The 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) popularised the “family affair” syndrome and it was a signal to the capacity of that party to settle rifts among its members in the inner caucus.
The party mastered the act so well that many felt there is no crisis that could stand the way of the family affair policy. Until the crisis of 2013 reared its ugly head and saw to the exit of five governors and some legislators at the state and National Assembly from its fold, it was difficult to see any crisis overpowering the PDP capacity of family affair.
Even at that, many believed that the party became complacent and apparently underestimated the capacity of a united opposition imbued with the support of their own estranged members.
Whatever the PDP strategy was worth, it showcased one thing; that the party found a way of communicating with itself in a way. Notwithstanding the loose structure of the PDP, the party was able to galvanise its members around power and protect that collective strength for more than a decade.
Since the coming of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the family affair syndrome had been replaced. But no one can point to the existence of the sort of unity around power as we saw with the PDP.
Many in APC today still see themselves as members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Someone said recently that the famed “body language” was perhaps the replacement for family affair. But that looks unlikely because this is a political setting. Maybe body language bodes well in kingdoms, where the words of the king are rare. Politics is noisy. It is full of drama and silence is only a strategy that comes to play once in the blue moon.
Political environments thrive on the soap box mentality, the village settings crowd. In politics, you don’t act in hush, hush tunes. You make the noise even when your target is just by the corner. In politics, no one sings your praises better than yourself. Yes, there are town criers, but the danger is there that they either corrupt the message or confuse it.
Politics also rests on the people, a network of people. In politics, many people come around power for different purposes. Some for what they can make from it and very few for what they can do with it. It
would amount to over-generalisation to think that everyone around power have a common purpose.
The good political leader rally is the one who blends the good, the bad and the ugly that people the political setting to advantage.
In recent times, the signals we have seen around the APC are that of a party marginalised within its own power circle. If you want to contest this, check out the message coming from the National Assembly in
recent times. The president sent in a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the foundation upon which the New Year budget is laid to the legislature and the chambers describe it as “empty and
incomplete.” They threaten to throw it through the window if details are not provided. The president sends a $30 billion the borrowing plan to the lawmakers. The legislature looks at it and said damn. ‘This is a bad copy and gbam!’ The document is already flying through the window.
Again, two lists of ambassadorial nominees made their way into the chambers of the Senate, the first managed the pass the eye of the needle as the lawmakers were still expectant that the errors noticed
on the list would be corrected when the second list is unveiled. When the full list landed, the sword got raised again. Only the quick lips of Senate President Bukola Saraki, which announced the opposite of the response his ears heard saved the list from the hang man. Even at that, those who nearly slaughtered the list last week could just be lying in wait for another day. And all these have been happening to a
party that controls the majority in the two chambers.
Before you misread the script, the intention is not to deny the lawmakers their voice. The intention is to emphasise the role of party in governance. Because democracy is built on lobbying and communication, the party structure is best placed to achieve success in that wise. The near misses we are seeing are clear manifestations of the neglect of the party institution.
So what is the role of the party hierarchy in all this? I was told the party has been contending with internal confusion. It’s been struggling to attach itself to power. But the truth remains that politics must be played the way it best achieves results. A while ago, Senator Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party in the United States was going to upset Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by carrying his campaigns to the National Convention. A meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama silenced all that agitation and the Senator is right now a major campaigner for Hillary.
The party is the father of the candidate. The party is the father of the government. The party warehouses manifesto, which ordinarily binds all its candidates together; the legislators or executive office holders. Where the discordant tunes get aplenty, the role of the party needs great boosts.
Rather than jam the airwaves with discordant tunes, the APC must own its government as well as its members, while ensuring the manifesto is implemented as it promised on the soapbox.