The critics’ cross

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In the literary world, the power of a critic lies in the ability to see beyond the words put together by a writer: an unbiased critic looks for the strengths and weaknesses in a book, and goes further to offer suggestions on how the author can rise above his pitfalls in future.

The funny thing is that a literary critic is not necessarily a good writer, just like a wine connoisseur does not have to be a winemaker. But he’s gifted with a discerning mind that helps put writers on their toes. The likes of Biodun Jeyifo, Prof Chinweizu and Funso Aiyejina and Abiola Irele readily come to mind when the African literary canon is concerned. This is not to say that the aforementioned are not good writers.

Just like the literary critic, the opposition in a democracy, in no uncertain terms, is saddled with the responsibilities of pointing out the fault and foibles of the ruling party and administration and to present the masses with viable alternatives.

Since its formation, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has been vociferous in its criticism of President Jonathan’s administration. The one-man attack of Lai Mohammed has constantly inundates Nigerians with all that is wrong with the GEJ’s administration. Sometimes, I feel the combination of Reuben Abati, Reno Omokri, Doyin Okupe, Ahmed Gulak and Olisa Metuh are just playing catch up.

Unfortunately, however, both the critic and the criticized have failed in their dispensation and reception of criticisms respectively.

Apart from doing a yeoman’s job in highlighting the failings of the Federal Government, the All Progressive Congress has not provided any sustainable alternatives to the real and perceived rot created by the PDP.

In the manifesto published on its website, the party states, “we believe that Nigeria is greater than any individual…therefore the country can only succeed when all of us have equal rights, where no one is above the law”.

The last clause in the quote provoked laughter when I read it. It is an open secret that Senator Ahmed Tinubu who holds no official position in the party is the de facto leader of the part. In the core APC states in the South-West, hardly can a gubernatorial candidate emerge without his consent.

More important was the fraud perpetrated by APC (then ACN) at the last local government polls in Lagos State, especially in Badagry where the returning officer announced the PDP candidate, Mustapha Dada as the winner of a free and fair election only for LASIEC to declare ACN candidate the winner later.

Of course, the much vaunted bastion of democratic rule in the South West did not impugn such brazen robbery of the collective wish of Badagy people. There is no difference between a small thief and big thief.

Moreover, cases of imposition of candidates (in the guise of consensus) for elective positions is rife in APC. While this may not be totally wrong in itself, it, however, antagonizes a cardinal principle of democracy: the right to be voted for.

The open embrace of the PDP rejects by APC also indicates that the party lacks the ideological base it is wont to preach. That those governors and lawmakers defected to APC does not automatically change their “anti-democratic” antecedents that APC was prone to criticize.

In fact, what that tells is that APC has become a dumping ground for failed politicians who cannot command respect and power in the PDP. The same politicians who had contributed (well, some may argue that they still do) to the mess that Nigeria is fast becoming.

I was of the mind that APC would be puritanical in its recruitment of frontline politicians. What people like Atiku Abubakar, Murtala Nyako, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Bukola Saraki will add to the ‘populist ideologies’ which APC flaunts is left to be seen.

There is no doubt that the current administration has failed millions of Nigerians. But the onus is on the APC to prove to the masses that it will not be just another ruling party IF given the mandate in the next general election.

The task is enormous, and highfalutin criticism of GEJ and his administration cannot do the magic.
Present elected officials in the party must lead the way. They have the platform to show Nigerians that APC is the best alternative to the PDP.

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