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APC, know thyself

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The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is not a party in itself, but a party for itself. The mere fact that  a coalition declares itself a party does not mean it automatically becomes a party which is a political movement built   over a period-based defined principles. A political party is like a child that needs to grow, even if that child is a weird one that defeated his father in a contest.

So, when in reaction to the Tuesday defeat of its official candidates in the National Assembly Principal Officers election, the APC spokespersons vowed to discipline members who   defeated the party’s preferred candidates, it merely means a move by a section   of the party to discipline a rival faction.

Far from the NASS fall-out being a question of indiscipline, it is in truth, an internal   contest for power within the APC. So far, most of the aggrieved party leaders have their roots in the defunct Alliance for Democracy, AD and largely, its successor, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. In contrast, legislators     they seek to discipline, like Senate President Bukola Saraki and their backers, including   former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, have their roots in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In the unfolding battle, President Muhammadu Buhari’s team from the defunct  Congress for Progressive Change, CPC,   is largely noncommittal; it   supports the party, but accepts the elections; it belongs to all, and belongs to nobody.  Clearly, a vicious struggle between the old AD/ACN  and the PDP faction that moved to APC, will strengthen the hand of the old CPC platform in the ruling party.

When a child stumbles  and falls, he looks forward to see if anybody is coming to his rescue. But when an adult suffers the same fate,  he looks back to see what tripped him. The PDP had a heavy   fall in the general elections, and it looked back to see why it fell. On the other hand, the APC fell in the National Assembly, and rather than examine why, it is yelling and crying blue murder. It accuses the PDP of engineering its defeat in the Assembly. Did it expect the opposition party to come to its aid? Will its cries frighten the PDP into retreat? Certainly not.

The fate that befell APC   is largely self-inflicted. Its claimed neutrality on who becomes the Senate President and Speaker was quite naïve. How can a ruling party claim to leave the leadership of the National Assembly to chance?   How come it did not factor in the     opposition PDP with 49 senators in its calculations? The rule in politics is, don’t walk out, but the bigger   rule is, don’t be absent. Whatever reasons it gives, the fact is that the APC was virtually absent when the Senate was inaugurated and when the   leadership elections were held.

Clearly, the APC lacks experience as the ruling party, and its anger and self-assuredness, is not allowing it to learn the necessary lessons. Just a few weeks ago,   it    was boasting to be   the master of the game,   taunting   the PDP about its transformation from being   the ruling party to the opposition and even arrogantly, asking   the PDP to come and learn   how to play opposition politics.

It forgot the basic teaching of legendary Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, author of the famous Pedagogy of the Oppressed  that education is a two-way traffic in which the educator   must also be educated. In striving to teach the PDP opposition politics, the APC should be humble enough to learn the politics of a ruling party from its would-be student. With its 48 senators to the APC’s nine present at the inauguration, the PDP, if it wanted, could have taken the Senate Presidency, but it wisely chose not to do so; preferring to set the APC against itself. That is a lesson for the ruling party.

The APC should realise, as Freire teaches, that “no one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we  become what we are”.   The APC could not have been born as an adult. The magnetic field of the APC coalition   was essentially to defeat and replace  the ruling party. To achieve that, the Congress conveners demonised the PDP and rallied the populace around a slogan of change. With the main enemy defeated and power in their hands, the internal contradictions in the party are bound to surface.

If the APC is to learn from self-experience, it   must stop its incoherent responses to the dilemma it faces, rethink its resort to court actions against its dissenting members and stop its threat bulletins. It would need to stop fighting the Saraki group employing the same media nuclear weapons it deployed against former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP. It would first need an honest evaluation of itself, motives and principles. It would need to know what   and who it is; a sort of self-awareness which would lead to self-consciousness.

The group, Pathways to Happiness, says that: “Self-awareness is in having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self- awareness allows you to understand other people, how they  perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.” It is this self-awareness that is lacking in the APC.

But while the APC sorts out itself and the salaries and allowances of legislators flow, the work of the National Assembly and its smooth running is being threatened. I believe in internal   party democracy and discipline. But frankly, the primary concern of the Nigerian people  is neither   party discipline nor who, between Saraki and Ahmad Lawan, is Senate President; this is more an issue of sharing offices and less about   service. What the people demand is service. They have voted for change and    change has come, at least in Aso Rock. Now, the people want and deserve positive   changes in their lives. That is all that matters.

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