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Column No.6: n unconventional convention, or just the usual?

After months and months of planning and coordination (or scheming and horse-trading, really), it is happening today, in Abuja. The All Peoples Congress (APC) National…

After months and months of planning and coordination (or scheming and horse-trading, really), it is happening today, in Abuja. The All Peoples Congress (APC) National Convention has been on the lips of many Nigerians, politically-inclined and otherwise, and for quite many reasons. One of them being that we will finally know who will emerge as flag-bearer in next year’s presidential election. It’s eagerly-awaited because it will narrow down the super-wide landscape of speculation, rumour-mongering and conspiracy theory-peddling. The nation’s capital is bubbling as thousands converge. 

We all know the drill by now: Hotel rooms are virtually unavailable, all fully-booked. Already, the convention ground has been adorned with colourful decorations with watertight security. An estimated 7,000 delegates from 36 states are expected for today’s event, finally holding after much suspense and intrigues borne of delays and postponements. Of course, armed security operatives are manning major roads leading to the venue, Eagle Square, with alternative power sources set-up strategically. As for security, the Police’s FCT Command has been talking tough in reports, with a spokesperson disclosing that about 1,815 personnel have been deployed. 

While that is encouraging, I could not help but think about the fuel scarcity currently raging. Queues remain long and impossible to join, even as ‘black marketers’ make brisk business, as they have for over a month now. Will the APC, being the ruling party, provide petrol for visiting ‘dignitaries’, or will supply to fuel stations miraculously quadruple, thus ending queues magically? Wishful thinking. Interestingly, another segment of Nigerian society is cashing in on the ‘season’. 

As many thousands of politicians and their supporters converge for the national convention, campaign posters are strewn all over the city, as well as billboards, meaning printers have smiled to the bank, if nothing else. A drive past the Wuse II national secretariat of the APC would reveal a chaotically busy area, with party members going up and down the area. Even food vendors are cashing in, helping to feed the teeming party members. 

By now, even the most casual of observers has been schooled on the 101 of the political landscape. The average citizen is already aware of who is gunning for what, and who is supporting which candidate and which candidate is…well, you get the picture. Newspapers and social media are flooded with political discourse (or whatever passes for that in Nigeria), laced with the toxicity of tribalism, religious bigotry, and stark, raving ignorance. And every day, with the announcement of every ‘new’ player, it worsens. The APC’s internal feuding is quite intense right now, with Tower of Babel-level confusion and lack of cohesive motion.

I have never understood why the APC – and indeed other political parties – hardly ever play clean and plain, minus all that shadowy cloak-and-dagger tripe that typifies Nigerian politics. That’s why you have major newspapers (not Daily Trust) speculatively ‘reporting’ supposed moves by President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leadership of the ruling APC to pick the presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 general elections by consensus. Naturally, such news would spark concerns, and hint at a major crisis within the party, something that would have been avoided with plain dealing. Then there’s the head-scratching choice of ‘consensus’ APC chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, quite frankly a topic for another column.

While I’m no Nostradamus, I can predict one thing: the convention will not be an easy one, due to the complexities surrounding ambitions, loyalties, and even new possibilities. While some developments will come quite left-field, there will be a good number proving to be quite predictable. If past conventions have proven anything, it’s that there will simply be an announcement of what’s already been decided in secret. 

It’s basically the worst type of playing politics for politics sake, and not the kind that sets an example for good elected leadership. But even with all that, it is still my hope that the APC extravaganza proves to be wholesome, both in execution and in its final achievement. And that leaves me wondering: After all’s been said and done, at the end of the day, will Nigerians be full of hope for a brighter future, or will the convention have proven itself to be yet another con? Don’t bother holding your breath.

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