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APC: Can the centre still hold?

When the Irish poet William Butler Yeats penned the eternal verses of his classic poem ‘The Second Coming’ which enjoyed a more popular title of ‘Things Fall Apart’, he apparently did not have Nigeria nor the country’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in mind. The main message of Yeats’ work, written in 1919 soon after the First World War ended in 1917, is a narrative on how the very factors that led the world to war in the first place were regrouping and likely to lead to another one. Hence the first title of the work was ‘The Second Coming’.

Incidentally, either by providence or otherwise the country has come to enjoy an ominous connection with that work through which Yeats – even in his grave, would enjoy a further stretch of his endowment with poetic prescience: case study – Nigeria. To put it succinctly, his work has successfully framed Nigeria’s contemporary politics – especially with respect to some inanities of the APC, in bold relief. Without prejudice to the fact that the late Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe adopted the title of Yeat’s work -‘Things Fall Apart’ to brand one of the former’s greatest works, recent turn of events, especially within the leadership class of the ruling APC seem to be playing out significant aspects of Yeat’s plot. In a comparable context, the cumulative effect of the APC string of crises point to an implosion at its command centre, leaving it with a series of cracks. The situation may have also cast a long shadow over the future of democracy in the country given the role of the APC as the ruling party whose internal circumstances would invariably rub off most aspects of life in the country.

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Against the backdrop of a deluge of misgivings trailing the just concluded political party primaries across the 36 states, looms at the national level a turbulence generated by a coalescence of fallouts from the same state primary polls. The political windstorm so generated is presently tearing at the very heart of the APC, much as its leaders opt to deny same. Yet the dispensation has left the party technically reeling from what pugilists refer to as punch-drunk syndrome. This is the state of disorientation with respect to mental and motor function, in a victim of a killer-punch on the ear, with loss of capacity to maintain balance.

The turbulence in the APC is driven by the interplay of at least four independent storms. In one vein is the clash between the APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and at least three state governors namely Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State. The bone of contention here is the failure of the mentioned governors to have their preferred candidates flying the APC flag as governorship candidates in their respective states, during the forthcoming 2019 general polls. This, they blame Oshiomhole for.

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In another vein is Oshiomhole’s unfinished business of contriving a sack from office of Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate. This ‘Saraki must go’ agenda was initially launched at the inception of the Eighth National Assembly in June 2015, by Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in his quest to control the two chambers of the National Assembly. Oshiomhole, in the search for a theme to latch on to, came to serve as its later day apostle.

Meanwhile in a poetic twist arose a clamour for Oshiomhole’s own resignation from office as APC National Chairman, over yet to be proven, grave allegations of bribery and manipulations. This new dimension is believed to be driven by a grouping of dissatisfied losers during the primaries exercise. Just as well is an ongoing court trial in which Oshiomhole is expected to defend himself against allegations of corrupt enrichment while he was in office as governor of Edo State for eight years. His accuser – a Benin based cleric, had obtained a court ruling that Oshiomhole has a case to answer in the matter.

Beyond the Oshiomhole axis is a complement of festering post primaries issues in the states which when taken along with the warts around the National Chairman, confront the party with further weakening of its chances in the coming polls. The side shows unfortunately remain potent factors that may prove helpful or deleterious to cohesion of the party’s structures in the respective states depending on how they are handled.

As for Oshiomhole, embattled as he may be from the consolidated barrage of attacks from different directions, his plight cannot be separated from a bigger danger facing the APC super structure which draws its root from sheer policy inconsistency of the party. Not a few Nigerians are forgetting that the APC crisis is not new to the party when even as an organization it had pretended all along that the issues associated with its internal disharmonies, would naturally fizzle out on their own. Unfortunately, corporate maladies do not fizzle out on their own, but are only eliminated by deliberate action targeted at eliminating them.

It is interesting that Tinubu, with all his contributions to the party’s present state of arrested development, was reported to have likened the serially crises-ridden primaries to football matches where players come out of the pitches at the end of games with various conditions. Some would come out with victory, others with loss, and yet others with injuries that neither victory nor loss in the game can assuage. What a utopian situation Nigerian politics would have been if only Tinubu’s simplistic analogy were realistic.

Seen in context therefore, the various storms in the APC are simply outcomes of intra- party politicking without rules of engagement. Hence the party is paying the price of promoting lawlessness and deficit of internal democracy in its innards, whereby the better disposed members are allowed free rein to play out the two dangerous conditions of ‘might is right’ and ‘winner takes all’.

This situation which is not new actually engendered the advent of Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the party which he marked with the agenda of restoring party supremacy in APC. Desirable as the agenda was he was left unchecked as he executed a yeoman’s job at panel-beating the APC according to his perception of party supremacy. It is in this context that the genesis of the APC’s present troubles are situated.

It should not be forgotten that in the wake of the mass defections last July by legislators in the National Assembly from the APC to the PDP, the APC leadership promised the sit-tight ones automatic return tickets to their present positions in government, in the forthcoming polls, for their loyalty. However, during the party primaries, potentates in many states broke ranks with the party hierarchy to favour their anointed candidates. It was the lot of Oshiomhole to act out his party supremacy agenda in order to tame any untoward development and over-zealous party forces. Hence excoriating Oshiomole now without recourse to the party’s history of unique twists and turns in running its affairs, may not serve the cause of fair play, even as defined by the APC.

In the same vein, if the APC now tries to put Oshiomhole down, in order to appease some of its powerful elements, the party may be hurting itself rather irredeemably.

This is where the build-up of crises around Oshiomhole and beyond offers the APC a similitude to the plot of Yeats’ poem ‘Things Fall Apart’. The party cannot in all honesty pretend that all is well with its inner workings and outer image before Nigerians.

The question on everybody’s lip now is whether the APC – with its centre tearing apart, can still get its act together, ahead of the general polls which are only a few weeks away.


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