The APC Convention: Reflections, Thoughts, and Lessons

 By: Emmanuel Utibe

00:01 am on Wednesday, 8th of June 2022, just halfway through the working week, several persons in the country were awake and vividly glued to their screens, a significant number of those people were young people.

Contrary to the notion of what you might think, it wasn’t a sporting event nor was it the BET award, it was a political event. It was the APC special convention in which the APC was to conduct her primary to select their party’s flagbearer for the forthcoming general elections. The APC is the ruling party at the national level, and preceding events were built up to the convention. This added more incentive to watch what could produce who could potentially be the next president in Nigeria.

The convention which was previously scheduled for the 29th and 30th of May, 2022, had been postponed to the 6th-8th of June, 2022, following INEC postponement of the deadline of conduct of party primaries from the 3rd of June to the 9th of June. The main event of the convention was slated to start at 3:30 pm on the 7th of June and the Eagle Square, Abuja, was to be the venue of the event.

After an event that could have been said to be anything but organized, Sen Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu emerged as the party’s flagbearer after the end of voting which commenced at around 2 am on Wednesday and ended around 7:45 am, and the subsequent counting of the results. Tinubu pulled about 60% of the total valid votes with the closest contenders, Rotimi Amaechi and Prof Yemi Osinbajo pulling 15% and 11% respectively.

After the conduct of the APC convention, there are several lessons to be taken from the convention both politically and socially.

African Time, a Societal Plague?

As Nigerians, we have known from childhood that lateness to social events and for different scheduled activities, in general, is a societal norm. This shows itself in all aspects of our lives and not surprisingly, it showed up in the APC Convention.

An event that was scheduled to start at 3:30 pm started at around 7:30 pm with the main dignitary, the president coming in at about 8 pm. This disregard for time is further seen in the fact that none of the scheduled events stuck to time.

Why pull up a schedule if everybody gets to go as their conscience allows? Worthy of reference was during aspirants’ speeches, and how none of them could stick exactly to the stipulated 2 mins. Some aspirants were given a whole minute to greet everybody they could despite the limited time slot. In cases like this “standing on existing protocols…” would had suffice for an introductory pleasantry.

The takeaway here is for us as individuals especially the young ones to imbibe the culture of effective time management because if the little sprouts in the forest begin to blossom, one day the forest would grow green. If the convention had stuck to schedule it would have turned out less stressful for those involved and even had been more organized.

Free Handouts?

It had been public knowledge that the president was moving to have a consensus candidate who would emerge, in his own words, ‘as his successor’, which moved many aspirants to indulge in groveling, “arse licking”.

Beyond the fact that on a baseline it is expected that to be politically correct, you don’t have to outrightly call the president a failure. Those of lower political standing tried to go very low in a bid to win the good grace of the president and be given what was desired on a golden platter. This also showed itself in the level of preparedness of many candidates.

90% of the speeches delivered at the convention were in want of content and it would seem no more than 10 came to sell their selves to the delegates, and less than 6 of them truly knew what it entailed to do that. At the end of the day in face of no handouts being given this backfired on those banking on it, as it could be seen that just about 4 of the 14 people on the ballot pulled over 90% of the vote with the one person who was least expectant of the chosen one pulling over 60% of the total votes.

A lesson to take from here is that aside from the fact that we would not want to be sycophants, groveling is a man limiting his rise from the ground under the whim of another man and humans. This is not a call to be disrespectful but rather to avoid making gods out of men and refusing to work out our salvation with our hands.

Politics, a Game like other Games

If you play your cards well with the best of your aces, you would go home smiling from the casino. While many were resting on the hope that they would receive the prize on a golden platter, like the aspirants from the South East with hopes that in the spirit of justice and fairness the party would just hand out the ticket to them. While the distractions of consensus were ongoing you could find some candidates working out their “salvation” going from state to state talking to the delegates and otherwise trying by various means to get the delegates on their side.

Tinubu even took it extra and somehow convinced several aspirants themselves to root for him. Despite the allegations that were made around about his inducement of delegates and even aspirants with handsome sums of hard currency, it goes to show his awareness of the game and how he played to the best of that knowledge.

While we should be opposed to monetary politics and electioneering, at the moment, that’s the game and he played it well. The lesson to take from here is political, politics is not a game of castles among the cloud, it is heavy on groundwork. If you would wish that your castle touches the sky in politics, you must first work your foundation in the ground.

Also, remember that politics is local and it happens in the now. If you would wade in it, you must be ready to marry your want for idealism with a bit of realism with that you win in the today while posing to win in the better tomorrow.

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