APC-toon

? By Ado Umar Mohammed

It did not come as a surprise that the endorsement of the merger of the three major opposition parties, namely ACN, ANPP and CPC (plus factions of APGA and DPP), by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was received with fanfare throughout the country. The announcement by INEC on July 31, 2013 marked the official registration of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the new party that evolved from the merger.

The APC seeks to provide to Nigerians a viable opposition force that could be credible alternative to the People?s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that has been in power for 14 years now and hopes to continue at least for the next 46 years.

There is indeed cause for celebration as Nigerians had witnessed several attempts by progressive forces to forge a common front in the past that ended in total failure. But most importantly, Nigerians are today a highly dispirited people who had hoped for good governance since 1999 but were thoroughly disappointed by leaders who seemed clueless about how to steer the nation away from its woes.

However, the most contentious issue bothering supporters of APC right now is whether it will be perceived as distinct from the PDP. There is indeed the need for this as Nigerians clearly want to have a party that has a different approach to governance from what they have seen so far.

Before now whenever any of the opposition parties claimed being an alternative to PDP critics always asked what was the difference between it and the ruling party. People believed that all parties in Nigeria were basically the same and as such none other could bring change to their lives.

It is thus clear that the leaders people need today are those who are responsible and responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the common man. People want to see concerted efforts against corruption, indiscipline, sectionalism, squander mania and kleptomania, all of which have resulted in failures in the provision of economic and social infrastructures to the people.

Leaders of APC will do well to prove to all that they are different from the PDP, that they are up to the task of facing the daunting challenges ahead, and that they are determined to provide purposeful leadership by tackling not only the insecurity challenge facing Nigeria today but fighting corruption to a standstill. They need to prove further that they will assume power with a mission to right the wrongs of the past and serve the generality of Nigerians with patriotic zeal.

Since we operate the American presidential system it will not be out of place if we draw examples from the two-party system in the United States. Being the dominant parties that have governed the US alternatively since independence in 1774, the Republican and Democratic Parties differ not necessary in ideology but in the manner they execute their policies and programs.

Their foreign policies, for instance, differ although not so significantly. While the Republicans generally tend to flex muscles and assert their influence around the globe, the Democrats are perceived as pacific and amenable to world peace. Both, however, could be warmongers when the need arises as a means of boosting the ego of the American people which they had helped to inflate over the years, or, as time demands, as a means of influencing the outcome of local elections in their favor.

The point is that the two parties have distinct characters and thus provide a system of government that slightly differs from each other?s. It is obvious however that the best way that this distinction between parties can be evolved in a developing country like Nigeria, where there is pervasive poverty and inequity in governance, is through different ideologies that seek to serve two distinct classes of people. Even the American parties have this element in their character.

I therefore wish to reiterate my contention, as expressed last year in a piece titled ?Wanted: Left of Centre Party? (see www.gamji.com) aimed at gingering the opposition parties to work towards merger, that the APC should adopt the socialist ideology or, at least, pledge a welfare-oriented government before the 2015 general elections.

If it does so the new party will not be the first, as in the past we had the defunct AG/UPN and NEPU/PRP claiming to have ?welfare? to the poor as their ideology. And does the APC not appear to be an offshoot of these former opposition parties?

 Mohammed wrote in from Hotoro, Tarauni LGA, Kano ([email protected]).

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