Monday, 28 March 2022

LESSONS FROM THE APC CONVENTION ..By Michael Effiong


The whole nation was literarily holding its breath as our ruling party, the  All Progressives Congress (APC) held its convention. The event raised so much dust because of the circumstances of the last few weeks and the usual drama associated with politics and politicking.

At the end of the day, it ended in a diminuendo as it turned out, the best man for the job in the APC is a dye-in-the-wool founding member of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Senator Abdullahi Adamu.


In case you do not know, PDP was the party under whose umbrella Adamu became a two term governor of Nassarawa State and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The same also goes for the position of National Secretary, which has gone to the popular Osun politician, Senator Iyiola Omisore, another former PDP Man. I am sure in no time the APC spinning machine will be on overdrive that they have been members long enough to merit these positions, but in their heart of hearts, they know the truth.


In any case, this is a telling development and it is an indication that there is no ideology or philosophy in Nigerian politics-and the earlier we realise this fact the better.


There is no way for example that Adamu and Omisore will mount the rostrum and run down the PDP, people will laugh them out of the park, is it possible that the APC has unwittingly shot itself in the foot?

Well, time will tell, but what unfolded at the Eagle Square is a confirmation that there is hardly any difference between the two top political parties in Nigeria.

Just yesterday, at Crest FC, the club where we play every Saturday 6-aside football in Lagos, there was an argument about the difference between APC and PDP.

I argued that in many states there are clear differences because of the personalities, and they can never mix but at the centre, they are virtually Siamese twins.

Some of my friends countered that the difference is clear because APC has not been as corrupt as PDP, the response to that was that we don’t know that for sure until we see the books, and they were reminded about the fuel subsidy payments that had reached unimaginable heights even during a lock down, we were told that we were consuming 50 million litres of PMS daily, and that if President Buhari was so concerned about corruption and the negative effect, he would not personally endorse Senator Adamu, who like his Secretary, Senator  Omisore had been special guests at the offices of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

That was as far as that argument went but to be clear, I do not believe any third force can wrest power at the centre, it has to be either APC or PDP.

Therefore, the big lesson that the APC Convention has brought to fore is one thing that has remained ever constant in the political arena: Interest.

In fact, Ambrose Bierce, an America Writer, describes politics as “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles”. This is so apt and it should dawn on Nigerians that it is not about anyone else but you!

Yes, what concerns you and benefits you should guide your decision. In the last six years, how have you fared? Has your standard of living worsened or brightened?

For example, in the last six years, we now have trains taking us from Lagos to Ibadan. Kudos! We can now see progress on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, we can see the Second Niger Bridge standing tall and proud nearing completion.

Juxtapose this with a brother who has a multi-million naira farm in Taraba State and lost everything because not only can he not access the farm, it has been taken over by bandits, what of the fact that fuel has gone from N87 to N165, food items, bus fare etc has reached an all time high.

Furthermore, if you live around Apapa (where the traffic has defied solution), Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi or Zamfara  (where banditry and kidnapping has not ceased) has life been jolly, what of the IDP camps have they increased or reduced?

What am I saying? The election at all levels in 2023 should not be about party but people. Who is that individual in your local government that has been hands on, that has been involved in community development, why not encourage that person to get involved.

We are told of local government chairmen that do not live in their LGAs, they dash there a few days during the week and dash out. That sort of individual has no business being there, no matter the party he or she represents.

What of State Assembly members who also abandon their people and relocate to the state capital or other parts of the state for personal comfort, no engagement except during election circles. This is the time to call their bluff and vote them out.

Let us be clear, I may not be physically present in a community but will impact the community through my resources, my investment and more. That is not the same as taking up an assignment and abandoning it for flimsy excuses.

Some people have this sense of entitlement, that I have been living in this area for long and so I should be this or that, capital No. What has been your contribution, what have you done for the people and how have you helped the youths grow?

Though it is said that all politics is local, it does not mean that your only claim to fame is that you grew up in an area, it must be about impact. You must have been able to succeed in your private capacity first before thinking you can inspire others to succeed.

Personally, I believe one of the biggest problems hampering our growth as a country is the penchant of putting round pegs in square holes. What do I mean, even if it is position of Councilor, make sure the person is fit for purpose and has the right capacity for the assignment?

A councilor is supposed to be the closest member of the legislative arm to the people, if you give the position rabble rouse, who has no visible means of income, he is bound to imbibe the wrong ethics and will be on the road to failure.

A Councilor should be a local organizer, bright, young, a small business owner or an employee who has some experience in managing people and resources.

Why are these skills necessary, that Councilor is soon to be supervising Works, Roads, Revenue Generation, Health, Public Enlightenment etc. Believe it or not, at that micro level, he will be taking decision that can affect your life! That is why we should not be dismissive of LG elections or any election for that matter.

If you have a Councilor, LG Chairman, State Assembly or Ward Executives that you do not know or cannot knock his or her door to discuss matters such as solving of community development problems, then it is time for action.

In your state, don’t be carried away with fine oratory, look at the content, look at the capacity, look at the track record. If a man comes to tell you he will create jobs, what job has he created before? If he is a career politician and has spent years being an ex-this and ex that, scrutinize him or her, check and verify their often exaggerated achievements.

I have gone through this pain to break down the process from the top to the bottom, to show you that politics matters and like it was displayed at Eagle Square, a consensus can be reached without your input.

Therefore, in Nigeria today, everybody should be an apostle of good governance, it is time for us to leave the fence, and join active politics in any shape or form, you can support anyone or any party but make a move, contribute and rally all those within your sphere of influence, because 2023 is too critical to be left in the hands of career politicians alone.

Effiong, A journalist and Editor, Ovation International magazine writes from Lagos


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