Obituary of a political party — By Paul Onomuakpokpo

By Ikenga Chronicles September 29, 2016

It was only those who lacked prescience in the heady days of the campaigns for the 2015 elections that failed to realise that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a contraption waiting to unravel. All that was needed was the appropriate time for the party to suffer an implosion and disrupt its self-valourisation for being different from the much-pilloried People’s Democratic Party (PDP). And now in less than two years after assuming power, the party is in the grip of crises from which recovery may not be possible.

This should have been expected in so far as the APC grew out of a myriad of crises of other parties. These crises have continued to haunt the APC in a way that has rendered its performance since its emergence less than stellar. Of course, no one makes the case that the existence of conflicting interests is aberrant in a democracy with its attendant plurality of perspectives. One moment of such a contest of interests that culminated in discontent was the quest for the chairmanship of the party that led to the exit of Tom Ikimi and his supporters.

But the troubling reality is that these crises have worsened since the APC assumed the reins of power. They have negated all expectations that after the electoral victory, previous differences would be relegated for a common front to tackle national problems. Thus, the only area where the APC could be said to have done well aside from winning the 2015 elections remains in its playing the role of an opposition party. It succeeded in demonising the then government of the PDP and eventually made it unacceptable at the polls.

What has dogged the APC and prevented it from building on its electoral success is a lack of a clear ideological vision that is underpinned by a holistic pursuit of service to the citizens. It is in this ideological vacuum that has festered all shenanigans for the appropriation of the party by its members as a vehicle for realising their selfish goals. In other words, what has marked out the party is its members’ Darwinian struggle for supremacy. In this quest, the disparate members owe no fidelity to the common ethos that binds them together in the party; thus it can be used and dumped as they have done to other political parties. It was this that led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker in utter disregard for the desire of some of the party’s leaders.

It is not only the party that its members brutally disregard to pursue their selfish interests. They have also disavowed their own promises to the citizens. But the citizens are not beyond blame; they have had too high expectations from politicians of the Nigerian hue. For despite all the pretensions, these politicians who decamped from the PDP could not be expected to do anything good to improve the lot of the people.

At his inauguration, President Muhammadu Buhari in a moment that was seemingly preceded by a great introspection declared that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody. If this were a clear repudiation of all obligations that might have negated national interest, the citizens would have appreciated it. But from the performance of Buhari in the past 16 months, he has been far from proving that he understood the heavy weight of the thoughts he expressed. For it is clear now that far from what he would like the citizens to believe, he is beholden to some interests that conflict with the collective good of the citizens.

Buhari might have only made sense if he were repudiating his ties to Bola Tinubu who played a major role in his emergence as president. Yet, Buhari should have realised that he owes Tinubu as long as the interest of the latter does not conflict with that of the nation the president is meant to protect. But Tinubu’s quest for a seeming pound of flesh must be mediated by the realisation that good politics is all about the good of the people and not really for those who invested so much to get political power. If Tinubu had invested in another candidate aside from Buhari, the person would probably not have won the presidential election.

But once we go beyond the facetious need to ensure fairness for Tinubu, what confronts us is the stark reality that he does not deserve our sympathy. If there are problems in the party today that are traceable to Buhari, Tinubu has to blame himself for sponsoring somebody who is incapable of accommodating the interests of all. No matter how long his spat with the chairman of the party John Odiegie-Oyegun who is allegedly acting in collusion with Buhari over the Ondo State governorship candidate of the party lasts, we can only consider Tinubu as now only trying to wriggle out of a self-affliction.

As the squabbles in APC continue and governance suffers, it is the citizens who are the ultimate losers. And they have themselves to blame because they should have known that the APC was just a party of some power-starved people who were bent on getting back to government. And since they achieved this, the focus is on who gets the juiciest position or committee in the National Assembly and outside it who gets the plummest ministry and parastatal. But we cannot by any means make the case that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a better option during the election. For the two parties are an offshoot of the nation’s politics that is divorced from the well-being of the citizens.

Now, the APC is not offering good governance while the PDP that ought to be in opposition is not effectively playing this role. The PDP is equally riven by a struggle by its members for supremacy. The crisis has resulted in several legal cases whose resolution in a way that would make the party once again acceptable to the citizens seems not possible. But a greater tragedy is that there is no prospect of the parties learning any lessons and arriving at any ideology to improve the nation. Thus, as they continue to be consumed by their members’ struggles for positions, the political parties do not deserve the sympathy of the citizens. Rather, the citizens expect better parties to emerge from the rubble of the APC and PDP. Such new parties should be driven by the ideologies of service to the people as they prepare for the 2019 elections.

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