APC brands itself as an umbrella party for the opposition.
But this contrived identity may explain its fragility and inability to wax into a stronger party when we consider that opposition groups are not homogenous in their formation and aspirations. In other democracies, opposition parties negotiate alliances or coalitions to form a government after an election not before.
The notion of mergers without common values might well be the African or Nigerian answer to political parties not built on shared principles or a binding philosophy. But has this contraption worked and can it really work where revenge, bruised egos and vested interest are prime factors that underline the recent attraction to APC.
More worrying is that the party seems to have no strong binding ethos to regulate its evolution when high ranking officials walk in and out of the party and even celebrated on their return. The fate of its followership is usually one of despair and confusion as they follow the entreaties of their leaders that use them as a human shield in their many political battles.
While it is fair to say some of the defections we see are genuine search for political space, the hurry to displace existing party candidates rather than work to support and build the party tells a different story. If we look at PDP states where APC is making some mark, we see dysfunctional structures not cohesive enough to muster a real challenge to displace a dominant party. From Benue, Nassarawa to Akwa Ibom in the south, APC is recording decampees following disenchantment with the PDP primaries.
Yet APC does not seem to pose a real threat. The true character of APC came to test in the last PDP primaries which saw major PDP heavy weights decamp and quickly pick up big tickets by displacing core APC party members who helped build the party, and this often happened with internal conspiracy. So is there really a difference in the philosophy that underlines these political parties or is it just about windows of opportunity to stay on in the ‘national cake’ bazaar?
The speaker Tambuwal spoke of an unbelievable rot in government financial affairs. But have we heard the opposition calling for the review of the huge salaries and allowances of legislatures at a time of falling revenue?
There is without question a structural difference between the two parties. Quite unlike PDP that is held together by the principle of ‘self ’ before community;
APC is a gathering loosely connected to ideals of common good, but under the shadows of disgruntled decampees looking to remain and preserve the status quo. This internal contradiction has turned to a boot camp for political soul searching. While we cannot downplay the importance of candidates that have the cash and ‘pedigree’ to deliver results for the party, there needed to be a balancing of this consideration with ethical conduct and staying focused on the wider objective.
What is apparent now is that APC does not have a solid foundation on which to develop its core membership, build its support base and integrate newcomers with big and bruised egos.
APC may now need to consider rebranding and reconstituting itself into a platform that provides a legitimate structure for independent candidature as it is unable to shake off its current status as a converging ground for opposition groups unable to forge shared values or evolve a common vision.
There is nothing wrong reconstituting the party as a space for independent candidates to present themselves to the electorate.
It is not possible to build where the basis for coalescence does not exist.