This is a hard question to ask, but not impossible in the politics. Politics is dynamic and the dynamism of politics oftentimes is determined by various variables. When PDP won the elections in 1999, it had its stint in power and because of the unstable opposition, PDP bragged that it will rule NIgeria for 60 years. The audacity and arrogance that characterized PDP’s reign was so palpable that one was left to agree with PDP that surely PDP would rule for as long as it wants, but the only thing constant in and with nature is change. Time and chance happens to all. Your longevity in power is largely determined by your strength or the weakness of your opponent. In law there is a principle that you establish your case not on the weakness of the defendant but on the strength of your case. In life we often make the error or mistake of assuming because of the weakness of our opponents we need not work hard to establish our case. It is called the arrogance of power or the error of assumption.
PDP’s downfall started with the exhibitions of certain characteristics and it is instructive that APC learn from that fast and hard to avoid the repetition of history. The elements are
1. Lack of Internal democracy
2. Compromising institutions to achieve their aim
3. Delusion of grandeur or self deceit
1. Lack of internal democracy
If you have been in Nigeria from 2001 when PDP began its preparation for the 2003 elections, when it was faced up with the challenges of internal democracy in the selection of its leaders across various levels this piece would resonated . Recall it was their first test after winning the 1999 elections overwhelmingly in Nigeria. All their elected officials needed a second term, while new leaders sought to upset the status quo and provide new direction and or new vision and opportunities. So it was their first test to uphold the provisions of their constitution and allow the internal democracy to play out in the processes. They began what has today come to be known as “ declare not necessarily the winner but the imposed candidate and let the aggrieved meet them in court” This was virtually started from the highest office in the land at the time; the president who was considered as the leader of the party. They even extended the same arrogance to removal of their party leaders when they felt the party leaders were not carrying out their biddings. So at the national level the president would unilaterally remove the national chairman while at the state levels the Governors did same by removing their state chairmen. This lack of internal democracy then started to crack the defence of the party as cases upon cases where instituted in various courts across the nation seeking redress. Today over 75 percent of cases in courts that bother on lack of internal democracy, imposition, electoral malpractices, offenses and irregularities that redefine our corpus juris are PDP cases from the High Courts right up to the Supreme Court.
Sadly, APC appear to be drifting towards the same sad realities. The pseudo name for lack of internal democracy is “consensus” which by itself is not a problem and is contained in the constitution of APC; but however is being used to impose candidates across all levels of leadership in the party. Whilst at the center there seem to be a more transparent process, sadly at the state levels, the transparency is being observed in breach. This trend had begun generating case-laws in Nigeria. The whole essence of democracy is given the electorate the power to choose their leaders. Leaders who
emerge via a democratic means most often than not show a greater sense of accountability to the people that elected them than those who emerge by consensus. Consensus leadership is a leadership that works for the audience of one, the governor, the national chairman or the president.
As 2023 elections build up commences it is incumbent on APC to ensure that the National Working Committee, and the presidential candidate emerge by a means other than consensus. The members and delegates of the party should have a strong say in who emerges because the 2023 is a new election circle; its a new era of a new era. PDP would be ready, we CANNOT AFFORD TO TAKE FOR GRANTED our strength in numbers, the 8 million vote bank of PMB would not be automatic, because the votes are personal and across all levels; I urge Mr President to consciously insist on elective convention and presidential primaries.
2. Compromising Institutions of government to achieve aims
One of the legacies PMB would be remembered for is his insistence and zero tolerance to compromising institutions of government to achieve an aim. I recall in the build up tp 2019 elections when he emphatically gave an order to all security agencies not to yield to any influence by any politician or political party. In conducting their affairs and duties. He has over the years maintained neutrality in all elections and electoral processes. PMB knew that was what took out PDP at the Centre and he didn’t want to repeat the mistake. I have heard from string PDP critics of PMB their strong respect for PMB as a man of integrity in every sense of the word. Recently I was in London and I was visited by one of the presidential spokesperson of PDP in the 2019 elections, I could not believe listening to his strong positive reviews about President Buhari. He told me what I didn’t even know about the greatness and patriotism of President Buhari. He revealed to me instances where and when PMB took a decision that was pivotal to the national security of the country which had PMB made the mistake due to partisanship of dictatorial tendencies it would have plunged Nigeria into a situation akin to the Arab spring. I am proud of PMB any day anytime that at a time when Africa could be said to have sank in corruption he made efforts as a human being to be above board. No doubt he is a human being and has made his mistakes in judgment especially appointing people who are perceived as corrupt people into offices of government but one cannot never point a finger at him to say he compromised his position or partook in corrupt practices. He tried his best to not compromise institutions of government in the conduct of his affairs. The party must take that example and move towards 2023 elections. The integrity that characterized PMB’s conduct of affairs cannot be said of many governors in Nigeria. As we head to 2023 I urge APC and leaders of the party to resist the temptation of using or compromising agencies of government to either confer advantage on themselves or attack their opponents. The recent civilian coup that was conducted on Caretaker chairman of APC is a clear example of what the party and its leaders must avoid. Unconstitutional approach to conducting party affairs must at all cost be avoided. A level playing field must be provided for all who run for various offices in our party if we do not want to make PMB the first and last President from APC extraction. We must be reminded of our core progressive ideology; change, social security, equal opportunities, gender parity, due processes, strong middle class, security and welfare of citizens etc
3. Delusions of grandeur
It is when you believe that you have more power, wealth, smarts, or other grand traits than is true. To put it in a another word is “self deceit”. Fantasizing an illusionary believe about your worth. That was the last straw that broke the back of PDP. That even in the face of lost of confidence, public outcry and objections by the NIgerian people PDP continued to say they were okay, had no crisis, popular and would rule for 60 years. They were even congratulating themselves for victory even before the elections; preparing for victory speech in the face of impositions, manipulations and corruption. It’s the delusions of grandeur. Never over estimate your self importance. Never make the judgment that you are popular without feedback. Never assume that the votes you garner are automatic; never think that the oppressed in your party are simply submissive or cooperative. Never conclude that influx of people into the party is conclusive proof of popularity or victory. The best of man is still man at the very best; people move with reasons and motives. If there is anything that politics has taught me, it is this believe that just because people echo your name in a melodramatic fashion they are with you. The sad realities of politics is that most of the times it traffic ate right and turn left. Always work hard for the votes, engage, collaborate, interrogate and persuade. Never use threat to secure support or follower ship. Never assume, always engage and ask for honest feedbacks on your popularity. Be humble and strategic. If you don’t know strategy you will be a victim of political tragedies. APC must be circumspect this season. We must rally our members. The convention and the primaries would no doubt break hearts and possibly create chaos, we must be reconciliatory and rewarding. We must engage the various warring factions with a view to finding solutions to problems and we must realize that if APC looses presidential elections none of us would be fine. We rise together and fall together.
While President Muhammadu Buhari is the first APC president, we must not make him the last APC president. If APC looses presidential 2023 elections, it will die a natural death; that I can tell you for free; you heard it here first.
Dr Daniel Bwala, (LLM)
Writes from Paris, France
Friday 13, March, 2022