Like a bone in the neck, the consensus model which appears to be the fancy of leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari and their courtiers, portends ill that may smother the party, render it spineless and reduce it to shreds.
Facing a major election with a divided house of dispirited members can prove a costly gamble which may adversely affect the fortune of the party. It’s like walking on a minefield with unwholesome consequences. A party beaten on many fronts by careless handling of its previous primaries ought to be more circumspect this time around.
But if the APC leaders working at the behest of the President, opt to throw stones in the marketplace by pressing on with this consensus option in the vain desire to anoint their favoured presidential candidate, indications are that the bubble may burst, resorting to other members reaching for their cudgels against each other.
To your tents oh Israel is not the kind of battle cry the APC needs at this auspicious moment. It’s also doubtful whether the leaders can deliver an anointed candidate without igniting a rage. Forcing this option through will evince only a pyrrhic victory.
It will certainly hit a brick wall that will be difficult to remove from the party’s alleys as an ill wind threatens to consume its soul. Those aspirants who are weeded out unfairly will be its albatross. They will readily embrace a trade-off with other political players that will eventually undermine the party. Unless the leaders have resolved to be the party’s undertakers, this is not an edifying road to travel.
It’s possible that the leaders and the President may have been bolstered in their scheme because of the seamless outcome of the last Abuja convention where officials of the party zoned to different regions were elected by consensus. But casting a lot for the party’s long list of presidential aspirants via consensus mode is a different kettle of fish. A misstep can make it plunge on edge of the precipice.
These aspirants have greater muscle and load of cash than the small fries that bided for party positions. Many of them are not run on the mill politicians who can be scared or scamper by the ranting of party leaders. Nor can they hardly be made to buckle under the weight of party orders particularly one scripted to aid the emergence of a favoured candidate.
No one can be faulted for employing different mechanics including undermining the opponents to plot for power in line with the Machiavellian dictum. But the party is up against aspirants who have gone several miles ahead of it as strategic political thinkers and can match anyone cash for cash.
The APC leaders will be shooting themselves on the feet if they seek to unduly force an anointed candidate down their throats. The best option is to ensure that all aspirants have an opportunity of participating in an indirect primary that will be devoid of hanky panky and wururu. A transparent process will bear redeeming grace to aspirants that will eventually lose out in the race.
Musings from the primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where thugs and gunmen had a free reign in some parts of the country, may have given vent that the leading opposition party had not discarded the braggadocio and ills that made it lose power in 2015. But the APC will be mistaken for using this as a gauge to rest on its oars. Falling for this bait will be like dancing naked around a stifled cobra.
In many of the off-season elections, the PDP dusted the APC giving a strong inkling it is the party to beat in the 2023 presidential election. It will be wrong permutations for APC leaders to provide it with more ammunition by deliberately creating a schism among its members.
The new Electoral Act is very clear about the consensus model. Unlike before when party leaders and godfathers ride roughshod of aspirants and milk their pockets for a mess of pottage, it specifically stipulated that their consent is now required for any consensus option to be carried through. Getting the consent of a load of aspirants angling for the party’s ticket will not be an easy ride.
In Section 84 (9), the Act states that: “A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.” In Section 84 (10), the Act further states that where no such written consent can be obtained, then there should be direct or indirect primaries.
The party will be risking working fowl of the Electoral Act and attracting INEC sanctions if it chooses to throw reason overboard. More importantly, the APC must be rescued from the hands of hawks who may not mind letting it sink unless their wish is the law.
Kayode Ajiri, a community leader writes from Akure, Ondo State capital.