Despite the shift in the scheduled timetable, which would have seen both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hold their respective presidential primaries to elect presidential candidates for the 2023 polls this weekend, the exercise when it holds will be interesting and momentous for both. For this analysis, my focus will be the intra-party polls of the APC. For one, it is the ruling party and the election, in reality, is for it to win or lose just like it was the PDP through its arrogance and recklessness that virtually gifted power to the APC on a platter of gold in 2015. Incidentally, former President Goodluck Jonathan has been pontificating on what he describes as the mess that the primaries of the APC and PDP have been, complaining about the excessive monetization of the exercises. He forgets that it was his utter disregard for the internal democratic processes of the PDP and his utilization of presidential power to clinch the Party’s ticket for the 2015 elections at all costs that led to the party’s implosion and his emphatic loss leading to the APC’s ascendancy to power. Dr Jonathan lacks the moral integrity to preach intra-party democracy to anybody.
Again, but for the unfortunate and avoidable intra-party intrigues, rivalry and mutually destructive conflicts among its various factions and fractions that have hobbled its performance, the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has generally led the country in a better direction away from the utter lack of vision, policy impoverishment and open venality of much of the PDP’S 16 years in power. In spite of earning substantially less revenue in its seven years in power so far than the PDP did in one and a half decades as a result of the sharp decline in international oil prices, the devastations of the unanticipated Coronavirus pandemic and now the implications of the Russia-Ukraine war, the APC has achieved more in terms of infrastructure provision, efforts to alleviate poverty as well as diversify the economy than the PDP did.
Rather, therefore, than completely abandon the policy direction and legacies of the Buhari administration as the PDP is naturally most likely to do if it regains power in 2023, what Nigeria needs after Buhari is a President who will appreciate and build on the successes of the administration while taking effective measures to address and ameliorate its failings particularly in the areas of national security and nurturing a new sense of inclusiveness in governance to revive the spirit of unity, nationalism and patriotism across Nigeria. It is obvious that only an APC candidate can do this. But can such a candidate emerge through a free, fair, transparent and credible intra-party process in its presidential primaries slated for Sunday?
One of the most enduring legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari, which he will bequeath to Nigeria after his tenure, is his respect for democratic principles and strict adherence to stipulated rules and regulations particularly with respect to the affairs of his party. Buhari selected a consensus National Chairman that emerged at the party’s last National Convention, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, at the instance of governors and some other stakeholders of the party.