By Rotimi Fasan
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, party is currently at a crossroads. And that is putting it mildly. Whether the party leaders and ordinary members recognise the state of their party as such is immaterial. The point is that the party as an organisation is bursting at the seams and all the ingredients necessary for it to implode on itself appear to be coming together at an alarming rate. Not being a party member there is no reason why I should worry about what happens to a party that is determined to self-destruct. As such I am mindful of what I say, lest I be accused of or be seen to be crying more than the bereaved. In calling attention to what is obvious to many Nigerians my heart goes out to the people of this country, most especially the ordinary people who bear the brunt of political misrule, that the failure of the APC is a case of a hope betrayed- yet another indication of how Nigeria’s politicians have condemned the rest of us to the repeated cycle of failure; of taking one step forward and many steps backwards.
Here was a party, the APC, that rode on the gale of national approval to electoral victory just about three years ago following the sixteen years misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. That the party’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a serial presidential-election manqué that had flunked three previous attempts at becoming the country’s president- the fact that a Buhari that appeared to have expired as an attractive presidential candidate would go on to win a national election was evidence of how disenchanted Nigerians had become with the PDP. By a deft reconfiguration of political alignments, the fact of the in-fighting within the PDP and God’s own intervention to take the country back from the brink of a political disaster, the APC was able to give the PDP a bloody nose in the 2015 elections in spite of the massive injection of money into the entire process by the party. Which is not to say that the APC was entirely innocent.
But PDP’s desperation led to a blatant manipulation and monetisation of the electoral process. This was in addition to a manipulation of the electoral date, a fact that is again threatening to pull the APC apart right from within its own living room as members of the party in the National Assembly are pitched against their counterparts in the executive arm. Or so the narrative goes. Which is why it appears that what happened to the PDP might turn out to be a child’s play compared to what the APC could yet go through in the event the Bola Tinubu peace initiative flounders. But as the elections drew near in 2015, practically anyone had their price from the perspective of the PDP, and anyone that could and wanted to be bought was handsomely bought.
It was an ‘open day’ for a few Nigerians who were either fortunate or unfortunate (depending on how they viewed their circumstances) to be part of or close to the PDP gravy train, to say nothing of members of the party who had a good time helping themselves to the free money that Goodluck Jonathan and his minders made easily available. Those who could helped themselves to the till, some worked on the side for the APC, already convinced that the PDP was a sinking ship, while assuring the ever incredulous Jonathan that he was ‘the man to beat’ as some are today assuring Buhari. Yet that did not give the PDP the day. If anything the party failed royally and handed the APC a victory many Nigerians deeply wanted, desired and prayed for. But that victory has since turned into ash in the mouth of many. We are back again to where we started from. This is the crux of my lament about the failure of the Buhari-led APC administration. Buhari has apparently frittered away a wonderful opportunity to turn things around for Nigeria. What we have now is more of the same thing.
The reason Nigerians chose the APC over the PDP, the very reason most Nigerians wanted Goodluck Jonathan out now appears to be the same reason that will doom the Buhari government. Corruption was and had become an international embarrassment to Nigeria by 2015. Buhari promised to effect a change in this and Nigerians believed him. His reputation as an austere military ruler that dealt politicians of a different era a heavy blow for corruption preceded him and strengthened his aspiration. But getting into office a strange concoction of nepotism, lack of will and inaction paved the way for corruption among members of the president’s own inner circle. The Buhari Nigerians thought they knew had been mellowed or simply went to sleep having gained the presidency. The verdict of that dereliction has come in the form of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index that placed Nigeria at a dismal 148th position, 12 steps down from our previous position. All of this under a government that swore itself to an oath of anti-corruption.
Security is yet another electoral promise of the Buhari-led APC. Jonathan’s failure to rein in the activities of Boko Haram, indeed his less than enthusiastic response to the abduction of the Chibok school girls caused both national an international outrage. With between 250 and 350 school girls unaccountably driven into captivity in a country supposedly under the rule of law, the PDP government under Gooluck Jonathan had its days numbered. It tried particularly towards the end of its life but it could not live down that failure by the children of this country. Four years after, we are confronted with the abduction of over 110 schools girls of Dapchi by suspected Boko Haram operatives, even at a time the Buhari government had severally proclaimed victory over the murderous group. Now the government talks about an attempt to embarrass it where it is not accusing Transparency International of playing politics with its Corruption Perception Index about Nigeria.
On at least two keys issues that constituted the core of its campaign exercise in 2015, the APC has failed Nigerians. Many cannot see the justification for the continued retention of Aso Rock tenancy by the party or its leader, President Muhammadu Buhari. To compound an already abysmal situation the party cannot seem able to identify its centre. Members are at loggerheads and there is no telling where the current struggle for the control of the party among it members would end. If Bola Tinubu could look beyond his relegation by Buhari’s relations and new found friends soon after he became president, it would be something close to a political miracle if he could soothe the frayed nerves of members of the party across the country.