By Emmanuel Aziken
Today, Nigerians go to the polls to give their referendum on the four-year stewardship of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The party which came on board in 2014, with many promises captivated Nigerians to the extent that for the first time in Nigeria’s political history, an opposition party was able to unseat a ruling party at the federal level. And remarkably, the party was barely two years old when it accomplished the task of unseating a party that was 17 years old and 16 years in power. It was even romantically labelled as the Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC!
How the APC has been able to manage its success will be pronounced at the end of today’s voting.
The APC’s 2015 success was the product of some of the best planned political conspiracies achieved at the highest level. It was laid with much intrigues and careful planning done in meetings in Nigeria, Dubai and sometimes in Saudi Arabia.
When Atiku Abubakar won the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and a week or so after, resorted to Dubai, it bespoke a deliberate strategy of following the APC’s plans before 2015.
When Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi, Senate President Bukola Saraki and other key strategists of the PDP campaign including some national officers joined up in Dubai in November, it was enough to raise apprehension in the ranks of the APC.
Not surprisingly, when Atiku finally returned to the country on November 13, one of the imaginative strategies of the administration was to search the plane perhaps in anticipation of finding the blueprints of what some APC operatives had taunted as the PDP’s Dubai Strategy.
The plane search was as with some other actions, revealed that the APC had lost the ideological nuances and puritanism that it once espoused.
Such acts as the denial of venues for campaign rallies to opposition parties and the hailing of the use of “remote” technology during elections as Osun were indications that the APC had lost its original motif.
Clear evidence of the loss of bearing was manifested by the defection from its ranks of some of the principal collaborators in its 2015 success. Besides Atiku, the exit of the two presiding officers of the National Assembly, that is Senator Bukola Saraki, and Speaker Yakubu Dogara clearly showed the nadir to which the party had gone.
While the party lost people like Saraki, Dogara, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Alhaji Buba Galadima and such like, it replaced them with people like Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala among others.
In no time the internal contradictions began to resonate here and there. Party members have called one another thieves, thugs and thrown missiles at one another.
Even more provoking was the renunciation of past principles and precepts that had been enunciated. When Speaker Tambuwal defected from the PDP in November 2014 to the APC, it was hailed as an advance in Nigeria’s democratic culture. It was more so given that both in the United States and Britain that presiding officers of the House of Representatives and parliament are not necessarily from the ruling party.
However, when four years later Saraki defected from the ruling APC to the PDP, the APC considered it as a democratic aberration needing crude intervention to redress. One of the rude responses was the invasion of the National Assembly premises last year by agents of the Department of State Services, DSS, itself a slur on democracy.
Even before then, the party did not see anything wrong with the snatching of the mace of the Senate by thugs working in cahoots with one of its finest legislators!
It is perhaps a thing of irony these days seeing one of the greatest heroes of the fight for democracy in the nineties, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu sitting in conclave with the apologists of dictatorship. Tinubu as governor of Lagos State fought for true federalism using one of the country’s best legal minds, that is Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Not long ago, APC chieftains were in the habit of calling the PDP a party of thieves, but these days such accusations have been severely tempered. After the incident at the party’s presidential campaign rally in Abeokuta earlier this week, and the heated exchanges among party members here and there, there is little energy left to engage the PDP.
Indeed, the joke among some PDP operatives when taunts of the PDP being a haven of looters is to say that the thieves have all left to join the ruling party.
Whether the PDP or the APC can be trusted with power is neither here nor there. The choice for every Nigerian today is to look at candidates at every level and judge for competence, capacity and carriage.
The choice is yours, Nigeria!