It is certainly not a matter of conjecture to say that the fracas among the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers on the floor of the Federal House of Representatives, June 26, has raised more questions than answers on the integrity of our lawmakers and the commitment of the leadership of the APC to truly push for genuine change in line with acceptable democratic principles.
Typical of Anezi Okoro’s 1972 classic novel, One Week, One Trouble, members of the 8th National Assembly, since inauguration, have displayed susceptibility and willingness to do everything, including the absurd, but without, the patriotic zeal for things that border on national interest.
While not many Nigerians were taken aback by the brouhaha on the floor of the House of Representatives, particularly watching the lawmakers engaging one another in fisticuffs before the cameras over appointments to leadership positions, it defies understanding that the APC leaders, after promising to adhere to democratic tenets, are themselves, attempting to manipulate the process.
From the election of principal officers of the Senate to that of the Federal House of Representatives, the processes seemed cast on trouble-mode. First, the APC leadership said it had zoned the position of the Senate President to the North-Central and later swiftly to the North-East after two major contenders from North Central signified interest. In a twinkle of an eye, the party announced it was leaving the contest open. No reason was given for the party’s perceived inconsistency but discerning Nigerians saw it as a tactical and welcome development to prevent avoidable bickering within the rank and file of the party.
Strange though, especially coming after the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that relished zoning, most Nigerians saw the move as a clear sign of better things to come and a way of redefining party politics for the good of the country. But, just as the drums were being rolled out to praise the new APC government and leadership to high heavens, a twist was suddenly added to what, today, has become a drama that is reaching a bizarre denouement too fast.
Perhaps, having done its homework well or so it seems, and not ashamed to follow in the footsteps of the PDP, which it had roundly berated for imposition of candidates and worse still, unfit ones, the party suddenly reversed itself by settling for zoning. It zoned the position of Senate President to North-East and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to the South-West.
Expectedly, in no time, news began to slip out about those interested in vying for the positions and the difficulty the party was encountering as it tried to harmonize the candidates in line with what it christened a party position.
The party’s peace moves failed probably because there were insinuations that its leadership was bent on circumventing the process to make way for the emergence of “anointed candidates”. This suspicion, coupled with high handedness, set the stage for the situation in the National Assembly now. Or, how else can one explain the fact that after the party claimed it zoned positions to certain parts of the country, it still shackled members from the zones and prevented them from freely choosing who should represent them? It is worse when one contemplates what is common knowledge that even in the party hierarchy, not everyone is carried along.
While the party, as in other climes, remains supreme and has the power to discipline any erring member or decide how its programmes are to be implemented, as well as how its principal officers are to be elected in a democratic setting such as ours, it remains to be seen how such supremacy could stand in the face of perceived partisanship by party leaders.
This, no doubt, is the trouble with the APC today. Its leadership has failed to prove its honesty in the handling of the crisis. For instance, no one knows when and where the party leadership, which includes members of the National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Council. (NEC), all governors elected on its platform, various caucuses and Board of Trustees (BoT), met and agreed on who should be appointed to positions at the National Assembly. Did these groups meet to decide on the so-called party decision? For now, there is no evidence in the affirmative. If, yes, who and who, were present? Where are the Ogbonnaya Onus, or, is ‘party leadership’ only made up of a select few “democratic” as claimed by Chief Bisi Akande?
Really, where has the BoT, NEC and the different caucuses been since the crisis started? Why has the APC not called a meeting of its governors and senators-elect except for the party meeting held on the day election of National Assembly principal officers was held?
One recalls the processes leading to the selection of the party’s presidential candidate and his Vice, the party chairman and other principal officers, including members of the NWC, especially how the process satisfied the basic tenets of inclusivity, reason for which the APC was able to coast to victory, PDP’s hate campaigns notwithstanding.
It is unfortunate that after condemning the PDP over its culture of imposition, APC leaders by their body language are seemingly following in the same footsteps. This is why it defies reason to blame the crisis at the National Assembly on President Muhammadu Buhari. What could Buhari have done? Truth be told, even Buhari cannot force anyone on anybody.
Interestingly, what is happening today in APC is not new to party politics. Only a few years ago, some North-East members of the PDP revolted against the imposition of Bamanga Tukur as the zone’s candidate for the party chairmanship position. Although against all odds, the party hierarchy had its way, it was only a matter of time for the majority to later have their pound of flesh or so it seems, as Tukur was forced to quit in shameful circumstances. Tukur induced crisis and the Governors’ Forum 16 over 19 debacle finally buried the PDP.
Today, everything clearly points to the same scenario, and understandably, too, as concerns mount that except some APC leaders swallow their pride in the interest of the party and nation, the party would be in danger of losing the goodwill it mustered before and during the elections.
Not only that, the party will provide comic relief for PDP members, even as members will forever regret letting the opportunity of leading Nigeria slip. One only hopes reason prevails at the end in the interest of the nation.
Adamu writes from Kaduna