July 20, 2024

All Progressives Congress

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By Dr. Samson Osagie

A Paper Delivered By Dr. Samson Osagie at a One Day Conference Organized By The Edo State Chapter of All Progressives Congress in Collaboration with the Pius Alile Coalition Initiative (PACI)on Friday 27th October, 2023 in Benin City.

Preamble:

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Barbara Boxer

The founding fathers of democracy intended that elections shall be the means by which the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall be instituted.

It is in the light of this that Nigeria modelled its system of governance upon the pillars of democracy-namely periodic elections and the rule of law.

Nigeria, a Federal state has 36 sub-national governments called States of the Federation constitutionally recognized. Just as elections are held periodically to elect the President and members of the National Assembly, so also are elections conducted for the office of Governors of the States and members of the various state Houses of Assembly.

And by virtue of the operation of law, Edo State Gubernatorial election became severed from the elections of members of the House of Assembly following an alteration of the election calendar by the judgement of court which invalidated the election of Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor and declared Comrade(Sen.) Adams Oshiomhole as winner of the 2007 Governorship election on Nov.11 2008.

Consequently, gubernatorial election in Edo State ceased to be holding alongside majority of the states in the Federation. On September 26,2023, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) announced that the off-cycle governorship elections in Edo state shall hold on September, 24, 2024.

This election which is less than one year from now, is why we are here today to discuss the fate of our dear party-APC.

BACKGROUND

The All Progressives Congress was formed from a merger of the defunct opposition parties of the Action Congress Of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), Congress For Progressive Change(CPC), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) and later a faction of the People Democratic Party(PDP) in 2013 ahead of the major national elections of 2015.

The APC fired by the determination of its members across the country to end the sixteen years rule of the People’s Democratic Party coupled with the disenchantment of the citizens with the looting and pillage of the national treasury, the party unequivocally secured an overwhelming victory with the election of President Mohammadu Buhari and 19 States governors  out of the 28 states in which elections was conducted.

The party won 209 seats out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives and 60 seats out of 109 seats in the Senate

The party repeated the same level of success in the 2019 and 2023 general elections and at the centre it has remained in power and still controlling more states in the country and more seats in the National Assembly.

Dr. Samson Osagie

In Edo State, the declaration of Comrade Adams Aliyu Eric Oshiomhole, CON, MNI (who is now the Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District and National Leader of the Party in Edo State) as Governor of Edo State on the November 11, 2008 mark the emergence of progressive governance which lasted till 2016.

Under his leadership Edo State witness unprecedented socio-economic development as well as a vibrant political environment with the APC holding sway overwhelmingly in the election that brought in his successor.

However, the fortune of the party in the State started dwindling with the 2015 general elections when the APC won only one seat out of the three Senatorial seats and four out of the nine House of Representatives seats.

I shall state the issues that affected the party in the 2015 general elections in subsequent engagements.

The party suffered an unprecedented hard time owing to Governor Obaseki’s uncomplimentary treatment of party leaders and members leading to his exit from the party.

It will be a colossal waste of time and effort to dwell on Godwin Obaseki’s misadventures in the party and Edo State politics and governance

FACTORS THAT HAVE MILITATED AGAINST THE PARTY IN EDO STATE.

The theme of this conference presents an opportunity to carry out a post Mortem on the party’s activities and fortunes in recent elections.

Although, all hasn’t been bad news for the party as a section of the state have continued to defend the interest of the party and produced winning results, that is Edo North Senatorial District, Edo Central District has been known as the exclusive district of the PDP (until 2023 general elections), the APC in Edo South Senatorial District since 2015 has consistently lost woefully in national and state elections (with the exception of a few seats in the Edo State House of Assembly in 2019).

Many factors can be identified as key to the abysmal results for the party.

First is the near absence of a viable and respectable leadership structure that ought to constantly galvanize party members and its structures towards a coordinated approach to elections.

What has happened in recent elections particularly in Edo South Senatorial District is that members and leaders are in their factional cells struggling to undo one another rather than pursuing a common purpose.

This has resulted in unbridled hatred, bad blood and unhealthy rivalry among and between party members and leaders. This state of affairs has done so much harm to party cohesion and unity of purpose.

It is therefore hoped that the recent decision of the State Caucus of the party under the leadership of the National Leader of the Party – Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to appoint the former Deputy Governor of Edo State Rt. Hon. Dr. Pius Egberanmmwen Odubu as the Political Leader of Edo South Senatorial District in the APC will usher in a new era of responsible leadership and followership in the district.

The era of distrust and hostility must give way to a new beginning of trust, mutual respect, forgiveness, collaboration, cooperation, and friendship for the overall health and success of the party as we approach the next critical election.

Secondly, it is important for information to be timely disseminated to the grassroots.

This has been lacking in the APC in the State. The practice of carrying out last minute damage control cannot work with the membership of the party who waits to no avail for developments in the party until elections are around the corner.

Since the party is not in government, those who are elected into public offices including those in appointive positions across the State should endeavor to ensure constant meetings of the party at both the wards and unit levels to galvanize party members and supporters.

This is very crucial to the mobilization of the citizens towards voting for the party in future elections.

Thirdly, the incident of sabotage has become a common phenomenon in the party. Although, many members and leaders have been wrongly accused of working against the party during elections, as a direct victim of this unpatriotic act I can say with every sense of responsibility that certain party members and leaders do play roles detrimental to the success of the party during elections.

A number of reasons are responsible for this phenomenon. Amongst which are monetary inducements by other parties or their candidates, the character and attitude of the party’s candidate, the flawed process of party primaries and unhealthy factionalization among party members and leaders.

Many a times when issues arising from primaries and party congresses are not properly settled or the parties involved are recalcitrant and unyielding, they transfer the aggression to the election and work against the party.

Members and leaders are advised to view political contest as a game rather than an entitlement scheme. Party leaders and officials must also endeavor to ensure that party primaries and congresses are less rancorous so that those who are unable to win the contest will find it easy to accept the outcome.

In this way settlement of post congresses and primaries disputes will be easier and more impactful.

The Imperative of Winning Edo State by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2024 Governorship Election

Against the backdrop of some of the factors that have militated against the party listed above, it is crucial to note that winning the 2024 governorship election in Edo State is a categorical imperative for the sustenance of the confidence of the party follower-ship and the integrity of the leadership of the party.

Truth be told, it is not going to be a walk in the park as the government in power in Edo State has already begun its time tested strategies of hoodwinking Edo Voters through monetary inducement routed via appointments and other perks.

The APC more than ever before needs to quickly begin very vigorously to take among others the following steps:

  • Institute a high power technical and strategic committee to do a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the APC across the state and make its findings/recommendations discreet but submitted to the leadership of the party in the State. This will assist in the planning and preparation for the elections in 2024.
  • The party should immediately makes its position known on the vexed issue of zoning or no zoning in other for the party to begin to build a consensus around possible candidate and the district. Already, the government in power in Edo State has given indication of the Candidate its party is likely to field and consensus is been built around the candidate although not without opposition from within the party.
  • The party should ensure that aspirants jostling for the governorship ticket of the party are properly screened to ensure that only credible aspirants with Clean moral or academic records are cleared to participate in the party primaries. Aspirants with doubtful credentials or criminal allegations or conviction either in Nigeria or abroad should endeavor to withdraw from the race. The party cannot afford to take the risk of participating in an election with a candidate who the opponents will pull the rug from under his feet by unveiling his or her previous tainted records.
  • The party must begin the process of mass mobilization at the grass-root to enable the electorate appreciates the necessity for a change of government from the Obaseki PDP to the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led APC. It is important to remind the people of the dividends of good governance under the administration of Sen. Adams Oshiomhole and such messages should be disseminated in order to get the people to appreciate the good old days of governance in the APC administration in Edo State.
  • The party must plan very serious engagement with interests groups in the State ahead of the election. To do this we should not even wait until our candidate emerges. This is necessary in order to get their commitment to the alternative our party is presenting to the Obaseki misrule in Edo State.
  • The party must also seriously engage the aspirants with a view to sensitizing them on the need to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship after the primaries. To this end, the party must prepare for a free and fair primaries that will leave no one in doubt as to the credibility of the process and this will make it easier for aspirants to accept the outcome of the primaries.
  • Leaders of the three Senatorial Districts and the various Local Government Areas must begin the process of reaching out to members of the other political parties in their respective districts and Local Government Areas with a view to wooing them to join the APC. Already the division in the other parties has become very potent such that any meaningful engagement with some of their critical stakeholders with electoral values can yield positive results for the party.
  • We cannot underplay the strategic importance of funding in an election, especially, a governorship election. In 2020, we were lucky to have successful businessmen who supported the party. Even though we lost that election, we all know that a major cause of that defeat was the internal sabotage by most of the governors and leaders of the party particularly at the national level. Consequently, the party will need to begin the process of mobilizing resources ahead of time in order that it is not caught napping at critical hours. Obviously the candidate of the party that will eventually emerge will need to have the capacity to mobilize huge funds but no matter how wealthy a candidate may be, he alone cannot fund an election of the magnitude we are preparing for.

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We must understand that the level of resource deployment by the Obaseki government  to the electorate is huge and the party needs to be more aggressive in countering this threat from the government.

Conclusion

The Governorship election in Edo State come 2024 is a must win for the APC, I agree but beyond this fantasy, lies the incredible task of fielding the right candidate, adopting an all inclusive party and election management strategy and deploying a continuous media presence  as an opposition party in the State to put the incumbent administration in perpetual defense , thus speaking the minds of the people  who are already distraught with the administration.

Ordinarily, having a government at the centre should be a huge advantage, but suffice to say that from experience it is only when the party is fully on ground and popular with the voters that such an advantage can be deployed.

We must all therefore recommit ourselves to the victory of the party and make the needed sacrifices to be victorious in the election. The time to start the job is now!

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