Nigeria: Will APC Self Destruct?

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 30th, 2014
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by Benjamin Aduba

In my general view I see Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) base as the rich and powerful: Nigerians who have made a lot of money. The party could be described as the Nigerian Conservative Party. I see All Progressive Congress (APC) base as the educated class. The party could also be described as the Nigerian Liberal Party.

Like all generalizations this short hand does not fit all the time: there are education people in PDP and there are rich people in APC.

But let us use this shorthand for our present dialogue.

In the last couple of weeks APC has made two huge mistakes that would not please its base, the educated community. It advertised that a Rivers State senator was shot and nearly killed by the Nigerian police under the command of CP Mr. Mbu. Mr. Mbu is on record for not having a cordial relationship with the APC governor of Rivers State.

A top APC hand and the governor of Lagos Mr. Fashola went to a London hospital to visit with the ailing senator. He came back and confirmed that he had seen the senator and condemned violence the in Rivers State.

It has now turned out that the senator was not shot. There was not even a case of misidentification of the victim, nobody was shot. Earlier APC was all over the place calling for the head of Mr. Mbu and the heads of Nigerian Police High Command. It was a most irresponsible public posture. The police needs to be treated with respect in the interest of Nigeria. We need them to maintain the peace and a public rebuke of the force ought to be made with irrefutable evidence.

As if that were not enough recklessness APC Leadership issued a public instruction to its representatives in both the House and Senate not to participate in any actions originating from Aso Rock including budget proposals and screening of presidential appointments. A few days later the president submitted a list of Service Chiefs to the senate for confirmation. APC members did their public duty by participating in the screening exercise. Ostensibly ignoring the party directives.

Two things are wrong with this directive. In a democracy the majority rules. In other words even if only two members were present at the screening exercises and they approve the appointments the service chiefs would be duly appointed. Secondly if nobody shows up or if they do not approve the appointment the status quo anti would remain. In other words the existing High command would remain in office until their replacements are approved or if they had already departed their assistants would hold temporary positions. Is this what APC really wanted?

Both of these mistakes were made more stupid by the fact they played into the no-go-area of national security, a major concern to many Nigerians. How could APC be fighting President Jonathan using the security apparatus in an unstable nation when Nigeria is seriously threatened by insecurity? How could the party of the educated class behave in such crass manner? Does APC not know that its base is educated and could tell a bad move from a good move? It immediately raised doubts both about how educated the leadership is and how politically sophisticated the leadership is.

APC should recognize that it has not consolidated its base. It is a party in flux. APC has not fully absorbed and integrated the new comers into its fabric. The defectors from PDP have not fully acknowledged the founding fathers and to play the role of a new kid on the block. They are still thinking of pushing out of the way the founding fathers and if that fails they may consider going back to PDP. It is still possible that the pushed out founding members may defect to PDP and strengthen the sinking ship. What this means is that APC’s newly found boldness must be mitigated by caution. Recklessly issuing a directive and making false accusations should not be part of the strategy for a party whose base is the educated class.

Finally the rule about issuing orders is that the issuer must be capable of making the orders obeyed or have the mechanism for punishing the people who do not follow orders. APC does not have this enforcing power. When APC members joined in the screening process, it was forced to issue an explanation that what it wanted was filibustering the process. For those us who have read the proceedings we do not see any filibuster either. So the call was simply ignored and APC can do nothing about it.

The danger here is that this makes it easier for another team of legislators to disregard future directives.

Another lesson to be learned from this is that there are other interests involved in what the President does. If for example the President appoints a service chief from Ogun State no matter what APC thinks of the President APC representatives from Ogun State would support the move. Even in US where party royalty is sacrosanct this disloyalty has been experienced. Who is not aware of the New Jersey Republican governor’s collaboration with President Obama at the heat of election when NJ needed Federal help to clean up vicious storm’s destruction?

Selfish interest is abroad in the world including in politics.

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Boston, Massachusetts

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