The APC as a political party came on board by defeating the then ruling PDP on the concept of change. General Muhammad Buhari’s phenomenon was so strong that many of the so-called PDP states were won by APC candidates due largely to Buhari’s image. The change they campaigned on and which people fell for was from “good luck” to “better luck” and not from one godfather in Lagos to another godfather in Abuja. Nigerians are looking at a state where their destinies are in their own hands and their own handiwork not the choice of a remote control either in Otta, Lagos, Minna or elsewhere. We want real democracy and truly freedom with minimum interference from any quarters. Allow the president to choose his ministers, allow the governors to appoint their commissioners and the National Assembly to elect its officers.
It looks as if we have in APC some old politicians that are not aware of the new currents and where they are blowing to. But we thought that they must have read the handwriting of President Buhari saying that “I am for everyone but I am for nobody.” They could have taken a queue from there. In essence, what President Buhari said (though may have many interpretations) is that he is for our interest and he has no godfather. None should say “I put you there, therefore do what I want.” He further demonstrated that when he said he would work with anyone that became officers of the two houses. The guy has been open and plain enough.
We had argued that godfatherism is not necessarily evil in Nigeria politics but when the child is grown up you stay away and only keep praying for his success. In the same vein, we find real fathers and mothers following their children to our campuses during entrance examinations and some to press for grades or influence NYSC posting. Parents must choose one option to either keep your children at home or freely allowing them to compete with their peers. Majority of Nigerian children have no godfather that will take and pass examinations for them and yet they end up as first class materials. In the recently concluded elections in the Senate and House of Representatives, only God knows the best set of candidates that should have emerged. APC as a party should learn not only from their slogan but believe in it. Why have they come up with a ‘Change’ slogan only to be seen working for selected few, just to win elections?
Now we see that APC has lost its leadership to its rival, the PDP, because of over interference and over politicking. Senator Saraki from Kwara State is also a local godfather of his own right just like Tinubu of Lagos. We cannot always play to the gallery and expect change that is favourable. The candidates the party wanted might have been excellent and would have won on their merits but for their association with public figures that people no longer want even their voices. Take it or leave it, I want to say that many people think that change should bring new people and new ideas. If we change nothing in a process the products will also only be due to just random variations. We need a fundamental change in the process so that the product can take the desired shape. APC may need to organise a workshop for its stakeholders to deliberate on what they mean by change and how best and quickly their objectives can be achieved.
Nigerians and politics are the losers so far. Nigerians are losing out because the whole spectrum of candidates was not exposed to them. Privileged few were brought out as if that is all Nigeria has. The two-party state we desire in politics has been thrown overboard by the PDP’s wiliness to stay in government rather than in opposition. By allowing self to dance with an unknown APC where warlords like Buhari, Tinubu, Amaechi and others live they are tempting themselves to cross over.
You have been in government for 16 years, as genuine politicians why won’t you taste being on the other side and plan a comeback from there? While we blame APC for taking victory for granted we think that PDP didn’t understand the uncharted mined field they are threading either. They ventured into an unholy alliance with an APC that was stronger than them only recently.
Now the game is set for making a dictator out of a prepared politician the stock of Buhari’s status. The “unfriendly” Senate president will only get to participate in selective national interests because total loyalty and absolute trust are required for the executive and national assembly members to work together on same page. I would not expect a Buhari bending backward to please a house only bent in occupation of seemingly lofty offices. The enormous task of nation building, especially from the low state of things currently, requires dedicated, hard working and trusted allies. Those who argue from this position that Buhari ought to have disclosed his preferred candidates are also wrong. The president made his position clear and the party only ought to have simply gone to sleep and prayers.
In reality what are the things to change in Nigeria’s dressing room? Openness and attitudes to work are paramount and key. Transparency and carrying majority along is another one. The people on the streets are not going to accept that a change has come if by December 2015 many of them remain unemployed, states failing to pay their existing staff let alone hiring more hands, generators remain the only major source of energy in the land, our roads are not repaired as at when they breakdown and above all, if allegations and rumours of corruption persist. It would not be on how many are in jail by December 2015 but how much improvement.
It will also be interesting to see at that time what will have become of the dreaded Boko Haram, kidnappers, armed robbery and the levels these insurgents have been brought low. No one should be in any illusion that Boko Haram can be totally put off the map in such a short time but people should be given confidence to send their wards to school and to the farmlands anywhere in the country. Apart from the insurgents, economic empowerment will be a significant index to watch and the value of the national currency. Our propensity to consume must be reduced, especially on foreign goods. Nigeria’s economy is going to be a litmus test at the end.
Hence while these enormous tasks lay ahead party stewards are busy only fixing people perceived as cronies and economic allies. President Buhari can no longer stay on his highly elevated chair without belonging to no one any longer. Politics is a dirty game not meant for saints but where the saintly call the orders. He must let his opinion filter to the public because the public are still his foot soldiers.
Professor Ipinyomi wrote from University of Ilorin