by Femi Macaulay
It is relevant to ponder why the PDP has such a grip on the imagination of its members, with the effect that they refuse to think outside the party. Two notable examples of this reality will suffice.
Weighing the pros and cons of the intriguing road show by a high-profile circle of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is likely to be controversial. However, in the final analysis, it is the measurement of results that counts. Therefore, it would be interesting to see what mileage the party would eventually get out of the tour.
It is apt to identify the fact that the adventure was informed by opportunistic calculation, which is not necessarily pejorative in the political context. Evidently, the exercise was inspired by the fractious reality of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and would not have been a serious option in the absence of the schism. Even then, it was strategically simplistic, perhaps denying the fundamental truth that the PDP’s in-fighting is not sufficiently radical to allow penetration by external invaders.
Basically, the party’s troubles are indicative of an internal power struggle, which in no way translates into an abandonment of the bond. To interpret the division in terms of ideological disenchantment is to tragically miss the point. They are all birds of a feather and, at the end of the day, would always flock together.
There can be no doubt about the visceral association, a fact that was adequately projected to the would-be persuaders at every stop. Whether it was in Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa, Rivers, Kwara or Niger, there was a striking stock response to the seduction; specifically, that the seven antagonistic PDP governors, tagged G-7, were still interested in remaining in the party and optimistic about fence-mending. If there was any question about where their hearts belonged, Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi provided fascinating clarification when he told the visitors, rather audaciously, “I will consult the president. I will. He is from our zone. I will consult all the consultables.”
A perfect example of cheekiness and reductio ad absurdum, Amaechi’s remarks carried enormous significance on account of his status as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and against the backdrop of the crisis that characterised his re-election to that position, during which he enjoyed the principled support of progressive elements outside his party. If he would indeed need the advice of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a major PDP leader and his supposed political adversary, among others, to make up his mind to join APC, it suggests that such departure is improbable. Also, it is a reflection of the superficiality of the division within the PDP.
At least two other comments by G-7 members are noteworthy for their negative implications for the APC’s romance with the group. While Kwara State governor AbdulFatah Ahmed, in a manner that suggested a put-down, described the visit as “a marketing activity,” Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido declared emphatically, “It is our desire to ensure that we remain in the winning party.”
It is relevant to ponder why the PDP has such a grip on the imagination of its members, with the effect that they refuse to think outside the party. Two notable examples of this reality will suffice. First, former vice president Atiku Abubakar left the party to join the then Action Congress (AC), only for him to unceremoniously return to the PDP to seek its presidential ticket, which he was denied. Second, former Abia State governor Orji Uzor Kalu disowned the party to start the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) which under his inspiration won governorship elections in two states. Then, abruptly, he dumped the party and returned to the PDP. In both cases, it is important to stress, the two returnees had to endure indignities just to achieve reabsorption.
Perhaps inadvertently, the APC has raised the profile of these governors, who belong to the faction also called the “New PDP”, namely, Lamido, Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Ahmed , Amaechi, Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger). It is difficult to understand why the APC is courting them, suggesting that they are indispensable power brokers. Furthermore, moves to attract them significantly blurred the vital ideological distinction between their original platform known for conservative elitism and the APC’s acclaimed progressivism. Or is APC saying there is no difference?
It is disturbing that in the sugar-coated language of a suitor, the APC’s leadership spoke superlatively of the performance of these governors. More worrying, by this undiscriminating show, the APC unwittingly undermined its own structures in the affected states. Should its overtures fail, how will the party explain to the electorate that it is a better choice for governance, rather than the characters it has praised immoderately, or those associated with them?
It is understandable that the party is anxious to redirect Nigeria, but it certainly shouldn’t be at the expense of ideological purity. The party’s essence deserves protection always, and mingling with actors of dubious credentials cannot profit it in the long run. With the all-important 2015 general elections in sight, it is no surprise that the party is exploring possible winning formulas. However, it must avoid giving the impression of desperation.
Rather than the direct “door to door” marketing approach adopted in this campaign, the APC brand would most likely benefit from a more subtle but effective PR style. In other words, the party, which is a creation of the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), would need to define its orientation more concretely and establish a reputation through measurable positive performance of its members in political offices.
Going into the coming elections as a first-timer, the party, no doubt, would be interested in putting up a strong showing, which would count in its favour in the long term. In this connection, it is hoped that the party will be driven by long-term vision, rather than narrow immediacies. Central to the beauty of a stable democracy is the possibility of change based on the informed preference of the electorate. Despite the rumpus over the country’s structure, Nigeria might yet survive.
Gradualism has its advantages, especially when the opposite comes with the implication of sacrificing the party’s distinguishing values. Whatever the downsides of the tour, there were indeed redeeming features. In particular, the APC achieved a publicity intensity that has helped to widen its identification. In addition, its consistent message of constructive change boldly projected on the road provided reassuring evidence of its commitment to a better Nigeria. Above all, the ambassadors communicated an aura of integrity and exemplary passion, perhaps the very attributes missing in those at the helm.
Read this article in the Nation Newspapers
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