Why APC will not fail –Afegbua

Prince Kassim Afegbua
Prince Kassim Afegbua is the Special Adviser to Governor Adams Oshiomhole on Media and Publicity. In this interview with Correspondent, , he spoke on the tortuous journey leading to the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and what Nigerians stand to benefit from the new party. Excerpts:
Going by the euphoria that greeted the registration of the All Progressive Congress (APC) by INEC, do you really think the celebration was worth it, going by the agony Nigerians have been subjected to under PDP rulership?
In Nigeria we have come to realize that the PDP does not aggregate our collective aspirations as a country because they have been presiding over the collective patrimony of Nigeria in the last 14 years and they have not shown any sign of being good learners, neither have they shown sign of being good leaders. So, to that extent, Nigerians in their millions are yearning for a platform that will aggregate their collective aspirations, so that in the final analysis, you can throw up sound leadership that is driven by strong political will, driven by courage, driven by intellect, driven by knowledge to midwife our collective democracy and to put us in a safe landing.  As we are now, it is so unfortunate that we have come to this very sorry pass. Go across the country and see things for yourself. Despite all the mouthing with respect to performance that we see on television and radio, if you are a traveler, you will still see the very poor state of Nigerian roads, you’d still see healthcare facilities non -existence, you’d still see decaying infrastructure and an apathetic citizenry that is not driven by any motivation from the centre. And so, when you have that kind of scenario, all you need to see is to create a platform where people who share similar viewpoints will aggregate and pursue the political aspirations of the country on that platform.
The PDP said APC will not harmonize and that sharing of political positions will polarize them as the merging parties will not agree on sharing posts. Do you see this as true?
Why do they believe that? The PDP as a party is a party of strange bedfellows. When it was established in 1998, they had the motive to ease the military out of power; they didn’t present Nigerians a moralist philosophy or a moralist orientation. They only told Nigerians that they would ensure that the military were sent back to the barracks. That was the only motivation. In terms of political ideology, they don’t have one. The manifesto was discarded barely three months after Obasanjo won election, set up a committee called the Presidential Policy Advisory Committee headed by T.Y. Danjuma and, in that process, jettisoned the manifesto of the party and said those who invested in the PDP should consider their investments a waste. And so from day one, PDP got the compass wrong and they have been dithering in the wilderness trying to get itself back into the road at the expense of Nigerians. So, it is difficult now for them to try and impress Nigerians as if they have a lasting solution to the myriads of problems confronting us as a nation. Like I said earlier, they don’t have that moral basis to accuse another party of parading strange bedfellows who cannot work together. The motivation now just like 1999 is to ease out PDP from the rulership position at the centre and in the various states because we have tested them for 14 years and we have seen that their best is not good enough for the country. So now, we are in a situation where we need another platform to ventilate our anger, to also showcase our credentials, exchange ideas and come up with a time-tested solutions to the problems confronting this country, and the problems are similar everywhere. If you look at the former ACN states, you will see a lot of performance on the part of the governors. Why, maybe it is because of their orientation, maybe it is because of their political will as progressives to deliver on promise. You can only pinpoint one or two PDP states that are performing. Let us talk of Kano or Akwa Ibom. In fact, if you look at the resources a state like Akwa Ibom is getting, this so-called fossilized achievements that you see all over the place will pale into insignificance. This is so because what they get in a month is what a state like Edo gets in a year.  So, you find out that Lagos is working, same for Edo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, and Ogun. The governors in the ANPP states are also doing well as well as the CPC. People are now beginning to say ‘let us give a trial to this at the federal level’. So, whether strange or similar bedfellows, the chances are that, with that kind of motivation, they will be able to put up a strong showing by joining forces together and I have a strong feeling that with the way things are going, PDP will be a thing of the past in 2015.
With the emergence of the APC as a dominant political party like the PDP, do you see Nigeria gravitating towards a two-party system unlike the current multi-party system we operate?
You see, I don’t have problems with multi-party system. It is even against the laws of the federation for you to even shut the gate against parties. But parties that don’t have strength, that do not possess strong followership will naturally fade away like mushrooms. I am sure you know all these mushroom parties, briefcase parties, father and mother parties, sister and cousin parties, they will fade away. There are several of them. When INEC was giving out what they called subvention to parties that was when you saw everybody taking parties as a business adventure. But now that INEC has stopped, how many parties do you hear shouting again? So, as we have now we have two dominant parties evolving, PDP and APC. So, once these two parties evolve, the other parties will naturally be limited to the local level, by fielding candidates in local governments, etc. It is the same thing in America where you have several political parties, almost 57, but what you hear is the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Other parties like the Green Party, Tea Party, Independent, etc only run election at the local level at the county level and if they are popular, they win. So, there is no problem about that. But I think we must begin to readdress our minds on how to define a political roadmap that will keep the aspirations of our people at the front burner of national political discourse. As we are now, we are just vacillating from unknown to known, from known to unknown. We don’t really have a clear-cut political roadmap and that also has taken a lot away in terms of planning and implementation. We don’t have development plan. The late Yar’adua came up with 7-point agenda, now Jonathan has discarded that and he calls his own Transformational Agenda. Even under the so-called transformational agenda, you don’t have templates of what he intends to achieve. What they tell you is ‘Oh, because we renovated a particular building, it becomes transformation’. That is not it. The fulcrum or the politics itself, the attitude of the ordinary person must change because that is the form of the person. You are trying to transform the person by doing things in a different way. They are still doing things in the same old ways in this country. How? Look at the subsidy scam, those indicted companies have been listed again as those who will be importing fuel. So, what have you done differently? Where is the transformation? It is ridiculous. Not only that, the same process of corruption and what have you is still everywhere. You want to issue out contract, but you find out that bidding are done with select companies and beneficiaries. Procurement policies are not being implemented. As we speak, the procurement agency, Due Process Office does not have a board and by law without a board, they cannot engage in anything procurement. The man heading the agency has been there for the past five years and nobody is raising eyebrow or showing any concern. These are the issues on the table. So, when you keep hearing about President Jonathan’s transformational agenda, I keep wondering what the form that he is transforming. Is it about coming to renovate a decaying infrastructure like the Police College or the airport that is transformation? If you do not change the attitude and psyche of the ordinary persons so that they can take a cue from their leadership, then you are not transforming anything and that is the bane of Nigeria’s problem as we are today. The attitude of Nigerians is still the same yesterday, today but I pray that it doesn’t remain the same tomorrow.
Some critics believe that the ruling PDP tried to frustrate the emergence of the APC, and the party recently faulted the registration of the All Progressives Congress by INEC, based on a case filed by a rival APC. Do you think INEC acted right by going ahead to register the APC?
PDP did not try to, it actually played antics, antics of trying to throw up some amorphous organization in the name of African People’s Congress with one individual that is so colorless like the PDP leadership and what have you. And they said they first came up with APC and before you know it they are in court and all that about the acronym. All that, I tell you, is balderdash. You see, the All Progressives Congress is peopled by individuals who have paid their dues in politics of the country and individuals who understand the dynamics, political intricacies and the intricate logic that weave us together as a country. So, those individuals insisted that All Progressives Congress must go on. The acronym might be the same but the logo is different. So, INEC is right in registering the party because the logo of the parties are not the same and what have you have in ballot papers and boxes is the name of the political parties and the logo, because it is the logo that we are hoping to sell to the people and the same logo of a hand holding a broom that is already widely known and accepted by the people is the current logo of the APC. So, it is very appropriate for INEC to do its job by registering the party. I see some people commending INEC. Why should you commend someone for doing the job for which he was set up and is being paid to do? If you have met all the requirements of merging as provided for by our relevant laws, the constitution and the Electoral Act 2001 as amended, what is stopping you from not being registered or recognized by the electoral body? They have no option than to recognize it. Not to recognize it would have meant they are trying to subvert the process. But registering it means they are alive to their responsibilities as the electoral body to midwife our democracy. So, I do not see anything novel about it, it is a routine act as far as I am concerned just like INEC has registered and deregister some political parties in the past. It is also a contradiction on the part of INEC to deregister some parties and using the other hand to register others. Then why are you deregistering parties in the first place? Because the same party that you deregister can still file names, come with different names and they will get registered. I think we must set a template that everyone must follow so that in the final analysis we will be speaking the language of credible elections, speaking the language of transparency in governance, transparency in the conduct of elections and due process. But when people are seen to be subverting the process barefacedly, then you want people to key into your programmes, it will naturally come with some crisis. And as we are today, well, let me still commend INEC for summoning the courage and political will to call PDP to order when they impose some executives as leaders of the party. Can you imagine a party that calls itself a democratic party not doing democratic elections to elect their leaders takes a lot away from the democratic process and PDP is notorious for that and thank God they have towed the path of honour and made the so-called officers resign and they have come up with a special convention which the court has stopped and for which the persons are now trying to withdraw the case from the court. Withdrawal is another issue because you have to file your papers notifying the court that you are withdrawing. You cannot just say you want to withdraw because certain persons have met you behind closed doors and you agree to discontinue with the case.
So what advice will you give to Nigerians as we gradually approach 2015?
Who is the PDP presiding on? They are presiding on Nigerians and the same Nigerians are now coming up in their majority saying ‘no, we are tired of this party.’ If you continuously use a particular drug to cure your ailment and you are not getting it right, you will seek for another alternative medicine, whether herbal medicine or orthodox, whether you like it or not. So, if the APC or whether you call it Armoured Personnel Carrier is strong enough to provide that alternative platform to Nigerians who are positively minded, who are intelligent, knowledgeable to pursue their political aspirations without equivocation. We have known the character indices of the PDP, we have known their mentality about governance, we have seen their dancing steps, we know the colour of their costumes, we know the tailors that sew these costumes for them. So, now we are saying that no, this masquerade can no longer dance the dance that suits the aspirations of the people. We need another masquerade and this masquerade that Nigerians want is called the APC. And the APC has been dancing, but not at the mainstream. Now is the time for him to come and dance at the mainstream and let Nigerians see whether it can dance better than the old masquerade called the PDP. So I will advise the PDP to quietly withdraw from the stage and allow the masquerade called APC to dance. Anything contrary to that, Nigerians, having endured their macabre dance for 14 years, may have no option than to push it off the stage.



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