The All Progressives Congress’ efforts to elect some of its leaders are embarrassing

The conduct of the ward, local government and state congresses by the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country was not only another bad omen for our troubled democracy, it also reinforced the growing perception that the ruling party at the centre is not in any way better than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) it dislodged from power three years ago. In various parts of the country, the congresses were characterised by wide-ranged violence, hijack of the process by desperate party members and several forms of malpractices. The case of Delta State was particularly tragic as Jeremiah Oghoveta, one of the chairmanship aspirants in the ill-fated congress, was stabbed to death.

It is indeed instructive that in our editorial on August 4, 2013, following the successful merger of political parties that led to the formation of the APC, we highlighted some of the contradictions that now manifest in the party in these words: “Presently, the democratic credentials of the principal promoters of the APC are thin, as nearly all the coalition partners have demonstrated a crass poverty of internal democracy in the management of their defunct political parties. Not only was the imposition of candidates routine with them, but so was the total lack of one essential ingredient of democracy: the spirit of sportsmanship. Specifically, some of the APC leading lights have shown in the states they control that they lack the ability to concede victory and accept defeat in those rare occasions when they lost in a free and fair manner, especially at the local government level.”

Almost five years after, and with three years in power as the ruling party at the centre, the leaders of APC have yet to show Nigerians that their party is a serious political platform driven by the core value of promoting the common good. Yet when the APC was seeking power in 2015, it did not only promise Nigerians change in governance but also boasted of its preparedness to generally change the way of doing things in Nigeria. It is easy to conclude that the party has failed on that score.

From Lagos where there were two parallel state congresses yesterday, to Bauchi State where the House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has already dragged the party leadership to court, to Imo State where the sitting Governor Rochas Okorocha seemed to have been overpowered by other party leaders, to Rivers State where it has been a drama of killings and brigandage, what ordinarily ought to serve as a vehicle for internal democracy has become in the ruling party a tool for personal aggrandisement by unscrupulous politicians whose main goal is to use the system to achieve their self-serving objectives.

Here, we are not interested in which faction of the APC won or lost in the so-called congresses concluded yesterday. Our concern is why people could resort to killing in the name of politics, especially when there is really no evidence that the interest of the downtrodden (often used as cannon fodder in this violence) is being served. Besides, it this “end justifies the means” approach to politics that has over the years provided the incentive and motivation for politicians and power seekers to believe that all is fair and acceptable in electoral politics including the prevalent electoral manipulation and cold-blooded murder of their opponents.

However, it is very clear that with eyes to the enormous spoils of office attached to the nation’s political positions, from the Presidency to local government councillorship, many politicians can do anything, (including killing their opponents) in order to ensure easy ride at the polls. What this therefore calls for is a review of the remunerations and other perks of public office holders in Nigeria. Perhaps we will begin to see a reduction in these desperate struggles for power the moment all the fat allowances attached to elective offices are slashed considerably.

Meanwhile, the APC must begin to demonstrate its commitment to democratic values not in a manner that advances only the personal interests of their leaders but also in the promotion of common good. Until that is done, our democracy will remain imperilled.

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When the APC was seeking power in 2015, it did not only promise Nigerians change in governance but also boasted of its preparedness to generally change the way of doing things in Nigeria. It is easy to conclude that the party has failed on that score