By Dapo Thomas
Those who boasted of ruling Nigeria for sixty years have become victims of providence in 15years. The ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is ebbing away faster than it ever imagined. That the PDP will fall does not require a prophecy. The PDP is not just falling; it has fallen big time and long time ago and that is a statement of fact. A statement of fact contains a reality that defies prophecy. It will be a misjudgment to theoretically link the fall of PDP to the Chibok episode. Long before Chibok, the PDP’s trajectory had become ominous and the leadership of the party would soon self-destruct. A party that lost five of its governors to the opposition had already commenced a nuptial mass with its death. The defection of the five PDP governors to APC was the first stroke that sent the party to its sick bed. Quite unfortunately, the party’s handling of the post-defection crisis further exposed the incompetence of the party in crisis management. Both the Presidency and the party leadership adopted a pharisaic posturing, more or less, a grandstanding that contrasts sharply with the actual impact of the defection.
It may be correct to say that it was the party’s rating that was at an all time low before Chibok and that President Goodluck Jonathan still enjoyed some degree of respect and admiration before Chibok. It will also be correct to say that if the defection of the five governors to APC signaled the fall of PDP, then the Chibok abduction signposted the fall of Jonathan. What cruel force or forces would weaken a once formidable party and simultaneously diminish the stature and status of a President that is the symbolic leader of the party. It is instructive to note that the PDP and Jonathan are contending with physical and ethereal forces that are demanding restitution for their misrule.
If Jonathan shambolic approach to governance has been downplayed by government propaganda machinery, Dr. Goodluck, this time around, ran out of luck, the Chibok abduction only reinforced the general perception of ineptitude which Nigerians have always had of Jonathan and his government. The President’s failure to rescue the abducted girls , his refusal to visit Chibok and the families of the girls of the world, his costly hesitation in responding to international scoop of the abduction, and his amateurish and unprofessional response to Boko Haram,s terror are sufficient proofs of his profundity deficit . Because of the paucity of our scientific understanding and the shallowness of our scientific analysis about the performance of government and our leaders, we cannot have a perfect reading of the declining rating of the President. But even from a very primitive sociological presumption, there is a general outrage and contempt for the President and the way he has managed the abduction saga. As if this was not a serious minus for the President, his wife, a mere domestic appendage (apology to WS), came up with a superlative theatrics that instantly became a buffet for patrons of the social media who punctuated the tension created by this Otouke duo with derisive laughter.
The present first couple has not only vulgarized and abated the Presidency with their laughable and revolting theatrics; both husband and wife have soiled and smeared whatever was left of our national pride and ego by exposing us to global contempt with their unpresidential razzmatazz and inappropriate dramedies.
Angered by this shaming assault on the nation, the citizens are yearning for an alternative in protest. In this instance, the alternative does not need to be idealistic for as long as it can assuage our thirst for an immediate change. It will be an intolerable trauma to go through another nightmare that a Jonathan Presidency will unleash on us for another four years. It is however comforting to know that the slogan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is CHANGE. The nation really desires and deserves a change from this charlatanism otherwise both the citizens and the nation may relapse into depression. Since the APC is not the party in power, the Chibok saga is a veritable campaign issue against the PDP. Pray, what does the PDP want to use for his campaign if before the 2015 elections, the girls have not been found and rescued (GOD forbid). And even if the girls were found and rescued by then, it is not likely to help the PDP redeem its sinking image. The important thing is that the party and its leadership have failed to conceptualize a template for leadership excellence and sagacity when provided the opportunity to lead and rule the nation. Assuming that the girls were found and rescued, the credit no longer goes to the PDP but the international community comprising US, France, Britain and others, who jointly conducted the search that led to the rescue of the girls.
This is the auspicious time for the APC to leverage on PDP’s fumbling. For the APC to wrestle power from the PDP at the centre, it must present itself as a very credible, dynamic and pro-active party that is ready to redefine leadership and set a new template for governance in Nigeria, The APC can be seen as a credible party if it can convince Nigerians that its Presidency was ready to excel in all the areas and sectors that Jonathan had failed. The only way to do this is to flaunt the performances of its various governors in different states of the Federation. The party should be proud of vibrant and dynamic governors like Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rauf Aregbesola(Osun), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Adams Oshiomole (Edo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rabiu kwakwanso (Kano), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ahmed (Kwara). Some of these governors, with very meager resources, have been able to achieve quite a lot in the provision of infrastructural facilities and social programmes like roads, health, revenue generation, education, social security, agriculture, housing and youth empowerment.
There is no doubt that the APC has an effective public affairs/ relations machinery that suffocates the PDP. But does the party have a blueprint for the recovery of the nation from its comatose condition and a restoration agenda that can elevate the nation back to its past glory? It is not the noise that the party makes that will convince the citizens that it’s a more organized and vision- driven party than the PDP. It is the party creativity and commitment to generate a recovery strategy and plan that can do the magic. The noise being made by the party and its incessant attacks on the PDP may appeal to those who have some sympathy for the party, but to the critical elite, it is nothing more than opposition propaganda. The APC needs to do more work in the area of crisis management. The defections, crisis, leadership rancor, factionalisation and executive lawlessness being witnessed in states like Edo, Ogun, Oyo and few other states are no compliments to its good organization. The situation whereby governors and leaders encouraged and perpetrated imposition of candidates during the party congresses; the forceful snatching of party structures from their original owners; the recklessness and acts of intimidation against dissenting individuals and the surreptitious agenda of hegemonic enthronement being implemented by some of the party leaders cast serious aspersions on the credibility of the party and the integrity of its leadership. The impression people have of the party is that of a group of people whose primary objective for venturing into politics is to fulfill their ambitions and launder their individual profiles.
Yes, providence may have created the opportunity for the APC to make capital appropriation from PDP’s blunders and Jonathan’s errors. But a party that seeks electoral victory on the basis of sentiments and political opportunism without providing a better direction for the nation is unlikely to enjoy the confidence of the citizens in the long run. Every benefit of advantage the APC may have above the PDP may percolate as soon as the people’s anger subsides. If politics is all about competitive engagement, the only way to compete will be by superior wisdom and vision and not through the imperatives of your opponent’s blunders and gaffes. This is the time for the APC to put its house in order; to stabilize its internal democracy; to inculcate the spirit of sacrifice in both its leadership and followership; to perfect its blueprint for national recovery; to stimulate a more engaging and constructive dialogue culture; to fine tune its selection process; to strategize on its restoration agenda; to finalise its take-over plan and to reconcile both the victims and the victors of its congresses and to step up its organizational expertise. If by any default or commission of errors, the APC fails to win power at the centre in 2015, it is goodnight APC, goodnight peace, goodnight hope and a final farewell to tomorrow.