Nigeria News

APC Presidential Candidate: Consensus or Primaries?

Ilove the aggression and the dynamics of the evolving political genius of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The political space, hitherto stiffened by a monotonous and nihilistic conglomerate of a directionless bunch, is assuming an exciting character. The terrain is becoming jazzy and the fun of the possibility of a change in climate and power, is generating some sensations and ripples in the land. In the midst of our tragedies comes the rage of our politics. The President, Goodluck Jonathan is unfazed by the many killings of the Boko Haram – our major national tragedy. But the citizens rose in unison to express their fury against state conspiracy. Why must a citizen die for believing in his nation? This is a matter for another day.
Frazzled by the unconcernedness and insensitivity of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the challenges facing the nation, the opposition(s), through a merger arrangement, came up with the APC. Since then, both the PDP and the government have become flustered. When the new Party christened itself “All Progressives Congress”, I was one of those who felt that the word “progressives” was again being abused having been exploited and stripped naked from its content to its context in the past by politicians of assorted ideological orientations and creed. Initially, Nigerians who were excited about the emergence of the APC did so not because they believed that it was ideologically different from the PDP but because they were bored by the irritating dominance of the political space by the PDP since 1999. Before APC, the opposition was nothing but a kibbled kernel. Even before the five PDP governors defected to APC, the Party was still not taken serious. Nigerians wanted a Party with a functional spread; a party that can move into the remotest corners and crannies of the whole country. They loved what Bola Tinubu and Muhammed Buhari were doing but they wanted to be convinced that their efforts and drive for change were not motivated by their desire to promote their own political agenda. Frustrated and disappointed by past populist pretentions, Nigerians demanded and craved for a messiah that would galvanize the citizenry into a revival and crusade for national restoration. They (Nigerians) had become tired of helping politicians to realize their ambitions while nobody is paying any attention to their own deprivations.
Buoyed by the defection of the five governors of the PDP to the party, the APC has increased the tempo of its activities and it is showing more exertion and commitment to dislodge the PDP from its Olympian scaffolding. The APC has recently become very aggressive and forceful in its propaganda and enlightenment campaign which is making the whole nation to begin to imagine the APC as the next party in government because of the quality of options and alternatives it offers the country in contrast to the failed policies and programmes of the PDP.
Conscious of the fact that it would have to work very hard to get the PDP out of power, the APC launched a ten-point Road map to convey its message of hope and vision to Nigerians. The high points of the Roadmap include (i) creation of 20,000 jobs per state (ii) free relevant quality education (iii) restoration of agriculture (iv) better housing plan (v) independence for EFCC, INEC, ICPC, SIECs (vi) peace and security (vii) ₦5000 monthly for 25 million poorest people (viii) establishment of technological driven industrial estates (ix) ex-youth corps members to get allowance for 12 months (x) zero tolerance for official and private sector corruption.
Though Nigerians are used to beautiful presentations of programmes, agenda and plans by political parties, this time around they now have a roadmap well structured and one that acts as both catalyst and template for growth and development at the same rate and at the same pace. A road map that is ostensibly more operational and functional. This is why I believe that those behind the APC road map have been wonderful in evolving a road map that is rich and robust in terms of its intellectual content.
The road map seems a bit ambitious and utopian. I will have preferred a plan that is structured on gradualism. My fear is not about the funding of the programmes because I know that with its zero tolerance for corruption, the party can always have funds for its programmes. Neither do I think that some of its social or welfare programmes are unrealistic. With what Kayode Fayemi is doing in Ekiti with the Social Security Scheme and what Rauf Aregbesola is doing in Osun State with Agba Osun, I have no doubt that the APC can perform similar feat at the national level. Most of these welfarist programmes were simply replicated from the agenda of some APC – controlled states and whoever is going to be the APC presidential candidate must be ready to implement these programmes in toto.
This leads us to the big question: Who may likely emerge as APC presidential candidate? As at today, nobody has officially declared his intention to run but from speculations and antecedents, everybody feels that Muhammed Buhari and Abubakar Atiku are well positioned to compete for the ticket. Other people on the radar include Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Governor of Kano), Rochas Okorocha, (Imo State Governor), Nuhu Ribadu (former EFCC Chairman). There are signals that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal may still defect to APC and also compete for the ticket.
From all indications, the APC is taking its time in ensuring that it follows due process in the selection or election of its presidential candidate. There are two possibilities: one, the APC may still be expecting more defectors who for strategic reasons are still in the PDP. Their bodies are there in the PDP while their spirits and souls are in APC. It is all a matter of strategy. Second, the APC may be waiting to see if the PDP will go through primaries in selecting or electing its own candidate or if the party will just nominate President Goodluck Jonathan based on consensus. If the PDP should choose Jonathan as a consensus candidate, this may likely result in mass exodus of PDP members to APC. There are those who believe that Jonathan should not run for second term. The Governors of Jigawa and Niger States, Sule Lamido and Aliyu Babangida, belong to this category. Though they refused to follow their other five colleagues to the APC, in politics, you can never tell what may happen tomorrow. It is, however, obvious that they are no longer committed to the PDP as they were before. Since the APC has not shut its doors against any interested member, it is not impossible to still see some PDP members overflowing to APC in search of “greener pasture”.
Expectedly, the APC will soon declare its policy on zoning. The general assumption is that the party will zone the position of the president to the North. This may not be absolutely correct in view of the fact that Rochas Okorocha is also interested in the position, except of course all his posturing and grandstanding are mere groundwork for 2019. Okorocha has not only expended his resources on the APC project, he is strongly committed and dedicated to its cause. He is a good mobilizer, a fantastic and trusted friend of the poor. If he is actually interested and he is schemed out of the race via an unfair zoning arrangement which eventually makes one of those who joined the party long after it was formed, the presidential candidate, this may lead to bad blood. The party cannot afford to expand the network of its antagonists at a time that some disenchanted former members of the party like Belgore of Kwara, Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto and Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano left the party to join the PDP.
Going by feelers in the public space, most people who have sympathy and sentiments for the APC would prefer Buhari and Atiku playing the role of elder statesmen by withdrawing from the race and allowing the “new generation” to go for it. The first reason for this is that the public seems to have become tired of recycled politicians especially Buhari who is a serial contestant for the presidential seat. Buhari is well respected and adored for his discipline, candour and uprightness but his electoral chances/value had been on the decline with each defeat that he suffered at the polls. Concerning Atiku, he has no stigma or any character deficit. Everybody knew that the PTDF saga was a witch-hunting campaign against him by Obasanjo. However, for the fact that he has been in active public service most of his life, they want him to just be an elder statesman for the party.
The second reason is that Nigerians seem to be tired of the gerontocratic generation. They want vibrant and dynamic young and enterprising politicians whose ideas of governance are of the sophisticated module. The world all over is changing the concept of governance by injecting fresh blood into its political system and assigning them higher responsibilities that will task them intellectually and morally.
I wish to disagree with all the sentiments that have been expressed so far. Aspiring to the presidential position is a right that is guaranteed by the constitution. I do not subscribe to the view that a citizen’s inalienable right should be compromised because of age, colour, prejudice, bias, sentiments, race or religion. Both Buhari and Atiku are Nigerians like everyone of us and are therefore free to pursue their political ambition and engage in all kinds of legitimate activities which can help them to realize and fulfill their aspirations. Why should they jettison their aspiration so that others can fulfill their own? This does not conform with any known logic nor does it agree with the rule of natural justice. Those who are tired of their faces have the option of not looking into their eyes or even paying attention to them. They can decide to express their hatred by not voting for them during the primaries.
This is one of the reasons why the APC most thread softly on the selection issue. There is no doubt that the APC is now a popular party enjoying the support of all and sundry. The only fear people are expressing is about the process of selecting its candidate. The party should not under any circumstance contemplate using consensus to select its presidential candidate. The consequences may be very damaging and grave.
Consensus in politics is a general agreement and understanding among party chieftains on the choice of candidates to be selected for certain elective offices instead of going through the rigours of primaries. This option is mostly preferred to primaries because it helps in reducing tension, acrimony, acerbity and conflict which primaries normally provoke. It may appear undemocratic but every party is at liberty to adopt a selection process for its candidates that will guarantee the stability of the party and cohesion among its members.
In any situation where this system is adopted, all the candidates that are interested in certain elective offices must be carried along and treated with respect. The elders of the party must show compassion for the candidates’ aspirations. This is why consensus is all about persuasion not coercion, about compromise not oppression, negotiations not rejection, agreement not imposition and understanding not tenacity. Consensus is complex and complicated but not undesirable. The only problem with consensus is that it seems unjust when a man will have to fulfill his own political ambition at the expense of others’. Party elders, in their wisdom, opt for consensus because they know that some of the candidates are not serious contenders but only want to use their participation as leverage for negotiating for other positions. But because APC is a new party still battling for credibility and the citizens’ support, consensus may not be ideal for selecting its presidential candidate. Consensus may be applied or adopted at other levels if it is believed that primaries will throw the party into a state of anarchy and pandemonium. For instance, at the state level, consensus is not a bad idea because most of the party chieftains see the state as their own domain where they can wield some influence and appropriate some privileges to themselves. When you disallow them from influencing the choice of candidates who will rule the State, you are indirectly curbing their influence and rendering them unimportant politically. It is not fair to deny such major financiers of the party, the godfather status or diminish their political relevance, I agree that some of them abuse this privilege but asking them to exercise some discretion in the course of wielding this influence is more appealing and attractive than castrating them into impotency.
However, in view of the fact that the whole world is waiting to see how the APC will pick its presidential candidate, I think it is in the interest of the party to conduct open and transparent primaries for all its presidential aspirants in order not to engender its credibility and jeopardize the popular support Nigerians are willing to give to it.

Leave a Reply