by Anthony Kila
Last week, our conclusion as citizens and students of politics was that the most fascinating political formation in the country at the moment is the newly formed All Peoples Congress (APC). We noted also that the APC is of interesting to us because it is an entity still in embryo. We shall have to call it “association” and “thing” because technically APC is still not a registered political party, and that some of us are shaking our heads for reasons we are reading around.
Since then some of those reasons have been addressed and the newly formed group now has interim officers. We wish them all the best in their new roles and warn them right away that many of us will be keeping a very close eye on their activities and utterances.
As said, it is important to note here that one of the reasons many of us greeted the amalgamation of opposition parties into one big national force is because we feel it is good for Nigeria as a whole to have an alternative party capable of truly competing with the ruling party, and by so doing forcing both sides to give their best. This desire for a truly national opposition party is not new; many of us consider it an asset for our democracy hence the support for the project from many quarters even before they have achieved or promised anything.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Some of the many things one expects from a political party formed in 2013 and those charged with leading such party is their ability to listen to observers and to truly consider themselves accountable to voters and supporters; also important is their ability to continuously make eye contact with reality. At that, here are some reality checks for this new group.
Whilst the idea of merging many opposition parties into one is noble, smart and healthy for the country, it is also true that the need to merge many opposition parties into one party in order to be able to truly compete with the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is a clear proof that the PDP is clearly stronger than any of those parties.
It is also worth noting that whilst each of the party in the ‘union’ might have its past, a clear programme and clear positions on every matter of national interest, all that is gone now; everything needs to be rethought and rewritten in the name of the new thing called APC.
Given such reality, the questions now are what is the plan of this new thing to be called APC? Does it want to be a new and maybe a stronger PDP or a different party with a clear alternative for Nigerians? There are some issues on which the PDP and those that represent it have had more than a chance in the last 14 years to let us know where they stand. As those that will lead the APC settle into their offices, we as citizens would like to know where the new party stands on some of those same issues.
Let us start from the simple but important issue of the symbolic day of celebrating democracy in Nigeria. Will the new APC stick to May 29 or will it change course and opt for June 12 across the country?
In the last 14 years, many have being calling for the convocation of a national conference that will give the people of this country the opportunity to sit down to truly examine and discuss issues related to their sovereignty and their mode of government in order to perfect our union. As some observers have had occasions of pointing out, what we call our constitution today is in fact a military decree handed down to the people the ways military decrees are forced on people. Will the APC commit to ending such stain on the history of Nigeria and psyche of Nigerians?
Last year Nigerians started the New Year with protests against the bad news the government broke to them about the removal of oil subsidies. The government claimed to have concluded to partially remove and partially maintain the subsidy. Some like Professor Tam David-West insisted there was no subsidy at all. Can the APC tell us very quickly where they stand on this matter? Will they revoke it, will they maintain the status quo or will they remove what is left of it?
One of the consequences of the FGN’s removal of oil subsidy last year is to get citizens interested in the cost of governance in Nigeria. The result is that many now believe that the cost of running the state is absolutely expensive and relatively unsustainable. Can the APC commit to reviewing and reducing the cost of governance?
Although proper electioneering has not commenced, but in view of that will the APC commit to four or five cardinal points as the keystone of its manifesto for 2015? From electricity to water, from health to education, topics abound from which they can choose their points.
These are very simply and widely discussed issues, so surely each one of those going to formulate positions for their party has had a chance to think about it. If they haven’t then we are in trouble.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Anthony Kila