APC: Anatomy of a Prediction



EDIFYING ELUCIDATION BY OKEY IKECHUKWU


The just concluded primaries of the  All Progressives Congress (APC)  points to a final confirmation of several worrying, but understandable, motifs that had been defining features of that party. One of the most central of them all is a frightening lack of core, 21st Century developmental values, ideological direction, group cohesion, clear national goals and agreed paradigms on the purpose of government. Alhaji Bola Tinubu pulled off an interesting coalition in 2014, by uniting to form a new party out of four disparate political forces. On one side was the ACN, on the other was the CPC. Then there was the PDP’s breakaway group of aggrieved persons and Rochas Okorocha and other stragglers from APGA.


This group of ill-defined political forces, if we must call a ragtag team of people independently seeking power a group, successfully birthed a party. But they were not able to create genuine party members. The various factions remained loyal to their respective motivations for the alliance. That is why the divergent orientations in the APC coalition never really closed ranks. Yet they carried on as if they did.


The ACN drove the campaigns, projecting notions of good governance and a better Nigeria. The party spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, did a good job of that. He also did a good job of demonizing the Jonathan government. While he was at it, and while the narrative of “no better Nigeria without Buhari” was being vigorously marketed on all fronts, no one paid attention to the fact that Lai Mohammed was mostly on his own. They all preferred to ignore the fact that the CPC never said anything about anything. This wing of the coalition just got their candidate on the ballot and rested the matter there.


The breakaway PDP and APGA components of the new alliance were rarely heard on any matter whatsoever. While the campaigns lasted, and while Lai Mohammed and social media dart shooters were on rampage, every other person was watching the pie, determined to make a well-choreographed plunge for it as soon as the cooking was done.


On May 27, 2018, in an article titled “APC: A Misfortune Foreseen and Foretold”, I said as follows: “Truth be told, the political coalition that birthed the Buhari government had all the trappings of a group affiliated to Bedlam. Disparate, and largely unrelated, political forces worked together to oust the PDP government of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, without foreseeing the trouble ahead.” It was “…an alliance of persons with different reasons for boarding a boat called the All Progressives Alliance (APC)”.


Four years after the above observation, and seven eight years after the birth of the APC, there is no consensus on anything in that party. There are still no unifying catalysers of a new order, or clear indications of a prospective new Nigeria. There is still no real Council of Elders in the party superintending a new breed of leaders for a better Nigeria. There is no special elixir for national rebirth in the drawer, to be brought out as a joker. It is still about planning to grab and retain power and take off on a solo flight. The story is the same with the PDP.


As soon as the elections were lost and won in 2015, the PDP gang confiscated the senate presidency. They made Saraki their president and damned both the president and the party. The Saraki group remained adamant and made no concessions to anyone, as they held unto their booty. The President, on his part, prepared a list of ministers and made it public; also to the consternation of everyone who was anyone in the new-born APC. Worse still, the speech with which he thanked some states and individuals from the Northern part of the country for making his presidency possible was totally confounding for Tinubu and major players in the South West. It was not clear what the Rochas group represented at any point in time, and even today, beyond the personal ambition of Rochas Okorocha himself.


As I observed, four years ago: “The red lights were also up on Muhammadu Buhari, long before the elections. He was profiled as a man of strict and unbending reflexes, not given to consultation and so set in his ways that he rarely hears alternative viewpoints; no matter how loudly, or stridently, expressed. His love for Nigeria was not in doubt, but it was love on his own terms and based on his untested personal assumptions. His loyalties were said to run deep and unapologetically so. But they run backward, to his roots, his primal, personal, communal and ethnic instincts; as well as real and imagined grievances that he must address to the disadvantage of his target. His disinclination to ever sit down and get some serious work done was also pointed out. His tenure as military Head of State, and as Boss of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), were said to bear out this prognosis.”
I had observed, repeatedly before the 2015 elections, that what to expect from a possible Buhari presidency were clear, at least in the areas of national security, economy growth, development of the national economy, national cohesion and general overall management of the Nigerian State.


Concerning security my submission before the 2015 elections was based on his repeated response whenever he was asked how he would tackle the National security crisis. He always said, in response, that he would convene a roundtable of retired senior military personnel for them to brainstorm and find a solution. In summary, he had no idea what the real issues were but would find out when he became president. He also had no idea what the solution might be, but will consult and then work out an intervention template. After he had been elected President? Some of us exclaimed in horror. But it did not matter at the time. The whirlwind of blind optimism had overrun the land.


After his nearly eight years in office today, one is painfully looking at the reality of an easily foreseen, avoidable – and actually foretold – national misfortune. Recall that one of the first steps the new government took in 2015 on security matters was to order the dismantling of road block3, particularly in the northern parts of the country. Then came the disastrous Nyanya, UN building and Thisday bombings. What came after that were controversies about who gave the directive. Then came the claim that it was an unauthorized order from a permanent secretary. A Permanent Secretary? Nothing else was heard about it.


On the economy, I drew attention, back then, to his first tenure as military head of state, pointing out that he has a “barracks ration” approach to national wealth management. A leader with a “sharing” disposition and outlook rarely thinks of what to do about a nation’s “productive” forces. His solution to hunger, scarcity and rising inflation in the country at the time was the procurement and distribution of “essential commodities “. What made milk and a few items on that 1983 list essential commodities? For whom were they essential, etc.? How much of the essential commodities were produced in Nigeria?


And what do we have today? Cash transfer to “extremely poor” families. It’s been on for a while now, has it not? Meanwhile, these are families and neighborhoods that would ordinarily be busy in their farms, workshops and/or shops if their government took the statutory trouble of providing security and easily provided social infrastructure.
It has been a government of palliatives. A government that is consistently recording frightening figures on school feeding, without asking itself whether there is any improvement in enrollment, retention and/or learning outcomes. A look at the number of candidates for all competitive examinations in the north says so much. A country that allegedly spent over 200 billion on school feeding when the COVID-19 pandemic was afoot creates genuine concerns, especially when it has a ministry of Zakat wielding a phenomenal budget and exercising cheerful discretion in its deployment and disbursement


As Observed in 2018, “The inchoate nature of the APC coalition, and the “tissue rejection” by its presidential candidate, was apparent during the elections. Campaign facilitators made promises at the few rallies the President attended, but the promises showed the APC`s limited understanding of what the issues were. There was no scientific basis for most of its claims and assurances. It knew nothing about the state of the national economy it was threatening to rescue. Some of the reckless declarations of Lai Mohammed, the opposition spokesman, were mistaken for informed submissions and even dubbed policy statements of the incoming government.”


If, as can be seen today, our economy is in shamble, let us remember this: “The President`s early pronouncements alarmed informed investors, especially foreign investors, leading to a run on the Naira and plummeting of the value of the Naira. Staff reduction, increased production costs, underutilization of installed industrial capacity and capital flight joined forces with business shut downs to unleash a deluge of unemployed persons into an already saturated unemployment pool. Meanwhile the government was doing nothing, absolutely nothing, for months after being sworn in. It took the President four months to appoint ministers. When he finally did the names and profiles were hardly inspiring. Some even had integrity deficits, already much touted for years, in the public domain. Worst of all, they also sat around for months after their appointment, doing nothing in particular. Just like the President.


Today, nearly eight years after the APC government was sworn in, we are back to conclusions drawn four years ago on this page: “… all the birds have come home to roost. Incompetence is the word everywhere, even as the government stands baffled and clobbered by its own history, its confirmed ineptitude and the fallouts of its many avoidable blunders. The ruling party is spinning uncontrollably on its originally wobbly hinges. It scores itself very high in precisely those areas of leadership and service delivery that it has failed spectacularly: (1) national security, (2) poverty alleviation, (3) reflation of the economy, (4) job creation, (5) religious harmony, (6) national unity, (7) effective political leadership, (8) professionalization of the armed services, (9) equitable distribution of national resources and much more.”
And it just capped it with the religious coloration of its 2023 presidential candidacy.

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