To say that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is at war with itself is, perhaps, putting it mildly. The party is in the throes of implosion, raising serious doubts on its future.
Make no mistake about it, it is not as if APC had particularly come across to Nigerians as one that would lead them to the axiomatic Promised Land. In fact, even as its founders pranced about in excitement in February 2013 over the new organisation, it was not hard to deduct from the fleeting antecedents of some of them that the party was a mere congregation of power-mongers seeking a stronger platform to actualise their dream.
This was a fact known to many, anyway. But because of what has turned out a dummy sold to the electorate in the person and character of the its standard-bearer in the 2015 general election, Muhammadu Buhari, against the backdrop of serial disappointment by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nigerians gave it a chance. It did not, however, take long for the APC to expose itself as being rather outlandish in outings but lacking in substance.
As the late Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, sniggered that what existed in Nigeria were not political parties, strictly speaking, but rallies, APC falls into the classification.
Not even Buhari, who is being flaunted in some quarters as the redeeming face of the party, can be absolved of the rot eating into its fabric. Even as he enjoys the humour of messianic garb hung on him by sycophantic aides, charges of nepotism, poor management of the economy and actions that further expose the country’s fault lines remain strong issues he cannot run away from.
Though he still has his crowd that entertains him with attribution of infallibility, it is certain that the President has lost much in matters of reputation and public reckoning, which he had enjoyed before coming to office. For such a person to be seen as the poster boy of a political organisation explains the level of danger on the platform.
The problem in the APC is the challenge successive ruling political parties in the country have had to contend with. It is a matter of hubris and arrogance. It is among Nigeria’s governing parties that the saying, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” resonates loudly. When seeking power, they put up every imaginable carriage of simplicity and humility, asking the people for a chance. The slogan in such situations, is ‘change,’ with a buffet of promises.
The story changes the moment power changes hands. The rightly disgraced PDP, in its moment of stupor, had bragged that it would rule for 60 unbroken years. But as fate would have it, it did not live to see even one-third of the time frame it had mapped out for itself to be in charge. APC does not seem to learnt from that. It is even more arrogant and loquacious, thriving more on propaganda and outright falsehood.
For a party that had advertised a 10-point agenda for a new Nigeria at its formation, the assumption was strong that it was taking a decisive step into issue-oriented politics.
Highlights of its road map included job creation; anti-corruption fight; free, relevant quality education; agriculture; housing plan; and healthcare plan for children and adults.
The organisation also listed social welfare scheme for the less advantaged, massive construction and rehabilitation of roads and power plans among its priorities, adding that it would strengthen peace, security and foreign policy.
The road map read in part: “Roughly one in four Nigerians, and half of young job seekers are unable to find work. The number of people whose jobs do not cover the cost of food and housing is even greater.
“In addition, major industries that pay higher wages account for just over five per cent of the economy. The lack of jobs is the most critical challenge facing Nigeria today, hurting every community and preventing us from being the truly vibrant and prosperous nation we deserve. Building a diverse economy that allows every Nigerian to earn a living and better care for his or her family is our number one priority.”
Its recipe for tackling unemployment, included immediate creation of 20,000 jobs per state for those with a minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who would participate in technology and vocational training. There was also the idea of establishing technology/industrial estates fully equipped with ICT, power and other support across the country to attract and encourage small-scale technology businesses and other entrepreneurs.
The party also unfolded an elaborate agenda against official and/or private sector corruption. Part of its strategies in that regard was to strengthen legal provisions to prevent stay of proceedings and other delays in corruption trials.
Nearly seven years down the line, the jury is still out on any of the pledges that the APC-led federal government has fulfilled sufficiently. To underscore the situation, a non-governmental organisation, the Chandler Good Government Index, had earlier in the year ranked Nigeria as the third worst governed country in the world. The report, which was released in Singapore, the headquarters of the organisation, judged the country very low in governance, leadership and foresight, placing her 102 out of 104 countries with a score of 0.319 points, ahead of Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
The index focused on seven pillars in assessing the countries, namely, leadership and foresight; robust laws and policies; strong institutions; financial stewardship; attractive marketplace; global influence and reputation; and helping people rise.
The ranking, which was the first in the series, scored Nigeria 0.44 in leadership and foresight; anti-corruption, 0.45; long-term vision, 0.47; strategic prioritization, 0.41 and innovation, 0.4.
The verdict is a damning but true reflection of the state of affairs in Nigeria. In all indices of measuring good governance, such as rule of law, health services, social service delivery in electricity, roads, education, employment and ease of doing business, Nigeria is virtually in deficit. By the last count, Nigeria has been ranked the Poverty Capital of the World.
The state of insecurity is particularly frightening. Secrity is flat on its back, literally, offering uncertain hopes of recovery, on account of the fluidity of assault on the citizens and other interests in the country. Under the APC, Nigeria has successively been lumped with Iraq and Afghanistan as the world’s most terrorized nations.
These are issues that should bother a ruling party and its handlers. They constitute threats to the country’s democracy. But for the the APC, they do not matter.