Since its formation in 2013, the All Progressives’ Congress(APC) has proven many if not all its cynics wrong by forming the first ever successful merger of major opposition parties in the annals of the Nigerian political history.Some of its cynics were so confident of its collapse that one of them even asked to be called a bastard if the party does not collapse before the end of 2014! I happen to be one of those who seriously doubted the possibility of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) merger in Nigeria because of the over-ambitious, selfish, unfocused and undisciplined nature of Nigerian Politicians.
Many Nigerians, like me, have been made to hold this belief because of some events in Nigerian political history. In the Second Republic, opposition parties made up of: the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP),and Peoples Redemption Party(PRP) made a serious attempt at a merger known as the Progressive Parties Alliance(PPA) which would have presented a single Presidential Candidate against the ruling National Party of Nigeria(NPN) in the 1983 elections. I need not say that the “association of hyenas” (as the then President Shehu Shagari had described them) failed to see the light of the day and what followed is now history.
Before its subsequent registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was alleged to have moved to stop the new party. Suddenly there were three different “APCs” seeking registration all in other to frustrate the efforts of the new party. So when the Party was subsequently registered, it wasn’t a surprise it took a more militant stance against the PDP which it considers its primary adversary.
The APC has since adopted the unconventional, strange, and offensive system of attack in tackling its opponent. No responsible strategist can fault this strategy. It is the only strategy that can defeat an opponent like the PDP. It is instructive to note that since it was formed, the APC has not hidden its main and perhaps only intention: To win the 2015 Presidential Elections. This was perhaps why Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(RTD), an APC Presidential Candidate, warned the PDP to expect a very tough duel in the next election.
In its bid to actualize its ambitions, the Party’s tactics are clear. (1) To as much as possible unsettle the PDP. (2) Create within it major cracks, crises and divisions withing the PDP with the view to disuniting it for the 2015 election. (3) To protect APC’s geo-political (South West) interests thereby positioning it for next question.
To achieve these strategic objectives, the party intends to do all that is within its powers to get under the PDP’s skin, thereby putting it in a defensive and desperate position before 2015. The APC leaders are seen going after key PDP Governors, Senators, Ministers even National Officials with the view to getting them into the APC’s fold.
Also, the traditional base of the APC must be protected and maintained. The Party tried as much as possible to distract the PDP as much as possible away from the South West, the Party’s “home” in addition to its seeming cult like following in the North.
These seems to be yielding results as the Party now is in effective control of staggering 14 States of the Federation as against PDP’s 20. This is an incredible start for a new Party!
The PDP has equally responded well. This explains why it has launched a counter-attack on the APC’s charges. First, the PDP welcomes with open arms all APC’s decampees even President Jonathan himself always personally receive the “new” members. This explains the recent Presidential visit to the private residence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Nigeria Vice President and APC chieftain recently to lure him to the PDP. Secondly, the PDP applaud the victory of other parties so long as they are not the APC or its allies as it did in Ondo and Anambra States during Gubernatorial elections which the Labour Party(LP) and All Progressives’ Grand Alliance(APGA) candidates respectively emerging victorious. Thirdly, the PDP deployed its ‘best hands’ in the South West to ensure it wins the region at all costs. This is demonstrated with the elections in Ekiti and Osun States where the PDP deployed Mr. Ayo Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore respectively for July and August, 2014 gubernatorial elections. The President’s insistence on appointing Senator Musiliu Obanikoro as Minister is suspicious in this regard.. All these buttress the fact that the PDP is responding equally. It will therefore be crooked thinking if the APC leaders assume that things have changed in PDP’s thinking since Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency. But as it is said, “It is good if you win, but if you lose then you have you self to blame.”
The Media is never in want of speculations about APC’s intentions, even before its formation. We are in a period when the media is hardly neutral on the politics of the country(this is almost the case with the First Republic). Most media outlets are owned either wholly or partly by politicians or their cronies. It is based on this understanding that the APC adopted a more direct, aggressive and often confrontational approach to attacking its opponents.
Just like it is seeking for votes on the electoral fronts, it is not neglecting the media at all. About half of APC’s battles will be won on the public perception of its policies and programs through the media. This was what led to the reported million-dollar contract with AKPD, an American Public Relations firm, to help the APC conduct research and handle sensitive public relations issues all for the next elections. Though this speculated agreement has led to serious verbal ‘war’ between the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, and members of the elitist Nigeria Institute for Public Relations (NIPR) of which Muhammed is a Fellow. If it is true that such agreement exist, then it is a good response to the alleged plot by supporters of President Jonathan to allocate billions of dollars to foreign propaganda for 2015 elections.
The media appears to be enjoying large largesse from full-page advertorials from both APC and PDP in recent times. There are several full-page adverts accusing the PDP and its Officials in the Papers all bearing the APC’s name and logos. And the PDP has effectively employed other groups to do its propaganda work.
APC Federal Government Come 2015?
Though many are still in doubt of this possibility, I think it is very possible. I don’t believe that PDP is indomnitable. To achieve this, the APC leaders must do more than it is presently doing.
First, APC the fact the APC conducted a hitch-free Presidential Primaries, devoid of rancor and ill-feelings that was acceptable not only to the rank-and-file but also non-members of the Party in December last year attest to its astuteness in strategy. This is perhaps the most important landmark the Party has created to convince Nigerians of their readiness to occupy the Aso Rock Villa come 2015 which it takes only a united Party to do. The said Primary produced General Muhammadu Buhari(Rtd).
Considering the fact that of the 14 States the Party controls includes States in different geo-political zones of the country: Kano and Sokoto (North-West), Kwara and Nassarawa(North-Central), Bornu and Yobe (North-East), Lagos and Oyo(South-West), Rivers and Edo(South-South) and Imo(South-East) if the Party can hold doggedly its own in these States come what may, can provide the turning point in 2015 for the Party. The cult like following of Buhari in the North West and the North East which themselves account for close to 50 per cent of registered voters is just too obvious to ignore!
Also, considering the fact that of all the geo-political zones the Party can only boast of one solitary State in the South-East, this should be a source of worry to APC’s strategists. I really query APC’s strategist in this area for not doing much in the South East though it boasts of personalities like: Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Senator Christ Ngige, Mr Osita Okechuckwu, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, Senator Annie Okonkwo and recent Chief Mbadinuju. The party must provide answers to South-East Challenge. All hopes for the party to make inroad into the zone proved abortive with the socio-political group representing the region, Ohaneze Ndigbo, rejecting General Buhari request to meet with the eastern leaders. The party cannot let go just because it looks impossible to penetrate. The State they control, Imo, could provide the vital key they need to unlock the South-East after all, why is it called “Eastern Heartland”? Even if the Party will not win other States in the Region it must do everything within its powers to reduce PDP’s margin and comfort in that zone. It must equally be ready to stand firmly on its grounds in its ”safe” areas in the South-East, giving out little or nothing to the PDP. If it can at least secure the constitutional 25 per cent in these states, then the party’s strategists can enjoy their dinners after the March 28 election.
The Party must also have to undergo serious cleansing, like the Palm tree or the Eagle, before it goes to the polls. To do this it must identify all moles deliberately planted within its fold. After this it must reshape those it can to its taste and route out those with irredeemable features with obloquy and then confidently approach 2015.
The party’s strategists to me have done marvelously well during the campaigns so far at least better than what its main rival , the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has done. As far as I am concerned the PDP strategy (before the postponement of the February, 14 election) was a disaster. As a matter of recommendation, there are still more to be done. The election is won and lost on the altar of strategy. If the party can keep it tight at the critical areas, like the South South (and the North Central), where it got a major boost with the entrance of two former Governors of Akwa Ibom Stat e(an important state in the South South) Obong Victor Attah and Don Ettiebet into the party’s fold, will be a major point if the party can take all its chances in the area.