I have watched, with consternation, how many good people on and off social media, who are not members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, have become adversaries and combatants over the governorship primary of the APC in Lagos. Many have also become APC emergency advisers. I keep wondering why members of the Lagos public, who are not in the APC, should insert themselves in the intra-party search of the APC for its governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election. Freedom of speech? The right to hold opinions, and freely comment on the political developments in Lagos State? I get that. I sure do.
But shouldn’t non-APC members wait for the APC to sort itself out, and present its candidate, so that our fellow needlessly-agitated compatriots can vote for a party or a candidate of their choice in the general elections, selecting from the array of political parties that may be on offer, based on the party platforms, manifestoes and programmes? In the just concluded Osun governorship election, there were 48 candidates, and one of them, dismissed for his “buffoonery”, almost danced his way to the gubernatorial seat; and who knows, he may yet get a redress at the election tribunal. As a non-APC member in Lagos State, you will have your time to elect the candidate of your choice as governor, come February 2019. Some aspirants in the APC, who could not secure the party’s gubernatorial ticket in Osun State, decamped and contested on the platforms of other political parties. Although they did not win the elections, many people who believed in them voted for them.
Were our compatriots who have now turned themselves into political consultants and “visiting” advisers for the APC consulted before the APC chose (selected or imposed) its governorship candidate in Lagos in the 2015 election? Were they? Were they consulted when a royal threat was issued to cast into the Lagos Lagoon recalcitrant residents, inspired by power intoxication from Abuja, who were accused of plotting not to vote for a preferred candidate? Were they?
Doesn’t a political party have a right to choose its candidates, including democratically disallowing an incumbent from having a second term, if it so wishes? Does the governorship candidate of APC in Lagos automatically become the governor-elect of the State? What of the other political parties? Shouldn’t they be given a consideration at all? If the APC and it’s precursors and it’s “Power Mafioso” are the demons that the voting public in Lagos State needs to get rid of, why can’t the intruders concentrate on joining and building an alternative that can take over political power in Lagos State, instead of labouring on lecturing the APC and it’s “gods” on how to run their affairs in order not to lose the electorate and the general election?
This is my advice to you: As a voter and part of the Lagos State electorate, stop inserting yourself into the intra-party process of the APC to select its governorship candidate in 2019, if you are not a member of the APC. Doing so means you don’t take your right to freely elect a government of your choice in Lagos State seriously. The APC primary is not a governorship election.
If you are genuine believer in a multi-party democracy, and you trust that the electorate has the will to alter its political destiny, why not invest your energy and social media time in that possibility, instead of dissipating energy on prescribing the choice of candidate to a political party to which you do not belong and which you often mock?
This is my advice to you: As a voter and part of the Lagos State electorate, stop inserting yourself into the intra-party process of the APC to select its governorship candidate in 2019, if you are not a member of the APC. Doing so means you don’t take your right to freely elect a government of your choice in Lagos State seriously. The APC primary is not a governorship election. That election holds in February 2019. When the general election holds, you will have a number of candidates representing their parties and platforms to pick from. APC will field a candidate in the election, just like the other parties. As a civic duty, when the general election comes, you should compare and contrast the policies and programmes and the manifestoes of the parties before settling for one candidate.
We are not practising a parliamentary system of government. However, a few examples from the recent political history of and political leadership succession in the U.K., which underscore the principle of party supremacy, would suffice. The “great” Margaret Thatcher, after leading the Conservative Party as British prime minister for over a decade, was eased out of power by her party and colleagues, ahead of a general election. Thatcher suffered an unpopularity backlash after her government imposed the poll tax. That was how John Major became the prime minister in 1990. And Tony Blair didn’t end his last term. Following his resignation, his Labour Party found a successor in James Gordon Brown in June 2007. Both Thatcher and Blair were removed as prime minister by their respective parties.
A party has a right to pick a candidate of its choice for a general election in its exclusive governorship primary, without being dictated to by intermeddling outsiders and the interloping comentariat, and those outsiders have a right to vote for or against the candidate so chosen at a general election.
If democracy and the political party system in Nigeria were to be working as they should, no elected office holder should be free of the moderating control of his party and the electorate. If a political office holder breaks loose from his party, and he is no longer subject to its control, he becomes a monarch in a democracy.
As a voter who is not a member of APC and who, therefore, is not qualified to participate in the APC primary, your dictation of a candidate for the APC implies, very much, that you are expressing or have expressed your preference for that particular candidate before the general election, thereby foreclosing the possibility of a better candidate being fielded by a rival party in the general election.
The power struggle within the APC is not an inter-party power struggle in which the ordinary people, the working class and the oppressed segments of the population may legitimately side with a pro-people party against a ruling party of power oligarchs and aristocrats; it is not a class struggle. It is an intra-ruling class struggle. Head or tail, the current “struggle” within APC will not affect the social, economic and political fortunes of the people of Lagos State fundamentally.
If democracy and the political party system in Nigeria were to be working as they should, no elected office holder should be free of the moderating control of his party and the electorate. If a political office holder breaks loose from his party, and he is no longer subject to its control, he becomes a monarch in a democracy. Our legislatures hardly control our governors or president, in spite of the constitutional powers that assign to them that task. When parties, as loci of moderation of exercise of power by their elected members, lack the power to do so, a democratic tyrant emerges.
Governor Ambode has done many good things. His bad deeds are also glaring. I hope his intra-party traducers concede this fact.
Jiti Ogunye, lawyer, public interest attorney, legal commentator, author, and essayist,