History on the rebound

He said he would not lose sleep over the defections and division in his party. He said his party was not perturbed. In proper situations, Oshiomhole ought to be sober.

Amanze Obi

We are back to where we started. This time four years ago, we reaped mass defections from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC). It was the prelude to the fall of President Goodluck Jonathan. This time, the tables have turned. The beneficiary of yesterday is the loser of today. This week, the APC bled profusely. It lost more than one score of its federal legislators to the PDP.

The APC is supposed to feel perturbed. And we all know it is. But its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, would have us believe otherwise. He said he would not lose sleep over the defections and division in his party. He said his party was not perturbed. In proper situations, Oshiomhole ought to be sober. But he has chosen the path of belligerence. He is putting up a bold face. He wants us to believe that all is well. But we know otherwise. We know that something tells him that grandstanding could blur the reality of the situation and make us believe that APC is intact. The party is in tatters. We know it, regardless of the grandiose self-deceit that Oshiomhole has chosen to revel in.

Before this development, some 38 political parties had entered an alliance with the PDP against President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC. The announcement was almost dramatic. It was not really expected. The decision was swift. Its implementation was even swifter. It came without hangups. There was no stalking. It was a demonstration of the readiness of all concerned to move against the Buhari presidency.

We will take a look at what this coalition is worth. But first we must note that what the coalition assumes is that Buhari will fly the flag of the APC in the 2019 presidential election. This assumption is evident from what we have seen so far. There is no other presidential aspirant from the APC. Buhari is the only one who has declared for the office. He has also set up his campaign structure. I find it strange that nobody is saying anything about the fact that Buhari is the sole aspirant and candidate of the APC. Since Buhari’s performance is believed by all to be abysmal, the expectation, in a normal setting, would be for those who wish the party that produced him well to rise to the occasion with a view to saving the party from defeat in the coming election by ensuring that someone who will earn the people’s confidence is projected and chosen as the presidential standard-bearer of the party.

The strange thing here is that, under Buhari, we are treating this situation as normal. But those of us who still have memories will easily recall that this issue was hotly contested under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. In 2014, Jonathan was chosen as the presidential candidate of the PDP. But that was not without a whimper. It was a big issue. There were forces lined up against him. Some members of the then ruling party would have none of that. And they said so. Jonathan was furiously challenged, especially by those who felt, rightly or wrongly, that he was afraid of a contest. For Jonathan to emerge, therefore, the PDP had to go the extra mile. The party had to travel to the United States to borrow a leaf, that of right of first refusal. Jonathan had to pass this litmus test to gain the ticket of the PDP. But in the present case, no one is saying anything, as if it is proper to just hand over the APC ticket to Buhari without discussion or negotiation or understanding. This reaffirms what we already know, that everything that was considered abnormal under Jonathan is normal under Buhari.

But then, what is this alliance against Buhari worth? The arrangement, we are told, is that 38 out of the over 50 political parties that we have will join hands with PDP to ensure that Buhari is defeated in the 2019 presidential elections. The parties will ensure this by not fielding presidential candidates of their own. They are to support whoever emerges as the presidential standard-bearer of the PDP.

This arrangement, for me, does not say much. It does not change anything. It is lacking in content and appeal. Under our present circumstance, only two political parties stand out, the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP. In the general election, it is possible for people to win using the platform of some of the parties that are in alliance with PDP.

It has happened in the past. It will still happen in the coming election. But what is not likely to happen is the possibility of producing a president who is neither of the PDP nor APC. The way things are today, one of these two political parties will win the presidential election of next year, unless something unexpected happens. And that, whatever it may be, rarely happens.

If we, therefore, rely on the assumption that Nigerians must necessarily queue behind the PDP or APC in next year’s presidential election, I do not see what impact or difference it will make if the 38 political parties we are talking about do not field candidates for the presidential election. The point here is that it is of no consequence if they field their own presidential candidates because, in the end, the race will still be between APC and PDP. And since members of these political parties are Nigerians who will be interested in who emerges as the next president of their country, they will necessarily queue behind the two main political parties in the presidential election. The alliance, therefore, as I earlier noted, does not serve any purpose. It is superfluous.

What will make a difference is a total fusion of all the parties concerned with the PDP under a new name. It will amount to something new. Nigerians will be excited about it. They will be expectant. But now, they are still dealing with the old order.

With the present arrangement, we can safely say that nothing is settled yet. The APC has its own candidate already waiting in the wings. The PDP will have a Herculean task choosing a candidate that would readily appeal to Nigerians. If the party fails to get it right, Nigerians would find themselves in a situation where some of them might look in the direction of Buhari, whatever it may be worth. Therefore, the candidate the PDP would come up with would go a long way in determining how the race would go.

To stave off the possible hangups that this may bring about, it would make better sense if the PDP, in conjunction with the other 38 political parties, adopts a new name. PDP, as a former ruling party, no doubt, is nostalgic about its name. It may not be too keen on trading this off. But the party may do well to let this go. A new name for the coalition will bring about freshness. It will come with an appeal. It will excite the electorate. Even the electoral system will be energized by it. This new party, by whatever name it is called, could be the ultimate nemesis that APC may face. PDP and its allies should take a shot at it.