by Hannatu Musawa
However, it is with a heavy heart that many of us who had such high hopes for the APC have had, to a certain extent, those hopes somewhat deflated. And for any of us, who have had the best interest of the APC in our spirit to say this in such an open manner shows the level of frustration we have been grappling with.
In proper democracies, the driving force of opposition political parties is not only to wrest power from the ruling political party, but also to exhibit its democratic tendencies and principles, especially while carrying out its internal processes. The emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) into the political space in the country was a welcome development to many disillusioned, exasperated and also discerning Nigerians, who craved for change or a credible and capable option to the party ruling since 1999.
When, the merger of opposition parties morphed from a dream into a real phenomenon last year, it was literally as if Christmas had come early for many Nigerians. People who, like myself, had toiled with every ounce of strength we had since 2003, to see that Nigerians were given an alternative choice for their future, rather than to perpetually be lumped with only one political brand, felt relief and saw real hope for the first time in this republic.
However, it is with a heavy heart that many of us who had such high hopes for the APC have had, to a certain extent, those hopes somewhat deflated. And for any of us, who have had the best interest of the APC in our spirit to say this in such an open manner shows the level of frustration we have been grappling with. I suppose it might be easier to not say anything and pretend that all at home is well, but what would be the point of that if we really want, not to only succeed, but present ourselves as the real truth to Nigerians?
With the recent conduct of the ward congresses of the APC, where in most states a one-day exercise is yet to be completed three weeks in, one wonders if at the end of the day, it won’t come down to Nigerians having to make a choice between two sides of a rusty coin.
Disappointingly, the conduct of the ward congresses has been marred by controversy, irregularities, postponements, snatching of ballot papers and the alleged imposition of candidates and officials. These are real issues that bother Nigerians, issues that people say are indicative of the ruling PDP, of which the APC is offering an alternative to. But if, at the very foundation of our party, we are unable to have an uneventful congress in the states and conclude them without the kind of incidence that is being witnessed, then exactly what makes us different than what we criticize the PDP for?
Newspapers and the social media, since the start of the exercise have been awash with reportage of the appalling imposition, manipulation, rigging and poor planning of the congresses.
For instance, the Rivers State chapter of the APC held a parallel ward and local government congress, to protest alleged injustice and discrimination in the party. Also, citing election irregularities, APC cancelled the results of 30 wards out of the 212 in Bauchi State. In several reports from the states, allegations were made of those who emerged winners from the congresses as having done so through a culture of imposition.
In Ebonyi State, the APC stated that it would probe irregularities recorded during the ward congresses across the 171 wards in the state. These headlines were what flooded the country during the conduct of the ward congresses of the party. And the stories go on.
Events of the ward congresses have thus brought to the fore the shenanigans across political parties in the country. At least the ruling PDP is already widely known for its imposition, consensus and impunity. However, if the APC, the only major alternative to the PDP cannot organize an acrimony-free, fair and credible ward congress, how then will it effect the much-desired change Nigerians desire?
Whether some of these allegations are true or not or whether they were instigated by fifth columnists that have been injected into the APC to wreak havoc, this state of affairs does not augur well for a party that many have great hope in.
In almost all the states, there have been issues and disenfranchisement; some more than others, some rather small. But it is when the smallest things are ignored that they pile up to become huge, big problems. APC must stay aware of these tinny details in order to keep on top of our game and take us to that level of achievement we aspire. It is only when we address and solve each small issue as it arises, that we will be able to smooth out a lot of rough bumps in the road ahead. And that road ahead, while we know it’s going to be rough and bumpy, at least from our side, it will be much less dramatic.
As part of this machinery that consistently prides itself in being progressive, for due process, fairness and openness and boasts of its democratic credentials, the events of the ward congress elections across the states are unacceptable. If we want to show Nigeria and the world that we are committed to doing things differently from the way PDP has been doing them in the last four elections, then we have to do them… differently!
In the 2011 elections, the deplorable events that happened within the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which led to the collapse of a party many had hope in, left it with only the Nasarawa State government. The events that led to the desolation of CPC in 2011 were not an accident of fact, neither were they completely due to fifth columnists that were thrown in the mix to confuse the party. The downfall of the CPC exposed the lower side of the party and gave credence to the blurred lines between the CPC and PDP. In most instances then, the party was no different from its main rival, the PDP in terms of imposing candidates, cancelling results, lying and cheating. Whatever it was that the CPC accused the PDP of in 2011, the CPC was much more guilty of itself.
Now, three years on, the biggest mistake the APC could make would be to adopt the manner in which the CPC self-destructed and handed the states to the PDP on a shinny silver platter. One would have thought that the manner in which the ACN and ANPP conducted itself to gain control of some states in the South West and North East respectively would have been a better option for the APC than to allow the ugly underbelly of the 2011 ghost of CPC to take it down.
The truth is, most Nigerians have had enough. People need change. I am no longer sure that people actually know what kind of change they are looking for, but they just need change! Every day in Nigeria, you see people walking along the streets with a blank look on their faces. Nobody seems to really know what direction this country is going in anymore. Maybe that was why the merger of the APC galvanized the polity in a manner that we have not witnessed in this country, maybe since the election of two great Nigerians; Chief Moshood Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa.
Sentiments and jokes aside, Nigerians yearn for governance that is committed to transparency, the rule of law, accountability, respect for democratic tenets and equality. These are the ideals that the APC was birthed to represent; these are the ideals that the APC must represent in order to succeed. Unfortunately, most of these ideals are indeed lacking in the APC ward congresses across the country presently taking place.
And if that is the manner in which the APC will continue to conduct itself, then one shudders to imagine what will happen come the party primaries. It truly might literally be a ‘do or die affair.’ And if what happens during the party primaries remotely resembles anything that happened during the 2011 CPC primaries, then we best be poised to witness a plethora of anti-party activities and the handing of the legislative and state elections to the PDP, yet again on a shinny diamond platter… Geronimo PDP Carry Go!
As a party of progressive hope and change, if we want the change that we profess to bring to Nigeria, then we must become that change ourselves. A hitch-free, fair and credible election via our ward congresses would have gone a long way in convincing some Nigerians who are still in-between parties, that hope is not lost because the APC is here to offer positive change.
One of the things I appreciate about being a part of the APC is to accept responsibility for our failures. And from what I can see, “something is wrong here.” It is easy to ignore these small, subtle warning signs. But if we do, then we miss the chance of easily solving a small problem before it becomes a big problem.
The fact that aspirants and politicians, who should have no business with the executive members, are squabbling about the executive positions of the ward, local government and state, to the extent that we have been unable to complete ward congresses in the party in several states, is a problem that the party has to address seriously. The direct interest of aspirants as to who emerges in the congresses is indicative of an intention to manipulate the party primaries. The APC cannot allow that and must find a way to impede such practice. The APC should champion a good old political shindig where aspirants emerge via the people’s choice, not because their lackeys occupy the executive positions through a questionable congress.
The APC should make every effort, to reassure Nigerians of its determination to offer a credible and capable option to the PDP. And that reassurance must start now, as it lays its very foundation. A healthy democracy demands this and the majority of discerning Nigerians are already looking forward to an APC filled with representatives who are truly progressive and democratic, capable of delivering on their promises of change and good governance. Anything short of this is unacceptable to me as a member of APC and every Nigerian that wants positive change for the nation.
Unlike the CPC in 2011, our greatest prayer should be that the APC, in 2014 and 2015 should not resemble the manner in which the PDP does its business, while we unobtrusively look on like some lame headless horsemen. If it does, then the APC has effectively blurred the lines of any ideals that may differentiate it from the PDP. And, in the end, should the PDP conduct its business in the way its been accustomed to, then he APC would have no moral right to complain…. Because it did exactly the same within its internal structure.
May the APC stand alert to bring real progressive and positive change that some of us know and believe it has the capacity and intention to bring to Nigeria.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.