APC, 2023, Butterflies & Shadow-Boxing, By Simbo Olorunfemi
A lot is going on with the APC at the moment. A lot to do with 2023. A lot not directly related. A lot of foundational issues. Some to do with the constitution. Some to do with leadership or lack of it. A lot to do with the perennial confusion about what the real place of the political party is in a Presidential system in comparison with the parliamentary. Some are unsure about what they want between a command approach, as we see at the states or a laissez-faire style that is the case at the centre.
There is apprehension, there are concerns. There are jeers and snide remarks from those who have not been able to hold together a party of a few hundreds. Some have even pronounced the party dead. APC is not dead. It is not dying soon. People are mistaking crisis for chaos. There is crisis. Even more crises in the wings. That is no evidence that the party is dead. Strange as it might appear to some, that is, in fact, proof of life.
The plots, the in-fighting, the crisis and whatever else is going on there now is proof of life in the vehicle. It is a fight over who controls the steering wheel of the vehicle, to gain advantage on calling the shots on which direction goes. Only that it takes more than being in control of the wheel to determine how and where it goes. The party has the advantage, for now, with respect to 2023. It only follows that the fight within will be fierce giving the prize at stake.
What is playing out is not entirely new, even if in form and personalities involved, there is a change. As I have repeatedly argued, the democratic structure in place, as practised, is one heavily tilted in favour of the Governors. Democracy died, in one sense of it, the day the Governors came together as one, under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum. It is not that the Governors did not wield power and influence before then, it is just that since then, the Governors have practically abandoned their primary assignment of governance, spending more time politicking, trying to determine what happens at the centre, at the detriment of their states.
It started in 1993 when the Governors arm-twisted MKO Abiola to make Baba Gana Kingibe his running mate. We saw it at work in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2014. The Governor-Generals control everything at state and local government level. At the State level, they chose their Commissioners, Assembly members, Agency Heads. They chose Local Government Chairmen and even Councillors. Under PDP, they determined who became Ministers, Senators, Reps, Ambassadors, Board members, Agency Heads, etc. before moving forcefully into the Presidential space, wanting to determine that.
The Governors battled for control in the APC in 2014, Fought tooth and nail to have one of theirs become Presidential candidate, they failed. They tried to secure the VP ticket, they again failed. Since then, they have been at it, plotting and kicking. They want to have their way come 2023. The Governors have the structure, but some forget that the structure can only take you so far. There is no structure that can dislodge the one whose feet are planted on the back of the people, fired by the strength of their own conviction.
That is the long and short of it. 2023 is far, but 2023 is here. The two men who have stood in the way of the Governors since 2014, if they continue to play as one, will be the ones to call the shots on which way the wind will blow come 2023.
The crisis will catch more fire. It won’t descend into a chaos or lead to the death of the party. Water will eventually find its level. At the end of the day, some of the butterflies out there, mistaking themselves as birds will be forced to perch, when the birds take to the sky. When the time comes, some of the masquerades now dancing agidigbo to imaginary drums will become spectators.
Politics is all about contestation for power. There is really nothing wrong with ambition, but every ambition, to be viable, must find a way to dip its head in the waters of reality and circumscribe itself within the frame of its own self-enlightened interest.
A candidate does not become viable because of the force of his ambition, attributes or even the primordial sentimentality beneath his wings, he becomes viable because the grace of right timing and his own attributes resonate with a coincidence in permutations beyond him. When that becomes the case, it is often the case that fate beckons on you rather than you forcing the hand of fate to come to your aid.
A little patience, a good sense of timing does it. To become consumed by the moment might lead to one missing the train. Tomorrow always has a way of taking care of itself, irrespective of anyone’s dexterity at shadow-boxing. It is often more a case of the moment choosing the man rather than the man picking the moment.
Water will always find its level.