nPDP/R-APC and the balance of forces in the APC
In international relations discourse or practice, balance of power is understood as a state of equilibrium of forces in which no side has the resources to go to war with another or others with likelihood of success. The schism in the APC manifesting in observable tension between the Executive and Legislative arms of government (where the party curiously holds a comfortable majority); in the searing conflicts within the party hierarchy; and in the blundering, bumbling policy and programmes mis-steps is the level battle field for the dress rehearsal of an impending implosion.
The in-fighting has been intense and scurrilous and only held in balance by the sheer proportionality of arsenal, of weaponry, tactics, infantry or foot soldiers and of the presence of dare-devil combatants generally. Even though some measure of light-heartedness is introduced into the internecine battle, its fierceness or the palpable threat of physical violence is visible and is a source of worry. The thrills of political power game have become ominous or have degenerated into a pervasive grim situation in the company of a bevy of strange bedfellows. The effect of this scenario is exemplified in the frontal or rude challenge of certain time-honoured social values and mores.
The evil doctrine is being spread that any form of challenge of the present self-defeating contraption of parties in government will see us terminating a well-heeled approach to some of the grave problems of the polity, chief of which is conveniently identified as the fangled issue of corruption; that the government means well, after all. There is a creeping sense of philistinism, by which is meant the persecution of talented minority views and the pretence that goes with it that their espoused values and standards are, after all, inferior and therefore of less importance than the views or values of some large groups of un-informed opinion as represented by the result, for instance, of a “general election”.
Can it not be truthfully said that the “majority” population in Nigeria is resentful of the potential ability and pneumatic propensity of minority views or positions? There is a visible revolt of mediocrity and philistinism against talent and balanced opinion. There ought to arise from the innate realisation of mankind that the human intellect may be frail even at its best, and so it is necessary to measure one man’s mind against another in order that the final result may be purged. The anti-democratic nature or character of persons in government belies the basic doctrine of a limitation on the powers of government in a democratic setting. Man is too feeble to wield unlimited power, Lieber has appositely warned. It must also be considered too noble to submit to it. So the requirement of constitutional restraint is validly enshrined in the basic document of any constitutional government, so that its operators may be bound down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.
Power was positioned as not being the governing purpose of the union of the ultra right-wing Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the bullish Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the fringe collective of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – otherwise facetiously referred to as nPDP, the asphyxiating All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a rebel wing of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as they came together to challenge the ruling PDP in 2015. Principle was touted as the reason even as the new party that emerged from the union was marketed as the change-maker. The party claimed it was motivated by injustice, poverty, and by a desire to help those unable to access opportunity, etc.
It proposed a society actively involved in the change process. It envisioned a society, under its charge, ready to lift up those who are down, children without opportunity facing a dead-end life; those whose are sick, who if they could not afford private health care could stay sick or even die, etc. The party brandished a zeitgeist. The people fell for its choice of marketing tools little querying their effectiveness. But the seeds of the internal contradiction in the engine of the vehicle of change resided in the amorphous nature of its composition. Traction soon became difficult or impossible as the vehicle was self-lovingly drawn from all sides. The promise of the achievement of giant strides through innovative policies, putting aside traditional thinking and method, became illusory or a mirage. The party’s grand manifesto was soon cast in delusionary mould and not as the advertised object of hard-headed or hard-nosed examination of the Nigerian reality. Soon immediately after winning the election, the party lost steam, understandably.
The willful nPDP understood the game better; it refused to be left in the cold. Grabbing for itself the auspicious positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, it positioned itself as a veritable part of the unresolved equation. There was no way the requirement for the correction to compensate for an error, irregularity or discrepancy occasioned by the imbroglio will be sought without the input of the old fox. APC has proved powerless to even allay the fears of the people respecting the static or retrogressive nature of government under it.
Its membership, generally composed of a formidable band of followers made up of the vicious, ignorant and discontented element, is often battle ready even as it is rattled. The party has become intimidated often with the acquiescence of public officials and sometimes with their active cooperation. The position of the party as enunciated in its manifesto regarding the popular clamour for the restructuring of the Nigerian polity vis a vis the strident embarrassing view of its helmsmen is a case in point. Whereas the party sold itself to the people on the platform of an unalloyed commitment to restructuring, its officials have expressed their venal opposition to that common weal.
Ironically, the party has been kept together by a balance of power which understands that the strength of the union is in checkmating its component parts by first holding the ground in each case. The CPC elements recognise that extreme conservatism may not bear fruits in a party of increasing menace or of a continuing threat to “peace and stability”. The ACN, on its part, knows or understands the limit of iconoclasm and so tempers its practised radicalism with realism even as nPDP’s strategic manoeuvres are restrained in their ferocity by the fear of a backlash of a campaign or promotion of it as the flagship gathering of the disenfranchised and dis- satisfied within the APC. The party operates like one endowed with a mediocre mind and spirit. The noblesse oblige expected from it has been unfortunately misplaced.
To be continued tomorrow.
Rotimi-John is a lawyer and public affairs commentator
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