Something momentous happened in 2015. That was the year an incumbent president was toppled via a civilian coup. The change of government elicited excited responses. Something out of the ordinary had happened, and bookmakers packaged the event in sundry ways. The All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of political parties whose leaders set out to upset the apple cart, became the party of the moment. Its leaders even had cause to ascribe some superhuman qualities to themselves. The party came with so much promise. And so much was expected from it. But all that seems to have petered out too soon. The party, at the moment, is looking very much like a burning candle about to reach its dead end. It has not demonstrated, since it assumed the reins of governance nearly three years ago, that it has staying power. It has not shown resilience. The only thing it appears to have going for it is the overarching power of the presidency. But that was then. With less than one year to another general election, Nigerians have begun to take stock. They are no longer content with precepts. The party and its presidency have come under intense scrutiny. Three years after the fanfare and triumphalism that attended the ascension of the party to power, Nigerians are no longer romanticising about the overthrow of a ruling party by an opposition party as was the case in their country in 2015. Rather, they are engaging the APC-led federal government in the field of practicality.
Since its ascension to power in 2015, the APC government at the centre has not done much to endear itself to the people. The problem started from the very beginning. The government was slow in taking off. It did not, as Nigerians loosely say, hit the ground running. Its principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, could not form his cabinet until after six months. The people waited with bated breath. They thought that the president was about to constitute a team to end all teams. They almost imagined that the president was about to unleash superhuman elements on the polity. They thought so because of the larger-than-life image with which the president was associated. However, when the list of the president’s appointees was released, disappointment took the better part of Nigerians. The tale was that of the familiar. There was nothing new. Nothing exciting. Nigerians could not but wonder what all the delay was all about.
Beyond the long wait, the list of the president’s men and women raised dust.
Its content was tear-jerking. It was an assault on equity and justice. It reeked of clannish overtones. An overwhelming majority of the president’s appointees were largely his Muslim kinsmen from the North. For the first time in Nigerian history, the country’s security architecture became an exclusive preserve of one region, and, to a very large extent, one religion. The president paid no heed to ethnic, religious and regional considerations. He was not bothered about what anybody thought or felt. He acted as if he was on a mission of conquest. Nigerians were stupefied. An elected president has done what military dictators could not even do. The shock reverberated across the land. But Nigerians still gave the government a chance. Many still felt that the president would make amends. And so they allowed him to be. In doing this, many watchers of the polity felt that what mattered most at that point in time was how the government would tackle the menace of insecurity, represented largely by Boko Haram. The government set sail in this regard. Some 18 months after its inauguration, government embarked on chest-thumping. It announced triumphantly that it had defeated Boko Haram. Nigerians did not quite believe the story. But government would stop at nothing to sing its own praises. Today, Boko Haram remains a major security problem in Nigeria, despite the claims.
But as Nigerians battled the incidence of Boko Haram insurgency, a brand new headache cropped up. Something called Fulani herdsmen surfaced. Their trademark is killing and maiming. They roam and maraud all over the country, leaving blood and sorrow in their wake. They have turned the Middle Belt of Nigeria into a killing field. With the herdsmen, life in Nigeria has become nasty and brutish. The menace of the Fulani herdsmen is a byproduct of the APC administration. The killer herdsmen have taken on Nigeria very ruthlessly. They are audacious and arrogant about their actions. The reason is simple. The law seems to have turned a blind eye to their savagery. Government has not done enough to rein them in. Many Nigerians believe that they are being protected by government. A case in point is the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, which makes inciting statements, yet government pretends as if it does not hear or see. The attitude of government to the menace of Fulani herdsmen has made Nigerians to feel, rightly or wrongly, that government is protecting them. In fact, the activities of the killer herdsmen constitute a major credibility problem to the present administration.
In the face of these scandalous issues, many Nigerians have become suspicious of the Buhari presidency. They feel that terrorists and killer herdsmen would set Nigeria ablaze if they are not stopped in their tracks. And the best way to achieve that objective, they believe, is to shun Buhari like a plague. It is considerations such as this that have created a major credibility crisis for him and the APC administration.
However, while Nigerians are still considering what to do to or with the APC in the 2019 elections, the party has, through its own act of self-deprecation, reduced itself further in the eyes of Nigerians. The party has failed abysmally to conduct credible congresses. The rancour and bad blood that attended the exercise are so serious that Nigerians are wondering how the APC government can preside over a general election in Nigeria. The feeling here is that a general election that takes place under the watch of a political party that cannot deal with its internal affairs is bound to end in confusion.
If the APC crashes out in 2019 as it looks set to do, it will then mean that the change that took place in 2015 was forced. It was procured. It did not come the proper way. That is why it has turned out to be a fluke. The party has not been able to manage its victory. It has not been able to justify the confidence that the people reposed in it.
If the APC kisses the dust, as it is threatening to do, we can also safely say that the election that brought the APC into the saddle was a coup. It was an elite conspiracy directed against the immediate past president. The fall of the APC will also mean that the PDP floundered for the sake of Goodluck Jonathan. Perhaps, the party would have held its own if there was no desperate effort to get Jonathan out of the way. The Jonathan scenario may be repeating itself in 2019. The APC may kick the bucket on account of the misgivings against Buhari. If this happens, it will mean that APC learnt nothing from the lessons of history. It will mean that the party did not come to stay. And this will make it the quintessential flash in the pan.