The two leading political parties in the country have been plagued by all manner of contradictions. While the culture of impunity has brought the opposition PDP to its knees and still threatening to totally annihilate it, the ruling APC is swimming in the tide of in-fightings, unbridled quest for power grab and plural interests. OMONU YAX-NELSON, diagnoses the sad state of affairs in Nigeria’s party system.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, sometime this week, described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that provided the platform for him to become a two-term president, as ‘a seek child.’ He made this observation when the factional chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sherriff, visited him at his residence in Abeokuta.
As a result of the impunity perpetrated by those who play the piper in the party, the PDP has slide into intractable crises. Every known step taken so far by stakeholders to calm frayed nerves has failed. Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in Ondo State, penultimate week, engaged themselves in brisk political games, including the juju scare at the state secretariat.
The brouhaha emanated from an attempt by the godfather and national leader of the party, senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu to foist one of the candidates, Abraham on the party. And recently, the APC has been burdened by the budget padding allegation in the party-led House of Representatives.
The developments in the two leading political parties have sent tongues wagging on the way forward for the Nigerian party system.
The contradictions the two political parties are contending with are diverse. For instance, while the PDP that ruled Nigeria between 1999 and 2015, is currently languishing in political wilderness because of its culture of impunity, the ruling APC is being rend apart by hydra-headed interests and burning ambitions.
The desire for a strong two party system in Nigeria dates back to the botched Gen Ibrahim Babangida midwifed third republic. Modeled after the United States’ two party system, political analysts said, at the time, that it was the only lasting panacea to the polarization of political parties along ethnic and interest lines.
Progressively, due to what many see as more of political exigencies than design, the nation is niching, in the meantime, close to a return to two party system. Undoubtedly, the two leading political parties have a very fine origin. The All Progressives Congress (APC) was carved out of a sustained political iron-will of diverse interests to confront then ruling PDP.
On the other hand, the PDP was born out of the dogged resolve of concerned Democrats to rescue the destiny of a sinking nation. It all began with a group of 18 determined democrats, christened G18, which later expanded to G34.
By the time the curtain fell on the late Gen Sani Abacha’s self-succession bid on the June 8, 1998, most of these 34 men were already cooling their heels in various gulags across Nigeria.
However, the PDP began to veer-off the track with a leadership that abhors level playing field. In a desperate desire to subvert the party rules and subdue party members, it progressively resorted to impunity.
The APC emerged as a silver lining to puncture the 60 years life-line the PDP had boasted it was going to rule Nigeria at the height of its foothold on power. The three year-old ruling party parades arrays of seasoned democrats. But the constant source of tension for the party has been in its inability to collapse its deeply polarized interests and smoothing rough edges.
The APC was meant to harness the diverse potentials for a focused and sustained delivery of expectations of democracy (dividends of democracy). However, insatiable quest for power tends to be impeding its potency. Analysts have used the just concluded Ondo governorship primary election which was almost marred by conflicting interests, as one of the many examples of parallel interests that is tearing the party apart.
While the party insisted on a level playing field for aspirants, the party’s national leader, senator Bola Tinubu, allegedly insisted on foisting Abraham on the party. The party’s hierarchy had to come clean that the president and the party has no anointed candidate.
Political watchers are of the view that, it was the same impunity that brought the PDP to the cross road, where it is now. They cite example of the cruel exchange at the party’s 1998 convention in Jos.
Candidates like Sir Alex Ekwueme, who knew the foundation on which the party was built, were arm-twisted into a corner in preference for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who knew little about the purpose of the party. This school of thought believe that this was the beginning of the decay in the PDP.
As the late Bahamas scholar said, “When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable”, this was reflected in the reign of impunity that became the hallmark of PDP’s existence. For instance, no PDP chairman from inception till date has been able to serve out his tenure. They are always boxed into a corner whenever they want to exert the powers of their office.
The pathetic story of Chief Audu Innocent Ogbe, the current minister of Agriculture and then chairman of the PDP, who was reported to have been forced to resign at gun point after a lunch with Obasanjo, who was infuriated by chief Ogbe’s volte-face is a good case of the deplorable state of things in Nigeria.
Pundits believe that the APC has also had its fair share of these paradoxes since its formation. One of such cracks got to a head recently, when the shouting match between two APC senators Oluremi Tinubu and Dino Melaye, nearly degenerated into a free-for-all fight at a closed door session of the Senate.
The altercation, analysts explain, was a fallout of the power struggle and pent-up anger exacerbated by the National Assembly ambush of June 9, 2015. Since the leadership election into the Red Chamber last year, the plural interests in the APC has only managed to maintain a peace of the graveyard.
Senator Melaye had alleged that Senator Oluremi and her husband, Bola Tinubu have been mounting pressure on him to rescind his unflinching support for Senate President, Bukola Saraki. This is an indication that the APC is being plagued by conflicting ambitions.
For the opposition PDP, there seems to be no end in sight to the woes and the culture of impunity that have come upon the self-acclaimed largest party in Africa. One of such attempt by those who play the piper in the party led to the emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff (SAS).
The dribble masters in the PDP seem have crossed the Rubicon this time around. Unlike the previous party chairmen who were dismissed with a wave of hand, SAS has proven to be a fish bone and too strong a meat to swallow. Currently, the party has two candidates for Edo and Ondo governorship elections, with each faction claiming to be the authentic one.
An APC youth activist, who pleaded not to be mentioned told LEADERSHIP Weekend that it is regrettable that in an APC controlled National Assembly, this is one crisis too many. He cautioned that except the leadership of the party stands firm to cement the many cracks in the party, the party may lose appeal as preparation for 2019 elections are beginning to beckon.
Opinions are beginning to weigh heavily against the two parties already, according to analysts. They are wondering that at a time the nation is facing excruciating poverty and despair, all the party’s captains are doing is to engage in all manner of political bickering, instead of putting heads together to solve problems.
An APC insider who preferred to remain anonymous said former Vice President, Atiku Abubakr’s 2019 presidential ambition, if not carefully managed, could spell a great destabilizing force in the party. Atiku had paid an unscheduled visit to the APC secretariat and met with the party’s chairman behind closed for about twenty minutes before other party officials were allowed into the meeting.
The July 18 visit is said to have sent tongues wagging in the party about the reaction of the presidency to Atiku’s clandestine moves. The visit, according to an insider, has sent shivers down the spine of other ‘Herods’ in the party.
The sources said the party and the presidency are said to be unhappy with the way Atiku is going about his clamour for the restructuring of the country. “The party wondered that, as a ranking member of the party, taking to the media was not the best way he would have ventilated his opinion. It is an indication that the party’s chieftains are working at cross purpose, the sources said.
The gradual wearing away of the party’s cohesiveness, according to renowned journalist, pleaded not to be mentioned because of his friends in the party told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the recent outburst of the senate president, Bukola Saraki, that a powerful clique has hijacked the Buhari led presidency, is only symptomatic of inability to manage ambitions and emotions.
A statement credited to the former Chairman of the PDP, now a chieftain of the All APC from Kwara State, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje has it that, “the dragon that sank the PDP is coming.” Despite spirited effort by the APC leadership to sustain the ‘peace of the graveyard’ in the party, such vituperations seem to climax the gradual internal dislocation of the APC’s architecture.
This polarity is evident in the outburst of the party’s deputy Publicity Secretary, Timi Frank, who told bewildered Nigerians that cracks do exist in the APC, and that if anybody says otherwise, the person is a liar. Political analysts are of the opinion that, the contradiction in the party is not coming as a surprise, as there has always been indications that all is not well with the party.
According to a youth activist in Kogi State, Prophet Ekele Abimaje, such differences are inevitable given the hybrid of interests and orientations that came together to form the ‘rainbow’ party. From inception, there was a genuine apprehension amongst patriots, of what becomes of Gen Muhammad Buhari after his conformity with professional politicians.
Notwithstanding, political pundits believe that, the former military henchman has not the political acumen to go it alone, without the active push by men of deep pockets. This is in view of his three previous futile attempts.
On the part of the electorates, it seems the president’s honeymoon is over and it is time for a frank talk. Honeymoon is understood to be a period of goodwill and understanding by all. In like manner, the euphoria that ushered the APC and Muhammadu Buhari into power on March 28 and swearing-in on May 29, which could be likened to the triumphant entry of Jesus of the Christian faith, may gradually be disappearing.