Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, stirred the hornet’s nest in an interview he granted Daily Trust Newspaper over the weekend when he spoke inconvenient truth about the state of affairs in the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Expectedly, Fayemi drew the ire of some, who expected every party man to enlist in the ‘Halleluyah’ chorus, regardless of soundness or illogicality of the polemics.
Fayemi must have been from another planet to have spoken truth to his party in plain and frank language rather than pampering the cracks until his beloved party caves in under the perceived high-handedness and non-inclusiveness of various tendencies within the APC.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum acted as a patriot. The merits in the genuine alarm he raised concerning the post-Buhari future of the APC cannot be devoured by the misplaced expletives and vitriol criticism that trailed the headline, ‘APC May Collapse After Buhari’. Fayemi said this in context of the ugly developments and trends in the party in its current state.
Fayemi said, “If we are not careful, if we do not institutionalise processes and procedures in the party and make it more inclusive than it is, we will not have a party when President Muhammadu Buhari leaves government. This is because he is the unifying force of our party.”
Truth be told, there is no political party that is indispensable. Politicians and handlers of political structures who lack dexterity in managing their fortunes often bite the dust sooner than imagined. Those vilifying Fayemi should take a cue from the fate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP that prided itself as the biggest political party in Africa. The party projected a 60-year reign but was truncated to 16-years; loosing disgracefully to the opposition party it underrated.
That is what Fayemi, as a true lover of the APC, must have intended to avert by calling on the party leadership and other critical stakeholders to put the party in order. Again, it was not only Fayemi that has expressed this sentiment; former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former minister, Adebayo Shittu, and former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, expressed grave concern over the state of the party and dangers it portends going forward. Even President Buhari himself recently appealed to the party leadership not to allow the APC fail after his tenure.
In the viral interview, Fayemi advocated for a stronger, virile and more accountable political party. In his words, “We need a stronger, more accountable and all-inclusive political party”.
He also advised the party to, “Hold a policy (manifesto) convention annually to review how we are doing in delivering our promises to the electorate”. This could only come from a party stalwart who desires that his party endures for years. It is called stock taking and appraisal. Any organization that is primed to last for years periodically reviews its deliverables and plans to maintain affinity with its esteemed customers. Similarly, there should be an annual AGM of sort for any party in power to appraise its promises vis-à-vis its performance in the preceding years. So how does such progressive demands amount to “party disloyalty”?
Fayemi as a scholar and scientist is aware of the rising political consciousness of the electorate and Nigerians in general. Stomach infrastructure will not always return a political party to power without outstanding performance and fidelity to the party’s manifesto.
In the build up to the 2015 general elections, the party rode on the crest of change and promised to turn the ugly tides in infrastructure, economy, security and anti-graft war. Millions of Nigerians jumped aboard the Change mantra which transmogrified into the Change Movement. The change movement worked the magic and dislodged the ruling PDP that boasted to retain the reins of power for 60 years. The social contract the party had with Nigerians then must be constantly reviewed to maintain its charm among the people.
How has the APC-led government fared in the area of youth employment, revamping the economy and fighting excruciating poverty which is the lot of the majority of Nigerians?
Lastly, the Ekiti State governor mulled on the need to build strong structures in the APC rather than building strong individuals. He said, “We need party structures that function effectively and more regularly – That is, the party caucus, the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, as well as the various state chapters”.
The APC constitution 2014 as amended, is very clear on the roles each of the organs of the party should play. Each of the organs has a way of strengthening the party if activated. But the NEC, which is the apex organ of the party rarely meets. Same for the NWC, which has more or less become a manipulative tool used to settle political scores and fights perceived foes. How will this help strengthen the party after this administration?
Fayemi has spoken as a brave and an independent minded person. Rather than being fixated on whether APC will survive after Buhari or not, why can’t the handlers of the party interrogate the posers he raised and get to work to avert the possible doomsday? After all, a stitch in time, they say, saves nine!
Enitan Olukotun, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos