Former US President, Late J.F. Kennedy addressing government and party officials after the missile crisis that saw his rating soared said “The right time to fix your roof is when it starts shinning”. The message is clear. Complacency is not an option. The APC-led government under the leadership of President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) is shining at home and abroad. The government is fulfilling her promises successfully. The constitution of the cabinet with party participation adds glitters to the regime. PMB’s integrity, clear and believable posture remains a major source of our good reputation and respect abroad. A Nigerian, Hajiya Amina Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and during the recent UN’s General Assembly, a Nigerian, Prof. Bande was elected to the Presidency of the 74th session. On his ministers, Bill Gates has this to say, “Your cabinet excites us”. It is certainly an “aha” moment for the regime. But that should not deceive people to think it will supply an automatic pattern or prophecy for victory in the next elections. The era of politics of inevitability where history, achievements and success do the work for one is over. Trends do not rescue politicians anymore. Elections, they say are more of unsentimental referendum on the future than they are judgment on the past. That is why it is commonly joked that opposition do not win elections, governments lose them. One has to do the work himself more so when you have experienced a breath- taking moment: the loss of some states to the opposition. The greatest challenge therefore is to re-create, reconstruct and remodel a favorable political terrain for victory come 2023.
The party’s sources of strength and capacity in 2015 that includes PMB’s integrity, the citizen’s deep rooted desire for change, campaign promises, party’s deep and wide spread acceptance and the free and fair primary elections are facing challenges. To elongate the “aha” period beyond 2023, consolidate and recover the capacity to retain grounds, regain lost grounds and increase the frontiers of victory into opposition’s territory, challenges that include, accepting a “Mr. Integrity, identity politics, the message and campaign promises, the party’s organic growth, overdependence on government, cruelty/wickedness of primary elections and the shrinkage of the winning map must be addressed.
It is true that the likes of PMB are very rare. To create division, dampen interest and the will to contest, the opposition, unsuspecting zealots and sycophants have created an aura and a pessimistic scenario that PMB in the last hope for the ruling party. It is fueling the question posed thus “who will provide the grip and focus after PMB?” During the first republic, the late Sardauna of Sokoto Sir Ahmadu Bello was asked if there were other people as astute as he was that would be future leaders, he replied, many!: Election victories of Alh. Shehu Shagari, Alh. Umaru Musa Yar’adua and PMB proved him right. Nigeria is blessed with rich historical sources of inspiration. The Kanem Borno empire, the Sokoto Caliphate, the Jukun/Kwararafa empire, the Oyo empire, the Benin Kingdom, the Hausa Statesand other entities had leaders that carried out acts of feats and valor, transformed their communities through excellent quality leadership to internationally enviable status that are sources of inspiration to past , present and future generations.
Our founding fathers envision Nigeria as a united, strong, peaceful and prosperous nation with roles to play for the black race and humanity in general. That is not shared by some people. The other challenge is in the message and campaign promises. The mantra “change” anywhere has a life span. At a point in time it loses its allure and magnetism. Progress in fulfilling the three campaign promises, revelations from probes and investigations are keeping the change mantra very much alive. But fatigue may however have its own toll. When people are engaged on new issues that include banditry, kidnapping and robbery, the importance of the original campaign issues might diminish.
Most governments in power play prescriptive and dispensing politics. The opposition plays diagnostic politics. As you prescribe and dispense development projects and solve problems, you have unintended consequences and side effects that oppositions take advantage of.
The party APC was formed by a coalition and alliance of other political parties and a faction of a political party. The challenge now is to grow it in to an organic whole in such a way that it will be everything to the citizen’s everyday life, as a result, the citizen will be in a monogamous relationship with the party. It is in recognition of this fact that PMB urged state governors to build the party at their level for victory after his tenure. State governor’s performance will have grass root effects and provide the magnetism. Money bag politics, zoning, ethnicity and the stubbornness of tribalism make primary election cruel and wicked. A party will have highly qualified contestants but when the forces stated above come into play the lowest- common-denominator candidate emerges. Before reconciliation efforts are put in place, hearts have already hardened and defection or plans to carry out anti-party activities are hatched. In some cases factions emerged immediately. The case of the new PDP is fresh in the minds of Nigerians. Governorship elections and indeed other elections have been lost because of the cruelty and wickedness of primary elections. The cruelty of the process discourages highly qualified candidates to contest and sometimes gives rise to factions. In his farewell message in 1796, George Washington took aim at factions. He warned about the perils and dangers offactions and said “factions distract attention from important questions, weakens the government, and agitate the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarm”. Factions contributeto dismal performance by political parties.
The shrinkage of her winning electoral map is a matter for concern. The party should aim to retrace the winning electoral map of 2015 and increase the frontiers of victory into other territories won by the opposition.Poverty and overdependence of people on government and government officials make people to sell their votes. Governors must execute poverty alleviation projects and programs in their states.
Despite the challenges mentioned above, prospects abound. The first is that the opposition has candidates that none can provide a contrast to PMB and his likes in the ruling party. The APC-led government is rich with astute politicians with records of victory. All hands must be on deck. Collectivism, honesty, transparency and accountability must the order of the day. Disappointed by the behavior of certain leaders, Alibaba CEO, Jack Ma (2018) told the gathering of world leaders and heads of multi-nationals that “if you keep power in your office, you will be in trouble, if you keep the money in your pocket, you will be in trouble, and if you keep the glory on your head alone, you will also be in trouble”. This applies to all leaders at all levels. Therefore, to recover the capacity to retain and regain power, try as much as possible to emulate and support PMB.
Ayuba Buba Kinafa wrote from Gombe