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The problems with APC's congresses

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By Hamisu Abubakar
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is a study in imposition. The congresses of the party held across the nation, penultimate week, provided the nation the first opportunity to assess its commitment and capacity to play a role in our democratisation journey. Does the APC have what it takes to ”liberate” the nation from the economic and social challenges bedeviling her? This question was given a negative answer last week when in all the states of the federation where congresses were held, what transpired was everything but democratic. The commitment to democracy, which the party has always proclaimed, as far back as when it was the Action Congress of Nigeria, before merger with other parties, failed to add up.

It is now a known fact that in all the States where congresses took place, there was none where the principle of democracy was either upheld or applied. In most cases, popular candidates were denied mandate and unpopular or even unknown ones imposed on the people. It shows clearly that the APC is not an alternative to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); that it lacks what it takes to provide an enduring democracy for the nation and that it cannot even be considered as a choice, in 2015!

The congresses held in Oyo, Ogun and Edo States, for instance, were not only partial exercises, they were characterised by malpractices and the worst forms of imposition, an indication that the party lacks the moral rights to admit defecting members of the PDP whose grouse was simply that their party was in a crisis. One cannot but notice the duplicity of the acting Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who would always accuse the PDP of undemocratic practices even when his own party is deeply involved in multiple malpractices. When confronted the other day to explain what was happening to the APC that claimed to be the bastion of democracy, Lai Mohammed's explanation was that it was because of the size of the party, and that in any large organisation, “you expect such things to happen” Invariably, what Mohammed was saying to Nigerians was that his party was so large that it could not organise congresses successfully.

The situation is worrisome. The party seeking to rule Nigeria by all means is telling us that it is incapable of organising its own congresses! What is not clear in the flawed congresses of the APC is whether the candidates imposed on the people are expected to respect the wishes of the members or simply those of the leadership.  Since the registration of the APC, its activities and conduct of those running the party have shown clearly that the party leaders are not working to serve the nation but to enrich themselves. It is morally wrong for the APC leadership to consistently refer to the PDP as a party that lacks democratic norms while seeing itself as the custodian of our democratic ideals.

The sham of an exercise, now referred to as congresses, has established that the APC has nothing to offer as far as democracy is concerned in the country.  Of course, the argument by the leadership of the APC might be that what happened last week across the nation is a party affair (family matter) which should be handled internally. That argument stands, if only the party were a union, the activities of which end in either Ogun or Oyo State.  The APC is a party seeking the mandate of the entire nation to pilot her affairs as from 2015. That is why we should be concerned about the outcome of whatever is being done in the party.

Whatever the case, it is obvious that given what happened at the congresses, the APC has lost the toga of “alternative party” because  it lacks everything democratic. The Nigerian electorate should, as a matter of urgency, note that what APC represents is nothing but imposition, and that if allowed to take up the leadership of the country, our nascent democracy would die.  It would have made greater sense, if the APC had not insulted the sensibilities of the Nigerian electorate with the sham congresses, and if the party had not gone ahead to try to convince Nigerians that it was prepared to replace the ruling PDP. Already, the consequences of APC's misadventure are beginning to tell and sooner than later, there would be implosion from within. Not only were parallel congresses held in many of the States, aggrieved members are now threatening to quit the party.  Despite efforts to rationalise the party's glaring failures in the conduct of the congresses, the leadership of the party has shown to the electorate that it is not a party to be trusted with their votes. That credibility deficit is a big blow to the party.

For Nigerians in general, the APC congress disaster should be seen as a timely caution and as a warning that we must not gamble with the political future of this country. We have a duty to critically assess our politicians as well as political institutions, subject them to rigorous test and chose only those adjudged to be capable of meeting our collective aspirations. As far as the APC is concerned, the party has failed our test woefully.

Hamisu Abubakar sent this piece from Abuja.