By Jide Ajani
The story of how ACN emerged and the role of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State. It is the story of how to remain focused in the face of competing interests and odds.
With over 80 per cent of elective offices in the South-West geo-political zone (and a few more in other zones) in its grip, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, is Nigeria’s second dominant political party and the party is not about to be cajoled into working with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In fact, the leadership of ACN has warned its members that “if they want to remain relevant politicians and if they want to last longer on the stage, we have told our members to stay the course and remain steadfast. They should not jump ship”. That was Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary of ACN, speaking.
You may say Tinubu is lucky. But he made his luck – just as Obasanjo made his strategic miscalculation.
How did ACN come to this profitable and interesting pass?
Tinubu out-thought and outmanoeuvred those he saw as possible obstacles. And, he saw them quite early enough. Playing a bit of the ying and yang of politics, some times flip-flopping, too, he kept faith with his agenda: That is taking charge.
For a politician who played a key role in the struggle for democracy – and going through the hell he went through in exile – he could be forgiven for wanting to take charge. His politics of subterfuge appears to have paid off – this end, ACN’s primacy as the number one opposition in the country, has justified whatever was done to achieve it.
But the opposition today is not just about Tinubu alone.
It is about a spirit that has waxed incremental in content, context and in shape.
There are views which insist that if Nigeria’s First Republic had not been cut short via the intervention of the military, proper democratic culture would have taken root and, by extension, governance would have become more productive. Concomitantly, the spirit of building a viable opposition in the polity would also have germinated and taken root.
However, opposition cannot take root under a climatic condition which has conditioned people to see opposition as recklessly obtuse. From both sides of the divide – the masses, on whose behalf the politicians are playing the role of opposition, and the politicians too, who are supposed to play the role of opposition to the government of the day – there appeared to have been a conspiracy of the privileged such that the uniting factor in the business of opposition had almost always been no more than a contestation for power, privilege and opportunities.
And, this explains why after almost every election at the federal level, the supposed winner talks about an all-inclusive government, one that would carry everyone along or a government of national unity.
This bait, thrown at and caught by the supposed opposition politicians, becomes an object of scramble. This was what led to the atrophying of the initial opposition party immediately after the 1999 elections, the All Peoples Party, APP. Its members were poached by Olusegun Obasanjo just as some leaders of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and the pan-Yoruba socio-economic and political organisation, Afenifere, were also co-opted into his administration.
The intrigues leading to the demise of APP which became the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and AD have their roots in the cohabitation platform provided by Obasanjo in his administration.
Worse, ANPP was to lose its soul with its participation in the Yar’Adua administration’s national government.
Therefore, having a politician stand out in the face of buccaneering political realities is a big deal in these parts.
ACN may have employed some underhanded tactics even in its own procedures and processes of party politics but in an environment where the rule of law is just being instituted, all is fair in political war.
Today, Tinubu and ACN’s perseverance have paid off. Some fell by the way side. Talk of political stamina.