CPC AND ITS RENEGADE SOUTHERN CHAIRMEN
A drama that underlines the tension and distemper in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has been playing out in the past fortnight. On the one hand, the drama modulates the view that the CPC is a league of bad losers and bellyachers; but on the other hand, it confirms the widespread view that the party which held a lot of promise within its short period of existence has willy-nilly blown its goodwill and credibility among Nigerians.
On May 14, state Chairmen of the party in the South-South, South-East, and South-West held a well-reported press conference at Excellence Hotel, Ogba, Lagos. At the press briefing, they admitted that the general elections were free and fair in their zones, acknowledging that there was high voter turn out. 'We are honest enough to discard partisan interest, and instead admit that our party, the Congress for Progressive Change, had neither firm root nor solid branches in the three geopolitical zones in the country, and accordingly the party did not mount any serious campaign in the three zones of the South during the recent elections,' the chairmen declared.
They went further to furnish proof of the CPC's nonchalance to its electoral fortunes in the South of the country. According to them, 'the absence of campaign materials in terms of vehicles, campaign logistics, etc., was clear evidence of not only poor preparation but that our party did not reckon that three zones in the South would matter in the victory calculus of our party's candidate in the presidential election.'
Whereupon, the state chairmen congratulated President Goodluck Jonathan on his victory, lampooned the post-election violence in the North, and more importantly declared that seeking legal redress over the presidential poll was not only a waste of the time of the judiciary but also a waste of scarce resources that the party ought to devote to growing its still very tender roots and branches. The chairmen, therefore, dissociated themselves from the election petition filed on behalf of their presidential candidate, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari.
Several days after the Excellence Hotel press conference, a few of the state chairmen from the South-West issued a disclaimer that raised more posers than advanced the cause of those who obviously pressured them to recant. Thus, in disengaging from the issues properly articulated at the May 14 press briefing, the break-away chairmen did not explain either to their party hierarchy, or to the world at large, why the CPC performed poorly in the South-West. After all, the CPC wants the elections in the South cancelled, because of alleged irregularities. Pray, did the South-West chairmen of the CPC ever day-dream of dislodging the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the South-West zone? Can the CPC in all reasonableness allege that the ACN also rigged other elections in the zone?
Or, that voters in the sophisticated South-West zone were not discerning enough to vote for President Jonathan?
Last weekend, the tension and desperation in the CPC continued unabated. In a dubious attempt at disparaging their counterparts from the South, some chairmen of the party from the North-Central zone said in Abuja that they backed the party's recourse to the tribunal to challenge President Jonathan's widely acknowledged victory. Yet, the traducers could not formulate a single sentence on whether they were better placed to assess the performance of the party in the South whose chairmen had come out openly, and honestly, to admit that the CPC was ill-prepared in the South, and that the outcome of the presidential election reflected the true wishes of voters.
Of course, by mid-last week, the party's hierarchy in a knee-jerk reaction purported to have expelled the state party chairmen from the South, over their disavowal of the presidential election petition. In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Rotimi Fashakin, the CPC announced that its National Executive Committee had decided to 'discipline some erring members, as part of on-going efforts to re-position the party on a stronger footing'. The statement needed no in-depth analysis to show that the purported expulsion of the state chairmen form the South was a summary decision without the most elementary recourse to fair hearing, or for that matter a sober introspection to ascertain whether the state chairmen from the South had not told the bitter truth. Just how the CPC hopes to reposition itself, by jettisoning its honest and frank leaders in the South is open to debate.
It is not sufficient to tar-brush the southern chairmen of the CPC as rebels. If they are, then they are indeed magnificent rebels. By forswearing claims of rigging were none existed, the chairmen from the South are saying, elections are not a do-or-die affair. But by treating them in the highly disagreeable manner the National Executive Committee has acted, the CPC is cutting an uncomplimentary image of advocates of do-or-die politics.
The CPC did not say that unlike the recent violence in parts of the north, the elections violence in the old Western Region did not take on the garb of ethnicity or religion. The Western crises did not target ordinary citizens who performed their civic duties or who were involved in the conduct of elections. The angry people went for the big wigs that patently used their money and influence to compromise the elections. The CPC ignores the fact that 45 years or 27 years after those quoted incidents, the world has moved on and has no place for such again.
The body language and inciting comments of CPC leaders, even before the results of the presidential elections were announced, were enough to send the army of soulless urchins onto the streets to perpetrate mayhem, over what they hardly knew anything about. The actions and utterances of CPC leaders may have suggested that the mayhem was well conceived in advance, raising questions about the character and ideology of a political party that would bring ruin on the people and country it intends to govern.
A distant observer would be tempted to think that the difference between Jonathan the winner and the CPC candidate is a matter of a few thousand votes, close enough to suggest a margin of error. But President Jonathan beat Buhari by over 10 million votes. Besides, how can CPC talk of acceptance nationally if it could only establish its dominance in the north? The graphic presentation clearly shows a party which divides the country into two blocs of north and south, clearly entrenched in the northern block. This is not the type of leadership the country deserved in this age.
CPC has a lot to learn from the ACN leadership in party organization and how to become a viable opposition.