APC and the National Assembly crises

National Assembly

National Assembly

FOUR weeks after taking over governance in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is unable to set up the basic structure of governance at the federal level.

No time has this happened since 1999. While the lethargy in the Executive arm is clearly the business of the President, that in the National Assembly is due to the internal politics of the party. The party has needlessly created crises in the National Assembly.

Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) comparatively superior conduct so far is basically as a result of superior political logic drawn from Nigeria’s history. That logic is the need for inclusion to build national consensus. That is what informed the need for allocation of positions along the six zones. An out of power PDP has not abandoned what is evidently her major contribution to the evolution of Nigerian politics and governance.

APC seems to suffer conflict of contending logics. One group within the APC wants national spread and inclusion, while another group wants exclusion, which from every indication, Nigerians do not want. The politics of exclusion dates from pre-independence Nigeria, and the first republic. It is the politics of ethnic lords. In APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his wing of the party are stuck in the past of ethnic lords and so far their preferences, often publicised as “party position”, attest to this. That is the way to understand their misreading of the national mood as is playing out in the National Assembly and which is generating crises.

Nigerians’ acceptance of the six zones has to be the reason why the President, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives all come from the North, and people are not vocal in criticising this because they are seen as North West, North Central and North East. While we respect the ranking rule in the National Assembly, we know that Edo State in the South South zone has a member who is not a first timer.

Why did the APC leadership not consider him for Speaker of the House? Why is the leadership of the APC not seeing the diversity of Nigeria and the need for national inclusion? For the four positions to be filled from among party members in the Senate and House of Representatives, is it not sensible to allocate positions to zones which so far the party has nothing therein? Two zones stand out – the South East and South South.

The President is North West, Vice President is South West, Senate President is North Central, Speaker of the Federal House is North East, and there are no APC members of Senate from the South East and South South, but there are APC members in the House of Representatives from the South East and South South. Shouldn’t a mature and pro-Nigeria APC allocate two of the remaining party positions in the House to the South East and South South before considering other four zones which already have positions? Is the APC saying that the few members of the APC from those zones are incompetent and should leave the party?

There is, therefore, need to convince APC that Nigerians want a reflection of these six zones in evident positions in government. They need to be convinced that no zone lacks competent persons to be in key positions in the country. Nigerians have left behind the beggar-your neighbour politics of the past. They need to appreciate that Nigeria will be better with a mindset of inclusion. Tinubu has been regarded as the leader of the party. I believe he is sufficiently informed to know that with the emergence of President Buhari, the leader is the President. That is logical.

Should the Speaker of the House of Representatives be from Lagos state? Even if the party zoned that position to the South West, why not another state in the South West? If it was about majority leader, why was Senator Akume abandoned? Was he not Leader of the ACN/APC in the Senate? Is the APC suffering from “party position,” in other words, Tinubu’s position?

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network news Thursday, June 25, was shown tacitly presenting the picture of merit above federal character. Is that using truth to tell lies? It was obvious the basis for his presentation is not far from the politics of party positions in the National Assembly. He obviously was struggling to provide intellectual justification for what is evidently politics of greed and selfishness. We can’t even see that as a South West position, because Lagos State is not all of South West. Are competent people found only in Lagos State?

It may be sensible to learn from the party’s failure in pushing through her preferred candidates for Senate President and Speaker of the Federal House.  When the party says her preferred candidate, what exactly does it mean? Those members who are not going with the party position are they not of the party? It means that the emergence of the “preferred position” is not acceptable to those members. This is a democracy and tolerates minimal imposition.

It is unimaginable that the groups that coalesced into the APC were such fools as to follow without expecting to have something to show their people as the usefulness of APC to them. Did APC leadership imagine that the PDP Governors who are in APC are such fools? What will Rochas Okorocha tell the people he took along into the APC? To imagine that Nigeria can be ruled by excluding the South East and South South is not a sensible thing to want to implement.

APC should stop taking Nigerians for granted. The “leadership” should not be blinded by greed and hate. The politics of exclusion as conceptualised and implemented after the civil war is not the preferred choice of Nigerians. PDP zoned the Speaker to the South West despite not having many members elected from that zone in 2007 and 2011. Why is the “APC” excluding the South East and South South even from less important party positions in the House of Representatives?

It seems clearer that the politics of the emergence of President Buhari is majorly a rejection of the person of President Jonathan by sections of the north for reasons not exactly incompetence and corruption. It is also becoming evident that the rejection from a section of the South West is not just about the person of Jonathan but the South East and South South zones. What is driving the APC wing that in the 2015 election turned their backs on Awolowo’s long-term goal of closer ties with the South South, and by so doing used the Yoruba to re-arm their long-term foes, the Hausa-Fulani?

Does someone truly believe Fayose’s main pre-election advice to the North ahead of the 2015 presidential election? If we were to have a presidential election now with Jonathan not running, what would be the outcome? What exactly is driving APC’s lack of logic and the crises in the National Assembly?

•Professor Nwajiuba, Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Imo State University Owerri, was Member, 2014 National Conference and Adviser to Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

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