The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has just approved the registration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as a political party.
Once again excitement is in the air; a party that can checkmate the octopoidal PDP with its vast network and federal might is born. Is the APC a whited sepulchre (pretender) or the real threat to the PDP? Let us examine the situation as it is on ground.
In the course of our analysis, we shall attempt to answer a few questions. Does the merger of CPC, ACN, ANPP and others automatically translate to a formidable force that can uproot the PDP? How can a party whose membership is drawn from diverse political ideologies operate in unison? Will the political ambition of the leadership of this party not scuttle the APC dream?
Where do they stand against the federal might? Can a disunited PDP hold out against the APC? What part will a volatile North play in the equation? Is the new party ready to adhere to democratic tenets? What happens to other parties like APGA and Labour?
First and foremost is the simple arithmetic matter. Out of a total of 36 states, the combined APC can only boast of 10 states under its effective control. How can 10 out of 36 translate into a majority? This can only be possible if an abracadabra situation is conjured.
Some argue that the PDP has performed so woefully, that with proper sensitization the masses can be swayed against them. But this is easier said than done. The reality is that the state governors are in full control of the political flow of their individual states and nothing has shown that the next election will be different.
Some have also stated that the internal crises generated by the PDP membership will bring the party to its knee. The recent reconciliation exercise by the APGA factions has shown that politicians can never be relied upon. Nobody ever gave peace a chance in the Obi versus Umeh brouhaha but last week both sides embraced peace publicly. I foresee a similar situation in the case of the rebel PDP Governors. No one should hope that they will be swayed to the side of APC.
Another area we must look at is the bandwagon effect of our people in their political decisions; they are easily persuaded by little gifts and carrots because of the level of illiteracy in the land. This is the system the Boko Haram leadership is using to cajole innocent people to join them. The people will only follow the direction their leaders have pointed out to them and if the PDP states are in majority ( presently 20), it then follows that majority of the people will support them come 2015.
Also, we must note that the APC foundation is not solid because of the personal ambition of its leadership; in this instance, I am referring to Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari. Although both of them have publicly agreed to subsume their interests to enable the party progress, there is no doubt that camp loyalties will come into play when it is time to share offices.
Buhari already has said that he is still interested in contesting the next presidential election; if the Tinubu side say no, what will be the impact on the party unity? We saw a sign of this schism between the CPC and ANPP leadership before the party was registered. Will such not occur again?
Again the APC elements are taking too much for granted. A merger of ACN, CPC and ANPP does not, on its own, confer sympathy from the side of the people, there’s a lot of work to do at winning the people to their side. Decisions that will make people look at them unfavorably should be avoided.
For example: How do Fashola and Tinubu expect the South East to join their wagon after giving the impression ( through the expulsion of Igbos from Lagos and the frequent closures of Ladipo Market ) that the APC government does not like them.
Furthermore, APC leaders have to improve on their democratic tenets. Situations where people are nominated/handpicked into positions, instead of through healthy balloting processes do not speak in their favour. Buhari must try to remove that bias of religious and ethnic bigotry that has been tainting his politics. How he intends to do that, I do not know but that is his cross to bear.
The APC boasts that it can checkmate the PDP. How they can succeed in the present volatile North is difficult to fathom.
Nigeria’s elections have always been in favour of those who wield superior force. Almost half of the North is presently under occupation by the Nigerian Army; they will not leave the region until after the 2015 election for security reasons. While maintaining security, the regional commanders will be prone to directives from headquarters, Oga at the top sort of situation and if any one fails to follow directive, he will be replaced immediately. I do not see how the APC can win under such situation.
The more riotous or volatile the situation in the North is, the more they will play into the hands of the PDP as witnessed by the decimation of the CPC in the last general elections. Unless the APC encourages a peaceful North, they can never win any election and if they attempt to encourage revolts like the last time, it will be the icing of the cake for a PDP victory.
We must also not forget the bystanders, I mean other smaller parties like the Labour and APGA. In what direction are they likely to go? For now, Mimiko and Obi are flirting with the PDP while Okorocha is with the APC. Will Okorocha succeed in taking APGA to APC, with the Igbo animosity towards CPC and ACN? Time will tell.
Now the most telling factor that will decide the fate of the APC in national politics is the choice they will arrive at in their presidential and vice presidential candidates.
The person that can unite the South and the North, with no political baggage. Do they have such amongst their midst? Yes they have, but will tribal and ethnic considerations allow them to accept these candidates? I fear. Will they accept an Oshiomhole as presidential candidate? or a Fashola? or a Tambuwal, if he can be persuaded to leave PDP?
These are people that can build bridges along the divide, both politically and geographically, their candidacy will help the APC to become a formidable force and help their chances in the next election.
This is the situation presently, now let us watch and see how it plays out.
Mr. Sunny Ikhioya Sikhioya, wrote from Lagos.