APC, what got you here won’t take you there

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What played out last week following the decision of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) leadership to zone National Assembly positions without taking the interest of some members of the party into consideration shows that the ruling party is still miles away from mastering the art of people and process management. The party needs to know that it is much easier to succeed than to manage success. The sooner it takes its leaders to come to terms with this, the more likely it is that the party won’t end up on the wrong side of history. I suspect that many supporters of the party will not share this perspective but that is the delusion of success and exactly what Marshall Goldsmith says in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

Goldsmith, a renowned business coach, argues in the book that because of past successes, most people and organizations are afflicted with an over-inflated view of their ability and tend to suffer the delusion of invincibility.  He says with that, rather than launch to higher realms, they are held down by ground forces because they rely on the old strategy which got them the past successes, forgetting that what worked in the past may not necessarily work now or in the future. He says, “Successful people believe in their own success. But these beliefs also carry the seed of our failures: the beliefs that carried us here— which can be a pretty great place—will impair our ability to progress there—which can be performance at the next level.”

Apparently APC does not realize that it requires a different strategy to manage genuine concerns and aspiration from the one it deployed for the general election. What gave APC the presidency may not give it good governance and may not make it a great party. What rallied the populace behind the party ahead of the election may not sway the citizens to its side now. The scenarios are different so the strategies can’t be the same.

The same goes for members of the party. What glued them together before the election may be unable to bind them together now that the elections are over. Before the election, all members of the party had one goal, which was to win the election and form the government. Now that the elections are done with, what comes to the fore is the ambition of each member. Since every politician is ambitious one way or the other, the party would be doing itself in if it portrays itself as working against the interests of some of its members. The party should be able to create an atmosphere that would be conducive for the realization of the ambition of every member. While the impossibility of every member getting what they want is not in doubt, the party should make it clear that it would not muzzle the ambition of any of its members. The party needs to present itself in a way that would assure those who do not get what they want of the fairness of the system to them.

While the supremacy of the party is not in question, there is also no arguing that it is members that make a party. Without members, a party is an empty shell. So, the supremacy of the party is hinged on its resolve to take care of the interests of members. If it is perceived rightly or not by some members that their interests are not protected by the party hierarchy, they will work against the party and that will be disastrous. Already some APC members in the National Assembly are threatening to go against the choice of the party just as Senator Abdul’Aziz Yari, former governor of Zamfara State, hinted that the party might lose the National Assembly leadership to the opposition if it didn’t handle the matter well.

APC may say that it would sanction those who work against the position of the party. That is okay. Discipline is required in any system to keep it healthy. But the question to ask is what purpose will the sanction serve should the party’s anointed candidates fail to clinch the positions? Will it be to genuinely heal wounds across groups or assuage some people and give them the impression that they still hold the reins of the party? If the intention is not wholesome the sanction would further divide the party.

The leadership of APC should realize that it cannot have its way all the time. It should also know that its most important role now is to keep the party together and refrain from anything that can create a problem for the government. Adopting the principle of give and take will make the party strong and position the government to deliver on its promises to the people. If some people in the leadership insist on always having their way, they will be surprised that one day they will wake up to find out that the house they had labored over the years to build has either been taken over by new owners or reduced to rubble. Neither is appealing.



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