It can almost be taken for granted that the rave of the Nigerian politics of today is the new coalition called the All Progressives Congress (APC). The amalgam of political parties came into being following the overarching drive among a band of the political elite to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Before the APC, a few feeble alliances aimed at dethroning the PDP did not achieve the desired objective. The APC option is therefore supposed to be a well considered alternative. And it did not come easy. It became a reality when the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) painstakingly threw aside their individual political interests to coalesce into the APC.
To underline the fact that the emergence of the APC was taken as a serious political development, its registration as a political party did not come easy. There were distractions and disruptions along the line. But after months of feverish political maneuvering, the APC finally came to be. Since then, Nigerians who feel that the octopus called the PDP needs to be confronted with an alternative have been waiting on and for the APC. They want to know if the new coalition is prepared to offer the much needed alternative.
So far, it could be said that the approach of the APC as the opposition party is being weakened by a yawning gap. The opposition, in any circumstance, must have a two-pronged strategy. It has to attack and demolish the position of its opponent and then go ahead to advance reasons why it is a better option. But our opposition represented by APC has not done much in this regard. The much that can be said of it is that it has been trying to cash in on PDP’s weak points. But it has not done anything to suggest that it has an agenda beyond discrediting the PDP position.
The most significant inroad which the APC has made in this regard derives from the self-inflicted wound which the PDP has inflicted on itself. The ruling party may have taken its dominance of the political scene for granted. The result is that a group of seven governors of the party otherwise called G-7 Governors has rebelled against the party. They have rejected the party’s plans for the next elections. They are against the present leadership of the party. They want contentious issues within their fold to be resolved for the party to make progress.
For some reason, the G-7 Governors have not made any significant impact. This is largely because their demands and interests run counter to that of the President. They also do not enjoy the support of the PDP leadership under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Consequently, the G-7 Governors have been floating on the surface of reality. Their counter agenda runs against what the PDP political establishment and the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency stand for. It is this lacuna created within the PDP by the G-7 Governors that the APC is trying to exploit. That may be legitimate in any game that requires that you supplant your opponent in his own territory. But it can only be effective as a strategy if it is not the be-all and end-all of your plan of action.
From the scenario we have before us, it can be safely said that the APC has found the division within the PDP as a situation it must exploit. That is why it has seized the stage, traversing one part of the country to the other, trying to latch on PDP’s weaknesses.
The latest in this game of opportunism is the effort by APC’s leaders, actual or self-imposed, to woo the G-7 Governors to their fold. In the past couple of weeks, the leadership of APC represented by General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) and Alhaji Bola Tinubu have been visiting the breakaway governors of the PDP with a view to having them join APC. So far, Buhari and Tinubu, accompanied by some other APC stalwarts, have visited Sokoto, Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa and Rivers States where they held talks with the governors of the respective States. The calculation of the APC is that it would automatically take over the affected states once their governors join the APC.
The APC leadership may be right in its assumptions. But what it did not consider is the fact that the governors are not an island unto themselves. Their relevance derives from the people. They may be the chief executives of their respective states. But they need the people’s support to move to the next level of relevance. The APC leadership may not have looked at the issue this way. That explains why they visited Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Adamawa States without taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the founding members of APC in the affected States.
If, for instance, the leadership of the APC wants to woo the governor of a state like Sokoto who has been having a running battle with his immediate predecessor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa who also happens to be a founding member of APC, will it not make sense for it to consult Bafarawa before making such a move? Or is the APC leadership saying that a man who led his State for eight years and remains a rallying point in the State has no support base? We can equally ask whether the APC is content with Aliyu Wamakko in Sokoto, Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano, Sule Lamido in Jigawa and Murtala Nyako in Adamawa while willfully ignoring the political importance and relevance of the bigwigs in the States who have been keeping the APC spirit alive before the arrival of G-7 governors. The scenario in Sokoto State is almost true of what obtains in states like Kano and Adamawa where major APC stakeholders have been ignored in the bid to win their governors over to APC. This is a tactical error on the part of Buhari and Tinubu who are leading the APC drive.
This brings us back to the strategic error which the APC is committing. It is attacking PDP’s stronghold without having an agenda it can call its own. This has manifested in its inability to give the party a true identity. About one year to the next general elections, the APC has not embarked on membership drive. It is assuming that all members of the defunct ANPP, ACN and CPC are automatically members of APC. But we know that it is not so. There are members of these defunct parties that do not identify with APC. In the same vein, there are people outside these former political platforms that want to be part of APC. The party therefore has to know who its members are. This is necessary for political cohesion and mobilization. It is only when it has done this that it can spread its tentacles to appeal to the people of Nigeria for support. After all, a political party must work with human beings at every level, from the grassroots to the national stage. The APC has not done much in this regard.
It is also strange that the party has not paid attention to local government and state congresses. The party has to have an organized leadership at these levels before it can think of having a national convention. The new political party may be taking its time to get these done. But we know that it does not have the luxury of time.
This weak link in the affairs of the APC is not helped by the fact that the party is yet to roll out an agenda it can call its own. To continue to say and insist that the PDP government is inept, corrupt and without direction is not an agenda. It is sheer political talk. The APC ought to come up with a marshal plan, a programme of action, something the people should look up to as a tool for the dethronement of the PDP. This State of affairs leaves the people with a situation where they do not know the choices to make. The APC should therefore go beyond frenzy. The leadership of the party knows very well that rabble-rousing has its limits. It can hardly win the situation in an atmosphere that requires concrete intervention and engagement.
But then, as APC strives to reap from the crack within the PDP, one cannot but wonder at the obduracy of the G.7 governors. They have given President Jonathan and the PDP sufficient trouble. Their grouse with the party and the Presidency has become too well known. But one thing is clear in all this. Neither the PDP nor President Jonathan is prepared for the agenda of the governors. Consequently, they have called the bluff of the rebel governors. What is left therefore is not for the governors to insist on having their way. It is obvious that they cannot. What they need to do then is to quit the PDP. When they do this, they will go with their crowd of followers. This will certainly leave a gaping hole in the PDP. I wonder why the governors do not seem to be considering this option. Or are they waiting to bury the PDP before walking out on its ghost?