18 October 2017

Nigeria: Will the APC Tell Itself the Truth About Its Chances Come 2019?

Everything happens for a reason. To live in Nigeria and to protect one's sanity from disappointment or the curious propensity in this country to repeat the same mistakes while continuing to expect a different result, one has to believe that everything happens for a reason which only time will tell.

What role is President Muhammadu Buhari's second coming to play in our history? Was it simply to change the narrative of the undefeatable incumbent and to ward off the negativity of those who claimed ordinary people couldn't make a difference? Was it meant to open our eyes to the rottenness we'd accepted as our fate? Or was it to usher in conversations which we previously refused to have?

I've always said that zoning, federal character or any policy which prioritises ethno-religious origin over competency was not only dangerous but also contrary to the social harmony it claims to promote. Not only does it encourage politicians to seek support on tribal lines rather than based on their plans to develop Nigerians, it also promotes the erroneous idea that only a man (or woman) from the same region as the voter can have his or her best interest at heart.

Zoning formula

After 16 years of PDP governance at the centre and countless powerful ministers and Senate Presidents from the South East and South-South, these regions still feel marginalised which is further proof that achieving development and perceived progress has nothing to do with tribe or religion but everything to do with quality leadership.

The zoning formula is an invention of the PDP which uses "divide and rule" tactics to constantly distract Nigerians. While we counted and argued over how many ministers and other appointees were Christians, Muslims, from the North, South etc., politicians got away with doing next to nothing for anyone beyond their immediate circle of family and friends. Nigerians today are (hopefully) wiser as another election cycle draws near: we must be willing to abandon old ways and moribund thinking which has produced nothing but disappointment.

Chief Bisi Akande's remarks on the presidential APC ticket being open to all in 2019, present new options and possibilities for Nigerians, particularly those who're ready to embrace modernity instead of the political desire to pick and choose which aspect of democracy to adhere to when convenient to certain factions and interests.

The former interim national chairman of the APC tackled a taboo subject in Nigerian politics, which is the idea that Presidents should automatically receive their parties' nomination no matter their performance or the public's feelings.

It was in part, this mind-set that cost former President Goodluck Jonathan (and the PDP) the election. Sycophants and the cabals who poorly advise their principals' never tell their boss the truth for fear of losing out on all the benefits their position allows them to amass. In President Buhari's case it should still fascinate Nigerians that the President's wife, Aisha Buhari, claims that most of the current appointees are unknown to the President who can neither vouch for their competence nor their antecedents, which she clearly believes explains this administration's difficulties (to put it mildly). Who advised the President on the choices he made? If Mrs Buhari is to be believed, not the party and not anyone who worked towards the President's victory.It was a mistake to side-line or disavow the "kingmakers" whose political intuition and insights have so far proven right. Perhaps in the next few months, the likes of Chief Akande will let the public know the way forward for the APC, or at least, those factions who believe in promoting competence and who've always given the best the opportunity to serve.

Nigerians have changed somewhat since the last election and so must the means of addressing them and getting their votes: how will the APC, and other parties for that matter, respond? The French Socialist party didn't wait to see Francois Hollande, the immediate past President, lose the general election before meeting with him to suggest that he shouldn't run for a second term. In fact, Hollande himself knew his chances were slim and didn't need much convincing and therefore allowed another candidate to run. Interestingly, too much damage had been done to the party and the new contender was unable to convince voters that even he, a new candidate, could effect change in France.

Intriguingly, the man who finally won the election, Emmanuel Macron, was the Minister of Finance under the same President Hollande whom the French rejected for a second term. It's too early to say if Yemi Osinbajo will be the "Emmanuel Macron" in this scenario (despite the fact that he declared, under pressure perhaps, that he's never thought of running for President). The leaders of the APC whom a majority of Nigerians trusted to lead them out of the servitude and bondage which some had begun to believe was the norm, must think carefully about the future. Some sections of the party, those who can find the juncture between personal ambition and the good of all Nigerians, must regain control of the situation and find the best possible solution for all rather than just a few. Is it mischievous to say that a number of people await the "jagaban of the universe's" next move?

Ghali Umar Na'Abba

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, criticised all Nigerian leaders since 1999, calling them "accidental leaders" who were unprepared for office.

"Recruitment into leadership has been subverted by a few politicians because they deny Nigerians the opportunity to contest elections and achieve their aspirations through the systematic appropriation of political parties to themselves", he said.

It's true that in other climes, anyone can get involved in politics and party delegates are fully allowed to choose candidates based on the aspirants plans and policies.

But, one must ask, yet again, why it is so common for former leaders to come out and tell Nigerians what they already know without also stating what they did about the problem, when they had the chance. After all, the National Assembly which the former Speaker oversaw was not known for its policies to democratise politics in Nigeria, which by now would have enabled real change in this country, nor is the former Speaker himself known for any game-changing policies which revolutionised the life of the common man.

In Nigeria, hypocrisy abounds. This seems to be the only constant throughout the years. That, and corruption of course.

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