APC'S CONVENTION: NOW WE SEE THE “CHANGE”
Since its emergence through a merger of a few insignificant to middling political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has struggled with image problems of its own making. If the party is not portraying itself through its interim appointments as a party for one religion only in Nigeria's multi-religious society, it is acting out a foretold script to prove that it is indeed merely a vehicle for two power-seeking individuals to achieve their ambitions. And yet this is the party that keeps saying it is all about 'change'.
June 13-14, 2014 — the dates of its recent National Convention — presented the APC a golden opportunity to reinvent itself and prove that it is capable of living up to the 'change' mantra. But, in a performance that almost made the much-vilified Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) look like saints, the APC Convention left many Nigerians asking, 'What manner of change is this?'
Former Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was selected through 'consensus' as the first substantive National Chairman of the APC. And despite a declaration made during the merger that brought about the APC 'to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy,' several other national executive officers of the party were selected through 'consensus'. These include the Deputy Chairman (South), Segun Adebayo Oni; Deputy Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu; National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Goni and National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. To say that many Nigerians, including some prominent members of the APC itself, are still reeling from the shock of this strange rendition of 'change' is to put the matter mildly.
Interestingly, there are some Nigerians who would certainly not be surprised by the underhanded happenings recorded at the APC Convention. Such Nigerians include people like Vanguard Femi Aribisala, who, as far back as April 15, 2014 wrote: 'Rather than being a progressive party, the APC is regressive. Indeed, it is a cruel joke to describe it as progressive. A party led by a former military dictator and a civilian dictator cannot be progressive.'
Moreover, as the journalist Iyobosa Uwugiaren stated in the Leadership of Wednesday, June 18, 2014: 'What happened at the Eagle Square, Abuja, between last Thursday and Saturday morning, was a sham; it was a selection, not election; it lacked the basic minimum elements of internal democracy in a party that prides itself as a 'progressive party'. Indeed, the conduct of the APC leaders was retrogressive.'
In an article titled, 'Who Owns APC?' Uwugiaren also said: 'My take on the outcome of the convention is that the leaders fell short of glory before God and the electorate. They fell flat on the core principles of democracy: the right of people to decide who leads them; they failed woefully on their widely advertised selling points — 'change' and 'new ideas'.' Uwugiaren went on to add, 'I hold this view strongly that APC is not a credible alternative to the PDP.'
For those who may feel Uwugiaren is a bystander whose views on the goings-on in the APC are of little consequence, a chieftain of the party, Chief Tom Ikimi, boycotted the convention even though it was widely reported that he planned to contest the national chairmanship position of the party.
When contacted by the media to state why he failed to attend the convention, Ikimi, a former foreign affairs minister, said: 'There was no election. Odigie-Oyegun was selected and appointed as chairman. That was why I did not fill and submit my nomination form. I boycotted the convention because its outcome was pre-determined.' As a very senior member of the APC, Ikimi's words cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Despite all that, perhaps the most damning fallout of the APC National Convention is the controversy surrounding its new National Youth leader in the person of Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo. Jalo's age was first stated as 52, later reduced to 49 on a television talk show by former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Nasir el-Rufai; and lastly 'proved' to be 43 by virtue of a crisp-looking birth certificate circulated on social media.
Not impressed by the mathematical acrobatics surrounding Jalo's age, a pressure group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), issued a statement saying, 'This election or selection of a 52 year old as a National Youth Leader of the APC contradicts the provision of the party constitution which in itself defines youth as persons between the age of 18 and 40.'
Not to be outdone, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, weighed in on the controversy through a statement saying, 'It is public knowledge that Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo contested the Gombe/Kwame/Funakaye Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives in 2011 during which he declared his age to be 49 years. The records are there and they speak for themselves. If Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo was 49 years old in 2011, it naturally follows that he is 53 at present for which he should be grateful to God.'
Indeed, all Nigerians should be grateful to God for the APC National Convention since it has shown what manner of 'change' the party would bring if it is voted into power.
Written By Kayode Ojo