The shock is not that it is happening; rather that it is happening under Buhari’s watch. We are talking of the APC crisis, of course. The president is said to be the glue that holds this patch work of various and divergent political interests together. Talk of unification sans unity.
The prophets prophesy that the party would cease to hold the commanding position in our national politics once Buhari completes his second term in office and waves goodbye to politics, having achieved his consuming ambition to rule the country. APC would likely become the first political party formed expressly to snatch the baton of political power from an incumbent to a new political kid on the block – and then head for a place in the history books. History will be kind to our politicians.
The party leaders cannot be unconscious of the prophesy on the future of their party. Would they allow it to be the fate of their party post Buhari? It is an important question they must begin to address now. Sadly, from what I can see, I do not think the party leaders are particularly worried about what becomes of their party from 2023 when we have another chance to either let the party retain the baton or pass it back to its main opposition party, PDP. They are so busy tearing themselves apart that they have no time to give serious thoughts to what the future holds in store for them and their party.
What is happening in and to APC must make the PDP naturally happy, very happy indeed. The ruling party is virtually dancing on the brink. APC came into being in 2014 because PDP imploded. Not a few people are wondering if the two parties would change places with APC imploding and the PDP benefitting from the implosion this time around. The fluidity in party loyalty makes it possible, almost inevitable, for politicians to be on the permanent highway, trudging to and fro in search of political opportunities. No political party is immune to the coronavirus that afflicts politicians and makes them ditch their parties. Treachery comes naturally to politics. So does the deficit in principles.
The national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is in the centre of the storm in the current crisis in APC. He was suspended by some members of the party but he fought back and the courts gave him back his job. My advice is that he should moderate the celebration of his victory. Political enemies do not give up so easily. His enemies are powerful men in the party. The courts may have stopped them for now but it would be naïve to think they have given up on reducing the national chairman to an ordinary party member. Battle lines are not drawn in the sand.
It should be possible for neutral men like yours sincerely to interrogate the action of the party men fighting Oshiomhole. Is he the problem of the party? They obviously think so. And they are discerning and loyal party men who know what ails their party. It is possible that their belief that if Oshiomhole is removed from office, the problem, whatever it is, would be solved in one fell swoop, may not be exactly wrong-headed. Solutions to some problems demand the blood of sacrificial lambs.
However, I do not think Oshiomhole is the real problem of the party. Indeed, if we discount the leadership style of the former labour leader, we would find that the party faces deeper and more fundamental problems than his leadership style which irks some because they find it more dictatorial than democratic. APC leaders would be reluctant to admit this but the real problem is that since it was formed more than six years ago, no serious attempts have been made by its leaders to make it a political party by beating the many factions and interests into a unified whole. They are still pulling in different directions and owe no allegiance to the party except in so far as it is the source of their daily bread and political power. It is a party of convenience.
At the first sign of the storm darkening the sky, there would be a scramble by its members to find shelter elsewhere. The umbrella might come in handy to the discomfiture of the party and its leaders. You would recall that some of the foundation members of the party ditched it at the critical time during the 2019 general elections season and returned to PDP – and almost made Buhari a one-term president. PDP is waiting for the party to implode. It seems to me that the APC leaders, casting around for a scapegoat, might, in the end give that party the pleasure of recovering its former members and gathering them safe and sound under the umbrella.
We need prayers warriors to save APC from imploding. The rest of us would do well not to gloat over the crisis in APC because it might lead it down the garden path towards the sunset. The survival of a strong political party is important to our political health as a modern nation because it would challenge leaders of other political parties to strive to build strong parties that can offer credible leadership to our dear country.
I have no particular interest in the survival of APC as such but I know that as the ruling party, its survival may hold the key to the stability in our political parties and, consequently, in our national politics. That is one good reason why the bickering, the sack and the counter-sack in the party should be a matter of serious concern to all those who thought that the leaders of a ruling party ought to take their leadership responsibilities much more seriously and behave more decently.
My interest in the survival of a major political party, APC or PDP, or any other political party is purely patriotic. I have a patriotic interest in growing our democracy through a stable ruling political party able to drive our national development through an honest execution of its manifesto. No modern nation, let alone one with pretensions to democratic ideals, can make meaningful progress in human and resource development if its political leaders continue to define their exalted positions purely in terms of what each person stands to profit from the system.
I cannot be tired of preaching the gospel of stability in our political party system because without it, we are trying rather too hard to build and grow our democracy on shifting sand. Party desertion at convenient times in our kind of party politics is inevitable but that does not make it right. It weakens the party system. It is not such a good idea for our country that in every general election season, the politicians trade places for a serving of amala and ewedu soup. Each politician feels he is doing no more than exercising his constitutional right for free movement and free association when he moves from one party to another. Today, very few of our politicians have remained in the same party they joined in 1998/99. Such fluidity in the system makes it unstable and our political parties mere assemblage of men and women driven by their greed for power.
The fate of APC is in the hands of its three leaders: President Buhari, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party and, of course, Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the party. Can they prevent the party from imploding?
- The Guardian, Nigeria