13 February 2013

Nigeria: APC - Aspirin, Phenacetin and Caffeine


Since its formation last week, the new mega opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to attract the curiosity of Nigerians with respect to the origin and meaning of its name.

Elements of four existing political parties were involved in the merger and from all indications, a lot of haggling went on behind the scenes in order to arrive at a name flexible enough to contain a bit of every component party's name.

This was how it was done. "All" exists in the names of two of the merging parties, ANPP and APGA, so both parties pushed for it. "Progressive" exists in the names of CPC and APGA, so both parties pushed for its inclusion in the new party's name. On the other hand, "Congress" exists in the names of both ACN and CPC, so the two of them pushed for its incorporation into the new name.

Let us do a frequency calculation. ANPP made it into only one letter of the APC name, the "All." It had to jettison the "Nigeria," the "Peoples" and the "Party." ACN made it into one component letter, "Congress." It had to jettison the "Action" and the "Nigeria." CPC made it into two component letters, "Congress" and "Progressive." It happily dropped the "Change." APGA also made it into two bits of the name, "All" and "Progressives", dropping the "Grand" and the "Alliance." What an artful job!

Yet, some mischievous Nigerians are beginning to assign to the opposition party names that its founders did not anticipate. Some wags around here are saying that APC actually stands for "Armoured Personnel Carrier", which is not a bad name, considering that it could chase the PDP kit car up and down the electoral hill.

Some other wags however say that APC stands for the old compound analgesic tablet APC, which was replaced in the 1980s by Panadol and Paracetamol. That old APC stood for Aspirin, Phenacetin and Caffeine; the American Food and Drug Administration [FDA] ultimately banished APC because it became associated with widespread substance abuse!

Have the APC leaders thought of this, that their new party could become associated with [electoral] substance abuse? The question that Nigerians are now asking is this: which one of the merging parties is Aspirin, which one is Phenacetin and which one is Caffeine?

Black president plus black pope

The shock announcement on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI would quit his very exalted office at the end of this month has already sent bells ringing across Africa in anticipation of a great double. Blacks have already knocked once at a previously closed gate and it was suddenly thrown wide open; why not knock at a second closed gate and see whether, with help from Providence, it will also open?

Ok, let me be clear. The two most visible offices in the world are President of the United States of America and the Pope. Since 2009, a black man has sat on the swivel chair of US President, with the additional title of Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, by far the world's most powerful military. Now, the other high visibility office is about to fall vacant. The letter that Pope Benedict XVI will send to the College of Cardinals will relinquish his offices as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

You know what? The world's leading newspapers have already shortlisted the "front runners" in the race to succeed Pope Benedict, and two sons of Africa featured among the top three contenders. Francis Cardinal Arinze from Nigeria and Peter Cardinal Turkson from Ghana are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Canadian Marc Cardinal Ouellet as the possible successors to the throne of Saint Peter. I know we shouldn't be openly campaigning to get the Papacy, since it is not based on federal character, zoning, power rotation, power shift or actualization of anyone's mandate. Still, if an African were to become the Holy Father for the first time since 496AD, then black men will be ensconced in the world's two most visible offices. Hurray!

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