By Abdulwahab Oba
Things have finally fallen apart at the All Progressive Congress, APC, and like our celebrated award-winning writer, the late Chinua Achebe once penned, ‘the falcon can no longer hear the falconer’. The decision by key former members of the APC, such as Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governors Ahmed, Tambuwal and Ortom, some members of the National Assembly to return to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a bad omen for the ruling party; not because yours truly have also followed the train to the opposition now, but simply because it means that our leaders were not sincerely committed to whatever we did together in 2014 that brought about our 2015 victory.
I am amazed by how the APC has failed to manage its uncommon electoral victory; the first opportunity we have in Nigerian where progressive and conservative elements would come together supposedly in the interest of the nation to wrestle power from a sitting government. Have the leaders of that party not studied the initial failures of the now reformed, disciplined PDP sufficiently enough to erect bulwark against its manifestation in their own party?
Saraki’s conclusion about the APC is apt and worthy of political lesson. In his lengthy justification for withdrawing from his association with the ruling party, the Senate President coined these words: “the PDP has learnt more from its failure than the APC has learnt from its victory.” Those are weighty words; the kind that you hear and you spend time meditating on its depth and truism. Those sixteen words summarise what Nigerians are seeing today in the gale of defection that has hit the APC. But the development also prove a Yoruba adage true; that you allow a woman to test two husbands before deciding which one is best. What I see as a significant contribution to the emerging decimation of the APC is the way progressive and conservatives in Nigeria play their politics. To me, one group is vindictive and dictatorial while the other is a little more accommodating and collective.
It is the vindictive politics of the progressives that led to the unceasing onslaught against Saraki and Dogara after the duo emerged presiding officers of the two arms of the National Assembly. Compared with the attitude of the PDP when in 2014 then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal crossed to the APC, the attitude of the progressive elements with the emergence of Saraki and Dogara manifests vindictiveness almost beyond imagination.
There appears to be no room for forgiveness in the camp of the APC. In 2014, the PDP made an initial protest but soon accepted its fate when Tambuwal dumped it. In 2015, the APC went all out to destroy its members who worked to earn a piece of the cake for themselves and even subsequent overtures to party leaders did not earn them a forgiveness. To the gods of the APC, it seems there is no room for that! It is individuality and personafication in the parlance of the APC.
Yet, the existence of forgiveness, which in itself is a doctrine common to all religions and which we are told is a basic requirement for humans to obtain divine mercy, is what we see in the PDP. Were the present leaders of the APC to be in the shoes of the likes of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and others in the PDP today, the doors of that party would most probably have been shut against the defectors, for once daring to challenge the system. But no, the conservatives, it appears to me, have a larger heart, and are therefore more accommodating and forgiving. They are more ready to learn from others’ error than continue with a stubborn streak the like of which ended the reign of Wole Soyinka’s tragic character, Kongi and his Reformed Aweri Fraternity.
That last word seems to me to be the identity of the progressives-fraternity; opened to select few, suspicious of all others except themselves and therefore limited in opportunities. It is absurd to realise that it is in the camp of the progressives that you do not challenge the order of the day, even if it is made with impunity. It is a surprise that it is in the camp of the progressives that you don’t aspire beyond the limit set by the leaders; experiences one would have thought should be the preserve of the conservatives.
Though hurriedly package for the purpose of defeating for president Jonathan, one expected the APC to shed the seeming toga of a private estate and evolve in to truly a national party. Rather than consolidate, its leadership ignited a needless journey of arrogance and vendetta. What was supposed to be the result of a robust interface with party stalwarts became the exclusive of few. Privilege by reason of personal association and relationship. Rather than bring everyone to the main stream, they began a policy of exclusivity. Everyone’s Nigeria suddenly became “my Nigeria”, painfully painting every one black except themselves.
But this party, the APC, has now started dancing nicked on the highways. It ordered the convey of the Senate President to blocked from going to perform the duty for which he was duly elected, only to ignobly deny complicity. Thank God, most Nigerians refused to accept that denial. Not done, it gave protection to eight assembly members and teargassed the majority, all in a bid to rattle the incumbent governor because he defeated. The coming weeks may witness more of these assaults on democracy and the rule of law, no that Mr President has gone on holiday.
But now the bubble has burst. “The centre can no longer”. Whether the party wants to openly admit or not, the APC has lost a significant part of its existence. To me , all the public face-saving statements denouncing the defectors and theorising on how well they are failures and political inconsequentials are just like the man who denies the pain from a beating in public, once he gets home, he knows he would need the services of a massager if his wife is not available.
It is unfortunate that APC allowed itself to lose when it has just won; it is a study in the paradox of political power utilisation in NIgeria. The party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole has been crying about a stolen crown and asking the defectors to return it. May I remind Comrade Chairman that the crown in question is not an heirloom and if at all it is one, this heirloom belongs to Nigerians, not any political party?
It is too late in the day for the APC to turn a new leave. I do not see the party changing its approach to issues and party members in the coming days. May be like the PDP before it, this party also needs to have a taste of failure before it can handle the lessons of victory. That would be after 2019.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org