Monday, May 28, 2018

Nigeria: APC Congresses Of Blood, Tears And Sorrow

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
Beleaguered Senator Din Melaye got a mischievous dig in at his own political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday May, 2018. Shortly after a contentious state congresses of the party, Melaye tweeted, "Congratultions tot he 72 new state chairmen of APC. Everywhere na double double. What a blessed party!!!!" 
 As at the time I stumbled on the tweet on Sunday morning, it had been retweeted 968 times with 2,103 likes.

Dr. Doyin Okupe, a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), re-echoed Melaye’s tweet three hours later.
“36 states, 72 chairmen. APC! Going! Going. Who is d bastard now?” Okupe tweeted.
Then the irrepressible Senator Shehu Sani doubled down with his inimitable “PARALLELOGRAM” tweet in the early hours of Monday.
Sani, the enfant terrible of the 8th Senate, has mastered the art of delivering political sucker punches with good doses of wit and candour just as he did when he scoffed at President Muhammadu Buhari’s perceived double standards in the anti-graft war with the allegory of deodorants and insecticides.

And the ever-creative Nigerian youths who gave the APC the new name of All Promises Cancelled when the party disavowed its campaign promises after assuming power have upped the naming ante by ingeniously rechristening the party “All Parallel Congress.”   

Of course, Melaye’s claim of 72 state chairmen is hyperbolic.

There were parallel state congresses in 26, not 36 states. But that is an awful record for a party that promised not only to drain the Abuja political swamp but also to restore dignity to the arts of politics and governance in Nigeria and the Kogi State-born senator, who has been hounded by the system he helped to create, must be beside himself with joy.
What is even more significant is the fact that most of these gibes which are drawing good natured laughs from some Nigerians are coming from chieftains of the party.
Nothing has ridiculed the APC and shredded its claim to being positively different from the party it dislodged from power since it birthed on February 6, 2013 more than the acrimonious and bloody congresses.   

The bad blood and violence were such that an otherwise dispassionate Azu Ishiekwene, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Interview magazine, let his breath out: APC makes PDP party of saints.

“Offices of the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country are still littered with broken bones, bloodied faces and shredded tallies from the party’s ward congresses last weekend,” Ishiekwene wrote.

“In virtually all the states, the ward congresses were marred by violence, with special drama in Anambra where the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, and a former governorship candidate of the party, Tony Nwoye, could not even agree whether what was held was a congress or an imaginary clan reunion.

“It was worse – a bloody shambles – in Delta State. One of the aspirants, Jeremiah Oghoveta, was stabbed in the neck by a thug who fled and left his victim to die.
“Suddenly, the party that promised change is making the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) look like amateur thugs. By the fruit of the ward congresses, APC and PDP have shown, yet again, that they are different branches of the same blighted tree.”

Granted, some Nigerians were taken aback by the magnitude of the violence but most discerning observers of the APC politics anticipated that.  
To believe, therefore, that there is any difference between the APC and PDP would suggest that both political parties are not populated by the self-same Nigerian politicians. But we know they are and without any overarching ideology or philosophy that underpins their worldviews, the political parties only serve as instruments to acquire state power which then becomes an end in itself rather than a means to promote common good.  

So, when APC stalwarts rail against their soul-mates in PDP, they are only being smart by half, hoping that gullible Nigerians would be hoodwinked into believing their cynical narrative.

Truth be told, they are birds of the same plumage, who, despite the different vehicles with exotic names they hitch a ride on in their quest for state capture, ultimately they flock together. Politics in Nigeria is antithetical to altruism.  
So, when Ishiekwene, who rightly noted that the APC “ward congresses were an utter disgrace,” wonders “if the leader of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, would look beyond the smokescreen in his corner in Daura and find the courage to tell his party that it has fallen short,” I chuckle.

The president will not bother because he is both the smoke and screen that pundits like Ishiekwene want him to look beyond. He will not bother because he is the chief priest at APC’s altar of malfeasance. President Buhari will not look beyond the smokescreen because if he does, he will only see himself. He is the alter-ego of the same tendencies in full parade at the APC congresses.

The president sees politics as a zero-sum game, where the end justifies the means.
So, why must a president who subscribes fully to this philosophy call his fellow devotees in this fiendish political altar to order?
The APC has moved on, having advised those holding the wrong end of the political stick to seek redress by availing themselves of the services of the appeal panels.

The outcome of the APC congresses has proved that there is no difference between the ruling party and the other political parties, including the PDP. One does not become an upright and corrupt-free politician because he decamped from one political party to the other. APC is not a change agent because it does not have the capacity to be.

Nigerians should revel in that knowledge. As the 2019 elections draw close, the electorate should hang their hopes for the country’s redemption on individuals rather than political parties.

The outcome of the APC congresses and the mindsets that upended internal democracy so whimsically and violently should worry Nigerians. Can a party whose members are fighting this dirty guarantee free and fair general elections? How can politicians that have scant regards for internal democracy do otherwise come 2019?

This is a wake-up call.    
*Amaechi is the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of TheNiche, Sunday newspaper published in Lagos 

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