Can APC, Buhari recover from sinking popularity?
By Cyril Mbah , Abuja
The nation does not require prophets, soothsayers or fortune tellers of the class of Count Michael de Nostradame [Nostradamus] [The man who saw tomorrow] to know that the wind of change has started blowing in another direction in the political landscape. What is doubtful now however is whether the fiery wind will bring the type of change that many Nigerians have been longing to see for some time.
The indisputable certainty in the smouldering current of political whirlwind so far however is the fact that the popularity of both the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC] and President Muhammadu Buhari have entered a swift downward slide, a fall similar to what happened to the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] and former President Goodluck Jonathan before the 2015 general elections which led to the emergence of the APC as a ruling party.
There is no gain pretending or hiding the fact that the president and the APC are in very serious dilemma already, whether or not their supporters accept it, given recent developments which may affect the fortunes of the party in the 2019 general elections.
The popularity of both the APC and President Buhari have plummeted so much for reasons which are not far-fetched and can be compared to an aircraft which has lost height from nose-diving uncontrollably after engine failure.
It is so obvious that both the elite and the ordinary people on the streets are simply fed up with the growing catalogue of killings, increasing suicides caused by frustration and the suffering occasioned by the endless economic depression in the country.
When we include the steady reversal in the successes achieved against the “degraded” Boko Haram insurgents, it will begin to make sense why the woes against the ruling party and the government have become very suffocating especially as the administration and the party in power appear helpless and unable to contain the deteriorating situation on all sides. The Boko Haram insurgency has started gaining momentum again with the daring fighters achieving breath-taking successes especially in Borno and Yobe states.
Boko Haram may not be holding any territory in Nigeria again, like the government and the military have repeatedly claimed, but the tactics adopted by the group of hitting at targets and running away, the endless stream of new members as well as the successful ambush of soldiers have left several military personnel dead and missing in action.
The APC fought a tough battle to win the 2015 general elections and became the ruling party but, since then, the APC has managed the success it won on a platter of gold very poorly and may soon pay dearly for its costly mistakes in governance. Every good observer of political development in the country will readily agree that the party spent and wasted its fortunes on petty, tactless in-fighting.
The necessary cohesion or harmony required in any serious political party was lacking in the APC from the very beginning as separate groups, among those that helped fashion the APC, sought to use the party machinery to canvass individual agenda that were different from the aims and objectives of the party. It is still doubtful today, that the party has any commitment to aims and objectives when promises to the people are denied so soon.
Before the recent APC national convention, the leadership structure of the party was hijacked by a clique of self-assuming people who were not really interested in representative democracy. When the lower congresses took place, unpopular candidates, chosen by the leadership, were imposed on members at ward and state levels despite protests from the larger portion of the party membership.
The result of such imposition manifested in endless acrimonies across board. It was not surprising therefore that the list of setbacks against the party and the president became endless leading to exits from the party.
Beyond internal party politics, government attitude has been blamed for the sorely rising crime rate in the country, which has turned the nation into one huge killing field. Criminal elements open up new frontiers daily and operate without hindrance despite efforts by the Nigeria Police to mop up illegal weapons from citizens.
Concerned citizens who faulted the implementation of the policy observed that, more than six months after its introduction and despite the deadline provided to submit guns, the mop-up effort appeared to have failed and had favoured the criminals as only law-abiding people surrendered their licensed weapons while hoodlums, armed robbers and kidnappers, who have more sophisticated assortment of firearms, simply refused to obey the instruction.
The result has been that the killing fields in Nigeria have expanded beyond the north east and have now assumed a worrying dimension with daily mass murders or massacres occurring also in the northwest and the north central zones with states such as Nasarawa, Niger, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Gombe, Zamfara, Yobe and Borno as the epicenters of the wanton killings.
At the last count, more than 500, 000 Nigerians are currently displaced and have become refugees sheltered at several Internally Displaced Persons camps dotted across the northern region and Abuja.
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory were on Sunday, July 22 2018, roused to the realisation that even Abuja might not be as safe as people initially thought as highway robbers literally took over the Abuja-Kaduna expressway in broad daytime.
In a brutal highway kidnap/ robbery operation which lasted for several hours on the day in question, former commissioner for education in Katsina state, Professor Halimatu Sa’adiya Idris and many others were killed during the attack at Jere-Gidan Busa village, two kilometres to Abuja without security personnel intervening. Many other travellers, who were kidnapped during the operation, have still not been found.
Surprisingly, the following Monday, stern-looking, no-nonsense, armed mobile policemen, assisted by equally armed operatives of the Special Armed Robbery Squad [SARS] and the Department of State Services [DSS], besieged the official residence of the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, in a botched attempt to assist rebel lawmakers impeach the principal officers of the senate and perhaps abort the exit of APC lawmakers who had planned to leave the party within the week.
Still on criminal elements, on Saturday July 28th 2018, the Nigerian Army again intercepted a Nissan bus carrying 20 armed herdsmen along the Nasarawa-Abuja Highway during routine checking at a roadblock on their way to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The Army disclosed that the occupants of the bus claimed to be hunters from Adamawa state allegedly going to Abuja for a hunter’s competition.
Weapons found in their possession included 17 locally made, cut to size guns, 135 double barrel-gun cartridges, revolver pistols, bows and 38 poisonous arrows as well as machetes and catapults with sharpened stones.
The suspected Fulani herdsmen are still with the Army in Abuja to explain where “the hunter’s competition” would take place and the organisers. Similar arrests were made at military checkpoints on roads leading into Abuja three months ago.
Many observers had anticipated the defections of politicians which hit APC before it happened especially after the fallouts from its national convention and the head-strong, bullying attitude adopted by the new leadership over complaints from aggrieved members of the party.
Even as the on-going defections started taking proper shape, some party loyalists observed that the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s resolve not to shift ground by any inch and the fact that he held firmly to the tough-talk and bullying stance, which has become the hallmark of the new APC leadership and which drove the Reformed-APC members, a state governor and lawmakers out of the mainstream party, was not helping matters.
Political analysts have predicted that the recent defections from the APC are sure signs of the beginning of the misfortunes and woes that will befall the party as the nation draws closer to the 2019 general elections. There have been several predictions of more people leaving the APC to the PDP in the months to come.
What happened in Benue state last week, where the people almost unanimously rejected the APC and embraced the PDP, might turn out to be a pointer to what may happen in other states like Plateau, Kaduna, Adamawa and Zamfara that are presently suffering from unmitigated herdsmen attacks and unchecked banditry.
However the gathering storm swings, having a better strategy to win a crucial battle in war does not necessarily decide how the overall war will end. Also, since a winner in politics cannot be adequately judged without an election, like one would rate the movements in chess games; which has established grand rules that determine who wins a game, the APC and the PDP would need to do more than just calculating who gained what from the recent cross-carpeting of politicians as the campaigns for the 2019 elections commence.
Hopefully, politicians are coming to the realisation that politics, like military operations, require lots of calculation and an assortment of precision thinking and excellent strategies among practitioners to out-wit opponents.
The PDP has great advantage now due to the downward spiral of the popularity of both the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC] and President Muhammadu Buhari, but its ability to take benefit from the opportunity will depend largely on whether it can produce better strategies to make proper use of the advantages presented by the movements. In the end however, it is the 2019 general elections that would determine which of the two parties will triumph from the current escapades and hobnobbing of politicians.
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress [APC] has since returned to the drawing board following the recent string of setbacks. As it restrategises, however, the party will do well to critically consider the facts that arrogance, bullying and impunity, as styles of governance or the administration of people, have fallen out of fashion.
Modern democracy thrives better, and is promoted, through articulate negotiations, lobbying and tactical, broadminded position trading techniques that go along with compromise.
Despite its comparative advantage as the party in government, the APC may suffer the same politically devastating backlash like the PDP experienced in 2015 and, if this happens, the nation’s political culture would have succeeded in setting world record of producing causalities out of ruling parties controlled by inarticulate and miscalculating leaders.
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