The long-awaited national convention of the ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressive Congress (APC) was finally held Saturday, March 26, 2022 at the Eagle Square, Abuja, Nigeria. Noteworthy is the fact that the convention date was postponed many times with hopes of people dashed at different times leading to doubts about whether the convention will ever hold. Finally, it held but not without revelations that will in the immediate and in the long run shift the destiny of the party.
One of the takeaways from the convention is the opportunity that it afforded Nigerians to put the consensus method of electing officers at party conventions to test with useful lessons to learn. Consensus is one of the three options of electing party leaders into offices during party primaries and conventions.
It may interest you to know that in the order of arrangement, which also implies preference, as you have on the newly-signed electoral law, consensus is the last. You have the indirect and the direct methods before the consensus. There is no controversy as to whether the consensus method is illegal or unconstitutional. The only issue with it is that it is completely undemocratic. As one of the aggrieve chieftains of the party, Senator Shehu from Oyo State put it while expressing his grievances: “From my forty-two years of legal practice I should know that consensus means conceding to someone, not somebody conceding on behalf of another.” Although he declared his withdrawal from the contest, this action was not without the intervention of another chieftain of the party, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
Another aggrieved contestant, this time over the position of the women’s leader, Mrs. Mary, vented her anger as she cried out that she cannot give up her ambition to intimidation or harassment. The wisdom of God says that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the truth be established. The two incidents and names mentioned are just a few from among many.
The adoption of the consensus method paints a picture of a party that easily settles down for quantity instead of quality, mediocrity instead of excellence, and the least instead of the greatest. Though consensus as a method of election in relation to the happenings at the APC last night was cheap and easy to organize. Nonetheless, the lesson learned is that where nationalism cannot be achieved naturally, it can be done through intimidation and coercion. This also boils down to the issue of morality. Those are the things that we push forward in our democracies simply because they are legal more often than not, are immoral and undemocratic.
The choice of the said method and some of the accompanying pronouncements to justify brings to fore another notable point regarding defections from one party to another. The governors of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from Zamfara, Ebonyi, and the Cross River states have a lesson to learn on how topmost priority is placed on the party over even the aspirants. The case of how the consensus was reached by the APC is food for thought to the defecting governors, and an appetizer to the cases that are already and are to be filed in court against them. The party owns the votes and not the candidates.
Another important observation has to do with the mindset of the elected representatives of the people as seeing in how all the APC governors and chieftains allowed President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on his way out in 2023, to single-handedly impose the new chairman of the party on them. One thing that people seem to ignore is what it takes before one arrives at a decision to contest for an elected position. This, to me, in places where people are serious and mean business is not to be seen as child’s play. You just don’t wake up and say you want to contest a position in a ruling party like APC. Declaration to contest for an elected position is an idea or dream that is being conceived for a period of time, and which ordinarily involves a lot of sacrifice prior to getting to the venue of the elections where aspirants were seen, persuaded, intimidated, and even coerced to stepped down, and jettisoned their long-age dreams or ambitions as the case was at the APC convention yesterday,
Just imagine telling a chieftain of the party in person of Senator Bola Ahmed Timubu, who has described becoming the president of Nigeria as his life ambition, to drop the ambition or jettison it just because there is a preferred candidate to him. This is the beginning of injustice and it is not a good omen for the country to have the ruling party behave in this manner that leaves much to be desired.
If President Muhammadu Buhari is the one single-handedly filling the open elected positions by nominating candidates of his choice, where then is equity, fair play, transparency, and justice? By the happenings at the APC convention, Nigerians who are perceptive do not have to wait to be pushed here and there before they consider that All Progressive Congress party as hopeless and lacking in direction.
Similarly, things happen for a reason, and to this end only those who are wise will observe these things. Just like a story in the Bible that is very prophetic, a pronouncement was made by one of the chieftains of the All Progressive party yesterday at the convention, which I believe most people had and received with mixed feelings, not understanding where it came from and why at this time of the Nigerian history.
In the Bible, Jacob laid his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh, who was the older. Both were grandchildren born to Joseph in Egypt. That was wrong going by the tradition of the Jews. For the right hand must be on the elder while the left goes on the younger. When Jacob was corrected as if he was mistaken, he insisted that such should suffice for it was born out of divine guidance. The same was the situation that played out yesterday, whether by acts of omission or commission.
Chief Olusegun Osoba, who is eighty-three years old, was physically present at the convention. As he came onstage and handed over the microphone, while trying to pacify and win back an aggrieved member, pronounced “Yoruba nation” more than once. This is incredible, coming from a highly-educated person, a chieftain of the party, a former governor of Ogun state, and a journalist of repute. This cannot be a mistake. It is prophetic and food for thought.
On a final note, what we have seen played out yesterday at the national convention of the All Progressive Congress is a wake up call to all Nigerians that the APC is a shadow of its original self. The conduct of the election fits in for description aptly as haphazard. This exactly has been the method employed in leading Nigeria since 2015. There is a documentary that is being packaged that will best summarize the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress over Nigeria, and the title is: 2015 to 2023: The Reign of Terror in Nigeria.
Crushing an idea, especially that whose time has come, will require more than the armies in the world to do that. This is instructive and indicative of the trauma that the aspirants who were forced to jettison their long-age dream had to go through. This must not be allowed to continue, for it is wise to change a losing game.
God bless Nigeria!
Samuel ‘Tunji Adeyanju
Photo of APC at Eagle Square, Punching.com