The disintegration of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party in Nigeria, that led into the formation of a formidable parliamentary and political group, now called Reformed All Progressives Congress, is the chronicle of a death long preannounced and one has to be highly distracted not see it coming. The questions then who did what to prevent the dismemberment, who did what to accelerate such breakup and most importantly what does this development mean for the country and we the voters?
The causes and elements of this breakup, it was gathered, took shape and eventually erupted right in front of all of us. They are so clear that ordinarily readers of pages like this piece should require one to explain how we got to this new political phase of our national partisan lives. Tola Adeniyi, a doyen of column writing in Nigeria and President of the League of Nigerian Columnists, however, insists that a columnist must always give his or her explanation on any issue and the great Ray Ekpu agrees with him. So we shall take time to revisit the causes of the breakup of the APC.
Let us start by warning that though there are a lot of similarities, what we are witnessing today is not the same as what we saw about four years ago. The Peoples Democratic Party that broke up and resulted in the formation of the n-PDP, which later metamorphosed into an important part of the APC, was a monolithic element structure, whilst the APC was a coalition of different forces.
As history and political science have taught us, a major consequence of having a political coalition in government is the need for a bespoke leadership for such formation. Such formation tends to be either that of a strong party managed by strong party leaders that hold the government of the coalition alive and to account or a strong head of government who either by practice or by election and or acclamation is also the leader of the coalition.
In the case of the APC, one bespoke option could have been that of a strong party chairman and party executive council that hold alive the government and the coalition by liaising with the legislative arm of government, leading personalities and various components of the coalition to ensure consultation, deliberation and representation.
In the case of the APC, another bespoke option could have been a strong passionate, partisan and participative President that holds the coalition together by balancing and satisfying sectorial, ideological and identity interests of the coalition whilst ensuring popularity and consolidation of the party through performance and dialogue with the general public.
In practice, the APC chose and showed none of the two manifestly advisable options. Rather they opted for the opposite and even absent of the two possible options. The party tried to rule the country through a weak structure that seems totally uninfluential in terms of governance, policies and appointments. The party was seen and said to be an underfunded, generally inactive and sometimes reactive structure led by good but uncharismatic and uninfluential chairman in the person of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who amazingly tried to stay as chairman even when it was clear to even his most ardent supporters that his lacklustre reign was over.
To compound the situation, the APC also presented a detached presidency that woke up to party affairs only when it was rather too late. When one thinks of President Buhari and his party what often comes to mind is the saying of the marsh the stands aloof; acting as if it were not the river’s kin. Even Buhari’s most devout followers will agree in their hearts of hearts that the President could have and should have done a lot more in terms of governance and politics.
The result of a coalition government managed by a weak party and an absent President is erosion of popular support, malcontent amongst party chieftains and dismemberment.
Anthony Kila, a Jean Monnet professor of Strategy and Development, wrote in from Cambridge, United Kingdom