By Ochiaka Ugwu
There is no doubt that the successful merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressives’ Grand Alliance (APGA) led by the action governor of Imo State, Owele Rochas Okorocha after the earlier attempt was foiled by personal ambition of some politicians was welcomed by Nigerians with fanfare.
To most of them, the era of People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s dominance is forever over and the (contaminated) fresh air promised by President Goodluck Jonathan will naturally give way to a truly fresh air that will restore the confidence of electorate in the system. Hopes were raised, expectations were high, new consciousness was reawakened, dead ambitions and aspirations were rekindled as those who had hitherto bid farewell to electoral activities quickly made a U-turn even to the extent of becoming Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s megaphone shouting from rooftops urging country folks to get their voters card as new dawn has set in.
Upon the successful merger in February 2014, the parties in a joint statement read to newsmen by former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi said they had formed the All Progressive Congress (APC) party because the need for radical change had never been more urgent.
The statement read in part “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we…. have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress,” he said.
Unfortunately, few months after he made the statement, Ikimi decamped to the ruling party blaming his action on the highhandedness of former Lagos governor and APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, whom he said that his overbearing influence and not-too-good attitude were gradually becoming the party’s albatross.
Their national officers despite the history of past mergers and alliances reassured Nigerians that the merger would succeed and the ruling PDP would be the loser for it.
They also claimed they have learnt their lessons and come to the realization that the PDP cannot be defeated without all opposition leaders coming together. The merger players promised to always be in touch with each other to achieve their aim.
Again, APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, speaking on the trepidations of the PDP on the merger said “Clearly the PDP is very jittery.
Honestly there is no alternative to pushing out the PDP. If Nigeria wants to survive as a corporate entity, the PDP must be given the boot. I think that the leaders of the opposition (when I say opposition, it is not all parties that are not in power that are in opposition.)
But it seems the whole thing is taking a different shape as most Nigerians are now asking whether APC has not been torn apart by personal ambition which has hitherto hindered them from achieving the merger before now. Political pundits have queried APC’s claim of learning their lessons and promising to be intact saying that the main gladiators in the party seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. To say that the euphoria that greeted the merger has not been sustained is stating the obvious.
From the look of things, APC seems to be in total confusion, unsure of its objectives and proposal to the Nigerian public, uncertain of its presidential candidate, and irresolute of its identity. It now widely believed that the main opposition party that offered a lot of hope at inception is bedevilled by personality clash and internal conflict. It makes one to wonder if the APC cannot gather its acts together and organize itself, should traumatised populace believe its promise of reorganising the system from the destruction of PDP?
It can as well be said that personality cult, personal interest and internal conflict are common with organisations and political systems the world over and not even the PDP is immune from it. In other words, what’s going on within the APC is not new or uncommon. But it is taking the party too long to get issues resolved and to get ready for the battle and electoral war ahead.
Being an alternative to the suffering the ruling party has bequeathed on Nigerians should ordinarily, stand APC in good stead in the run-up to the 2015 general election but at the moment it is not sure coming out stronger, united and focused.
It is a truism that the APC is much better than its main opponents.
It is far better than what it currently portrays itself to be. It is a well known truth that the APC has the ability, the potential and demonstrated record to move the country and the people towards the path and the mountain envisaged by founding fathers.
That the party has the idea, roadmap, vision, courage, spirit and the political will to do what is right for the country is not in doubt. This is obvious when you consider someone like Muhammadu Buhari.
But the truth must be told, except the APC changes its ways, President Jonathan and the PDP would capitalize on their misfortune in 2015. I will assure that if the general election were to hold now, APC would surely be humiliated in all ramifications given the fact they have not put their house in order.
Even without rigging and other forms of electoral malpractices, APC would be defeated and rubbished. It will just be a walkover on APC.
The saving grace is that the general election is not taking place now but in February next year.
For this reason, the opposition APC still has time to put its house in order and strategize for better. Although, it ought to have done this before now, but no time is late especially now that Nigerians are desperately ogling for change which APC is better placed to provide.
Most political observers held that APC is an amalgamation of strange bedfellows with conflicting political agendas, all desperate for power at the centre. They have queried the rationale behind welcoming former PDP opponents.
This marriage of convenience is likely to collapse sooner than later on the very altar of its internal contradictions, the nearer we get to the elections.
Consequently as election years approaches, you don’t create a formidable political party by parading big names: popular grassroots support does.
Many of the celebrated APC big wigs on a good day cannot even deliver their electoral wards. They are poster and press conference politicians. People of no political consequence, rather they constitute political liability to the party.
These are people the former governor of Katsina State Alhaji Lawal Kaita would refer as “Food is ready politician”, politicians that have nothing to offer the electorate and even the entire humanity.
Those were the days when popular support counted for nothing in Nigerian elections.
The era of people voting because of a particular individuals name was associated with a political party is gone. People are wiser now, they vote according to their conscience and that is why there will be no block vote in 2015 contest.
The era of personality cult is over.
Those days are gone, as the election in Ekiti shows where APC suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of Governor Ayodele Fayose.
For APC to make any headway it must begin to address these questions. What does the APC want? How is it different from the PDP? Why should the electorate abandon Jonathan and vote for its presidential candidate? Why? And does the APC have a manifesto? What about its policy direction and policy implementation and all that.
And so, how does the APC intend to build, repair and upgrade infrastructure? What is it going to do about the epileptic power sector and falling educational standards? What manner of national and foreign policy agenda does it intend to pursue? What is the party going to do about rising insecurity, crimes and corruption?
While the political pendulum can swing to any side, the APC should not leave such gain, the swinging of the pendulum to fate, but to conscious activities.
For the pendulum to swing to their side, however, it must be willing to fight wisely.
It must be willing to assure that it is far better organised than PDP.