Agenda for the new APC leadership – Thisday

For the Oshiomhole-led new national executive to earn respect, it must promote the common good

Ordinarily, as the party in power at the national level and in majority of the 36 states, the All Progressives Congress (APC) should be a beacon of democratic tidiness. That, sadly, is far from the reality, going by the mayhem and utter disorder that characterised the ward, local government and state congresses that eventually culminated in the national convention held yesterday in Abuja. It is, however, a credit to the party that the process by which about 6,800 delegates elected their leaders last night was transparent and devoid of the usual acrimony, despite the mild drama between factional delegates from Imo, Delta and a few other states.

We congratulate members of the newly elected National Working Committee of the party, especially Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who succeeds Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the APC national chairman even as we urge him to walk his talk. “We will subject everyone to the dictates of our constitution and remain faithful to the manifesto of the party on the basis of which we were elected by the Nigerian people. To my recollection, we haven’t had any serious platform as a party where the agenda was to debate policy options and choices attached to each policy we fought for. To me, this is what a political party should represent”, said Oshiomhole last week.

We agree with Oshiomhole that political parties should be more an avenue for the contestation of ideas about how society should develop and thrive than a vehicle for seeking political offices. The challenge is that the APC, like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) it dislodged, has hardly articulated what it stands for in terms of ideas let alone canvass its platform to ordinary Nigerians. Meanwhile, to the extent that political parties remain the framework for democracies to recruit and organise the populace for power contests, when they exhibit incoherence in policy formulation and disorder at local levels, it is democracy that is endangered.

Unfortunately, for the past three years, impunity and arrogance have found expression within the APC where unmanaged factions have in recent months emerged as the ambitions of rival political war lords clashed openly and in some instances, violently. Besides, its mechanisms for internal democracy such as periodic congresses, conventions, National Working Committee (NWC) meetings, etc., were hardly convened while its membership and leadership at ward, local government and state levels were left to conjecture. Those of its members who found themselves in government have carried on more or less like an exclusive club of the ‘chosen’. Yet a party without a definable ideology, structure or institutional memory ought to have spent more time in internal engineering than in seasonal electioneering contingency.…

It is indeed noteworthy, as we highlighted only recently, that the democratic credentials of the principal promoters of the APC are thin but what is even more worrisome is that after three years in power as the ruling party at the centre, they have yet to show Nigerians that their party is a serious political platform driven by the core value of promoting the common good.

By aggregating and representing the interests of their members, fielding credible people for public offices and holding government to account when in opposition, political parties have a huge role to play in any emerging democracy. But with prohibitive costs of expression of interest and nomination forms, for instance, many otherwise good candidates are usually denied the opportunity to stand for elections in Nigeria. And with that, we have a preponderance of incompetent politicians in strategic public offices.

For that situation to change, the APC must lead the efforts since political parties are important in the recruitment of credible leaders at all levels of government. It is against this background that the Oshiomhole-led new national executive has its job cut out for them.

We wish them the best of luck in their new assignments.

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By aggregating and representing the interests of their members, fielding credible people for public offices and holding government to account when in opposition, political parties have a huge role to play in any emerging democracy

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