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Nkemdiche: Choosing between APC and PDP (1)

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FORMER world heavyweight boxing champion, Mohammed Ali, had once remarked that a challenger needs to “whop the champion” if he wants to win the championship belt. He had made this remark following one of his very few controversial fights, which most boxing enthusiasts adjudged a tie. Mohammed Ali, the Greatest, had not been in his elements on the night; he neither stung like a bee nor floated like a butterfly. The boxing world was aghast; few pundits had temporarily speculated that the very resourceful legendary champion was about to rewrite the books again. But as the fight went past the 10th round it dawned on even the champion’s most fanatical fans that their idol was fast “running out of gas.” The champion had been a flat-footed defender for a better part of the scheduled 15 rounds bout. At the end, expectedly, the challenger, Ken Norton, an ex-marine, triumphantly threw up his arms, smiling broadly. Of course, I won! he must have thought then. But much to his heartbreak, the three ringside judges ruled in favour of the champion. Crest fallen, the challenger sobbed like a baby. Ken Norton might have scored more points than the champion, thus making him marginally the better fighter in the contest, but marginal differences never make decisive impressions; more so on very big issues such as a world championship fight. Therefore, though the fight might have been a draw, at best, the champion was allowed to retain the crown.

The moral is clear: an underdog needs to do the extraordinary to qualify for a change of status. Apparently, Ken Norton couldn’t go that critical extra mile to do the extraordinary. The challenger was not a champion material. Later events would vindicate the three judges in the Ali/Norton fight. Big Bad George, the much feared heavyweight boxing champion, subsequently knocked out Ken Norton in 2 Rounds. Soon after, Mohammed Ali humbled George Foreman in 8 Rounds! Though Ken Norton and Mohammed Ali might have been neck and neck in physical strength, the latter decidedly dwarfed the former in will-power and intellect.

Politics is a game where the will and intellect truly rule, because politics is ideally a game of ideas. It is the inherent forces of political ideologies that generate the numbers. Unfortunately, because of the dearth of ideologies in Nigerian political arena, it is money rather than ideas that generates the numbers. This is why Nigerian politicians and their supporters change political parties in a fashion after long-distance passengers hopping on and off different airlines. There is little to choose between political parties in Nigeria, the parities are six of one and half of dozen of the other. This is also one of the valid reasons why successive Administrations’ performance ratings have been essentially the same. They have all performed well below Nigeria’s socio-economic potential. Nigerians have thus grown weary of the repeat abysmal performance.   A change is desperately desired. Little wonder the word “change” has a nation-wide appeal as an electioneering slogan. The All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition party, has cleverly adopted the slogan, but has the party got what it takes to change Nigeria’s socio-economic fortunes for good? Has APC the intellectual capacity, sincerity of purpose and strength of will to do the extraordinary? Is APC the much awaited political party, or are Nigerians to wait for some years yet? These are some of the questions that should occupy the mind of the electorate as it chooses between APC and the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 28 presidential election.

However, it is crucial to remind the electorate that it takes two to dance the political Tango. Whilst the electorate eagerly looks to a political party that would positively change Nigeria’s fortunes, the electorate itself needs a fundamental change of mindset. The electorate is the one agent that would herald the positive change. For that change to happen the electorate must begin to emphasise clearly defined ideologies rather than money, tribe or religion as a basis for choosing a political party or candidate. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to objectively evaluate the leading opposition party’s preparedness to take Nigeria to the proverbial promised land. Indeed, has APC convincingly demonstrated to Nigerians that it has the will and intellect to go the critical extra mile to do the extraordinary?

Nigeria’s immediate urgent challenges are well known, these include inadequate infrastructure; inadequate and epileptic power; inadequate energy supply; growth-inhibiting unemployment; bloated government expenditures; grossly undervalued national currency; endemic official corruption; and insecurity. It is good to observe that APC has identified the aforesaid and other major challenges confronting Nigeria. It is also good to observe that APC has proposed solutions to some of these challenges. For example, APC has proposed to introduce a welfare system for the aged and the unemployed youths. APC has also proposed to provide free Medicare for certain categories of the citizenry. These are welcome innovations, and it is hoped that other political parties will embrace them.

On the great issues of the moment, however, APC has done paltry more than issue promissory notes to provide solutions when voted into office. APC has not told Nigerians how it proposes to address the youth unemployment that currently hovers around 30 per cent! APC has yet to tell Nigerians how it proposes to tackle the nation’s infrastructural challenge. APC has not made known its proposed solution to Nigeria’s recurrent energy deficiency. APC has not preferred its solution to government debilitating expenditure profiles. APC has not revealed to Nigerians its plans to combat official corruption. APC has yet to tell Nigerians how it intends to save the national currency from its present virtual free fall. Similarly, APC has not offered any solutions to Nigeria’s sovereignty-threatening security challenges. And, most significantly, with the downward trending prices of crude oil, APC has not found it necessary to offer Nigerians an alternative to the country’s petroleum based mono-cultural economy. In a nutshell, APC has not told Nigerians how it proposes to solve the country’s pressing challenges. All that APC has told Nigerians is a rehearse of what we hear at election campaign rallies by other political parties, inclusive of the PDP’s: perfunctory if routine pledges to solve the existing problems – an undertaking of sorts to learn on the job. Much like previous political rallies, the 2015 electioneering rallies are utterly devoid of thought-provoking innovations. Quite frankly, the on-going rallies are at once offensive to our collective sensibilities and intelligence. After over 50 years of political independence, Nigerians surely deserve better.

• To be continued tomorrow.

• Afam Nkemdiche, an engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.



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