THE out-going Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the in-coming ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) have the same DNA. They are siblings of the same parentage. When party politics was re-introduced by the departing military regime in 1998, the bulk of politicians decided to establish a mega party, the PDP. Shortly after, there was a migration by a dissatisfied group, and the All Peoples Party (APP) was founded.
It is claimed that the bulk of the brains, like Chief Bola Ige, that produced the PDP founding documents, moved to the new party, did the same donkey work, and then found themselves do same for a third party; the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Almost all the major political leaders today, can trace their ancestry or political family tree to this threesome. In the 1999 general elections, an alliance resembling the APC was formed when the predominantly Northern APP and its Western counterpart, the AD presented a joint Presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae against PDP’s Chief Olu Obasanjo.
The APP first transformed into ANPP with General Muhammadu Buhari as its 2003 Presidential candidate, then a part moved out to create the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with Buhari as candidate. The CPC then went into an alliance to emerge as APC. On the other hand, the AD metamorphosed into the Action Congress Party (ACN) before going into the APC alliance. The APC is, ACN plus CPC, and ANPP with a faction of APGA.
Nigerians having to choose between APC and PDP in the 2015 general elections was similar to a monarchy with two dominant ruling houses. In a monarchy, while the tussle for the throne can be intense, even acrimonious and bloody, at the end, whoever emerges the new king, is unlikely to endanger the system. That is not to say that kings do not defer from one another; but it could come down to a matter of style such as that between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
With the elections generally over, jingles ended, the observers turning to other jobs; after the victory songs and dances, the back slapping and feast, the APC will now undergo a filtering process with the sediments settling at the bottom and the top becoming clearer. The time for governance has come. At its moment of victory, the APC in comparative terms, is not as cohesive a force as the PDP. It is a coalition with the twin objectives of electorally defeating the ruling party and taking over state power. Having achieved both, part of the glue holding it together may no longer be strong.
A challenge the APC faces, is how to distribute public offices amongst its coalition partners and still retain its coherence. Will the distribution be ‘to each according to his contributions’ or needs? Would the contributions be measured in terms of votes secured, financial contributions or bearing the brunt of battle? In a federation, would it include ‘a fair share’ for the East and South-South that voted overwhelmingly for the PDP or be confined to those who produced the recipe, brought the ingredients and cooked the dishes? In filling positions, would there be an emphasis on technocrats, or rewarding the party faithful?
Perhaps the hardest part for the APC is what change it would bring in the lives of Nigerians. Having studied the party manifesto and followed its campaigns, I am not really sure what to expect. For instance, the party promised to create three million jobs annually, but there are no clear details how this will be done. What is however unsettling to me is the party’s promise to implement the Orasanye Report which involves the reduction or merger of federal ministries, departments and agencies. To assume that this will not lead to massive lay-offs is to promise that a major surgery will not involve loss of blood. How does the party hope to balance mass job creation and massive job lay-offs?
Fifty eight million Nigerians are said to be currently under the poverty line, the APC promises to place twenty five million of them on some stipend to alleviate their poverty status. Yet the party has promised to end fuel subsidy, a major means of alleviating poverty given the multiplier effects of increases in prices of petroleum products. So how does the party intend to make Life More Abundant (LMA) if it removes the subsidy on a life line of Nigerians? The task for the APC is not made easier with an elder like Prof. Tam David-West promising Nigerians that under Buhari, a litre of fuel will come down to N40. This is possible, but it requires a patriotic economic system, not the surrender to the imaginary market forces to which the APC has pledged itself.
The party has promised to end the Boko Haram nightmare, but it has not posited a different strategy from the existing one. Yes, it has promised to recruit 100,000 additional police officers, but the insurgency is not what can be tackled by police action. It is good that it intends to effect a pay rise for the military and security forces. At best, this will raise morale, but it cannot effectively tackle the insurgency nor will the establishment of a Federal Anti-Terrorism command structure. We should not put too much store in bringing back the Americans to train our military.
The truth is that the American military has not fared well in tackling insurgency whether in the Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia of the 1960s and 70s or more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. When tragically, the Chibok girls were abducted one year ago, Nigeria, despite the security implications, opened its doors and borders to all manner of foreign security services and troops. But nothing concrete came out of this. It is good that the President-elect has moved to reduce expectations; we should not expect miracles. The reality is that the insurgency and insecurity may be with us for some time.
Not haven being in government before, I may not know how it runs. But I assume that it is easier being in opposition than running government.