APC and its Adversarial Politics
By Hamisu Abubakar
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) was born in July 2013, it raised hopes that it would play the role of Nigeria's major opposition party in the best tradition of a presidential democracy. Even among members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there was agreement that the peoples' interests are best served with a virile opposition that will constructively criticise government's programmes and policies.
In the past 15 months, however, those ideals have been thrown to the dogs. Instead of providing a platform for canvassing alternative viewpoints, the APC is rather redefining 'opposition' as hate politics. The amalgam of four opposition parties has become a scare-monger instead and a conclave for the manufacture and distribution of lies and rumours of doomsday. More worrisome is its relentless effort to subvert the government and public good.
In its manner of opposition politics, the APC leadership has thrown caution to the winds, hounding rival parties with lies, blackmail and offensive comments simply because it wants power in the country in the next elections. Because of the desperation to oust the ruling PDP, the statements churned out by its leaders have become more and more alarming, and sometimes verging on the extraordinary.
For instance, the party's newly-installed National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, took the rhetoric to a frightening height at a recent rally in Osogbo, saying the APC would form a parallel government if the conduct of the 2015 elections was not credible. To many Nigerians, it was not a mere political rant and a gimmick to spur support for the party at the Osun governorship election; it was simply a call to anarchy, a seditious statement that has the potential to subvert our hard-earned democracy.
For the APC, every issue provides an opportunity for political mischief and lie-peddling. As I write, the party is still stirring its pot of controversy over what it contrived as “the monumental Malabu oil scandal.” Its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said half of the 1.1 billion US dollars paid to Malabu Oil and gas for oil field OPL 245 by two oil majors was allegedly used to bribe Nigerian officials, who in turn used the proceeds to buy private jets and armoured limousines. Raising issues where none exist, Lie, sorry Lai, was basically amplifying a rumour being peddled around in Abuja beer parlours, likening it to the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals under the Obasanjo presidency.
With Lai Mohammed, it is all in a day's work to manufacture one controversy a week. Last week, he said President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP should not take full credit for the country's successful containment of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). To him, “a collective effort” should not belong to the Federal Government alone. As usual, Lai Mohammed was lying and trying to distort the facts as laid bare by the President who had alluded to the defeat of Ebola in Nigeria as the fruit of bi-partisan cooperation. In spite of that statesmanlike speech, Lai Mohammed preferred a special credit to the APC governors of Lagos and Rivers States whose contribution mainly centred on coordination of the various volunteer groups that sprang up to assist in managing the crisis.
It is difficult to understand Lai Mohammed's argument, and what political capital he intends to get from the argument and why he prefers to draw the lines of party affiliation in that humanitarian issue in which Nigeria has received collective commendation across the world? It can only be for parochial reasons. Like in every issue of this nature in which people's welfare must be considered first, Jonathan has played down the political leanings of governors of those states. Like the war on insurgency which was started in states managed by APC governors, efforts to eradicate Ebola in Nigeria were not waged with partisan political considerations in mind. Truth be told, if credit must be given at all, the Jonathan administration has fully earned it and it is not something Lai Mohammed should be hysterical about.
The week before, it was the mindless attack on President Jonathan and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President by APC chieftains over the unfortunate issues involving Nigerian cash for the purchase of arms seized by the South African authorities. The incident had sparked off vituperations from the APC which veered into religious politics by dragging the names of Cardinals Olubunmi Okogie and John Onaiyekan, past Presidents of CAN in an effort to dent the image of the present occupier of the office, Ayo Oritsejafor who is said to have an interest in the company operating the aircraft leasing company involved in the matter, but who has been cleared of personal involvement in the matter?
It did not matter that the delay in purchase of the arms meant so much for our continuing fight against insurgency and restore security to every inch of its territory: Lai Mohammed and the APC were only interested in denigrating the nation before the world.
Is there ever anything that President Jonathan Administration does that receives commendation from the APC? Nothing; rather the APC revels in its pastime of uncouth criticisms that most times verge on treason and subversion –actions deliberately masterminded to cause a legitimate government to fail in order to topple it. To make the APC comments laughable, it has refused to see its own contradictions and warped ideology of political subversion in the name of opposition. Is it a coincidence that, at a time the war against insurgency is heightening, the APC is the only political party in Nigeria that offers apologies on behalf of Boko Haram, and goes ahead to denigrate the nation's fighting army in an effort to discourage them?
According to an opinion elsewhere, “opposition parties are veritable think-tanks and solution centres that evolve ideas which seek to improve society and find solutions to get around national challenges. They don't threaten war, anarchy and lawlessness if they lose a future election. They are not known to engage in activities to pull down a government; they only sell their ideas to the electorate. They seek ways to solve the problems of the country, rather than becoming a problem for the country. They establish rational basis of selectively criticizing policies, in the overall national interest.”
The APC, from all practical purposes, is not an opposition party but a conglomeration of desperate politicians eager to subvert their fatherland and its government. However, they have failed woefully as the average Nigerians have come to see the party as a bunch of rabble-rousers blinded by an absurd brand of adversarial politics.
Abubakar contributed this piece from Kaduna.
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