By Ukeme Mathew Inyang
Like all of its kind in every democracy around the world, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a political organization with legal backing. A political party is reminiscent of institutions like banks, schools, churches etc fused into one as a single entity. An entity is a thing with a distinct and independent existence. By implication, APC is a “political entity”; an organization of eligible voters who have voluntarily associated on the basis of a common ideal and interest for the purpose of articulating those interest to secure influence and fill representatives for an elective public office having been officially certified as a political entity by an Independent Electoral Commission.
A political Party is central to representative democracy and the process of democratization. They connect the people and the State, aggregate and represent their interest, train and recruit political leaders and disseminate information. A political party socializes citizens into democratic politics and manages conflicts of interests arising therefrom. Parties provides its members with access to government machinery and welfare schemes. They provide structures for political participation and offer policy alternatives. Political parties compete in elections to gain power. They oversea and control or check government depending on whether they are in government or opposition.
Up until the end of the tenure of the last state Exco, Akwa Ibom chapter of APC existed and functioned as an entity guided by the constitution of the Party which appropriate and assign powers, duties and responsibilities to the different organs of the Party. The State Chairman is the Chief Executive and Accounting officer. Article 14.1 (ii) of the APC Constitution (October 2014 as Amended) behoves on the Chairman to amongst others “provide good and effective leadership to the party”. Therefore, a strong, effective, purposeful and sustainable party administration is what defines the character of a political party and the key to its ability to achieve critical functions of a party as enumerated in paragraph two above.
Perhaps, this explains the choice of APC as an alternative and viable platform for the influx and reception of persons who jumped ship from the ruling PDP in 2014 to challenge the status quo. As profound as that massive movement of persons into APC was and the attendant complexity of interests, there was no gap in the structure of the Party as an entity. Against conflicting interests, the Party sustained its posture which was to enlarge the party and position it as a viable and effective opposition; strong enough to challenge the ruling party. Despite the sustained internal squabbling, APC enjoyed an outstanding performance in the 2015 general elections with memorable records as attested by surviving witnesses.
By sheer dint of hard-work encapsulated in ingenious fund-raising strategy, financial prudence and transparency, regular consultation with stakeholders, collective action and decision-making process, regular meetings of the SWC alongside the SEC, vibrant public communication and information dissemination, the party sustained its activities as a political entity. It grew in leaps and bounds attracting massive followership offering hope of redemption to a citizenry unduly exploited and oppressed. As in every political party where conflict of interest abounds, APC contained its internal conflicts resolving same with equanimity without recourse to violence or having to surrender its status as an independent entity to becoming an appendage of a powerful/influential politician at the risk of reducing the party to a nonentity.
Google definition of “NONENTITY” is the quality or condition of being unimportant or uninteresting. A dictionary source defines nonentity as a person or thing without any special qualities or achievements; an unimportant person or thing. This later definition fits the purpose of this essay with emphasis on “without special quality or achievements”. In fact, that is the core essence of this essay, that our party has become a nonentity, under-performing without quality and of no visible achievements. Yes, that is what it is and where we are.
Recall that there were really no elective congresses in April 2018. Concessionary names were written to appease contending power blocks which threw up and constituted what is still being disputed till date as Ward, Chapter and State Exco of the Party. While the Excos at other levels of the Party can be excused as insignificant, same cannot be said of the state Exco charged with running Party affairs in the state. A bunch of strange bed fellows some of whom have never been heard, seen or identified with the party and its administration. Coming on board at the height of the 2018/19 electioneering campaigns, it was obvious and not surprising that the party had absolutely nothing to offer. Not even the motivation and perquisites offered by the flag bearer of the Party could stimulate it to make worthy contributions. Disappointed, the flagbearer moved his campaign from the Party secretariat to his private arena almost to the exclusion of the party and conducted his campaigns with his select team. The same scenario played out during the election proper and at the election Tribunal were all APC candidates were left to their fate while the flag bearer continued to bear the burden of the party.
While all that is in the past, the Party has continued to grope in the dark apparently not knowing what to do and which way to go. The party office had been lifeless since after the Supreme court judgement and has remained lockdown with the Covid-19 pandemic. Akwa Ibom APC has become a nonentity. A drive through the Party office along Ikot Ekpene road only serves as a reminder of a once existent political party. Not forgetting Senator Ita Enang’s sponsored radio programme, Team Nigeria that twice weekly echoes what is left of the suffocating breadth (apology to George Floyd) of APC and pushes the bounds of PMB’s achievements to Akwa Ibom state.
Meanwhile political activities are on-going across the country notwithstanding covid-19. The NASS is in session and the Presidency has not relented on governance as fresh appointments continues to be made to strengthen and enhance governance at the centre. While we read of Party appointments in other states, we watch bewildered and in utter disbelief with endless expectation for across the board appointments for deserving party men/women in the state. Instead, we are greeted with a familiar pattern of events as leaders of the party in the state leverage on their political exposure in Abuja to appoint their loyalists into positions. This is unfair and unacceptable. No one person in a community can singularly harvest the fruits in the community orchard for only members of his household. We have also had persons nominated and appointed to fill Akwa Ibom vacancies who are relatively unknown to the Party and have never identified with nor supported the Party. How does that make one feel? It is discriminatory for fresh entrants and relatively unknown persons to be appointed on the platform of the Party whereas those who worked assiduously for the party are left behind.
By my contemplation, each and every leader of the party in the state has been former this, former that. They continue to seek positions and political relevance as they bicker amongst themselves for control of the Party thereby cultivating jealousy, enmity and hatred that poisons the party infecting their supporters and loyalists. The negative energy exuded by the perennial squabbling of our leaders is suffocating the party and wouldn’t let it breadth. Shouldn’t we rather have a united and healthy party nurtured by ALL that works for the good of ALL than a sickly, unhealthy and fractionalized party with no focus and direction serving only the interest of the divide and rule political tacticians? As politicians, we need to remind ourselves that we need a strong and healthy party. We need a party platform to attain our political desires and expectations. This may not matter to those who have been this and that in the past and are still enjoying the perquisites of political office. But let me caution that there are many in this party who have not had the fortune or privilege to be ANYTHING in their political endeavour. Their future and destiny are tied to APC. It will be a great disservice to them if the party is not assisted to reinvent and organize itself in such a manner that these categories of person are also rewarded by the party. Soon, there will be need to fill the vacancies in NDDC’s IMC. We watch to see how that plays out and the anticipated role of the Party. Afterall, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
This Party has since ceased to be an entity but a nonentity. It is devoid of quality and incapable of any solid accomplishments. It is obvious the party has lost popular appeal and seemingly an appendage of strongholds that dictates and directs its affairs. How can a purpose driven party relish the bickering and squabbling within the Exco when there is work to be done? The Party has not convened a stakeholders meeting to discuss pertinent issues and chart the way forward for the party. Membership registration cards are yet to be distributed to members. This party as presently constituted does not reflect the true essence and purpose of a political party as a vehicle for political engineering. Members are therefore at risk to fold their hands and watch their destinies frittered away by the incompetence and manipulative tendencies of a few.
No excuses will suffice for the non-performance of the State Chairman as the CEO of the party. He should rise up and revamp the party that was entrusted into his care.
© Ukeme Mathew Inyang
June, 13th 2020
Ukeme is a party enthusiast from Idu-Uruan in Uruan LGA.