President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants who lost out in the primaries to remain “faithful to the country” and “hold on to integrity” as there will be more opportunities to serve along the way.
Backstory: Speaking at a dinner on Tuesday with members of the APC Aspirants Forum (yes – there is such a thing), the President pointed to himself as an example, saying despite losing at the polls in three previous attempts, he persevered and eventually came into power. He said that providence had a role to play in paving the way for the just, committed, and patient politician who intends to truly serve the country.
And then he went after his favorite target – the PDP. “Those who mismanaged the resources of the country are still very much around, with incredible wealth,” he said. Nothing was said by the president about members of the APC with similar incredible wealth.
The thing about President Buhari’s request is that most of the aggrieved aspirants are not complaining about losing in a fair election. They allege that the party did not conduct a transparent primary process. When Buhari felt similarly cheated and unsatisifed with the direction of his former party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), he dumped it and formed a new party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), on which platform he ran for president in 2011. In this case, he is asking them to simply accept a process they consider to be unfair.
The president also seems to be conflating staying put within the APC with staying faithful to Nigeria. “I urge you to stay faithful if your objective is to serve the country,” he said. Isn’t it possible that someone may be outside of the APC and still committed to serving and being faithful to Nigeria?
Bottom line: It is uncertain if the president’s speech will assuage the pile of grievances within the APC. It would be particularly interesting to see the action that will be taken by the three aggrieved governors. Yes, they are just three out of scores of upset party members, but their next move arguably has the potential to make the largest impact on the chances of the ruling party next year.