REPORTS that four opposition political parties, including the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and the All Progressive Grand Alliance have merged to form one party appear to have led to some excitement and celebrations in the media. Media comments have given kudos or knocks to this plan. Some have termed it a new party while others are cautious about calling it a new party and express their doubts on the workability of such merger. But is this excitement entirely real?
In fact, Sam Nda-Isaiah’s piece published in Leadership newspapers prompted some reflection on his views. Nigeria is a very funny country while most Nigerians are like babies sometimes in the sense that whenever our parents bring in new things into the house, we get excited and scream on top of our voices. But trust Nigerians also, such expression of excitement doesn’t last. If another party comes up today, we shall all shout again about it.
Isaiah puts it succinctly, “before this excitement gets into people’s heads, it will be important to know that this is only the beginning of a very long and hard journey for the brand new party”. So, the question is, is the APC truly a brand new party? Nigeria is going through what we are facing today because of a wrong process of amalgamation in the past. Let us even agree that APC is a brand new party with the opposition having the mind to displace the ruling octopus, PDP. We can then ask if the people who have come together to form this new party be considered as brand new also in their actions and deeds?
For those of us who may be considered as ‘naive’ in politics, this obviously looks like an old wine in a new bottle. Is this all about rebranding or what? Ask Dora Akunyili and she will tell you that it is not easy to rebrand Nigerians or anything in Nigeria for that matter. At least we have tried it and seen how it ended up.
Many online bloggers have said some things, which I believe we would commonly agree on. For instance, some ask whether they merge or not, are they not the same thieves all over? Some say it is not all about the label on the container but the content. Others ask so what policies unite these disparate parties? What’s their unifying ideology other than a quest for power?
Isaiah advised leaders of the party to make Nigerians own the party. How are the leaders going to do that? Have they been able to make Nigerians own the parties they were leading before? My grandmother used to tell me that the smell of the intestinal gas released from the rectum is an indicator of the smell of the faeces that will come out of the rectum. So you see where my pessimism is coming from? These individuals that make up the so-called brand new party have been there since the inception of this our nascent democracy.
They have jumped from one party to the other in search of power. Okorocha for instance was a member of the PDP who moved to APGA. Buhari left ANPP for CPC, so what is the policy and ideological difference between the various parties and how has that affected these men? Ngige, a one-time governor on PDP platform left PDP for ACN to become a senator on the platform of the latter. How has ACN ideology changed his PDP ideology? Tom Ikimi was in PDP as the Chairman of the Presidential Elections Committee in 2003. PDP won that election but he left for ACN for reasons only he can explain. This is the method of operation of many of our opposition politicians.
I have come to realise that individuals with ideologies make parties, not party names. From Buhari to Tinubu, Okorocha to Ikimi they are all individuals with certain characteristics, which some Nigerians abhor. I believe everyone will agree with me that the character of our politicians need to change and until such a time when that happens we are wasting our time with new names or mergers.
A thorough analysis of the activities and achievements of the component political parties of the new APC would show that these parties have not been able to come together in the various states where each of the parties hold sway. One then wonders how they will manage as one unit at the federal level. Obviously, power at the centre is the key issue at stake.
The Leadership publisher has said that, “that the most effective democracies are sustained by two major political parties struggling side by side for the people’s attention and providing a counterpoise to each other and this is hoping the coming of APC will achieve just that. Is this not a shortcut to two party system? It is true that many of the parties have not been viable because so many of them were floated simply to attract the financial subventions, which the 1999 Constitution, before its amendment, guaranteed them and so their demise has been predicted to be sooner rather than later. Can we therefore not legislate to have two parties if that is what we all crave for?
Part of reasons given for the new APC is transparent internal democracy and fair play, which the PDP has been accused of not operating. If wishes were horses beggars would ride! Before we forget, the only thing most Nigerian politicians whether in opposition or ruling party want is power and the associated goodies or else we would not be in our situation.
The APC has been dubbed Armoured Personnel Carrier, interpreted in some quarters that, as the name implies, the leaders of the party will be in an armoured personnel carrier that will protect them from the sufferings of Nigerians. As we have seen, the bigger the party the more distant it is likely to be from the people. APC is therefore likely to become the same thing they are accusing the PDP of currently.
An online report quoted the governors under the umbrella of the APC in a communiqué read by Governor Tanko Al-Makura, that the party would give priority attention to the promotion of radical social economic and political reformation of the country. In particular, Governor Tanko Al-Makura said the party’s priority programmes would be agricultural development, job creation, free education, affordable healthcare, infrastructural development, adequate power supply, eradication of poverty and corruption and rapid technological advancement and industrialization. Just how would this be different from what they have individually told us in their respective states and various component parties and why Nigerian people voted them into power? So what is new? Are these not all sounding rhetoric?
We all know that previous attempts at merging opposition parties have failed amid infighting and selfish individual desires and back stabbing. In an attempt therefore to field an acceptable presidential candidate for 2015 it is obvious that these characteristics will sure play a role because the actors have not changed.
As the new APC attempts to challenge what the leaders describe as the PDP’s 14 years of misrule, mismanagement and misappropriation of resources, the leaders must know that Nigerians are not oblivious of the plaguing issues and challenges that have held Nigeria spell-bound in its development efforts since independence and as manifest in all states whether PDP controlled or opposition party controlled. It is not about a name but a genuine desire to change the fortunes of Nigerians and showing that we love Nigeria and Nigerians. Our political attitude must change.