On 28 May 2022, 28-year old Ilesanmi Ade-Ademola, a House of Representatives aspirant for the Ekiti Central Federal Constituency II seat barely escaped assassination as the All Progressives Congress primary election in the constituency descended into chaos. Subsequently, the current House of Representatives member, Omowumi Ogunlola, who was also seeking a re-election ticket, accused party agents of masterminding the violence.
Barely a month later, the party decided to anoint the former Chief of Staff to Governor Kayode Fayemi, Biodun Omoleye as the party’s candidate for the seat, totally disregarding the financial, mental and physical implications that such decision would have on other aspirants who have spent millions of naira on their campaigns.
In the same breath, the party’s highly-controversial National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, claimed that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, participated in the Yobe North senatorial district primary election and deserved to be recognised as the party’s candidate to represent the senatorial district. Asked why the APC replaced Machina, the winner initially announced by the party with Lawan in the senatorial candidates list, Adamu said he does not have time for “negativities”. He claims that the Senate President participated within the approved timeline and journalists should “go and find out from the person who is responsible for organising the primary”.
Basically, the party leader wants Nigerians to believe that the Senate President participated in the recent presidential primary, while also contesting for the senatorial seat – at the same time.
A common refrain among many APC leaders is the intent of the party to “rule for (insert the longest years possible). According to the erstwhile party chairman, “I believe it is important for me to reach out to all leaders of our party; the youth, the women, different organisations to tell them that we must come together to get our party to run for the next 30, 40, 50 years by the grace of God”. However, it is hard to reconcile this ambition with the lack of internal democracy that has dominated the primaries. Machina’s current experience depicts one of the many examples of an APC that chooses to eat its young.
Apart from several serving lawmakers who are already making the switch to different political parties, hundreds of young, rising politicians are now staring at their political ambitions left in tatters due to the decisions of the APC honchos to gift contested seats to those they prefer, in violation of the norms of internal democracy. Recently, Shina Peller, the federal lawmaker representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa federal constituency also just renounced his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and explained that his decision was due to the undemocratic actions of some party members within the Oyo State APC who, he said, are determined to take the youth and majority for granted.
Also, it is also important to recall that Kolapo Kola-Daisi, an aspirant for the Oyo South Senatorial District, had to switch parties after he was already declared winner, having initially scored the majority of 212 votes, while his closest contender, Alhaji Sharafadeen Alli polled 107 votes in the senatorial primary held on May 29, 2022. He alleged that the election was, however, arbitrarily cancelled and within 24 hours, a rerun was scheduled to hold on the 31st of May, 2022, which he lost.
The widely-known instances concerning Kolapo Kola-Daisi (Oyo South Senatorial District), Shina Peller, Ilesanmi Ade-Ademola, and many others, including the decision to place the cost of its presidential, governorship and senatorial nomination forms at ₦100million, ₦50 million and ₦10million respectively does not bode well for a party that, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, “must be made attractive for young people to take ownership of the party”. Sadly, a single narrative has emerged from the mouths of these young politicians in the party – APC has no regard for young people.
First, the evident nepotism, chicanery, deception, and political bullying only serves to drive the narrative that older, richer and connected party members will always prefer to use the party funds and machinery to pursue their own opportunities. Second, the message of the APC is clear: the playing field is not level. Or to borrow from George Orwell’s Animal Farm would say, all the candidates are equal, but some are more equal than others.
For any young patriotic young Nigerian seeking to contribute his quota to national development, all indications will lead anyone to conclude that such dreams would remain unachieved in such a party.