The fuss that attends a party living out its slogan

I hope you wouldn't mind this attempt to exhume issues surrounding the engagement of a U.S. firm by APC to help it win future elections. The report has been buried by the suspension of Lamido Sanusi as the CBN governor. Nonetheless, it is auspicious to bring this story back to life since it wasn't adequately treated before it was prematurely dispatched to oblivion by the ouster of Sanusi. Given that an act of injustice shouldn't be permitted, it's only fair we give the earlier story a little more attention lest its ghost gets to haunt us some day. Please don't ask me how.

Suffix to say that it isn't because this author didn't consider the more recent development newsworthy enough, neither is it because he is bereft of what to say concerning it. On the contrary, Sanusi's sack had to be side-stepped because it unjustly took the shine off an earlier story that was yet to run its course. The younger capitalised on the factor of time to displace the older which is equally as significant. Hence, it makes all the sense for us to exhaust the older not minding that the younger like Jacob has grasped Esau's heel. Do pardon me for wasting your time in the name of making that clarification. Now, let's get serious.

Last Tuesday, the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed told us that the party has engaged an international political consulting firm, AKPD Message and Media to enable it gain a upper hand in upcoming elections. In a swift reaction, however, the PDP through it's National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh described APC appointment of the foreign campaign consultant as contemptuous of Nigeria professionals and a move that seeks the return of imperialism.

If you believe this posturing by PDP is borne out its faith in our professionals nay our country, then will you believe anything. You may want to ask yourself: where will you find the highest concentration of Nigerians who check out of the country to treat the slightest of infirmity? Which party is it that parades the highest number of Nigerians whose children and wards school abroad? Then again, which set of people do we see frivol away our commonwealth holidaying in Dubai and shop in choice locations around the globe?

Until those in the PDP fold absolves themselves as not belonging to any of these stocks, they should take their sermonizing to the marines. It beats me hollow how hypocritical our politicians can be. The worst is that they implicitly call us fools by their utterances. To them, we can't add two and two together. They feel we can't fathom apparent undertone in their positions and postulations. Their thinking is that we know not where they are coming from. Well I've got news for them, Nigerians are way too wiser than they are willing to give us credit for.

And so Olisa Metuh in his pathological voluble cast thought he has got something to leverage on in making nonsense of an iconoclastic move by the APC. Shortly after Lai Mohammed disclosed his party's latest strategy, he screamed blue murder as if he and those he represents love Nigeria more than we all do. In a feigned shock, PDP told us that APC patronage of AKPD Message and Media is a clear justification of its stand that the APC is anti-Nigeria. But if it's with instances like this that PDP intends to convince us that APC is anti-Nigeria, then it's very much in short of evidence.

I'm yet to see what is anti-Nigeria in employing a legitimate means of taking away power from an ineffectual and corrupt party whose only achievement lies in perpetually keeping us moving without motion. Aha! So that is what this is about: PDP is mortally afraid that this collaboration struck by APC can take away power from them. I see, no wonder! The ruling party must be in the know of the track records of AKPD Message and Media. How the support of the Chicago-based firm contributed to the triumph of leading populist movements across the globe.

PDP must have also heard that the successes of President Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 U.S presidential elections is greatly linked to the campaigns the same firm did for him. It wasn't also difficult for PDP to see how APC newest friends worked with the opposition to clinch power in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana. All these must have sent jittery waves down the spine of PDP causing it to hide under the cloak of not believing in Nigerians to discredit APC and score cheap political point. Someone should help me tell PDP that some of us know their sophistry.

A keen observer of recent political climate in the country will know that when PDP screams over a particular move by APC, it means that the move sorely got to them. Their public fault-finding with any such antics of APC is simply a vent of moan and groan disguised into a posturing of 'nothing dey happen' when much is going on inside. What I want them to know is that we know. But I can't say all of us know since the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) are towing the same line as the PDP.

The umbrella body of professional public relations firms in Nigeria are kicking because they believe that APC should not have handed such a sensitive assignment to a foreign consultancy when we have the best breeds of public relations experts registered with PRCAN under the relevant Nigerian law that can competently handle such brief. PRCAN went on to ask: “for a party that prides itself as the government in waiting to act in this manner, is this not a hint of the disdain the party will have for Nigerians when it indeed gets into power?" There were other issues raised by the association, but since we now know their grouse, it's pointless bringing them in.

For all the supposed damages this APC strategy caused PRCAN, I have just a question for them: prior to the disclosure by APC that it has engaged a U.S based political cum PR consultancy, did the association or any of its members present a proposal to that effect to APC and such a proposal was turned down? I'm sure they never did. But how would they have done when PDP had crudely defined our electioneering campaigns to be such that revolve just around a strong man coming into town and involve the sharing of rice, salt, onions and such trivials to the voting public?

At the risk of sounding like Lai Mohammed, PRCAN should be grateful to APC for opening this new vista in their profession as practised here in Nigeria. You can be sure that other political parties would want to thread this road charted by APC. When that happens, who are the ultimate beneficiaries? Members of PRCAN of course. I won't be surprised if PDP after upbraiding APC for this innovative partnership, go ahead to validate its empty posturing by engaging one of our local PR firms. In an event of that, I'm sure you know who deserves the credit.

The umbrella PR body also talked about AKPD Message and Media not knowing the nuances of executing what is expected of them in our peculiar environment. I couldn't help but wonder aloud why that should be the headache of the PRCAN. In other words, what is their concern in the foreign consultancy delivering or not? I have always thought that being busy body is the exclusive preserve of journalists. The PR body will be well advised to bother more about exploiting the humongous untapped PR potentials under its nose, than poking same into the success or otherwise of what a party has thought wise to do.

I may be sounding sympathetic to APC in this treatise, but, there are reasons for that. I'm simply enthralled by what the opposition party is doing for our democracy. Who could have believed our conceited politicians will get past their pedestrian approach to politics into treating it as such serious business that requires engaging an internationally-acclaimed campaign consultancy to help win our votes. That simply means that they have high value for our votes. And if you ask me, we should return the favour.

Another thing that can be gleaned from this partnership with the U.S. firm is that APC may well be thinking beyond rigging of elections and snatching of ballot boxes. That may be why it went for an international agency that is used to global best practises and not the local variant which would have factored in rigging and other electoral irregularities while advising APC. Who knows if that's what PRCAN had in mind when it held that: “There are local issues that will determine the direction of the pendulum in the next elections." I'm just thinking.

However we look at it, this collaboration APC entered into with AKPD Message and Media should be accorded kudos and not knocks. We should appreciate the opposition party for living out its slogan of change. It shows that it is not only mouthing it but is working it out. That some with vested interests and others with limited understanding are kicking against it only confirms that what APC has wrought is change. And like everything 'change' many would naturally be against it, especially those who are at ease with the old order. Tell me then why the opposition party is not justified to have 'progressives' in the middle of its name.

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Articles by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi