The APC has just won the presidential elections and the transition is yet to take place, but is scheduled for June 12, 2019. It is interesting to note however that Nigerians have already started talking about 2023 and what would happen after the four years of Buhari’s second term. Discussions on the 2023 presidency and elections within the APC have already begun. In politics, such early discussions are not out of place, but indeed seen to be healthy. Such thoughts help create or stimulate debates and bring about ideas on how best the nation can move forward politically or otherwise. It is for such reasons that many welcome the postulations on the 2023 presidency or election, especially for the APC as a political party, and the ruling party in Nigeria at the moment.
APC as a political party, it could be recalled came into existence as a result of the fusion of other parties and interest groups; prominent among which include the CPC, ACN and ANPP, which were parties that were under the leadership of various people. The CPC was Buhari’s party, ACN was then led by Bola Tinubu and ANPP was an old party that had structures across the country but lost relevance after Buhari exited the party in 2010 and formed the CPC. The fusion of these groups gave birth to the APC ahead of the 2015 elections after previous attempts for the merger had failed. The aim of the merger of these parties was to create a broad based platform that would challenge and ultimately defeat and replace the PDP government that has been in power since the inception of democratic rule in 1999. The need to replace the PDP and ensure that it was removed from power was considered necessary by the various personalities that were members of the different parties that merged to form the APC. One will not be wrong to say that it was the ‘national interest’ that led to the founding of the APC. The various personalities saw the need to take control of the country and rescue it from the misgovernance and corruption of the PDP led government.
After the successful merger ahead of the 2015 elections, the new party presented Buhari as its candidate. The choice Buhari, even before the merger as likely candidate was also based on the ‘national interest’. It was based on the belief that Buhari was honest, prudent and patriotic, and that he would stop corruption and put the country on the right track. The party became successful in the election and Buhari became the president. By this, the APC had achieved its main objective of challenging and defeating the PDP and taking over the administration of the country. This it succeeded again in doing in the 2019 elections, after Buhari’s first four years. Here we are not talking about whether the party had fulfilled its promise for correcting the wrongs of the PDP government. The expectations of Nigerians on the APC are definitely very huge, and even now many believe that the APC needs to do a lot to fix the rot in the country. After such achievement what more does the APC want to achieve? Many believe that at the moment what the party needs to achieve is to strive and consolidate and build a truly national political party that will be acceptable throughout the country.
The APC, though emerging from a fusion of basically regionally dominant political parties such as the CPC and the ACN; the former dominant in the north and the latter, the south west of Nigeria, substantial votes scored by the APC in the 2019 presidential elections in the south east and south regions of the country suggest that the party is emerging as a truly national political party. As a result the APC must utilize its platform to promote the unity of the country and remain focused on its aims and objectives. The party must never forget that it was the ‘national interest that was behind its formation, and that it should remain the guide of the party in whatever decisions it is going to make, now or in 2023. Regional consideration no matter how justifiable must be guided by the national interest. After all, the party had claimed since its creation that it was an association of progressive minds, whose aim was to capture power and propel the country to prosperity and greatness. Consequently, the party must be careful about how and why it considers certain people or candidates to certain positions. It must be understood clearly that though zoning has become a common feature of Nigerian politics, credibility, capacity, uprightness and other virtuous qualities must still remain the yardstick of the party in consideration of candidates for various positions, including that of the exalted office of the president.
It should not matter to the party if a credible candidate is coming either from the south-east or south-south, if he has what it takes to provide the needed leadership of the country. And for such reasons the APC must tread carefully and embrace all and provide a level playing field for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, region or religion. The party must give away regional, ethnic and religious sentiments if ever it wishes to remain a national party and the choice of majority of Nigerians or else it may not last as long as the mighty PDP that is now an opposition party which had been in power for approximately sixteen years previously. The APC must henceforth seize to appear as either a northern/south west political platform. And all those making postulations on the 2023 elections must understand that as citizens it is our responsibility to build a truly united country. The APC must set an example and show Nigerians that it believes in the unity and ability of Nigerian as citizens and make the party a home for all and its positions available to all people of character and ability.
Dr. Gamawa writes from Bauchi