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APC 2023: The more you look the less you see

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By Simon Njoku

The stage is getting set for the 2023 presidential race. The All Progressives Congress (APC) recently conducted its Ward congresses nationwide amid tears, bloodbath, rancor and above all defiance of a Supreme Court judgment that declared the congresses illegal.

Sooner than later, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition party, will hold its congresses.  The ward congresses of parties provide the launch pad for delegates to the state and national conventions to emerge. The delegates to the national conventions produce the parties’ presidential flag bearers.

For every discerning political analyst and watchers of trends in the political arena, this is really a season for crucial political horse-trading and bargaining. Given the dismal performance of the ruling APC over the past six years, it could be considered outlandish for any political pundit to see the party as a major contender for power in the 2023 presidential election. The party’s appalling performance in office being a major factor for consideration has rendered it a hard sell. However, events in the polity in the past few years suggest that eyes should not be taken off the occupant of power at Aso Rock and leader of the party who appears to have succeeded in having every national activity revolve around him, directly or indirectly.

Against this background, not a few political observers insist that considering the Aso Rock power holder’s stranglehold on the three organs of government and key apparatuses of governance, he could have gotten favourable court judgment for the APC primaries if he had wanted. A look at the Supreme Court verdict shows it favours the continued stay in office of the Caretaker Committee Chairman who organized the congresses but declared the congresses illegal. What we have seen so far is a situation in which the chairman and his loyalists are browbeating other party members to accept the outcome of the ward congresses despite the Supreme Court ruling on the matter. And the president’s silence over the issue seems to suggest the party chairman and his co-travelers’ stance enjoys the tacit support of the party’s national leader. So, everything is going on as if nothing has happened. Party sycophants, especially those from the South East, are falling on themselves to please the party Caretaker Committee Chairman and the camp he serves.

It will only take a critical mind to stop and ponder, amid the frenzy, to see the booby trap in place. Southerners in this party seem to have been sold a decoy, a dummy, in the race for Aso Rock 2023. Seeing that the scorecard of APC in terms of economic and financial management as well as socio-political well being of the nation is more in the negative than positive, the cabals at Aso Rock and their political jobbers seem to have moved on and now have their eyes elsewhere. They are eager to perpetuate themselves in power. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is now the next destination and the focus of attention. The battle for control of the soul of PDP has begun and this is expected to culminate in the emergence of their choice candidate as its flag bearer for the 2023 election. This script will play out at the party’s forthcoming national convention. Since the APC had, under a widely acknowledged secret ‘gentleman agreement’ before 2015, ceded the presidential slot to the South, the Northern cabals in the ruling APC are at pains sticking to this agreement. The only way to get over the trauma of honouring the agreement would be to re-launch themselves to power through a pseudo party – the PDP – which has a formidable structure like the APC, immense popularity and desired spread across the geopolitical zones. Their target is to get a loyal northerner emerge as the flag bearer. And this person must emerge winner at the 2023 election irrespective of the true outcome of the exercise.  The road to that victory is already clear –no electronic transmission of election results. So, with the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), the Supreme Court, Police and other agencies under the tight control of the Presidency, the outcome of the election is already predetermined unless the unusual happens.

Moreover, for the cabals, President Buhari’s successor may not be of Fulani extraction, but a loyalist to the core. With PDP’s commendable large following in the North and South, especially in the South East and South South, the candidate’s performance will certainly be impressive enough to justify whatever electoral figure that might be assigned to him to win the presidency. Of course, the prominent personalities in the South championing the cause of the party will be eminently encouraged with promises of juicy positions to be allocated to them should the party bounce back to power. What the  Southern politician should, however, not forget is that the Northern game plan comes with the price of Northern dominance of political power for another eight years, making it a total of sixteen years of uninterrupted hold on the seat of power, beginning from 2015.

Now, come 2022, at the heat of political campaigns by the presidential candidates of the parties, especially the two dominant parties, the Supreme Court judgment that voided the ward congresses of the APC will once more be invoked either by aggrieved APC members through court orders or the opposition party. The Supreme Court may be approached again to interpret its judgment, with a view to reversing or upholding it. This is when it will become clear to the Southern candidate flying the APC flag that he had been sold a dummy and all his efforts a contravention of court verdict.

In other words, what the APC helmsmen are currently selling to the so-called Southern presidential aspirants is a dummy and all those dumping their parties for the APC with the hope of getting President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement for the presidential ticket are likely to be in for a huge surprise.

For the Southern politicians, there should be a Plan B. Where that is not in existence, the time to device one is now. The time to begin to plot counter measures to the Northern game plan is also now. To start with, APC leadership should be persuaded to conduct fresh ward congresses in order to avoid judicial ambush.  They should also put in place plans to rename, re-package, rebrand and re-launch the APC with a formidable presidential flag bearer. For instance, when the name Peter Obi is touted as presidential candidate of APC, what picture or image is conjured in the mind of the average electorate? Replace the name with that of Dave Umahi or Hope Uzodinma as the APC flag bearer and see the kind of image it conjures. In other words,  no situation is hopeless unless no effort is made to turn it around. Alternatively, with other progressive political elements from the North, they can found another party well ahead of the 2023 elections, bench-mark and counter every move of the ruling party and ride the presidential storm to Aso Rock.

As it is, without taking concrete steps to redress the inherent contradictions in the party’s presidential arrangement, the zoning of the Presidential ticket of the APC to the South is at best a Greek gift, a package fraught with deceit, and the more you look the less you see!

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