By Sunny Ikhioya
THE APC Convention, held on Friday June 13, 2014, lived up to its billing. A lot of hype, razzmatazz, and of course, tantrums directed at the PDP, represented by Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency. They tried so much to paint a picture of unity and integration and to confirm this, they elected a Christian South-South man, John Odigie-Oyegun as the new chairman of the party, without opposition. This was done to appease the critics, who, otherwise, felt that the party hierarchy is heavily tilted towards members of the Muslim faith.
The turn out was impressive and the representations cut across all of the regions of the country. If we are to go by this exercise, it will be very safe to conclude that we now have a very strong and vibrant opposition, standing against the ruling PDP.
Having done this successfully, it is important for the APC to re-invent itself and re-assess strategies. They should begin to think beyond the politics of ‘ if I cannot pluck the mango, no one else will ‘. They should begin to think beyond the do-or-die politics that they have assailed the nation with since last year, the politics of intimidation and war drumming.
Whether we agree or not, the activities or the type of politics played by the APC this past year created loopholes for insurgents to rear their ugly heads and made it difficult for a concerted approach at containment.
It is a good thing that the convention held without any visible ugly incident, although there were pockets of disgruntlement, like that of Chief Tom Ikimi, but that is to be expected as the majority decisions, most times, do not favour everybody. So, Oyegun and his group do have an uphill task to appease and ‘shoo’ in the disgruntled elements.
Now that the conference is successfully over, the major focus should now be on what they can bring to the table. How will the masses benefit from the programmes, they are putting in place? We are tired of the repeated curses and insults on the person of the President. Right from the era of Olusegun Obasanjo, the PDP as a party, has not proved itself to be faithful to the masses. In fact, Obasanjo perfected the art of ‘promising and failing’ which has continued until this day.
So, the failure of the PDP is not the issue: bungled elections, accountability, power, privatisation, inflation, naira devaluation, wasteful presidency and profligate national assembly, etc. The issue is: What is the APC bringing to the table that is new?
This question has become very relevant because from a close study of those in the present APC hierarchy and so many of their governors, they are not different from the PDP government. Like I have always said, ‘they are obverse sides of the same coin’.
Is it Governor Nyako or Governor Kwankwaso? Is it Buhari or Tinubu? Or is it the rabble rouser El Rufai? They all have exhibited politics of hate, divide and rule, and negative propaganda. Their examples have not shown them to be true progressives.
Fortunately, some of us alive today had witnessed politics of progressivism in the past as played by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mallam Aminu Kano, both of blessed memories; Balarabe Musa is still alive. They identified their true types and stuck with them, not people who are ready to go into any form of marriage because they want to win elections at all cost. Not people who will see the truth and bend it, promoting sectional, religious and ethnic interests because they want power to come to them. Not people who assume an air of superiority over their fellow Nigerians. Not people who will turn a blind eye to the truth because the truth, if made public, will not favour their interest. Not betrayers, nothing good comes out from them. Not dictators who want only their views to be expressed and applied. What the country needs are true democrats who will conduct the affairs according to the wishes of the people, the masses.
It is time for the APC to re-assess its strategies and let Nigerians discern their true capabilities. There should not be anything hidden; let the wishes of the majority hold sway in any decision making process. That is their challenge, that is the challenge of Oyegun’s chairmanship.
Judging from the ward elections, so many controversies trailed the conduct and claims of imposition surfaced everywhere. The 2015 date is drawing near. Are they going to use the same tactics to select candidates for the elections? If they do so, it will not augur well for the party and might affect their chances negatively.
Are they ready to run a ‘quota free’ presidential election? Are they ready to bring out the best that the APC has to offer as presidential candidate, and not on the basis of religion, ethnic and sectional interests? This also will determine the chances of the APC in the forthcoming elections.
The time is right for the APC to start selling their programmes in an articulate and positive manner. Stop the war mongering and heating of the political space. Those that practised it, even in civilised societies, did not make the desired impact. For example, the Tea Party in America tried it during the two presidential elections of Obama; instead of winning people to their side,the strategy repulsed them, especially the minorities and immigrants.
The APC should not follow that path. They have credible and performing individuals in their midst, especially from amongst the governors rank. They should conduct very transparent primary elections to get the best at all levels of the democratic process.
It is not compulsory that you win elections, but the legacy that you leave behind matters. I do not know of any past and present Nigerian president that is more recognised and acknowldged than Obafemi Awolowo today, yet he did not win at the centre.
For the APC, the election must not be a ‘do-or-die’ affair.