Yellow card to the All Progressives Congress -By Jide Ojo

Filed under: Political Issues |

As progressives, we believe that Nigeria is greater than any individual or the sum of her federating units, therefore the country can only succeed when all of us have equal rights, where no one is above the law, where the culture of impunity is abolished and where there is (a) level playing field

– The All Progressives Congress in its party manifesto.

Until 2015, politicians in opposition political parties had been looking for an antidote to the dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party, the party that ruled Nigeria for uninterrupted 16 years. They tried all they could under the umbrella of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties; formed working alliances; criticised and did everything imaginable to no avail. Ultimately, immediately after the 2011 general elections some of the opposition political party chieftains decided to moot the idea of a merger. This merger talk was long and tortuous with every attempt made by the PDP to frustrate the success. However, through doggedness and unflinching determination, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance approached the Independent National Electoral Commission with a Memorandum of Understanding to dissolve into a new party to be known as All Progressives Congress. On July 31, 2013, INEC formally registered the APC and pronto, the party became a new bride that many politicians wanted to and still do court.

A month after its registration, precisely on August 31, 2013, seven PDP governors and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, staged a walk out of the special convention of the party at the Eagle Square in Abuja and formed what they called the New PDP. On November 26, 2013, five of the seven PDP governors who formed the New PDP defected to the APC alongside Atiku. By the time the 2015 general elections held in March/April, it was a depleted PDP that went into the electoral battle as many of its chieftains had defected to the APC while many of its national and state lawmakers had also cross-carpeted into the APC. In fact, the then Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, alongside many of the House members left the ruling PDP to join the then opposition APC and by the time of the 2015 elections, the APC lawmakers outnumbered those of the PDP.

The excuse given by many of the defectors to the APC was that the PDP lacked internal democracy, was corrupt, imposed candidate and many more. Well, by the time election dust settled, the APC not only clinched the Presidency, it also won 20 out of the 29 governorship seats contested in 2015. The party also won majority seats in the Senate, House of Representatives, and state Houses of Assembly. Out of the five off cycle elections held thus far by INEC after the 2015 elections, the APC has won three, viz, Edo, Ondo, Kogi, the PDP won in Bayelsa while APGA won in Anambra. The APC has also won many of the local government council elections conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commissions.

While the APC might have won many electoral battles since its establishment five years ago, the party has not fared well in terms of governance. The Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Executive Council members were elected at the convention of the party held in Abuja on June 13, 2014. Internally, many of the organs of the party have not been meeting as and when due. The party does not also have a robust interface with its elected representatives in government. The first major attempt by the party to influence the emergence of the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives in June 2015 was thwarted when members of the red and green chambers decided not to vote for the preferred candidates of the party and rather made independent choices of the current leadership. It is being widely speculated that Senate President, Bukola Saraki was dragged before the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged false asset declaration because he went against the party’s position not to contest the Senate Presidency.

The APC in its manifesto says it is committed to eight cardinal points namely: War against Corruption; Food Security; Accelerated Power Supply; Integrated Transport Network; Free Education; Devolution of Power; Accelerated Economic Growth and Affordable Health Care. On all these promises, which one can the APC claim to have delivered? While it may be true that many arrests have been made of corrupt government officials, effective prosecution has remained a challenge. The acting chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has not been confirmed by the Senate due to allegations of abuse of office by another agency of the Federal Government, the Department of State Services. Under this party, there have been some scandals ranging from the Mainagate, DSS-EFCC face-off, ex-SGF Babachair Lawal and ex-DG NIA’s corruption scandal as well as the Kachikwu-Baru NNPC contract scandal. On all of these, it has been a loud silence from the APC leadership.

Has the APC been able to guarantee food security? What with the herdsmen versus farmers protracted conflicts which have led to deaths of hundreds of people and destruction of property worth billions of naira. What about the increase in commodity prices and non-payment of workers’ salaries by many APC governors? What is the party’s position on these? Do we now have accelerated power supply, integrated transport network or free education? Where was the APC when its members in the National Assembly voted against devolution of powers during the ongoing constitution amendment? Can we genuinely say there is accelerated economic growth with over four million job loss recorded in 2017 alone? Can we be talking of economic growth with the protracted fuel crisis? Is health care now affordable when most government hospitals are more under lock and key as a result of industrial actions by different unions in the health sector and while over 70 per cent of Nigerians are not under health insurance?

Does the APC have a Research and Development Department in its secretariat? Does the party carry out Monitoring and Evaluation of its elected members in government? Does the party have party liaison officers at the Presidential Villa, national and state Houses of Assembly as well as government offices in the states? Will the party be inclined to organise town hall meetings with the populace to feel their pulse about what they think about their party in power? Will the party be interested in contracting an opinion polling agency to give it an independent view of the thinking of the people on the party’s performance?

As with the game of football, a yellow card is a warning preceding red card which leads to being sent off the field as well as serving suspension from playing for a number of games, usually two. The APC can still use 2018 to remedy its lacklustre performance and waning influence. My unsolicited advice to the party is that if it does not plan to rig to win in 2019, it needs to buckle down and start to impress it on its elected members in government to deliver on the party’s manifesto. Regular meetings, briefings, liaisons, lobbying and punishment of erring party members are needed if the APC does not intend to go down in history as a party of one-term in government.

Follow me on Twitter @jideojong

 

Comments

comments