Presidency: APC should be democratic

Mohammed Alhassan

The emergence of the opposition mega-party, All Progressives Congress (APC), is one of the best things that has happened to Nigeria. All things being equal, the party would take over the reins of power from the corrupt and pauperising government of the present ruling party, Peoples Damage People (PDP) come 2015 elections.

For the APC to clinch the presidency there is need for the party leadership to ensure openness, transparency and democracy of the process through which the candidate of the party would emerge. The issue of who becomes Presidential flag-bearer of the party, like in other political parties the world over, can be a divisive issue because of the inter- play of conflicting political interests.
To a large extent, the issue of who would be President in 2015 is at the root of the implosion that engulfed the ruling PDP party and reduced its national appeal and spread. This happened as a result of the misuse of the power of incumbency, the deliberate resolve not to honour agreements and the inclination of the party leadership to abandon democratic principles to favour a particular candidate.

The choice of flag bearer causes problems and leads to division within the party as favoured individuals and groups within the party bend the rules and impose their will on the generality without sparing a thought for the feeling of other party members or the action they may decide to take which may negatively affect the party and reduce its appeal and hence its chance at the election. Concerned members and sympathisers of the APC are worried about the possibility of disagreements and quarrels among members of the party which might compromise its current high national appeal and dampen the enthusiasm of majority of Nigerians.

Already, signs of stress arising from dissatisfaction of members about the way certain decisions and actions of the party are arrived at and carried out have surfaced in some states of the federation creating problems for the party and threatening its followership in some places. We urge that the party leadership allow fairness and justice to rein so that it can be seen by all and sundry that the party would be positively better than the PDP.
On the issue of the presidential candidate of the APC, there is need for the party to ensure a level playing field for the aspirants and ensure that at the end of the day the candidate and his deputy or running mate would not only be popular but would attract votes from across the country. While the party leadership would likely play a role in the eventual emergence of the presidential flag bearer and his running mate, they should be guided by the best interest of the party and the nation as well as the all- important desire for victory at the polls.

There has been talks or rumours that some influential leaders in the party who should remain as elder statesmen, but whose efforts and sacrifice gave birth to the party may be considering contesting in the party presidential primaries or out rightly impose themselves as candidates. According to the rumour, the arrangement if it sails through might present the Nigerian electorate with a Muslim- Muslim ticket reminiscent of the botched 1993 elections. Though Nigerians did not mind in 1993 and voted for a ticket that ignored religious balance and sensitivity of the population, it should be stated that the political situation of the country then was different and the personality involved so unique that the arrangement was tolerated. However, the fact that the election was eventually annulled and the presumed winners did not take power, is a pointer to something unnatural about the outing.

One would like to advise the leadership and followership of the party to avoid the situation above no matter the temptation and no matter who is involved. In today’s Nigeria, such an experiment would have negative consequences at the polls and would result in easy victory to the party in power which will make political capital of it.

The APC cannot say it is looking for a credible presidential candidate who can give whoever emerges from the PDP a good electoral run. What of the former Vice President who is the object of fear for the infant Goodluck Jonathan and his numerous Godfathers in the PDP? This man is a consummate politician whose political appeal across the country is exciting because of his accommodating personality and forthrightness. We advise the members and national leaders of the APC, not to look too far or engage in time- wasting and divisive permutations which can only play into the hands of the ruling party. The man who can win 2015 for the APC is already in the party!
For the APC to achieve the historic victory which awaits it all concerned must make sacrifices and place the interest of the party and the nation above self.

Alhassan wrote from Maitama, Abuja. Email: [email protected]