By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta
As Nigeria marked its 61st Independence Anniversary under a democratic dispensation, the All Progressives Congress has set up a formidable nine-member team to consolidate its successful reconciliation effort initiated by the 13-member Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
By dint of hardwork, deft political engineering, wide consultation and listening to hitherto aggrieved and alienated members and supporters, the Caretaker Committee has reunited the party, and made it the strongest political machine capable of emerging victorious by far and wide in future elections in the country. It has strong presence in each state and local government area in the country.
It may be recalled that the CECPC was set up to renew the APC in the aftermath of an internal upheaval that threatened to cripple the party which Nigerians trusted with power to lead Africa’s largest democracy, the most populous black nation in the world and also home to the top economy on the African continent. The restoration of the APC into a formidable political party has doubtlessly strengthened democracy in the country.
The Caretaker Committee, chaired by Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the charismatic, politically smart, socially suave and urbane, self-effacing Governor of Northeastern state of Yobe, upstaged pundits and Nigeria’s largely cynical political commentators by doing the seemingly impossible task of bringing the party back on track.
The CECPC became successful in achieving its strategic purpose of saving the party from self-destruction by redressing the genuine grievances of members, promoting real inclusiveness, ending litigations and being even-handed in resolving disputes and equitable in accommodating the diverse interests of all its segments.
The APC came into being barely eight years ago in February 2013 following the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); All Nigeria Peoples’ Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The successful blending of the four parties into a new mega political party was a marvellous feat, but not an easy task.
That these defunct parties blended seamlessly into the APC to win the Presidential election and state governorships plus a large number of the members of the National Assembly is near-miraculous given the entrenched and powerful political opponents it dislodged from power. For the first time in Nigeria’s political development, an incumbent President was defeated in an election by a nascent political party.
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected for two consecutive terms on its platform. Of the 36 states in the country, the APC controls 22 and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Most members of the state houses of assembly in those states are of the APC as well.
Nearly two-thirds of members of both chambers of the national legislature belong to the APC. Most members of the National Assembly elected on the ticket of other political parties lean toward the APC and vote on its side during debates and passage of bills on crucial national issues. The bi-partisan orientation of the Ninth National Assembly has engendered real cooperation and stability in the National Assembly, and by extension, in the government.
While the party has fully overcome and survived its short-lived crisis that led to the constitution of the CECPC which has rebuilt the party into the formidable election-winning machine , the next stage in its march as the biggest political party in Nigeria, is organising a rancour-free National Convention. With over 40 million members on its register, the party should manage its size and success by ensuring that its National Convention ends up as a win for democracy.
Observers and commentators believe that given its current trajectory of self-rebirth, it will keep winning elections all over Nigeria with unassailable majority of votes and the necessary spread as specified by the country’s constitution. Its national outlook is beyond doubt. And this quality of its nationwide support-base is a factor in solidifying Nigerian unity.
In addition to the organisational prowess of the CECPC and the high quality of leadership provided by its Chairman, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the genuine internal democracy and wide latitude given to members of the APC to express themselves freely, have combined to turn it into the most sought after political party in the country.
As the Reconciliation Committee led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu sets out on their assignment, the expectations remain high that by the time the Committee concludes its assignment, the APC will be as resilient as the African National Congress of South Africa, which survived the repressive apartheid regimes that made endless fruitless attempts to suffocate it.
Indeed, the essence of the existence of strong political parties in a democracy, which the reconciliation committee is created to ensure for the APC , is that they will win elections and deliver services to the electorates, which in turn will deepen public confidence in democracy as a system that can advance their aggregated interests and make life more meaningful for everyone.
Delivering services in terms of public goods by the APC administrations in the three tiers of government is one of the elements that gave the party an edge in terms of popularity among the citizenry. The programmes and projects delivered and the potential to do more for Nigerians, have as a matter of course, made APC the party of choice all over the country.
The defection to the party from the main and other opposition parties by state governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly with thousands of their supporters in tow, is testimony to the trust the citizens of Nigeria have in the APC and what it stands for.