The coming onboard of a new political party, Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, is a good development. But is it bringing anything worthwhile to the body polity? Asks Olawale Olaleye
Arguably, a child of necessity, the newly formed Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) might have come to serve as alternative political vehicle as the nation wobble towards another bout of elections. Although owners of the new political association, which was unveiled last week, have denied any connection whatsoever with the troubled Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose members of the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the party largely attended the unveiling ceremony in Abuja.
The ruling All Progress Congress (APC), even though it receives defectors into its fold nearly every week, is still grappling with discontented members who believe they are not being carried along in the scheme of things by a government they worked so hard to bring into power.
Encumbered by a feeble party structure, which discountenances the idea of caucus as well as its inability to constitute a Board of Trustees two years after assuming power, the APC is nonetheless a movement lacking in all the ideals of a genuine political party. And in violation of its own constitution, the party is struggling with convening a national convention, sadly, on flimsy grounds.
The PDP has continued to live in self-denial by still priding itself as the biggest political party in Africa. Granted it was in power for 16 years with staggering popularity founded on desirable goals and objectives, it was however booted out in 2015 for want of “leadership”. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who led the party to electoral defeat, was believed to have failed in this quest.
And soon after the elections, rather than rally the party to remain a solid opposition platform, the former president left it to wander, a situation which further complicated its leadership quest. Today, the PDP is in court over, who is its authentic chairman between Ali Modu Sheriff and Markarfi. Whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling which has kept everyone on tenterhooks, it is not likely to genuinely mend the animosity events of the last few months had brewed.
Although a few parties had come up as a third force in the emerging equation, the coming onboard of APDA is however different given those behind the initiative. Most of those who have come together to birth APDA as an addition to the existing 40 political parties are mainly the PDP folks, who can no longer tolerate the audacity granted Sheriff in the party, more so that a majority of them still reckoned that he was an agent of the ruling party, APC.
APDA therefore claims to be coming onboard with ideals different from the “deceit” of the existing two major parties, and promised to be a better bridge between the old and young, by giving the Nigerian people what they truly desire in terms of ideological underpinning of a political party.
Interim National Chairman of APDA, Shitu Mohammed Kabiru, while fielding questions from journalists during the unveiling said there were members of other parties waiting to join the association. Among the members of the PDP in attendance was the proprietor of the African Independent Television (AIT), Dr. Raymond Dopkesi.
It is trite to assume that it was Dokpesi’s relationship with this party that has also fuelled speculations that APDA was being floated by prominent members of the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, who planned to quit the party in the event that it loses its case at the Supreme Court against the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction.
Shittu, who was the National Chairman of Republican Party of Nigeria and later Special Adviser to former PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, on Inter-party Affairs, cleared the air, when he said the PDP members were only present at the event to show solidarity with the new group.
“I want you to note now (that) I am calling APDA. I am not calling any other party than APDA and we should have inter-relationship. You should also note that I was the national chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC). Therefore, members of various political parties are here in solidarity with us. And most of these parties are even ready to come and join APDA. Our relationship with political parties or not… what we are focusing on here is APDA.”
But in his speech delivered earlier, Kabiru said APDA was formed to actualise the fundamental human rights of Nigerians to determine their national destiny.
“We consider it necessary to bring our party, APDA to the public for recognition and blessings by our fellow citizens, who not only own the party but will empower it to move Nigeria out of the prevailing atmosphere of political frustration, economic stagnation, leadership failure and betrayal of the popular will and aspirations of the Nigerian masses.
“APDA is an actualisation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians to determine their national destiny. It is also in recognition of the general hopelessness brought upon the people by the current dispensation and the urgent necessity to give Nigerians fresh opportunities and new platforms to re-direct their electoral mandate to a dependable, committed and capable generation of leaders ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) stands for an inclusive Nigerian society based on principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, diversity and fairness. We are committed to fighting for social justice, job creation and economic growth.
“We shall initiate policies and programmes that will promote consumer rights, sustainable development and financial market reforms so as to create a stronger, more democratic nation and a better future for every Nigerian. Our priority is to fight unemployment and ensure that our societies and markets become fairer. We are determined to restore the hope and trust of Nigerians for the future of our country.”
For the avoidance of doubt, Kabiru added: “APDA represents a fresh opportunity on a whole new platform for a new generation of committed and capable leaders, poised to redirect our collective mandate towards a new Nigeria…We have identified the decadent culture of past party politics, the sit-tight arrogance, despotism and looting propensity of our politicians resulting in marginalisation of the masses of this country from the democratic process as the major causes of the constant reversal and negation of the popular will and aspirations for a Nigeria that reflects their dreams of the Promised Land.”
The new party maintained that “Our values and our vision, mission and ideology include a just, peaceful and democratic Nigeria, free from hunger and premised on freedom and justice. We shall entrench the inalienable rights of Nigerians to work whilst guaranteeing protection of their lives and personal safety as well as shielding them from all acts of torture and degradation.
“We shall protect freedom of association, the right to free expression and provide genuine social security. For this reason, our party is loaded with the specific remedies and preventive measures to sanitise our political culture; make our leaders accountable and above all, restore the decisive might of the people over the dynamics of party politics and governance.”
With such determination that could naturally catch the fancy of anyone, it is not impossible that APDA would make a huge impact during next election, however not just as a vehicle to realising people’s ambitions but also delivering on electoral promises without crossing the traditional fault lines.