Unfortunately, when the elections were finally held, the CPC performed far below such optimistic predictions, especially in the governorship and House of Assembly elections. Factors for this pathetic performance are well known to keen political observers. How come such enormous good will went with the winds so quickly? In all honesty, the mismanagement of this good will was self-inflicted. The biggest mistake ever made from the beginning was to start running the CPC like the Chinese Communist party where the will of a clique superseded the sovereignty of the voters across the country.
Such arrogance and naivety by the CPC national leaders was beginning of the mess that eventually ruined the political fortunes of the party across the country. Largely emboldened by General Buhari’s seeming indifference to their undemocratic style of running the party, this clique eventually took the party to defeat. Despite warnings by Chief Mike Ahamba to General Buhari to keep this clique in check or risk destroying the basic democratic principle on which people-oriented parties are founded, Buhari’s attitude remained apathetic.
With Buhari’s reluctance to foresee the coming dangers posed to internal democracy by this unmanageably powerful clique, Mike Ahamba decided to vote with his feet. General Buhari was so jolted, if not stupefied, by his resignation that he had to put out personal adverts in the papers, appealing to Ahamba to return; he never did because this clique is beyond Buhari’s control. No politician in CPC can surpass Ahamba’s loyalty to Buhari but he had to quit.
Popular politicians that ran away from the PDP to join the CPC did so on the grounds that the ruling party lacks internal democracy. They had expected higher standards of justice and fair play in Buhari’s party. They were disappointed to discover that their experience was like jumping from a frying pan into the fire! The policy of substitution and imposition of candidates was the most fatal political blunder the CPC leaders had committed.
The party national leaders conducted primaries across the country for the election of candidates. When the outcome of the primaries didn’t favour their blue-eyed boys, they illegally cancelled the results outright or refused to announce them so that they could manipulate the process and impose their anointed aspirants. A case in point was the unjust treatment meted out to Mohammed Abacha, Lado Dan Marke and Dan China in Kano, Kastina and Bauchi States respectively.
At the Kano State governorship primaries, Mohammed Abacha, won 144, 000 votes to defeat his rival, colonel Lawanl Ja’afaru Isa who won only 78,000 votes. To the shock of many, Abacha’s name was substituted with Ja’afaru Isa and his name was submitted to INEC as the official candidate. INEC initially refused to recognize Isa because it witnessed the transparent process that produced Mohammed as the validly elected candidate.
A Federal High Court ruled in Abuja that the so-called party prerogative could not supersede the will of the voters or the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act, which defines the process by which candidates can emerge for election. However, another court ruled controversially in favour of the party, affirming the so-called party supremacy over the people. The party had its way by manipulation but the CPC lost the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Kano State. The outcome was a revolt against the policy of the imposition of candidates. Buhari was elected in his personal capacity in the presidential election.
Since the end of the 2011 elections, the leadership of party has been alienated themselves from CPC supporters across the country. The policy of reconciliation aimed at rebuilding confidence has gone nowhere because the people responsible for the political fiasco are still holding office in Abuja. Members of this clique who caused the mismanagement of CPC’s enormous good will had no reason to remain in office after leading the party to defeat through their unimaginative, thoughtless and myopic policy of imposing candidates on the voters. Honour is a critical element of responsible leadership. When the former British Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown led his party to defeat, he didn’t wait for anybody to tell him to resign. Leaders must take responsibility for failure and share the glory for success. In CPC’s case, desperation for office by its leaders appears more important than personal honour. The current reconciliation efforts in the CPC will achieve no progress unless the party leadership is overhauled and replaced by those with better vision, imagination, focus and creative ideas to move it forward. Forward-looking leaders are urgently needed to rescue the party. Men with worn-out ideas who cannot connect with the people have no business running the affairs of the CPC. There is no way the CPC can regain momentum if the political future of the party is left in the hands of unreconstructed leaders who have become more and more detached from the people. General Buhari must take the bull by the horns and ensure the party is led by those who believe in democratic principles, including the freedom of choice. Imposition of candidate is pure despotism and it has not place in democracy.
Kafur wrote in from No. 26, Nouakchott Street, Wuse Zone 1, Abuja