Nigeria: APC and the gale of defections

July 31, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Jerome-Mario Utomi

 

 

As a lad growing up in the sleepy but egalitarian Ubulu-Okiti community in Delta state, Nigeria, I was sternly warned by my father never to celebrate or trust a man that betrays another to make me happy as he will sooner or later replicate the same towards me. That was back in the day.

 

Though such unfortunate opportunity had not come my way, the recent implosion at the national assembly, after an underlying suspicion and animosity within the All Progressive Congress (APC), culminating in the defection of about thirteen Senators and thirty Seven House of Representatives, has made my father’s warning a ‘word made flesh and dwell among us.’

 

Indeed, what made this development a fitting example of the above postulation is that fresh in our memories during the build up to the 2015 general election, some of these ‘transiting’ senators and members of the House of Representatives staged a walkout from their former political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). And they were celebrated by the members of the APC as the real heroes of democracy. But today, their departure again has created not just a hole but left a gorge within the party.

 

This may sound rather shocking but as someone who may not spill guts easily, or hide things either, I must say that the development looking at commentaries was long overdue as Nigerians with a critical interest had severally expressed concern that the government of the day is currently reputed for promoting democracy and human rights everywhere except where it will hurt them; a development that has since made the senators bow lower as they grow stronger.

 

To a large extent, it has become glaring that like the biblical Moses, difficulties lie ahead for the All Progressive Congress (APC), and Exodus may become the most attractive if something theatrical is not done to remedy the drifting situation.

 

As expected, this rollercoaster relationship within the party and subsequent defection has presented Nigerians with two opposing lessons.

 

First and most radical is that from the analysis of their actions, the defected senators and honorable members of the house prosecuted their action like a ‘war’ where nothing succeeds without plan. While the party leadership on their part, failed to remember that ‘true victory is victory over aggression and a victory that respects the enemy’s basic humanity; thus renders further conflicts unnecessary.

 

Very instructive, there is nothing wrong with power if used correctly – as politics like collective bargaining is about power – the ebb and flow of influence among adversaries.

 

But the events of these past days were nourished in my view by contemporary frustration occasioned by the power brokers’ inability to understand this simplest rule of politics; coupled with their failure to protect, plead and listen to their friends, in order to antagonize their common adversaries.

 

On a more pedestrian stage, the animosity within the party was made worse by the accompanying belief among the lawmakers and Nigerians with critical minds that the executive arrogates to themselves the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the nation and act free of the check of the judiciary – a state of affairs many believe postures the leaders as the central threat to democracy.

 

However, undermining the triadic relationship may not be the only propeller of this revolt, especially when viewed from a wider spectrum; as at today, constructive debate is no longer given a chance as it’s often seen as ‘unnecessary and divisive. Deferring political ideas and strategies is perceived as destructive to the nation’s interest, open discussion is now seen as a challenge to the leader.

 

And someone outspoken, with a different set of ideas, values or organizing technique is often viewed as ‘the enemy within’.

 

This situation no doubt has since become a ‘social dynamite’ not just within the party but the nation at large.

 

As a consequence, it has bartered the party’s image, depleted the party’s support structure, with the party’s chances of winning the 2019 general election getting slimmer as the masses who bear the crushing weight of these broken political promises are equally considering a change in their political alignment.

 

Supporting this assertion was the recent release by the experts at Chatham House, the United Kingdom-based Think Tank and political research institution in their recent report dated July 26, 2018.

 

The group had in the report titled ‘Countdown to February 2019‘ among other things stated that ‘the popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari may slide if he seeks re-election in 2019 against the backdrop of failure of the Federal Government to effectively address the country’s socio-economic and security challenges.’

 

The success of the reelection bid of President Buhari according to the report may depend largely on what he and his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), do to remedy the shortfalls in his administration in the last three and half years.

 

Curiously, Chatham House may not be alone on this position as good governance advocates and development practitioners are overtly worried that today, reason is under assault by the APC led administration’s use of more sophisticated techniques; propaganda, psychology, electronic mass media to misinform the masses.

 

The stunning thing is that these gales of politicking and defection are happening in the face of other trends that should have left the nation better off rather than worse.

 

And Nigerians with discerning minds are particularly not happy that the government could not redirect this energy wrongly dissipated in politicking and spend a certain proportion of it on economic growth and social progress, promoting peace and stability, collaborate agriculture and improve on the health and education of the nation. If used, Nigeria will definitely be a better place.

 

To end this national malady, the party’s leadership must soon find answers to the challenges facing the party. They seek the power that knowledge gives in order to establish what is fuelling this gale of defection, they must create a new kind of politics, and try new methods and schemes which had never been tried before anywhere else in the world.

 

To live under an illusion that all is politically well in the face of this alignment and realignment is one political mistake that Mr. President can make that will come at a heavy price.

 

He should know that for him to get a second term in office, he has a lot of hurdles to scale through; he needs the unity of the party, and has to massage a lot of ego within and outside the party. But how he does that will depend on his peace effort and how widespread his agenda is able to accomplish in the next few months.

 

 

 

 

Jerome-Mario Utomi

Jerome-Mario is a Social Entrepreneur and an alumnus, School of media and communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.

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