THE APC: A PARTY COUNTING ITS VOTES BEFORE THEY ARE CAST
“…I can assure you that we (APC) will win between 28 to 30 states on the first ballot…”
Senator Chris Ngige
“…we have visited so far 32 states and I can assure youth that we (APC) will win in all of them”.
An APC Chieftain in Admawa
“baba me I just dey wait for Baba Buhari’s inauguration…”
Aliyu, a University student
These are interesting times to be in Nigeria indeed; that despite the dual headaches of insecurity and a crippling economy, Nigerians, millions of them are upbeat about the prospects and possibilities of the coming general elections scheduled a few days from now. That for the first time in Nigeria’s democratic journey, we have a fledgling opposition party dragging and urging a somewhat reluctant and deflated self-acclaimed ‘biggest’ party in Africa to participate in the coming polls, is indeed somewhat short of a miracle. That a party in power for almost two decades is accusing an electoral body it set up entirely by itself of bias against it, is simply dumbfounding. That an incumbent who gleefully signed a peace accord at the behest of the international community will throw all caution to the wind and resort to cheap blackmail, mudslinging, and religious polarization of the electorate against his opponent is truly beyond me. That the government is shadowy and aggressively pushing- by proxy- for ways to scuttle the electoral process either through its postponement or other shady means yet to be made manifest, is frankly perplexing. Perplexing yes, but not unexplainable. I have written here of how the President, by his actions and inactions is General Buhari’s chief campaign officer. The President has simply squandered all the goodwill accrued to him 5 years ago. What we are seeing today is a very strong political structure (PDP), imploding and undoing itself because it has over-stretched its capacity for impunity and abuse of democratic ideals, both within and without.
The PDP’s travails have incidentally coincided with the birth of a new political structure (APC) determined to wrestle power away from it. The PDP malaise (read impunity) and internal contradiction (read zoning wahala) were allowed to fester for too long, and has allowed the APC time to grow in strength and confidence. That Nigerians today are unanimously crying for ‘change’ in whatever size, age, or qualification (LOL) is an indictment on the PDP and its years of waste and jamboree. That the APC-a caricature of strange bedfellows wedded by necessity- is seen by most Nigerians as the better alternative speaks volumes of how low the PDP has dropped the bar. I digress.
Today, I’d like to dwell on the APC and the newfound confidence (read cockiness) exhibited by its officials, members and sympathizers over the upcoming general elections. Buoyed by its boisterous and frenzied domination of the media, especially the new media, the APC along with its teeming neophyte volunteer groups are in their minds ready to move into the Aso Rock Villa in a few days. Indeed, the positive feedback from a plethora of quasi opinion polls, both online and off, has also gone a long way in nudging the feeling in the APC that FeBuhari 14 is but a formality. I’ll have to admit that indeed I have also been caught up in this web of cockiness. I have at various times declared that the elections is fait accompli, judging by the mood of the nation at this moment; but it will be foolhardy for anyone to think that the PDP will just lie like a carcass and allow the APC to just stampede over it and march on to victory.
But perhaps more than anything, what serves to feed this unbridled optimism in the APC camp is the tremendous outpouring of goodwill from millions of Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country. I have followed keenly the APC Presidential rallies across the country and even had the privilege of attending one or two, and I must say that the passionate reception accorded the APC Presidential campaign team is perhaps unprecedented in the history of Nigerian politics. Even in key PDP states like Benue, Kogi and Ondo, the frenzy and love which the average man on the street has shown the APC train is simply amazing. If elections were held on the basis of rally turnouts, then I must say the APC has nicked this one. The APC campaign reminds me pretty much of the Obama ‘Yes We Can’ campaign in many respects; from the innovative crowd funding strategy, to the deft use of social media and the engaging of thousands of volunteer foot soldiers, it is obvious the APC has studied the Obama ‘blueprint’ quite keenly. The APC has been able to appeal to a new bloc of voters in their millions whom hitherto have been somewhat apolitical and skeptical of the country’s political system. Indeed a friend of mine who is despite voting for President Jonathan recently admitted that the APC campaign is simply exciting.
Now this is where it gets serious, that inspite of all that I have said above, the APC is not home and dry yet, in fact in my humble opinion, it is far from it. That indeed it is possible, very much so in fact, for the APC to lose these elections fairly and squarely to the PDP. I’ll explain how. The story is being told of the unforgettable 2005 Champions League final match in Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul between AC Milan and Liverpool FC football clubs. Leading by three goals to nil heading to the break, the AC Milan dressing room was a carnival of sorts, with some players reportedly even popping bottles of champagne as Head Coach Carlo Ancelloti was giving the halftime team talk. He had to reprimand and remind them that the battle isn’t won and dusted just yet. After 15 minutes of team talk, the 2nd half whistle was blown by referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez and the rest as they say is history. The APC today stands at the cusp of history, but like AC Milan, the battle is not won just yet. There is a very thin line between confidence and cockiness. While confidence allows you to realize your capacity and also appreciate that of your opponent, cockiness on the other hand exaggerates your capacity and seemingly lessens that of your opponent.The consequence of this can be found in another analogy I wish to share if you would permit me. At the famous battle of Uhud, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had instructed some of his men to station themselves atop the hill of Uhud and await further orders. Upon sensing victory, some of these men, overconfident, abandoned post in quest for war bounty and that singular act turned the battle on its head and cost the Muslims victory on that fateful day. This is similarly what the APC is walking into. Sure, drumming up tales of victory, as encapsulated in the three statements by APC officials and enthusiasts at the beginning of this article, is a shrewd and effective strategy that saps the confidence and energy of your opponent heading into any battle. However, equally more important is the key aspect of matching such grandiose victory tales with uncommon action and commitment. I’ll have to admit, the APC as a party has thus far shown tremendous capacity and resolve to square up to the PDP pound for pound; what I am worried about is the attitude of its avowed cult-like followers who seem to so far just enjoy the carnival with candy in hand cheering idly the APC to victory albeit from the sidelines. There was this one time I had an hour long passionate lamentation with a friend on the pitiable state of the country and how it is ripe for a 3600 turn around. Before saying goodbye, exhausted, I casually asked if he had his PVC or made any attempt to collect it; Hmmmm, let’s just say I was left hugely disappointed. But my friend’s story is not an isolated one, so many exuberant young men and ladies today desire for ‘change’ but they want it served on a platter with a milkshake to go with it. And if you think the PDP will accord you such five star world-class reception, then my friend I pray you wake from your doomed slumber. In case you are reading this and still lost as to my fears for the APC and the possible rude shock (God forbid) that awaits it, post-elections, I’ll indulge you and give you a lowdown of just how the PDP, seemingly battered, could still claw its way from the jaws of defeat and deal a decisive blow to our collective aspirations. Let’s be clear about one thing, the PDP has never been known to fight fair. Even when it is poised to coast to victory as in the 2011 general elections, the PDP had to make sure it was a decisive one by systematically toying and tempering with electoral figures. So no flamboyant ‘peace’ accord signed for the cameras will make it abandon its tried and tested tactics. Not even globetrotting America’s Secretary of State John Kerry can ‘talk’ the PDP out of employing all the subterfuge measures at its disposal to ‘win’ this elections. Make no mistake; the PDP’s old age mantra of ‘do-or-die’ politics is still very much alive and kicking despite the President’s pretentiousness to the contrary. Allow me to make this point clear, for the typical Nigerian who dreams and yearns of a departure from the status quo, an APC defeat means simply the death of that hope and dream, and all he needs to do is to wake up and recoil back into that hard knock life he is well accustomed to. However, for one to truly understand the costs and consequences of a PDP defeat to its members and beneficiaries, one has to put oneself in their newly acquired shoes (LOL). Theirs is like Manchester United or Real Madrid being relegated to the lower leagues. It is simply not fathomable or acceptable. It potentially marks an end to their lazy avarice and primitive acquisition of the national wealth. It marks the beginning of a long and overdue political exile for most of them. For the docile ones amongst them, whose only trade is feeding fat on inflated, bogus government contracts and patronage and who incidentally form the majority; a PDP defeat simply means a stagnated life of nothingness and mediocrity, as they lack the relevant skills set to apply themselves and make tangible strides of their efforts. That, my friends is what a PDP defeat means to Nigeria’s teaming elites.
So heading into the final lap of the race to Aso Rock, expect more dirt being thrown by the ruling party, expect more phantom groups calling for all sorts of absurdities to derail the electoral process, expect a dozen kangaroo courts being set up by questionable judges deficient in character ready to pronounce ‘miracle’ judgments against the opposition, expect more military and DSS crackdown on opposition figures. With the ruling party armed with a war chest the size of a country’s budget, expect billions of our national wealth exchanging hands, expect bags of rice buying human souls, expect corrupt INEC officials looking the other way, expect all manner of expectations from the PDP and its acolytes.
All these however shouldn’t dampen the spirits of a people determined to forge ahead. So beyond the fanfare of posting pictures online with the outlandish ‘iHaveDecided’ catch-phrase, I expect Nigerians desirous of change to walk into this final electioneering lap with cautious optimism and an uncanny resolve to effect that change which they seek. I expect Nigerians to ‘go to the mattresses’ with all that they have. I expect eligible voters to collect their PVCs and encourage others to do the same. I expect voters en masse to come out and vote and protect their votes. So for APC and its change agents, indeed it is too early in the day to begin counting its votes before they are cast. So help us God.
Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow, thank you…