Something new has just crept into the political horizon. A few days ago, a new political party called Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) was unveiled in Abuja and has been registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The party, going by the philosophy and ideals it paraded, is the product of a new thinking. It seeks to displace the old order and enthrone an encompassing egalitarianism that will fill the yawning gap in Nigeria’s socio-political and economic landscape.
The party, from what was unveiled to the public, boasts of a brand new mission, vision, ideology and constitution. Its offering is quite ambitious. Even where it, unavoidably, leans towards the familiar, it does so in a refreshingly new fashion.
We are, no doubt, used to the flowery and ornamented manifestoes of many a political party, which ended up being as good as the paper on which they were written. This being the case, Nigerians will be very wary whenever they are confronted with the beautiful and compelling ideas and ideals, such as the ones contained in the APDA constitution and manifesto. The party is clearly not unaware of this apparent skepticism that usually defines the responses and reactions of Nigerians whenever such salacious offerings from political parties are brought before them. That is why the party is imploring Nigerians to trust it. APDA calls itself the true party of the Nigerian people.
According to its founding fathers, APDA is a political party with a great determination to redefine partisan politics and political administration in Nigeria. It presents a social contract with Nigerians driven by deliberate, conscious and patriotic conviction that the time has come to enthrone a national political platform that accommodates everyone in their quest to actualise their dreams and aspirations. The party seeks to introduce values that are premised on an inclusive Nigerian society that is founded on the principles of freedom, equality, solidarity and fairness. Its drive is to achieve social justice, job creation and economic development in a free market economy. The party offers these and much more to Nigerians.
However, conscious of the fact that the people may dismiss all these as paper tigers, the party, through its manifesto, enjoins the people to “trust us” as it strives to restore hope and confidence in the capacity of our people to take responsibility for their destinies. It promises this in recognition of the fact that our country is in dire need of social, political and economic reengineering and remodeling. The party says it will strive to actualise these ideals.
These declarations, no doubt, hold a lot of promise for the people. But the challenge, as always, will be how to realise, in practical terms, these lofty objectives.
Considering where we are coming from and where we are at the moment, Nigerians have every reason to embrace a new political order. The story of the country has been that of freestyle looting. Political brigandage and effrontery is a way of life. Indiscipline has grown wings. Corruption has become a byword. We are at home with it. The people have become accustomed to systems and situations that do not work. This unpalatable set-up has eaten so deep into our social and economic fabric, particularly in those unaccountable years of military incursion into politics. After many years of the reign of the jackboot, democratic order was restored in the land. This gave us political parties that built their programmes and agenda on those social ideals that we lacked so much. Since there must be a dominant voice in every human set-up, the Peoples Democtratic Party (PDP) somehow found itself, as the rallying point for the new Nigeria that the people yearned for.
At the inauguration of the Obasanjo administration some 18 years ago, Nigerians felt as if they won a new independence. They were elated. Their sense of freedom was almost compulsive. Years later, the reality of governance set in. Nigerians were longer as ecstatic as they were in 1999. That is normal in human situations. But they never had cause, regardless of the imperfections of the new order, to regret the return of civil rule in the land. For the 16 years that the PDP was in the saddle, it tried its level best. But there was still a lot of room for improvement.
The fall of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 elections after 16 years in the saddle was a major disruption in the political and economic life of the people. From 1999 when Nigerians bade goodbye to the years of the locusts, PDP took over the affairs of Nigeria with assured steps. It strove, very consciously, to throw away the last vestiges of military dictatorship that the country was subjected to during the successive military regimes that were struggling for the soul of Nigeria. The 16 years of PDP was a learning process. Yet they were eventful years. But the political processes were not that decent. There was so much impunity in the conduct of elections. Impositions were the order of the day. But then, the situation was still tolerable and manageable.
Owing, however, to the inordinate quest for power, the PDP order was disrupted in 2015. A whole lot of interests converged to bring down the ruling party. It was thought that the fall of PDP would take Nigeria to a new height. Nigerians were told to embrace the gospel of change that the new party preached. The gospel of deceit from the emerging party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), could not be countered by the PDP. It watched morosely as unconscionable propaganda became a daily fair in the affairs of the country. In no time, the ruling party became a lame duck. Nigerians had been taken in by the antics of the opposition. They had been made to believe that the emergence of APC was the best thing that the people had been waiting for. Aided and abetted by saboteurs within the ruling party and the conspiracy of the electoral commission, the PDP fell and the APC was enthroned.
Significantly, however, Nigerians in the past two years of the APC administration have been getting the very opposite of what the new party promised them. The change they voted for has turned sour in their mouths. There is hardship in the land. Suffering has reached a breaking point. An unprecedented economic recession has crippled life and living in the land. The people are crying their heart out. They are looking back with nostalgia. The party they rejected has turned out to be better than the new one they embraced. The people are actually yearning for another change. They want a new order. They want a party they can trust. They want a political arrangement that will deliver on the promises made.
You could say by what APDA has brought to the table that it is prepared to seize the stage. Having taken cognizance of how and why PDP failed and fully aware of the rudderless maladministration, which the APC has wrought on the land, the APDA appears to be on a rescue mission. It appears set to reclaim those ideals, which Nigerians lost owing to bad governance. A major appeal, which the APDA may have on the polity is the pride of place it is giving the youths, women and the physically challenged. It has given them reasonable slots that must necessarily be theirs. The attraction here is that the party’s position on this is constitutional. Which means that it is not a mere pronouncement. It is binding and enforceable.
Like APDA, four other new political parties have also stepped out to be counted, having been registered by INEC. We must give the APDA the applause it deserves. The party will succeed if it holds itself accountable to the ideals spelt out in its constitution and manifesto.