Few Nigerians today, except the very rabid supporters, are still enamoured of the performance and promises of the ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. Having promised so much and delivered so little, it is not surprising that the country is on its knees, on the brink of political and economic collapse. And the picture of the country that has virtually lost every hope of normalcy reflects sadly the character of the APC.
Recent developments in the party in the run up to the elections in Edo and Ondo states present the nation with the political decadence in the APC. First, the former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, engaged in a show of shame with the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, over governorship succession in the state, which went on forever without intervention by the party, eventually culminating in the disqualification of the governor as the party’s candidate in the forthcoming election.
Then, a series of court cases and judicial pronouncements led to the ouster of the all powerful Oshiomhole, which produced the ugliest and divisive power struggle between the different factions and power blocs in the party. With the governor’s precipitate decision to leave the party and Buhari’s ultimate intervention on behalf of the National Executive Council, NEC, to restore a semblance of decorum and unity, a battalion of police officers from three states were deployed to the state to ensure the conduct of the party’s primary by defying the order of the governor on Covid 19 guidelines on holding of large gathering.
Even though the worst seems to have passed for the party, indeed most people believe that it is yet ahead; as the combatants may have only accepted the present circumstance as a fait accompli just to bid their time and regroup for the ultimate showdown for the 2023 ticket. Several issues are evident in these developments pointing to the poor leadership in the party as well as the nation, and the potential dangers this poses for the future of democracy in the country.
The leadership crisis in the party is a function of the divisions that have existed within it from inception, which it has been unable or incapable of overcoming after five years in power because of the fundamental incompatibility of political interests and philosophy among its major blocs or constituents. This apparent discordance has poisoned relations between the party and the government, further worsening the situation; as the NEC, the highest decision making organ of the party, is split into two blocs, one for the party the other for the government.
In our view, the APC presents a classic case of a house divided against itself. Without a Board of Trustees, which is a supervisory organ over the National Working Committee, NWC,, the party is like a ship without a rudder, which created a culture and politics of impunity characterized by survival of the fittest and winner takes all, again epitomizing the nepotic policies of the government. For a party that promised change and development to descend into such crisis of confidence, cluelessness and mindless pursuit of narrow interest speaks volumes of its performance as a government and dangers ahead of the nation’s unity and democracy.
We condemn in its entirety the action of the party backed by President Buhari in the conduct of its primary in Edo state in violation extant regulations that apply to other groups and individuals. It is such abuse of power and misuse of state institutions that has fueled the clamour and demand for restructuring and even separatism. Basic tenet of democracy is rule of law and judicial process, and not the naked use of force and might as displayed by the federal government and APC in Edo.
If the governor had used a law to target the party, the only option in democracy open to the party is to seek judicial vacation of the obnoxious law, not to resort to self help by abusing state institutions. That is undemocratic and portends ill for the country, because it perpetuates the impunity of which the APC once accused the then ruling party, the PDP, and ensured that the next party in government will borrowed its example; how then will our democracy grow?
APC as a party and the government it produced since 2015 has woefully failed to provide the country with direction, governance and hope. It is a tragic turn of historical fortunes that a people could, by their own willing choice, turn the hand of the clock backward for themselves. Although, it may sound preemptively hasty to talk about 2023 now but the signs are already clearly evident that the election is in mortal jeopardy and only a determined concrete action will change the situation.
Edo is a pointer to 2023, and what has already happened belies any hope of a free and fair election. From all indications, it will simply be a replay of the Kogi state governorship polls, as the government and party attempts to re-impose its questionable dominance and popularity by reclaiming some states it ordinarily should lose based on its performance and public acceptance. Nothing could be graver threat to democracy than such a charade given that the country would have retrogressed in its quest for constitutional and democratic governance, where the will of the people determines the government of their choice.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, there is hardly anything to commend hope and confidence of change and future improvement in this party, and it would be foolhardy to expect a government produced by it to deliver on its mandate, given its disdain for democratic ethos and morality. It is a hope that may never be realized because the basis for its actualization, namely belief in democracy and unity of interest does not exist within its fold.