell when they attempted to attend the final campaign rally of their colleague, 48 hours to the elections. Amaechi was fiercely stopped from entering Ado-Ekiti at the Ondo border by troops claiming to be acting on orders from above. Oshiomhole’s helicopter was also prevented from landing because the Aso-Rock emperor so decreed! Leaders of the APC across the nook and cranny of the State were either arrested or abducted on the eve of the elections while Ekiti was placed under an army of occupation in an unprecedented militarisation that made a State under the emergency rule look like a child’s place while the terrorism-ridden enclave of the North-East was left bare. The rest is now history as Jonathan’s party, the PDP snatched victory in a clearly scientific and hitech rigging operation or how else can one explain how a Governor that tremendously touched the lives of his people lost in all local governments? How can a party that has 226,000 registered members be credited with 120,000 votes? Wonders they say shall never cease, certainly the last has not been heard about the Ekiti abracadadra.
The Jonathan demolition train moved swiftly to Adamawa State. “Baba Mangoro” as the now impeached Governor, Murtala Nyako was popularly called has since been yanked off his gubernatorial seat. The Ex- Governor formerly of the PDP defected to the APC without doing his home-work and getting majority of the Assembly members to defect with him. This is akin to political suicide! He didn’t learn from his colleagues in neighbouring Kano and Sokoto States that were able to build a political consensus around the APC before defecting as majority of their assembly members moved with them. He further incurred the wrath of the President when he accused his administration of genocide against the North in the fight against boko haram. How the APC topshots in the State led by Ex- Vice President, Atiku Abubakar couldn’t save Nyako still beats my imagination. Atiku is proving sceptics right that he is a political paper-weight whose influence has considerably gone down the drains because if he couldn’t pull a string or two or at least throw spanner in the works of the kangaroo impeachment process in his home state, his famed political machinery is called to question. Nyako’s alleged disconnection with the masses and aloofness might have gone a long way in aiding the pliable and obviously financially induced assembly members to orchestrate his impeachment.
Nasarawa State turns out to be the next port of call for Jonathan’s hatchet men. Governor Al Makura has been served impeachment notice by 20 out of the 24 house of assembly members but it seems it won’t be an easy ride for the “demolition squad” here as the people are fiercely resisting the impeachment of their Governor. Protests broke out in the past week with elders and youths taking up the gauntlet, threatening the assembly members with recall and daring the rampaging federal forces. Three people were feared dead and some wounded when the compromised security agencies tried to forcely stop the rally. The APC hierarchy plans to storm the State to lead protests in the coming days. It remains to be seen how this will save Gov Al-Makura except the resistance of the people is sustained and a substantial number of the assembly members back out of the impeachment plan.
The aftermath of the APC national convention has created some disenchantment in the party. In Ogun State for instance, The Osoba-led faction which consists of most of the National assembly members, State legislators and grassroots politicians shunned the convention and are alleged to be on the verge of leaving the party. Chief Tom Ikimi, a prominent chieftain of the party that also ran for its chairmanship is also aggrieved and didn’t show up at the convention ground. Former Borno State Governor, Sen Modu Sheriff has defected to the PDP and he is alleged to be wooing prominent chieftains of the APC in the State including legislators to ditch the APC. This portends grave danger for the APC because if he succeeds, the ultimate victim will be Gov Shettima as that will open his flank for the impeachment hammer of the Aso-rock tyrant.
In terms of tackling the myriads of problems confronting the country, you can say cluelessness sticks to our President like a second skin but what you can’t take away from him is his re-invigorated political dare-devilry. Aside from the impeachment moves against APC Governors calculated to decimate opposition strong-holds, carefully co-ordinated destabilisation plots are being orchestrated in most APC states with financial inducement as a principal weapon to lure prominent chieftains away from the party. In Edo State, some aides of Governor Oshiomhole including the son of the Oba of Benin have resigned their appointments and defected to the PDP. Some APC assembly members have defected to the PDP and are now being used to destabilise the house, the game plan is to eventually take control of the house to provide the leeway for the impeachment of Gov. Oshiomhole. Senator Annie Okonkwo, a prominent member of the merger committee that heralded the formation of the APC has since left the party with considerable followers in Anambra State. This sinister moves is being perfected across most APC States but we are yet to see a co-ordinated and effective response of the APC hierarchy to rein in this agents of darkness.
The die is cast. The time for the APC to seize the momentum is now. It must move swiftly to effectively heal the wounds of the party congresses from the ward to the national level. While it is not possible to satisfy everybody, the party should strive to adopt a “give and take” approach to ensure the interests of the majority are catered to. Internal democracy should be given prominence while negotiations and political arithmetic should be deployed to win back some lost party faithful. Nigeria is in dire times, the only alternative to the bleak future and the rudderless ship of State today is the APC, so it must re-invent itself, place national interests above personal aggrandisement and do everything possible to build a cohesive party that Nigeria can trust again to install the change they seek.
The most potent counter-attack that the APC can deploy to effectively neutralise and vaporise the Jonathanian forces is by rallying the people behind it. The people are disenchanted and obviously frustrated with a President, lethargic and confused, with which they invested so much hope. They just need a movement they can trust to do things differently and represent a platform for change not by mere sloganeering. By now I had expected the APC will sustain the momentum and the applause it received after it lauched its “Roadmap to a NEW NIGERIA” at its National summit in Abuja. I doubt if the people at the grassroots know that the APC has a manifesto and that portrays unseriousness for a party angling to dislodge an incumbent President, six months to the general elections. The presentation of the “roadmap” should have been decentralised to all the 36 states and thereafter all the local government areas. Coupled with this should have being the translation of the manifesto into major languages for easy assimilation by the locals across the nooks and cranny of Nigeria. This should be done swiftly to resuscitate the slumbering APC juggernaut.
If the APC sincerely believes it is capable to winning the Presidency next year then it should by now have formed a Shadow Government. The publicity stunts of the cerebral Lai Mohammed is not enough to build a national consensus in favour of the APC. More needs to be done to convince the electorate, a substantial number already succumbing to apathy and wearied by failed promises and mediocre leadership at the centre that APC is that alternative they’ve been yearning for. For instance, the APC should be telling us in concrete terms how it intends to generate the about 15,000mw of power it promised, transmit and distribute it within its four years of office. The shadow government should be made up of technocrats that will tell us how much it will cost to construct its ambitious inter-state rail and highway systems that links major cities and how to finance such projects. The APC agenda for job creation of 20,000 jobs per State, the N5,000-N7,000 monthly direct payment to 25 million poorest and vulnerable citizens and its plan to tackle the insecurity challenges in the country are some of the details the shadow government should be presenting. If this is done, it will go a long way in bolstering the confidence of the masses in APC’s capacity to lead a government unusual that can walk its talk.
I have always said you can’t successfully reform a region in a dyfunctional federation. It is not sustainable. Some reforms of some APC States as good as they may be on the long run will be seen by the masses as anti-people because of the excruciating poverty and frustration in the land. Issues like school fees increment in tertiary institutions; high taxation of meagre civil servants and teachers salaries; Competency tests for teachers, civil servants amongst others might ostracise the party from the voting public. That’s why the APC should strive to take power at the centre first, where it can get more resources to alleviate poverty, and do the necessary restructuring, that way the reforms in its states will be more palatable.
Another auspicious moment like this may not present itself again in the history of our nation where all indices favours an incumbent President losing power. The insecurity situation remains intractable with the boko haram insurgency gathering momentum; The power supply situation has dropped abysmally; youth unemployment remains an albatross; corruption has become a “State art” with covert support by an inept administration; institutions of State are being subverted in the most brazen manner, poverty rules the land, the list is endless. That’s why the APC must rouse itself from its self-induced sleep. It must re-enact the euphoria that greeted its birth and strive to surpass it. It must court the people because they alone hold the key to its victory.
It must remember in the words of my mentor, Asiwaju Tinubu that “Power is not served a la carte” It must be fought for and the APC should see itself as that movement that will galvanise Nigerians to bring back our power! History will be unkind to the APC if it allows this golden opportunity slip by its own acts of omission or commission.
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