• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo


APC and semblance of serious business


These days, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is showing signs of getting its acts right. Its aim is to prove a point that it is capable of providing an alternative and better governance for the common good. Its presidential flag bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari, is leaving no stone unturned. He is proving that he is a sellable candidate to wrest power from the ruling PDP government.

There are many indicators going in favour of the APC. Individual sacrifices are common resulting from the body language of most stakeholders. Its presidential flag bearer appears sober, more reflective in general outlook and no longer considered the haughty type. His language is wearing a new look. He is reaching out to millions of voters across board – Christians and Muslims alike. Unlike in the past, the General has learnt his lessons that to capture power at the centre, he must carry everyone along. Whenever he has the opportunity to address the nation, he is making promises to Nigerians that he is going to run an inclusive government if voted into office. This is a sign of many good things to come in 2015. Change is possible after all.

But in spite of the recent posture of the APC presidential flag bearer, the General’s actions and inactions in the past seem to suggest that all is not favourable. He is known not to be a believer in any government. He is quick to charge any perceived foe with ineptitude. He appears to give the impression that he is all-knowing. However, the General’s profile does not suggest this level of arrogance that he puts on in the public space.

In the 2011 general elections, the General almost drove the nation to a frenzied precipice. His utterances and insinuations were highly regrettable. Most admirers of the Daura-born General describe him in superlative language. He is a firm, no-nonsense individual, and has zero tolerance for under-arm deals. These are indeed good qualities of governance. However, such qualities possessed by a leader must be administered to reflect human face. His image makers must ensure the General’s outlook must be in tandem with civilized standards, otherwise all their efforts could become counterproductive.

The General’s list of infractions appears to be legion. He might be credited for his drive to sanitise the Nigerian state in 1983-1985 when he was in power. However, he came under serious criticism on the way he handled the late Umaru Dikko affair in which he was accused of throwing all known avenues of extradition to the winds, and attempted to crate and freight the said fugitive to Nigeria in preference to known diplomatic initiative open to him. All these are serious indictments which put the General in the wrong footing as a candidate who readily would apply the rule of law when it matters most. His holier-than-thou attitude in sensitive issues is questionable. The arrival of 52 suitcases at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos under his watch as military head of state remains a mystery since nothing has been heard about its contents and the eventual owner. As a result, many stakeholders in the Nigerian polity are quick to admit that the General has many questions to answer.

Many Nigerians are questioning the General’s suitability to lead the nation. They bemoan their personal experiences under the regime of the General, which introduced a novel culture of disciple encapsulated in the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), whose severity left many people bewildered and disenchanted. The high and the low alike received their share of shock as well as intimidation as the Shehu Shagari government was declared inept and sacked on December 31, 1983. National Assembly members and governors were arrested and clamped into detention centres, while some were sent to prison where they suffered unimaginable health-threatening conditions. Foreigners were not left out of the hook to the extent that when IBB struck in August 1985, countless revelations of torture, incarcerations, bodily wound infested with worms became the talk of the day. Everyone was quick to condemn the previous regime in its entirely.

We admit that the above is the scorecard of the General, the APC flag bearer in the 2015 presidential elections. However, those in the APC camp are quick to point out that the above scenario is now history. They might be right or wrong for the reason that change is constant. The General seems to be prepared to turn a new leaf. He is embracing peace. He appears to be respecting other players in the system. Many APC stakeholders are engaging the voters constructively.

Popular opinion points to the emergence of the opposition APC to balance power with PDP as a roadmap to the enthronement of a strong two-party system in the country as opposed to a multi-party arrangement which tends towards ethnic and religious inclinations. The onus now lies squarely on these two political platforms to play by the rules. They must show maturity in their utterances and statements. They must be careful not to derail the fledgling democracy through their body language. The electorates are eager to embrace their policies and programmes and issue-based campaigns, not blackmail or playing to the gallery to win political advantage. It is now or never since the Nigerian masses are tired of endless promises and frustrations that are backward-looking.

Recent polls suggest that the APC and the PDP are running neck to neck. This is cheery news in the sense that either of the two parties is capable of emerging victorious in the forthcoming battle for who controls the centre. No one party is omnipotent. It is the turn of PDP today; it could be that of APC tomorrow. The party in power and the opposition are comrades-in-arms for the same purpose. None should be seen as an agent of evil. Now is the time to close ranks and work for a better tomorrow for the benefit of the masses. Failure to heed this candid advice could be counterproductive.