By Dan Onwukwe.
This has been a dizzying season in Nigerian politics. In the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC),the crisis, the divisiveness and mud throwing that have racked the party, indeed should trouble the mind and hurt the hearts. It’s like the forklore called the ‘Witches’ Dance’ that has made shame a sort of passé to the party members. Nigerians are watching in astonishment: what’s going on?
It’s all about the outcome of the recent APC Ward and local government Congresses across the states. From South East, to South South,South west to North west and North East, there were unprecedented disputations. Some party faithful were reported killed, many injured. Yes, politics has been described as “hardball” sometimes, but the fractious and parallel Congresses we saw a few days ago across the state chapters of APC foretell a more dangerous consequences nine months before the general elections next year.
Ordinarily, ward Congresses of a political party ought to kick-start a process of transparency and internal democracy of that party. It is designed to give party members at the grassroots equal opportunity in the choice of those who will be party delegates that will in turn select candidates for elective offices at both state primaries and party national convention. These events are not devoid of controversies/ disagreements, but such events shouldn’t degenerate into the kind thuggery and outright mayhem that the party hoodlums visited on the ward Congresses in many states. It was a “thorough embarrassment”, to use the words of Chief George Moghalu,National Auditor of the party.
The truth simply spoken, is that the intra-party crisis in the APC has revealed an awful reality: that the ruling party holds such a sorry message for Nigeria. It’s a message of how not to govern a country. The present conflict within the party is not all about survival of democracy. It’s all about individual and group struggles to control the party structure at the states’ level. Power is indeed an amplifier. APC in power for just three years has shown its colossal inability to manage success and bring about the desired change that it promised.
The party is laboring to do so because, from the outset, it didn’t have a clear vision where it wants to take Nigeria. Its prologue is now becoming its epilogue. When a party lacks vision, it ultimately lacks the stuff of political life to move the nation forward. Every passing day,this has become sadly evident and embarrassingly alarming. If care is not taken,if the party leadership does nothing to halt the present drift, APC stands the risk to become more “clueless” than the brush it tarred the Jonathan PDP with. Worse still, the APC is also confronting challenges of a more immediate sort from the aggrieved, breakaway force of the former ruling PDP, now for political convenience, is called the nPDP.
What all of this foretells is that majority of the people today are losing trust in the APC. The party leadership should hear this: Trust means leveling with the people. It doesn’t mean all things to all people, but being the same to all people. It’s therefore safe to bet that, with elections nine months away, it will be difficult for the party to heal the divisiveness and the firestorm that have racked the party. The firestorm in the party’s plate is by all measure, an ill-wind. To get out of this self-inflicted wounds and avoid the likelihood of electoral humiliation next year, requires a new leadership that has vision. Unfortunately, I don’t see that right now.
What we have now as APC is a broomstick of a broken family, whose members would prefer to destroy their father’s inheritance rather than share it. This is because the party has failed to know how to manage electoral success. It has also failed to learn from the textbook of failure that its predecessor in power,the PDP, left behind.
Like the PDP, APC is squandering public trust because it has come far short on leadership, competence and effectiveness. Meaning well for the country is not enough. Raw power is not enough and power for power sake is a dead end. The ruling party is suffering from that phenomenon in psychology known as “folie a deux”, in which strong, overbearing officials are making others in the party to accept their delusional inclinations. Take a hard look at the state chapters of the party,the governors want to lord it over others, they want to control the party structure at all cost. There is no unity of purpose, no common desire for some renewal of purpose, no shared interests.
That’s what you get when a party sees the acquisition of power and position as an end in itself. It is made even worse because APC is a fusion of congeries of political interests. That’s why it is finding it hard to manage the reality and scale of power. The burden of national unity at federal and states it controls is weighing it down. But,it shouldn’t have been so if the party from the beginning understood how to shape a new vision. Ideally, a ruling party shapes a new vision through the collection of scattered hopes of the country, past and present.
As historians will tell us,history belongs to the careful and prudent. It doesn’t belong to those with the impetuosity to ignore the lessons of history,especially lessons learnt from failed democracies. The question to ask is: Has APC learnt these useful lessons? I don’t think so. As long as the party fails to learn these lessons, the current crisis will get worse before it gets better.
This inability to learn is one major reason the party has been plagued with internal squabbles for over a year now. That’s why the reconciliation committee chaired by the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu is yet to make any headway in reconciling the aggrieved members of the party.
Reading through Tinubu’s advertorial on the crisis-torn ward congresses,you can feel his pain. The hurt in his heart mirrors where the APC is headed. He said there are people in the party who disdain the notion of Congresses and democracy. Such people, he says, are driven by inordinate pursuit of self- interests which has caused them to seek to divert the party from its democratic ways.
Altogether, it’s the way out of the truth for APC to continue to delude itself that it can retain power without first cleaning its own mess. It must truly resolve the problems that issued forth from the ward and local government congresses in such a transparent and fraud-free manner.
It should not succumb to pressure from either state governors or party chieftains. Failure to do so,the broom that swept it into power,is handy to sweep it out of power,come 2019.