APC’s long walk to electoral victory,Zainab Suleiman Okino

Mrs. Zainab Suleiman OkinoThe newly registered All Progressive Congress (APC) has come a long turbulent way, no doubt. When the battle over the multitudes of APCs was on, we jokingly had our camps in the office and often threw jibes at each other. So, we had what we called opposition or real APC, the one that has just been registered and PDP’s APCs, the ones we called pretenders to the throne. But I won’t let the cat out of the bag as to who belonged to which camp; it is immaterial now. ‘Members’ of the PDP owned APCs are those who claimed to ‘have keyed’ into the Jonathan/PDP project or wished to ‘key in’. You might want to know what this means. According to them, the last time, they shied away from the Jonathan project based on the principle that their conscience would not be bought over with money; an allusion to the many “Jonathan for president” groups that sprang up then. That since their principled stand did not stop Jonathan but rather help to enrich hitherto known paupers, they might as well join the fold and count their blessings.
The ‘members’ of the real or opposition APC insisted they would resist Jonathan and his money as they did the last time, and would fight to ensure that the then embattled APC was registered. What is journalists’ own with partisanship or parties registered or not, other than just to report or comment on issues as they unfold. I can only fathom a guess. Well, to the extent that they are Nigerians who genuinely worry about the way the country is being run aground by the PDP, they longed for an alternative platform. I was shocked to learn the other day how partisan my husband’s physician is. He expressed disgust at the PDP government and excitement about the coming of APC. He said he was now convinced to register as a voter. There is so much that a strong opposition party can do compared with regional opposition parties that existed and democracy cannot be enhanced with only party being in charge of 80 percent of our affairs. Now that the long-awaited alternative has come, the party has the singular opportunity to seize this golden moment or destroy itself to the disappointment of their teeming sympathisers and supporters. However, like any other human organisation, it would be foolhardy of anyone not to expect some form of conflicts in the party. But how they manage such conflicts and overcome them without much rancour is what would stand them out.
Just like the two opposing groups in my office, the country is sharply divided into two politically: those who want positive change and those who want the status quo ante to continue. The APC’s beautiful bride status would naturally earn it admiration and sympathy. Plus, the persecution the party suffered at the formative stage had also earned it some form of popularity. Expectations are high and failure is not an option. One of the party’s founding members—Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno said that much in a statement last week: “Nigerians expect an immediate indication that the party is coming up with something new to turn the fortunes of the country around for the good of Nigerians…we do not need rocket science to provide things as basic as potable water, sound education, quality healthcare, jobs, security, roads, electricity and other very basic essentials of human existence,” he said

The task ahead for the new party is enormous. Its biggest headache is the PDP, which has tagged it (APC) party of expired politicians. Well I don’t know about that. Governors Shettima, Fashola and Oshiomhole and even their benefactor, General Muhammadu Buhari obviously cannot be said to have expired in comparison with the Bamanga Tukurs, the Annenihs, the Obasonjos in the PDP. But that is not even an issue. Nigerians are wiser now and are interested in politics of issues and not personalities, religion of their political leaders. After all, Jonathan is a Christian, a Niger Deltan, or an Ogbia man. How has he improved the lot of all Christians in Nigeria or all Niger Deltans or even his small Ogbia ethnic group of about 266,000?
One good thing about the coming of APC is that the nation is gradually evolving into a two party state. General Babangida decreed it but it did not work. INEC has been trying to deregister some parties, but the electoral body is constitutionally hamstrung and the legal battle over the issue is ongoing. With APC and PDP, the protagonists who argue that INEC had no business deregistering parties appear to be winning. It is a signal that democracy and civil rule can work if we invest in it.
For sure, the APC could be sitting on a keg of gun powder. Their will-power will be tested with such distabilising issues such as leadership tussle, moles within, lack of party cohesion and internal discipline, individual egos and ambitions. Only a transparent process can set it apart from its closest rival, the PDP. Very soon, the APC will realise that it is easier to cross registration hurdles than to turn the party into a formidable and credible opposition that Nigerians expect it to be.

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