It is fast becoming obvious that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is no less guilty of political in to lerance and other undemocratic tendencies. Democracy accommodates freedom of choice and dissension. If the former PDP governors left the party because of injustice is there any reasonaggrieved APC members should not defect to another party? Lack of internal democracy has always been the criticism against PDP by defecting members. What is surprising, however, is that APC members who felt unfairly treated are being called unprintable names like “traitors,” “Judases” and “thieves” because they have also defected to PDP. It is difficult to understand this double standard by APC leaders. When former PDP governors and senators defected to APC, they were warmly welcomed as “moral heroes,” despite the fact that many of the senators who defected from PDP have cases in court with the EFCC. If senators with court cases over corruption allegations would be readily welcomed into APC, why should APC members leaving the party because of perceived injustice be treated like criminals?
Shekarau was accused of selfishness for deciding to leave APC for PDP. What washis offence? Is protesting injustice a crime? Shekarau and others were the original members of the APC and they found themselves upstaged overnight by former PDP governors, who automatically became new leaders of APC, thereby reducing Shekarau and others to irrelevant political figures out of sheer political expediency. As God would have it, Shekarau’s fears have now been confirmed by the appointment of APC leadership structure in Kano state. In the new leadership structure put in place by Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, members of the legacy parties such as former CPC and ANPP have now been reduced to figureheads. The Kwankwasiyya group took five key positions in the new APC leadership structure. His group controls the chairman, secretary, youth leader, women’s leader and other influential positions while the legacy parties of former ANPP and CPC were allocated four insignificant posts to share between them.
It is evidentfrom the new appointments, that the Kwankwasiyya group has a strategic upper hand which will give them bigger advantages in future elections. Top former ANPP and CPC leaders have also lost their influence. Colonel LawalJ a’afar Isa of CPC, Senator Kabiru Gaya of ANPP and Ibrahim Khalil have been upstaged. Kwankwaso is now the maximum leader. But upstaging original APC members by a new comer is not a fair deal. People may argue that, because Kwankwaso is the leader in Kano state, he should be allowed to have control of the party. However, this argument overlooks the dangers of personalisation of power which is open to abuse and descent into dictatorship. The logic of making former PDP governors absolute owners of APC ignores the threat to internal unity and harmony, which can create injustice.
Even a casual political observer cannot fail to understand the implications of Kwankwaso’s plan to hold onto strategic positions in the APC leadership structure to give advantages to his loyalists in the PDP. Shekarau and Bafarawa foresaw this danger and expressed their fears, but their complaints were ignored. A democratic opposition party should not be run like North Korea’s Communist Party where dissent can bring dangerous consequences. It is unfair to humiliate leaders like Shekarau and Bafarawa who gave their best to APC In fact, the APC has a moral burden to prove that it has better democratic credentials than the ruling PDP. Paying lip service to democratic standard is not enough unless you are seen to be truly committed to democratic principles. It is undemocratic to deny people the right to complain and humiliate them for doing so. Handing over the entire APC structure to Kwankwaso without giving a thought to the consequences of concentrating too much power in the hands of any individual is unwise.
The nature and scope of power sharing should be have been democratically discussed and negotiated by all stakeholders. Unfortunately, APC national leaders unilaterally handed over the party to former PDP governors, who are now putting their minions into strategic positions so that in the future elections, their candidates will have the upper hand to dominate all elective seats available. No doubt, Nigerians are desirous of change, hence their sympathy for APC. However, for APC to sustain public trust, it must respect democratic values and internal democracy. The imposition of leaders, which was a major feature of former CPC and ACN, should not be tolerated in democracy. Forcing leaders on people is not only unjust, but also patently undemocratic and it must be discarded by APC leaders.
Fagge wrote from No 61, Nouatchott Crescent, Zone 1, Wuse, Abuja. Email: [email protected]