APC: Adventure in power failure
THE All Progressive Congress was formed as a political party on February 6, 2013, being a merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and All Nigeria People’s Party, in anticipation of the 2015 general elections. It was not making any headway as a viable alternative to the ruling People’s Democratic
Party, until it succeeded in wooing some prominent but disgruntled members of the PDP, then christened newPDP.
Since its victory at the polls, it has been a case of wobbling and fumbling, for the party of strange bedfellows.
The ideology of the APC as a centre-left party is federalism, progressivism, social liberalism and social democracy. It had no choice than these ideals as that was the only way it could win the sympathy of voters at the time in 2015. The APC would then proceed to enthrall Nigerians with a catalogue of promises rolled into a very attractive but deceptive manifesto, as a binding covenant for implementation upon assumption of office.
Given the lackluster performance of the previous administration, hopes were high indeed, that the APC would be a party of true change but it didn’t take too long for Nigerians to notice some foot dragging when six months after its inauguration, the APC government could not constitute its main cabinet and governance was dragging and the economy was bleeding seriously. Unknown to many, this was only but a tip of the iceberg.
Generally, the political ideology of the APC is slightly pro-masses, favouring a strong and active role for government regulation. The thinking then was that since a good number of its political leaders subscribed to the social democratic political philosophies of Obafemi Awolowo and the socialist and anti-class views of Aminu Kano, the masses would benefit from the government of the APC, whose political support base was mainly in the South West and Northern parts of Nigeria. Prior to the 2015 general elections, the APC was known mainly for its sloganeering and frequent chorusing of fiscal federalism, restructuring, devolution of powers, state police, resource control and such other populist policies of social nationalism. But this was mostly chanted by its leading figures of Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande, as its main presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari, cleverly avoided these cores issues. It has since turned out indeed that the CPC wing of the APC is less inclined to the idea of true federalism and devolution of powers.
Months rolled by and years started counting but nothing seemed to be changing for the ordinary Nigerian as promised by the APC. To be sure, the main agenda of the APC into the 2015 election was mainly restructuring, as stated clearly in its manifesto thus:
Initiate action to amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit.”
In this short covenant of the APC is the mandate for restructuring which made many Nigerians to rally round the party in 2015, with the expectation of true change from the known status quo. The three cardinal issues in this manifesto of the APC are: (1) Constitutional Amendment; (2) Devolution of Powers; and (3) True Federalism.
The APC betrayed Nigerians upon assuming power, given that the leading lights of its CPC wing, Muhammadu Buhari and Nasir El-Rufai, were not inclined to this agenda and since the CPC controlled the APC in the real power equation, the idea would soon hit the rocks. The President lashed back at his own people and rubbished the APC manifesto by describing the proponents of restructuring as lazy people, effectively silencing the radical wing of the so-called progressive party.
Sensing the internal contradictions that would later rock the APC, the newPDP wing outsmarted the leaders and took control of the National Assembly, signaling the beginning of the end of a once promising party. It was only a matter of time for the APC to self destruct. Its founding chairman, Odigie-Oyegun, was up in arms with the governors, most of who wanted to control their domains in the states to be able to cover up their tracks when out of office. Whereas it paraded a national leader in its ACN wing, the CPC wing ensured that it was not documented on record as such and would later contest that nomenclature as inconsistent with the office of the President. Meanwhile, the opportunist policy of “president for everybody and for nobody”, would soon begin to hurt the party, as this led to mini emperors in various segments of the APC, all of whom were now taking advantage of the President’s desperation to retain power. The founding Chairman had to pay the ultimate price and soon became a casualty of intense political power play.
The consequence of this was that the APC lost focus, it became a party without a goal in mind, unable to assert or proclaim any specific principle or ideology, at times even groveling to absorb the very people that it had pilloried and lampooned as thieves and corrupt leaders. So it was that the APC died a natural death and became a dumpsite for power mongers and avengers. The economy paid dearly for it, the political space became turbulent and things fell apart, without any center at all. In Ogun State, the incumbent governor had surreptitiously registered Allied People’s Movement whilst in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, himself the chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, had registered Action Alliance with strong branches in Ondo and other states that were battling the national executive of the party for positions. In Ogun and Imo, whereas the governors are both candidates of the APC for the senatorial elections, they effectively outsmarted their parties by retaining all its structures in another political platform for the governorship and legislative elections, once they were able to assure the President of their support for his personal ambition. In places like Zamfara and Rivers State, the APC may not even be able to present any candidate for the coming elections due mainly to internal strife.
Perhaps because it had not tasted power at the federal level, the APC soon became overwhelmed with the burden of governance, always latching on to the ‘wasteful 16 years of PDP’, as if that in itself should earn it a second term in office. Unable to satisfy Nigerians why there is still blackout after three years in office, the APC would deny that it ever promised uninterrupted supply of electricity, with the Minister of Power chiding Nigerians to stop expecting power supply from the government since the power supply chain had been privatized.
Meanwhile the killings assumed a new dimension, with the damning Amnesty International report showing cases of compromise by security agencies. At the last count, Boko Haram had become more emboldened, now overrunning military and police barracks. The insecurity in the land got to its peak when the former Chief of Air Staff was gunned down some weeks back and the Governor of the President’s home state of Katsina cried out that bandits had taken over the entire state.
To the APC, Nigerians should see good governance as a privilege and be grateful to God that APC fielded Mohammadu Buhari for elections at all, expecting that his name alone should pay the school fees of their children, put food on their tables and transform their lives completely, whereas as of the end of year 2018, it was reported that about 80 million Nigerians now live below the poverty index. The economy is so bad that even the affluent has become a victim. What of education? Better summarized with the current strike by university and polytechnic teachers, which has shut the gate of tertiary education in all public schools across the country.
Can you hail the APC for the judicial sector? Court orders are disobeyed at random, the President himself stated that the judiciary is his headache and that he has not succeeded in office because of the ‘system’, referring to due process of law and democratic principles. Do we talk about the aviation sector, where even the government itself misled Nigerians on its so-called air carrier?
In the political arena, the APC has taken Nigeria to the era of inconclusive elections, which in truth is symptomatic of any election in which the ruling party suspects it may not win, using INEC to buy time to manipulate the outcome in its favour. We now have vote buying, intimidation of voters and re-run elections, all over the place. And even in the coming elections, there is so much uncertainty and confusion. What about human rights and opposition politics? Better explained with the encounter of the Shiites with military in Kaduna and Abuja. And you can ask Olisa Metuh, Ayodele Fayose, Deji Adeyanju and Dino Melaye and many others, what it means to be against the ruling APC. There is so much hunger, insecurity, uncertainty and anger, all over the land, to suggest that the APC is just a misadventure in governance.
So, the questions to ask are these: Are we safer now than before? Are we richer now than before? Do we have better electricity supply now than before? Do we now organize free, fair and credible elections than before? Are we as a people, more united in tribes and tongues or in faith? Are our rights and freedoms better protected now than before?
Let me call in aid Pastor Tunde Bakare, to answer some of these questions, through his recent statement: “What many people are saying is that there was corruption under Jonathan, yes, but life was better. At least we were able to get this but this man cornered all the money, locked it up. The allegations by the Nigerian public is that those around the president are also stealing and some names have been mentioned. You cannot be a clean man surrounded by rogues. If you don’t deal with those rogues, they would colour you with the same tar.”
That is APC, a complete power failure.