The All Progressives Congress, Nigeria’s largest and most formidable opposition party is a merger of three hitherto independent political parties with huge followings spread across the length and breadth of the country. Though the relative influence of these parties varies considerably and also span across the country, the political party system in Nigeria has traditionally taken on ethnic and regional hue, consequently the political power base of these parties are found in the regions where these parties originated.
But times are changing and learning from the past, many politicians have seemed to avail themselves of the fact that ethnic politics is a sadly confining and reclusive idea which has continued to lose ground in the reality that is Nigeria’s tempestuous political space, thus prompting the need for a heterogeneous , multiethnic and integrated opposition to rival the ruling People’s Democratic Party. It will not be fair to say that the APC is late, even though the PDP appears to have solved this problem, its zoning palaver still very fresh in memory is a very convenient pointer to the destructive effects of ethnic politics in a so called all-inclusive party. While the PDP’s solution to the problem seems like a hastily done cosmetic surgery, the All Progressives Congress seems to be making sure and natural progress. The success of the APC so far has continued to baffle a lot of observers , having fruitfully brought together these groupings by accommodating the needs of the respective parties involved. Anyone who is sentient of the challenges involved in such an ambitious venture can only bless the fact that the All progressives Congress has done remarkably well.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party which has ruled Nigeria for 15 odd years has so far witnessed the largest number of defections due to increasing disillusionment with the party brought about by several factors not excluding being excessively boring and hopelessly predictable.
For the APC its not yet uhuru as there are numerous challenges that could possibly perturb an alliance such as it. The APC will still need to up its ante, even after having gathered so much momentum, by coming up with a transparent and all-inclusive process to produce a viable presidential flag bearer. Looking at the caliber of aspirants the quality of the candidates strikes forcibly, and had led some political pundits to assert that the presidential flag bearer of the party will emerge via a fiercely contested presidential primary, in glaring contrast to a consensus candidate which would be disappointing, considering the high level political maneuvering and untiring exertions of party members and might not be good for moral. Now that the party is clearly past the consensus stage, it is obvious that the APC has registered its commitment to a peaceful and all-inclusive democratic process.
With the presidential primaries already here, the APC seems to have the undivided attention of Nigerians at the moment and a passing observer can with little difficulty, hear small talk on the streets about the candidates lined up with an emphasis on their strengths and chances. Here is a brief exposé on the candidates in no particular order.
First up is Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state, this dynamic politician is a two time governor of the most populous state in the country. Having lost to Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau in the 2003 Kano state governorship elections, he served as the country’s Minister of Defense under the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration only to return as governor in 2011. This promising politician whose unique signature is a red fez cap might be new to politics on the presidential level but many are of the opinion that he does possess the essential oils to grease the party machinery to success come 2015.
Another shining star that needs not much introduction is the former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari. The peoples general as he is so fondly called is a highly experienced politician and leading opposition figure in the country. General Buhari who came into power after the overthrow of the civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari following a widely rigged election is a highly principled politician who is averse to corruption. Despite contesting three consecutive elections without success the amiable general gave a very good account of his stewardship as head of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which had touched the lives of many Nigerians without enriching himself. General Buhari who is also known as the nemesis of corruption has pledged to bring looters and agents of state robbery to justice which has endeared him to the common man in no small measure.
Chief Rochas Okorocha, an established business man is founder of the Rochas Foundation and Executive Governor of Imo State, he is a generous philanthropist and politician who had unsuccessfully vied for presidency on the platform of the APC in 2003 and was the last candidate to declare his ambition to run for president. His defeat of the incumbent governor Ikedi Ohakim and his consequent defection to the APC was highly welcome throughout the country. Governor Rochas who is of the opinion that president Jonathan is not an igbo man and his people of the South-East have been marginalized is definitely one man from the South East who has won the love of North and obviously has what it takes to emerge as the party’s presidential flag bearer.
Next up is the highly respected and capable publisher of the Leadership Newspaper, Mr Sam Nda Isaiah Though this knowledgeable politician might be new to the intrigues of partisan politics he does command the respect of a multitude of readers and admirers and is touted to possess the intellectual stamina to see the party through come 2015. He was the first aspirant to declare his interest to run for the office of president and is reported to have said that he harbours no ill feeling running against his political mentor General Muhammadu Buhari.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was a two time Vice President of the Federal Republic. This formidable grassroots politician is a bridge builder with a vast network of friends and associates across diverse ethnic and regional divide and is by no means a new comer to politics on the presidential level. The Turakin Adamawa came close to clinching the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential ticket after the military government of the time had disqualified General Shehu Musa Yaradua from the race. He won the governorship election of Adamawa state in 1999 but was later sworn in as vice president to former president Olusegun Obasanjo in which capacity he served for two terms. Turaki whose political escapades include playing a prominent role in frustrating the third term agenda of Former president Olusegun Obasanjo quit the PDP for the defunct Action Congress (AC) on which platform he contested against Yaradua and lost in the 2007 presidential elections which was known to be massively rigged. Turaki , who is arguably the most experienced politician in the country contested the PDP primaries against president Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 he later left the PDP for the APC due to an obvious lack of internal democracy and since then the ruling party has not been the same again.
Whatever the outcome of the primaries it is very clear however that the APC will do well to present a candidate with the political clout to garner votes from all geopolitical zones in the country with a view to dislodging the ruling people’s democratic party come 2015 and with all the excitement and attention that the opposition party has commanded so far it is very obvious that this time around the opposition is here to stay and the ruling People’s Democratic Party will have to struggle in good truth to make an impact come 2015.
Aliyu Aliyu Liruk2001@yahoo.com
Views Expressed are Solely Author’s.