There was echo of joy and sigh of relief when fringe opposition parties in Nigeria came together to form a major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013. To many Nigerians, the formation of APC was the beginning of the birth of a new Nigeria State where equal opportunities would hod sway, dreams and aspirations nurtured and supported instead of shattered.
Nigerians were practically tired of PDP and what the party offered in 16 years. The abysmal performance of the then PDP government led by President Goodluck Jonathan made APC acceptability even easier.
The masses wanted a political party that will produce a President that will see stealing as corruption as well as rebuke a Minister for using public funds to chatter private jets for family members. In fact, the people wanted to breathe some fresh air.
To further make the party more acceptable, APC conducted one of the freest and fairest Presidential primaries ever in Nigeria political history that produced the then General Mohammadu Buhari. His reputations as a disciplined retired Army General with unblemished integrity and zero tolerance for corruption were the virtues that Nigerians needed and this endeared the party to them.
Primaries for other positions too were generally peaceful, credible, free and fair. The party recorded less litigation and protest than it is now in 2014.
APC built on this euphoria to win the Presidential elections and majority of Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and Assembly elections.
The party’s vigorous campaign against the PDP was tailored around corruption, misappropriation of public funds, insecurity, lack of internal democracy, impunity and in fact, anything considered inappropriate with democratic ethos while in the other hand presenting APC as credible platform that will offer credible and better leadership.
APC members presented themselves and the party almost as saints. Then, there was hardly a time any APC member will talk about governance and government without blaming the PDP and calling its members corrupt. Just like it was near impossible for PDP members to talk about politics without associating APC with fierce Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Unfortunately, after APC victory in 2015, PDP members who called APC Boko Haram party started jumping to a point that in most states they now call the shot in APC. In many states, they are leaders and candidates of the party.
APC members who were there before the 2015 victory and were calling anybody who associates with PDP treasury looter now see them as the only credible people who they can associate with or support in any election.
For instance, in Cross River, people who haunted APC members, called them all manner of unprintable names are today recognised by the national leadership of the party and a faction in the State as candidates in different positions and running mate. They no longer see the Boko Haram in APC.
Also, APC members who tagged these very people as looters and enemies of the state in 19 years now see them as the only messiahs who can correct the problems they played major roles in creating. They see them as people with capacity (wealth). The same capacity they chided them for while in PDP.
Today, many APC members believe that a Leopard can change its spots or that the Tiger can change its stripes just because of the change of nomenclature.
While President Buhari and the APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu remain the only difference between APC and PDP at the national, in Cross River state, the parties are only different in name but the same in almost everything. In fact, simply say, they are two sides of the same coin.
One would need torchlight in a broad daylight to search for one name going into the 2019 elections as flag bearer of APC that wasn’t in PDP one to three years ago. So, where is the APC-ness in the APC? Even the factional Chairman of APC, Dr. Mathew Achigbe was caught on camera chanting PDP slogan in an APC function in his first assignment as Chairman.
Besides, the National Working Committee recognised governorship candidate was part of those who zoned governorship to the north in 2014. He defected to APC and said there is no zoning and people who commercialised their consciences believed him.
Tinubu and other APC leaders who want to change Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode for whatever irreconcilable reasons didn’t have to defect to any party to do that. They have remained in APC and have denied him return ticket.
If these people who are so celebrated in APC today wanted to change the Governor, why didn’t they remain in PDP and change him? Tinubu brought Ambode and he showed his strength by mobilising support to first deny him ticket in the APC. He didn’t defect to PDP or any other platform.
They brought the current Governor therefore they would have learned from Tinubu by remaining in their party to change him. Only then would they show their true political strength not coming to use the APC to achieve their aims and then dump the party.
In any case, those celebrating that APC have found people with capacity to defeat the incumbent Governor, Ben Ayade should have a rethink because if they couldn’t defeat Ayade in the main PDP, I doubt if karma would allow them achieve that in the PDP-APC.
The running mate has contested primaries elections two times in the main PDP in Cross River and failed them all. Is it now in APC by name that he will discover his winning gloves?
They spent 19 years in PDP and are less than one year and one month respectively in APC yet some people think Cross Riverians would buy their market when they start talking about how PDP has ruined the state. Some APC members are saying party faithful should work for them because of party interest. I dare ask which party please, PDP or APC?
It is unfortunate that APC failed to learn from the Ortom, Saraki, Dogora and other mistakes. These PDP in APC clothing will hand the party the worst betrayal if allowed to win.
Besides, to destroy the party, they came with the message that there is no zoning yet APC used zoning to fill leadership positions from wards to national.
During the formal declaration of the NWC recognised candidate, he said he was in the race because there’s no Ejagam man that has been Governor. Is that not an ethnic sentiment too? Perhaps, maybe, it is because of the Ejagam sentiment that he decided to pick another Ejagam man as running mate.
As great political strategists that they think they are, they will be flying Ejagam/Ejagam ticket in an election that will be driven by so many sentiments.
The Ejagam advocate in connivance with others denied the north ticket but couldn’t pacify the zone with even a running mate appointment. The two aspirants from the south who were denied participation in the primaries were also not good enough to be picked as running mates.
Elder David Okon who was there for APC as one of the financiers too wasn’t qualified for the running mate position. In his case, it could be that it is because he is not a former member of PDP that nobody considered him capacitated enough for the appointment.
How would these people who would have been nothing without PDP keep their faces to campaign against the very platform that brought them to limelight? Of course, they can’t say anything bad about PDP because they are PDP. Some of their coordinators are PDP Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar’s coordinators too in the state.
What is still baffling many is how APC sold out to them so cheaply. Could it be that those who were chiding, vilifying and calling them looters but now best allies were just envious of them when they were in PDP? What is really the difference between PDP and the Achigbe led APC in Cross River?
How would they keep their faces to talk about the current government’s inability to provide water, something the APC has issued several press statements about when until recently, the running mate was in charge of Water Board as Governor Ben Ayade’s appointee?
While we continue to ponder on these unanswered questions, the truth remains that there is no difference between APC and PDP in Cross River State.
Cross Riverians who want real change must be wise to know that a Leopard is a Leopard and would never change its skin.
Also, true APC members should know that a party which was formed to give Nigerians refreshed hopes has gradually adopted the old order of doing things in Cross River.
Will Cross Riverians see any reason in changing a PDP government for another PDP government because change in nomenclature?
Only time shall tell.
Inyali Peter is a journalist and writes from Calabar.
NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Inyali Peter, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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