The Hub

November 17, 2011

ACN: Need for cautious optimism

By Josef Omorotionmwan
WHETHER a political system is democratic or totalitarian, nothing is more important to its continued existence than its selection of candidates for office. This is so because some of these candidates will eventually run the government.

In the same way that morning shows the day, a peaceful selection process enhances a political party’s chances of electoral success. While a nation’s Constitution provides for the election of members of the National and State Assemblies as well as Presidents and Governors, it is silent on how the candidates are to be chosen.

Over the ages, people have experimented on various methods of picking their candidates and eventually zeroed in on the closed and open primaries. Under the closed primaries, voters have to declare officially that they are members of a political party to be able to vote for the candidates of the party.

But in the case of the open primaries, which are alien here, there is the subtle assumption that once elected, the official is not going to represent his party alone but the entire constituency. Therefore, it makes sense that from the very beginning, the entire constituents should have a say in the process of his selection and election. That is why the open primaries permit all registered voters within the constituency to vote in a party’s primary. This mode of selection possesses some obvious pitfalls: First, the results could indicate the popularity of a candidate but they also distort the party’s real strength. The significance of such a primary could also be distorted when the voters of a party are allowed to vote for a nominee in another party who they have no intention of supporting in the final election.

Under this scheme, voters in a party could sabotage an opposing party by dumping a weak candidate on the party, knowing very well that the candidate would be a walk over for the sharp candidate they would select for their own party. This is an invasion.

A wise man hopes for the best but still provides for the worst. After the general elections of last April, many unsuspecting minds might have begun to write the obituary of the PDP in Edo State. The PDP then recoiled to re-strategise. In what looks similar to the character of the open primaries, there was suddenly an exodus of members of the PDP into the ACN.

Watch it! We hear that, in the main, this could be a carefully crafted plan, properly sponsored, to infiltrate the ranks of the ACN and at the appropriate time, begin to inflict injuries on the party from within. The belief here is further fortified by a number of surrounding circumstances: Suddenly, there is a break or cease in hostilities from all those who were so loud-mouthed and those who would never have seen anything good in the ACN.

In the decamping spree, the leadership of the PDP is not expressing any sense of loss and neither is anything being done overtly to discourage the fleeing members, which could only mean that somewhere along the line, something is being done to encourage them to go on a mission, call it mission impossible, if you wish.

Ordinarily, some of the characters in this expedition are very low on principles and such would have no reason to leave a party that has so much money to throw around via the federal might; and move into a party that has virtually nothing to offer them in immediate gratification.

Suddenly, most of those who bolted away from the ACN to the PDP before the last general elections have silently beaten a retreat to the ACN once more. They are on a mission. They were supposed to have gone to the PDP as an advance party, to test waters. We hear that they are still part of the new invasion plot.

We counsel cautious optimism. It is good to welcome these returnees and decampees with open hands and open eyes and you do not also need to be told that it would be unsafe to immediately entrust them with the keys to your bedroom when travelling. Neither is it advisable to leave your beautiful wife in their care. Shine your eyes well, well. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe got it right when he issued the early warnings: “It is a principal error in politics to trust a reconciled enemy”.

And because you cannot always escape such moments when you must dine with them, you must equip yourself with a long spoon all the time. Such is the nature of our politics – no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, and most often, no permanent interests, either.

The foregoing is without prejudice to the many good politicians who are coming into the ACN out of their deep personal convictions. There is still enough room in the Inn. In all this, one thing is clear: It takes a mad man to stand in front of a moving train and not hope to be crushed. In Edo State, that moving train is Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. For the first time, people of this State are seeing real development in all facets. Before now, the concept of development only sounded like fairy tales or tales at moonlight.

The Bible is right that, when your ways are straight, your enemies would have no choice but to be at peace with you. Such is the turn of events in Edo State, to the extent that for good or evil, all entrants into the ACN are invariably coming “to join Oshiomhole in the good work of developing Edo State”. That’s good politics for a good administration.