By Tonnie Iredia
The issue of the moment in our clime is obviously the coming together of opposition political parties to wrestle power from the dominant ruling party- the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The activities of the opposition in this respect have been many and perhaps exceedingly loud.
To start with, leaders of four of the parties after a meeting the week before announced the birth of a new political association – the All Progressive Congress (APC). Barely a week later, ten governors under the platform of the newly formed group met again and picked zonal contact mobilization coordinators for the country. The only senator elected on the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party has joined the fold thereby bringing the number of parties that constitute the union to five. The merger is waxing strong.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State who was absent at the earlier meeting of the group has publicly stated that given the intent and purpose of APC, it was natural that he should pitch his tent with the party and that he was fully committed to its cause. Oshiomhole has since been named the coordinator of the South South zone.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra had distanced himself and his own group of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) from the merger arrangement. This has been countered by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who says “the real members of APGA are with APC and Nigerians are aware of that.” With the speculations that the APC may field the popular Senator Chris Ngige in the forth coming Anambra gubernatorial election, the party may not have to worry much about the South East
In earnest, it is generally difficult to write off the new opposition group which veteran political party administrator and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, affirms was formed to restore Nigeria’s dignity. On his part, Governor Yari of Zamfara is optimistic that the brains behind the merger would offer a better political option to what the nation has witnessed since1999.
Governor Amosun of Ogun State is sure that as the modalities for the merger unfolds, “a lot of other people will come on board once they see our sincerity”. Former Kano Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau is happy that his colleagues are determined to subsume their personal interests to make the project succeed.
If these assurances are for real, it means Nigeria is about to witness virile political opposition which is a veritable feature of democracy. Painfully however, what looks like bold and good talks from APC may just be noise again in Nigeria’s cyclical political drama. We watched it in 1964 when the opposition parties allegedly fused as United Peoples Grand Alliance against the ruling Nigerian National Alliance.
History repeated itself in 1983 when the so-called 12 progressive governors of four different parties-the Unity Party of Nigeria, Nigerian People’s Party, People’s Redemption Party and the Great Nigerian People’s Party reportedly arranged to contest the general elections of that year under the banner of the People’s Progressive Alliance. The effort was fitful.
Against this backdrop, it is pertinent to note certain observations of those who are familiar with the terrain. One of them is Chief Sam Nkire, National Chairman of the Progressive People’s Alliance, who has predicted the failure of the proposed merger. Nkire insists that the most workable arrangement would have been for the parties involved to keep their structures and field one candidate during the presidential election.
According to him it would be difficult to ask a Nigerian political office holder to step down for another and become an ordinary member and expect 100 per cent loyalty from the person. A chieftain of APGA, Chief Uche Ejike, also predicted that APC would become history in a matter of six months because the mega party in his own view consists of strange bed fellows.
These may just be pessimists. But if the APC does not want more Nigerians in that fold, then it needs to educate us all about the differences between it and other politicians. This is because, many people know as of fact that all Nigerian politicians are the same. Indeed they are all members of the same PDP. Those seeking to form the APC right now are probably on sabbatical leave and would be back to base shortly.
A look at APC’s policy thrust confirms the point. APC’s priority programmes according to the party are “agricultural development, job creation, free education, affordable healthcare, infrastructural development, adequate power supply, eradication of poverty and corruption, rapid technological advancement and industrialisation”. What the APC did not add are such modalities as to whether or not its agricultural policy for example would be premised on equipping farmers with telephones.
Again, we may have to cautiously observe the preparations of APC for 2015. Will the party for instance field candidates in every polling booth in the whole of Nigeria? PDP has made the point and correctly too that it is the only party that does that. If as usual, APC will also not have agents in all polling booths, then it should save us from its current noise.
Many political leaders in the parties that are seeking to form APC are notorious for not upholding the tenets of internal democracy. Although they publicly over-dramatize the one man one vote slogan, they often organize sham party primaries that are skewed in favour of their nominees to the discomfort of other members of the same party.
Are those the people seeking to now take control of a democratic government? Will they not vote against their own Presidential Candidate as some of them did to Nuhu Ribadu in 2011? On that score, what is the purpose of the current noise?
Are we sure that some APC leaders in search of ministerial appointments in an emerging government of national unity (GNU), will not abandon their Presidential candidate at the election tribunal as some of them did to General Buhari in 2007? If they do, how will the present noise in the political landscape be understood?
Every African nation is in dire need of development- light, good education, health care delivery, security etc. If APC can deliver, all well and good to Nigeria because those are the things we really need now; not noise.