I know. It is easier to criticize than to create. I can hear the comments already but I can’t lie…the All Progressive Congress (APC) make it so easy to pick them apart.
First, as a supporter of change I have been miffed by how un-progressive they are. Progressive in any language means to want change, to reform, to want to buck the trend and what better way to do that in Nigerian politics than with (1) new faces and (2) more women and young people? We took the flaccid manifesto and party constitution and the mainly lacklustre interim leadership and crossed our fingers for more.
There have been a few inspired moments, here and there, since the merger last year, to keep the torch of change alive. That is, beyond the symbolism of several parties taking the step to present a united front to pose a viable opposition to PDP. But, if we are honest there have been disappointments and worry about the conduct of the party’s member registration, the acrimony around the ward and state congresses and now the APC National Convention that has ushered in a new national executive council.
At the convention last Friday, many of the party leaders spoke to the delegates, party members and Nigerians. I was struck by Bola Tinubu’s speech titled “the Great Change Arrives”. The words and sentiments expressed were noble and rousing but we cannot accept them at face value because at this turn in Nigeria’s political trajectory, it is critical for citizens to stop accepting platitudes and start being more discerning. Actions do speak louder than words; and the actions around the Convention as well as the results of the APC Convention could easily turn those words to cold ash blowing in the wind.
Let’s pay close attention to Tinubu’s words:
“Our country needs a new beginning.”
We would love to wipe the slate clean and start all over. However, to do that, we must identify and accept the mistakes that we have made and resolve not to repeat them. While the top hierarchy of party officials and politicians today, cut their teeth in national politics as young as 30, today these 70 year olds refuse to mentor and provide a more conducive environment for young people. Why would a party that yearns for a new beginning select a 50+ year old as the National youth leader? Nigeria has so many engaging young men and women with the ‘bright ideas’ Tinubu also mentioned in his speech so why not let them come up with their representative or help them pick a worthy one? As for the decision to ‘zone’ the positions when juxtaposed with ‘new beginning’, the irony is too great to get into.
“Nigeria needs men and women who can be the change that we want so badly.”
Okay. So where are the women? Starting from the sub-committees to prepare for the convention, APC made poor use of its women. With over 400 positions across 12 sub-committees, only 44 were women were appointed and about 30 of them were in the entertainment committee. And now that the Convention is over, not a single woman holds a position outside ‘national woman leader’ or zonal women leader’. Is that the great change?
“We are not about violence, but about equity, justice and fairness.”
The case of Zuwaira Sani Bakori, a dedicated party member from Kaduna who secured the highest number of votes at her ward to become a delegate to the national Convention puts complete lie to this statement. This is a woman who was prepared. Who took the time to understand the process and followed it. She had her eyes on the Deputy National Organizing Secretary which had been zoned to her state. Despite the difficulties, she secured the nomination form, paid the fees and was screened for the position. She expected to be unopposed or at the very least to have a fair contest. Instead, the name of Sulaiman Hunkuyi who was chilling in China was announced at the convention ground as the ‘consensus candidate’. How is this just or fair?
It might be news to APC but Nigerians are asking harder questions and focusing more on separating the chaff from the wheat. We are making progress in identifying hollow words because when actions do not match rhetoric, the hole threatening to swallow us all gets wider. And despite the attempts of politicians to convince us that there is only one way to play politics…we’ll know change when we see it.
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