“In the 2015 presidential election, the APC was more prepared for defeat than for victory. The party did not expect to win and clearly had no agenda for victory”.
In a 1972 Hollywood film entitled The Candidate, Robert Redford acts as Bill Mckay, a political neophyte who is drafted out of the blue into a race for the U.S. Senate. With no chance whatsoever of winning, Mckay is given a free hand to say whatever he likes on the stump. Therefore, he tweaks the political establishment at every turn.
However, as a result of a series of unexpected developments, he keeps rising in the polls. By Election Day, he is neck and neck with his more seasoned opponent and the race goes to the wire. To everyone’s surprise, he pulls off an incredible victory and is elected senator of the United States.
The last reel of the film is on the night of his election. On hearing he has won, Mckay becomes flustered and confused. Victory was certainly not part of the plan. As media men gather, eager to get his reaction to his famous victory, he pulls his campaign manager into a room and asks him in consternation: “Marvin, what do we do now?” Before he can answer, the media close in on them, drag them out of the room and the film ends.
The satire of the film, which received an Oscar for Best Screenplay of 1972, is that while Mckay might have succeeded in fooling the electorate to vote for him, he did not have a clue what to do as a United States senator. It was all a bit of a joke for him, but then the joke backfired. He never expected to win and had no contingency plan for victory.
Groping in the dark
The Candidate could easily have been a made-in-Nigeria movie in 2015. To all intents and purposes, the opposition APC won an implausible victory against all odds. But in the presidential election, APC was more prepared for defeat than for victory. The party did not expect to win and clearly had no agenda for victory. This is what accounts for the cul-de-sac we now find ourselves in Nigeria. If anything defines our current predicament, it is that we have a government that, in the middle of an economic crisis, does not have a clue what to do.
The APC did not plan to govern. The party-members told Nigerians what mayhem they planned to unleash should they lose and what parallel government they would establish. But concerning government, they proffered no solution on how they would address Nigeria’s urgent economic problems. On the contrary, they made wild unrealistic promises that were totally out of kilter with the situation on the ground; promising to do extravagant things that could not even be entertained by previous governments in more buoyant climes.
How else can one explain the fact that, in the context of a drastic economic downturn, the APC came out with a “Father Christmas” manifesto, loaded with such pies in the sky as paying unemployed graduates, or giving cash handouts to the poorest 25 million Nigerians? Foolishly, Nigerian voters failed to determine where APC hoped to get the money for such largesse.
Because the APC was not prepared to govern, no agreement was reached beforehand by the legacy parties of the coalition about how to distribute the spoils of office. This provided the basis for the free-for-all fights that ensued once the election was over.
Because the APC did not expect to govern and was not prepared to govern, it took President Buhari five months to choose his cabinet. Five months of squabbling and in-fighting, while pretending to Nigerians that the delay was needed to find technocratic saints and angels. But the saints and angels turned out to be the same old “devil you know.” While the presiden