It was with great relief that I received the news of the All Progressives Congress (APC) acceptance to work with Bukola Saraki and YakubDogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively. This was against the earlier stance of the party when it in fact rejected both men and the entire process that produced both in the first instance. This singular act not only affirms my earlier position in my article, “National Assembly ‘Crises’: Searching Seriously”, but also shows that the party is in fact “maturing” into a ruling party after many years in opposition.
Every political party, except it is so-called, seeks to acquire political power. There is no sense in permanent opposition, though we talk of “permanent power”. Acquiring political power is never easy, but more difficult it is to maintain yourself in power. This appears to be the APC’s challenge today. Having spent so many years in opposition, it is finding it difficult to accept the reality that it is now the ruling party, no longer the “opposition” party it used to be. Should we then agree with the school of thought that the party is not prepared for power? Are we to agree that it is a “fragile opposition” as a United States’ think-thank described it before the presidential election?
Since the National Assembly drama began which reached its climax on June 9, many APC supporters (if they are not properly so-called) must have thrown caution into the air in their response to the outcome of the National Assembly leadership election. I had my fair share of insults from fire-emitting APC supporters after making my opinion public on the issue in the article cited above. Despite some of them acknowledging my earlier support for President Buhari during the elections, some of my APC comrades did not spare my “honour” as some went as far as raining curses on even the memory of my late father all because he hails from Kwara state. The most printable of all the adjectives they used to describe me were “turncoat, renegade, betrayer.”
I could only hope that all these would have ended with the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on behalf of the party accepting the result of the June 9 National Assembly leadership. To me, this is the most mature position the party has taken since the March 28 presidential election.
The National Assembly drama has certainly revealed some things to the party and to all.
First, the APC must come to the realisation that it is no longer the same party that controls just one state (Lagos). The party is now in control of 22 states in the federation. The fact that the party did the unimaginable on March 28 shows that a lot have changed in the party’s body chemistry. It therefore must “grow” to its new reality very fast.
The utterances of the party’s spokesman, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, must reflect those befitting of a ruling party. It appears he is yet to shed off his “militant” posture he had as opposition spokesman.
Secondly, the party supporters must maintain magnanimity either in victory or defeat. The over ambitiousness displayed by some of the party supporters in the closure of the National Assembly complex in the morning of June 9; the “ban” on African Independent Television (AIT) from covering the activities of President Buhari; the alleged prevention of top ranking People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supporters from travelling abroad and the likes all attest to the overzealousness of some APC members. They need to improve on their attitudes and orientations especially now that they are in power. This point was made recently by Professor Rufai Alkali, former political adviser to President Jonathan. The APC must avoid the tendencies to condescend to impunity. This was one of the reasons PDP was voted out of power.
Thirdly, the APC must understand the culture of negotiation as a standard practice in civilised climes. You don’t get to win all the time just as you don’t lose always. The present Speaker of the United States House of Representative John Boehner, is a Republican, while President Barack Obama is a Democrat. It is no big deal even if PDP “controls” the Legislature; it is only part of the maturation process. And that reminds us, both Saraki and Dogara the last time we checked are members of the APC. The only error is that the party overestimated its own power while underestimating the chances of its rival, PDP in the Legislature. There were so many early warnings the party did not pay heed to.
The party need not be reminded that PDP relied too much on flattery, eye services and praise singing from its supporters especially during the Goodluck Jonathan years. This is one of the pitfalls the APC must avoid like a plague. There are still many more grounds to cover; more battles to fight; more territories to conquer and more elections to win with 2019 being just close by.
ADIGUN is a writer, philosopher, academic and political risk analyst wrote in from Lagos