Making APC A Credible Option By Ochereome Nnanna
As we count down to the May 24 first national convention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Party should explain itself more to the Nigerian electorate. The recently published manifesto of the APC has not managed to project the Party as a credible alternative to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
There are many Nigerians who are tired of the PDP’s dominance of our democracy and governance. They are looking for genuine change. The amalgamation of three major political parties to create the new APC brightens hope that the change that many look forward to might be around the corner.
It all depends on how the leaders of the upstart Party are able to position it before we go into the general elections of 2014. There is a recipe for success and another recipe for failure, and it is up to the leadership of the APC to settle for the right recipe.
By recipe for failure, I mean proceeding with the wrong vision and political attitude which have bedeviled our party system since 1998. This attitude aims to win power at all costs.
If the APC goes into the 2014 elections with this attitude, it will end up playing into the hands of a much entrenched PDP, which has perfected the art of winning at all costs and thus incurred the displeasure of democracy-loving Nigerians. So far, the leaders of the APC, unfortunately, have been treading along this path.
It seems that for them, the most important thing is to snatch power from PDP through an alliance of a section of the North and the new Western political mainstream under the control of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. This merger is meant to maximise the strength of the North and West under one platform and use it to unseat President Jonathan, who is expected to run for a second term.
Part of the plot to snatch power from Jonathan, is to field a prominent Northern presidential candidate (with Muhammadu Buhari’s name getting frequently bandied). At first, speculations were rife that the running mate could come from the South East or South-South.
But it seems the party has realised its fortunes in the two geopolitical zones may not yield a bumper harvest due to the Jonathan factor. The new speculation in town is that it might be Buhari as president and his co-leader, Tinubu as vice president; another Muslim-Muslim ticket!
If this picture is correct, we can safely conclude that APC will want to employ ethnic or regional gang-up to attempt to win a presidential election.
If that happens, the PDP, with its negative perception in some quarters, will appear the cleaner of the two because it is a national party that does not have the odious miasma of ethnicity, religion or regionalism shadowing it. PDP will come out as a “safer” party for those who want to distance themselves from the politics of primordial domination of the rest of the country by a group bound up in religious, ethnic or regional conspiracies.
The second unfolding strategy that may not help the APC in the eyes of those seeing it as a possible better choice than PDP is the apparent move to adopt zoning. We hear, for instance, that the presidential slot has been zoned to the North. Zoning is a cardinal policy of the ruling PDP. Many people have made it clear that zoning or affirmative action is not democratic.
They believe that zoning of political offices, especially the presidency, has not always allowed the PDP to field the best candidates in its fold. Rather, it has encouraged god-fatherism and allowed out-going presidents to select and impose their choice successors on Nigerians.
Such Nigerians will like the APC, as a credible alternative to PDP, to adopt the principle of throwing the contest for president, governor and other elective offices open for the best to emerge through genuine democratic and transparent processes. Now, if APC zones the office of President and Vice President, and carefully handpicks and imposes them on the generality of the members, they won’t be different from the PDP.
There won’t be any difference between the “Democrats” (PDP) and the “Progressives” (APC). They will be two sides of one coin, and since the “devil” you know is said to be safer than the “angel” you don’t, the despondent electorate might either become apathetic or vote for the president’s party.
The APC must pick courage and dare to be different. They must eschew political desperation (unseating Jonathan for the North to snatch back power riding on the back of the West).
They should look beyond the next election and build a party that can offer Nigerians a better deal than what the PDP and other post-military political parties have to offer.
They should desist from being seen as a regional gang-up. They should also avoid the temptation to adopt zoning as a means of evolving leaders. They must provide the electorate a credible alternative.
Many of the governors now on the platform of the APC are about to conclude their second terms of office.
These include Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and others. In fact, nothing stops Raji Fashola of Lagos from seeking the presidential ticket on APC platform if the party is not mimicking PDP’s zoning approach.
I personally fancy a situation whereby Comrade Oshiomhole contests and is able to emerge as the presidential candidate of the APC. He will be a soapbox dynamite, and the PDP candidate may not want to square up to him for television debates. He will be able to speak across the ethno-geopolitical divides and unite Nigerians around progressive ideals as he has done in Edo State.
He is already a national figure and has none of the ethnic, religious and regional demons shadowing a typical Buhari and Tinubu. Above all, he is a proven performer.
That is the kind of freshness and choice that APC should strive to offer Nigerians. Then, we will know we have a genuine two-party system.
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