APC – The Real Opposition, No Alternative By Olalekan Anifowoshe

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A peaceful weekend marred only by the unending noise of generators coughing up carbon monoxide ensuring a dual attack of noise and air pollution, finally ended. 

A request from my slave driver meant that I had to wake up even earlier; 4am, to get ahead of the traffic to get into town early enough, also prevented me from stopping by at the ‘zone’ to meet with the guys to discuss issues concerning the common man all over, until yesterday.

Good thing I did too, as we returned to an important issue which we have been monitoring for a year, hoping for a change in the common sense of the star actors, which will culminate in a drastic change in the level of hope and a renewed believe in a better Nigeria in the near future by the common man.

A failed attempt at a merger by the ‘other’ political parties, championed by the Buhari led CPC and the Bola Tinubu led ACN in 2010, leading up to the 2011 elections, seemed to have been a letdown of the common man by the politicians within the parties that made up the proposed merger, as the common folk concluded that it robbed us of the opportunity to have a real opposition to the PDP which has been the elected party at the Centre since 1999.  With the collapse of that proposed merger, the individual parties were consigned to compete and contest the presidential election and the result was another PDP win, which was followed by weeks of violence in Northern areas of the country.

Based on the excellent showing of the ACN in the western states and Lagos in all other elections at the time, compared to the abysmal performance of their presidential flag bearer;  Malam Nuhu Ribadu, in same elections, especially in Lagos, and the reports of a late night visit to the home of Bola Tinubu by the PDP presidential  candidate; Goodluck Jonathan, informed the widespread rumor of a sell out by Bola Tinubu, which some argued, was evident in the lack of visibility of ACN agents on election day.

The news of the finality of the merger of these 2 parties and a few others was welcomed with so much aplomb by the common folk along the length and breadth of the country. For most folks, the emergence of a party with potentially equal reach and resources to rival the PDP which will ensure that the PDP realizes that it does not have a free reign of perpetuity in office except it raises the quality of the governance it delivers to Nigerians. For others, the joy was predicated on having a real alternative to PDP, as they believe that the PDP have only served to worsen the social, economic and financial problems facing us as a people. The last group of Nigerians that celebrated the emergence of a new political party from the merger was those Nigerians for whom ‘anything but PDP’ remains their astute position on all issues, never mind that this position is not necessarily based on any concrete considerations.

After the initial brouhaha of the authenticity of the chosen name; APC, occasioned by the action of some rascal organization going ahead to register a party with the same acronym at the CAC and INEC, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when the issue was cleared and the party was allowed to move ahead with the name, to allow its focus on the plethora of urgent national issues.

Alas, the emergence of Lai Mohammed as the spokesperson for this new political entity, after having held same positions within the AC and the CAN, for what seemed an eternity, was a wake up slap and a reminder of the sectional interests and power blocks that constitute this new party and bitter pointer as to who calls the shots and what to expect. The general activity or lack of it, of the APC in the last year has, for many common folk, only served to confirm their worst fears; that the real opposition to the PDP does not offer an alternative for the common man.

What Nigerians have witnessed is a continuous, tragi-comical, process of Lai Mohammed jumping up and denouncing and condemning every action and project that the current PDP government has embarked on, without taking time to study the action and/or project and/or policies to see if indeed there are merits or not and the consequence of both the merits and demerits to the common man and more disappointingly; without ever offering an alternative solution/action/policy/project to that which they so vociferously condemn.

For the common man, the expectation is predicated on the common sense that if you desire to get a man to forfeit his allegiance to one deity and to pledge allegiance to a new god, then you must not just condemn the man’s current god, more importantly is to convince him by way of clear explanation and actions, that he will be better off with the new deity.  On this common sense position, the APC has failed and continue to fail the people, so much so that a great majority of Nigerians are increasingly deciding to adopt the adage; “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know” by resorting to vote for a continuation of the current PDP presidency, come 2015.

After castigating the PDP and its members and branding them as non-progressives, looters, brigands and usurpers of the great future of the common man, Nigerians have stood back and watched the tragi-comedy series with the APC leadership welcoming with pump and pageantry, so many of the same PDP members into the APC fold. These are the same people that the APC had warned Nigerians that we all need to be rid of, if we are to make economic and political progress. The same people who the APC informed Nigerians that are the wanton looters of our commonwealth, the same people who are the reason we do not have electricity in the 21st century, the same people that are responsible for the rot in our educational sector, the same people that stole all the monies allocated to our security forces which is why we now sleep with both eyes wide opened, why we cannot stop on the road to help a stranded brother/sister for fear that we will be kidnapped and held for ransoms that our families can’t afford or ill afford. Each week, the APC celebrates yet another cross carpeting of politicians from the PDP into its fold and each time it is done with such fanfare our common sense is assailed with the unbelievable scenario being played out.

The commonsense deductions from all these confusion is that the core of the APC, who are those who muted, nursed and completed the merger, are all people who share the same fundamentally flawed believe; that the majority of Nigerians will welcome a change just for its own sake. Change for the sake of change, and not for a promise of betterment based on a clear and articulated plan, is a change that belongs in the animal kingdom and not the 21st century, and it seems that the majority of Nigerians have come to understand and embrace this.

In the last two weeks, the public has been agog with the news that House of Rep Member representing Surulere Constituency (Lagos state); Femi Gbajabiamila referred to the erstwhile majority leader as the minority leader as the membership of the Reps within the APC coalition now amount to the majority within the house. There is also an ultimatum given the presidency that the 2014 budget will not be passed by the APC members in the House, except the president acts to redress the illegalities currently being played out in Rivers state.   On this note, the PDP and its supporters and the supporters of the president have tried to spin this to the common folks that the APC does not care about us and are playing politics with our lives and wellbeing. For some Nigerians, the common sense response to that has been; “what about the lives and wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Rivers state, who have had to endure the irresponsible power tussle with the loss of lives and property since the craze started? Why has the PDP and the president allowed the madness to continue unabated with the state police commissioner being used to usurp the authority of a duly elected governor and to undermine the security situation within the state? “.

Consequently, our common sense appreciates this position taken by the APC members in the House of Assembly, as it is one very important duty and obligation of a real opposition party, to checkmate any excesses on the part of the ruling party. This noble obligation was played out by the Republican Party in the United States of America, just a few months ago, when they refused to vote on a bill that would keep the entire government afloat and instead allowed the entire government of the United States of America to shut down.

Without a doubt, the penchant to express this particular obligation of opposition is nearly always in a bid to achieve a party agenda and not in the direct interest of the people. The current scenario being played out within the house of assembly bears all the semblance of such selfish party consideration as it can be argued that; were the APC to stand for justice, Equity, Freedom and respect for the jurisdiction of constitutionally recognized offices and in pursuit of better lives for all Nigerians, then it will adopt the same position with the issues concerning the alleged disappearance of colossal amounts between the Finance Ministry and the NNPC, the ineffectiveness of security agencies and the many other issues that require equity and justice to be applied to their resolution.

With a year to the 2015 elections, the APC still has enough time to offer Nigerians a real alternative and not just opposition for its sake. Firstly, with accusations of nepotism being the most leveled against the leadership of the AC and then the ACN, any seriousness on the part of the APC should not accommodate Lai Mohammed as the party spokesperson. In presenting the idea of an alternative to the Nigerian people, a divorce from the past is essential, whilst also showing that the new party will not be monopolized by any one of the component parties. The choice of the most vivid interim officer of the new party, as its publicity secretary, should have been one who represents the very tenets of change that the party is singing. 

Secondly, With a majority in the House of Assembly, Femi Gbajabiamila and his party colleagues have enough time to get down to the real people oriented business of passing laws that will; strengthen the weak institutions, lay the solid foundations that will guaranty a better life for the common man, reform the judiciary to be effective and efficient so that corruption will become a non-profitable venture as culprits will go to jail, reform the electoral laws and practice and most importantly; empower the decisions and agreements reached at the proposed National dialogue.  The APC will also best serve its ambitions and the desire of Nigerians by giving a clear picture of the possible candidates for its presidential flag bearer and key ministerial appointments that affect all Nigerians.

Lastly, any common man from Oturpko to Lafenwa, from Buguma to Kebbi will readily reel out near identical lists of the problems facing us all that require urgent attention. Any serious and responsibly opposition will study these problems and have clearly defined and mapped out solution plans with time schedules for implementation, and such an opposition party would have presented this ‘master plan’ to the people, instead of wielding brooms and mimicking the act of sweeping whilst asking for the vote of Nigerians just for the sake of change. Without prejudice, if the APC persists on its current direction, I can already see a return to the presidency by the PDP, as Nigerians are weary of replacing the devil we know; called PDP with the unknown angel called APC.

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