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POLITICS

Task Before APC In Election Year

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For all intents and purposes, 2019 will be an eventful year for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) as the country marches to a defining general elections. ANDREW ESSIEN in this piece writes on some of the issues the party will have to deal with in the year under review.

Last year was a busy one for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) as it went through various processes that had both negative consequences and positive impact on it. The attendant excitements and expectations of pre-election year for party stalwarts and faithful who believed that activities geared towards the elections would be in full swing in 2018, quickly gave way to optimism as the year drew to a close and no serious  politicking had taken place.

The expected “largess” which was thought to eventually begin to cascade down largely remained a mirage to some as the party experienced several twists and turns. Unfortunately,  President Muhammdu Buhari’s stance that his administration will not be funding the party from government coffers as was the case in time past was considered as adding “salt to injury”. This is further compounded by the economic situation the country  found itself. No thanks to the after-shocks of the hard-felt claws of the recession that gripped the economy,  the attendant shifts and turns in party politics brought with it series of trials and tribulations.

As much as the party could boast of several successes last year, the issues that bedevilled it also threatened to overshadow all the gains the party garnered over the years. Expectedly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its national convention where a presidential candidate emerged and has gone on to posed a stiff opposition to every move of the APC with the attaindant fireworks. This, beyond any reasonable doubt, is indicative that after all, the APC has a lot more work to do in appeasing the its rank and file including the populace that overwhelmingly voted for it even as some diehard proponents of the party are grumbling with dissatisfaction at some actions and inactions of the APC government the votes for at various levels.

The war beats are even getting louder by the day as figures (questionable or not) are continually reeled out by the PDP of people coming to the party as a sign of unhappiness with the status quo and vise versa. 2019 however, will be more crucial for the party and the government it formed at the center and even at the states. It must right all the wrongs of the last three years and also face the electorate all within a month of intensive campaigns. At the end of 2017 and the greater part of 2018, people gave the party a benefit of doubt being that it was the first time in the Nigerian political system that an opposition will upstage a boisterous ruling party. They needed to create a path with which it was going to follow in the provision of the promised dividends of democracy.

After four years, the party could no longer blame  the previous government. In an election year especially, there will be no second chances as the party will have to ensure that its government live up to the expectation of its fateful across the country. This means that the party itself, must heal the deep divisions that has beset it in recent times, forge a unified front and confront the opposition not by mere rhetorics but by hard evidence of projects and programmes that is geared towards uplifting the often talked about “down trodden masses” in the country. Some issues the party will have to, as a matter of importance, deal with in the shortest possible time, analysts posit are but not limited to: RIFTS AND CRISIS From the South to the North, from the West across the East, 2016 saw the APC at the both national and state levels battling with so many issues with political analysts fearing that these crisis, if not checked timely, may significantly weakend the overall fighting power is the party when the time comes.

From faraway Bayelsa to the distant Kano, across to Gombe then Kaduna, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe and the list goes on, the APC chapters in these states erupted in one form of crisis or the other. The leadership at the center, added to the issues it was dealing with, had to intervene in all these troubled spots, even as it surprisingly went on to win elections conducted in some of these “troubled spots”.

Reconciliation Processes

Even though the party had recently inaugurated a National Peace and Reconciliation Committee for each of the six geo-political zones of the country to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party ahead of the 2019 general elections, several aggrieve members insist that the party has deviated from what it stands for and are not carrying its members along in the internal workings of the party. Thee APC had atimes dismissed the issues so raised, as none existent. The APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole while inaugurating a reconcilation panel in Abuja, said its members were expected to help the party’s national leadership to find an in-house solution to the acrimony that followed the party`s primary elections. He added that members of the committees were to maintain peace and ensure internal harmony within the APC family before the elections. He further added that the essence of the committees was to bring about lasting peace in the party ahead of the 2019 general elections. “Help reconcile those who are aggrieved for whatever reasons, do everything that will help in your wisdom to bring peace in your zone,“ Oshiomhole said. The national chairman said that members of the committees should meet aggrieved members and leaders of the party in their zones to reconcile them. Measures at entrenching peace across the length and breadth of the party must be aggressively pursued as the party position’s itself in the new year. A lot of APC members seem aggrieved and measures must be taken to bring them to the round table even as gains are recorded in more notable Nigerians join the party.

APC Response Template

When he assumed office, the former APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi,  in trying to remake and rejig the template on how to respond to issues as the ruling party, said a national workshop for all its spokespersons across the country will be organized, in order to meet the challenges of the time. He also did noted that speaking for a ruling party required high level responsibility and awareness, even as he pointed out that the way some spokespersons had responded to issues in time past, did not augur well for the development of the party. This position will be vigorously tested in the days ahead especially now that the PDP’s image making department has received a boost with various reorganization. In fact, both parties have consistently “bombed” themselves with various statements on different national issues to the point that as 2018 ran to a close, many felt that the polity was, at various times, overheated.

Holding Elected Members Accountable

The party would have to put measures in place to hold persons elected on its platform, accountable should they be straying away from party manifestos and campaign promises. It should have to go back to the drawing board and reeducate its elected members on what the party stands for and hopes to achieve. This is the way members of the society will take the party serious and have confidence in it to be able to cast their votes for the party and its candidates.

Finances

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, in a recent interview had observed that, unlike in 2015, the campaigns for the 2019 general elections are rather discreet and noiseless because both the APC and the PDP are broke. As a result, the minister said attention has been shifted from money politics to issue-based campaigns, adding that this is what President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Change Agenda’ is all about. However, for the success of every political party, its financial war chest must never be in doubt. The APC was hard hit with shortages of financial inflow, thereby hampering series of projects that needed cash outflow. Stories of financial shortages were effectively reported. Another report surfaced as to why the party was experiencing shortages in financial inflows which was traced to the refusal of party stalwarts and bigwigs in the executive and legislative arms of government to honour financial obligations. Two years ago, it was reported that party members in the National Assembly stopped the mandatory monthly payments of N100, 000 for Senators and N70,000 for the House of Representative members since the party was enmeshed in crisis. The report revealed that most of the present  political appointees had not been living up to the expectations in payment of their dues since they were appointed, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.

Should the party be interested in making serious progress this year, this gap must be bridged including the generation of series of income streams, sourced for the party to keep it floating and indeed, sailing properly even as the political stage promises to get more active in the coming months.

 

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