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Can APC Overcome The nPDP Challenge?



EMAMEH GABRIEL, dissects the challenges within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in light of unresolved friction with nPDP members ahead of its national convention

Recent events in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) evoke a feeling of déjà vu in the political space ahead of the 2019 general election.

The missteps that led to the tsunami that swept away the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections, seems to be at play within the APC.

The inability of the party to constructively arrest the spate of crises, ravaging its ranks, is sparking concern within the party.

Most noticeably is the rift between the executive arm of the government and key members elected under the platform of the party at the National Assembly.

The APC leadership at the national level seem overwhelmed by the barrage rifts and ego wars among its gladiators. Most of the state chapters are at daggers drawn over the recently conducted wards, local government and states congresses across the country.

Ahead of the party’s national convention which would of course set the adequate machineries in place before the 2019 general election, analysts have asked whether the APC would survive it’s evolving power tussles?

They have argued that while the crisis rocking the party is no longer news, the likelihood of resolving them before next year’s general election is another major huddle to deal with.

In many ways, some have likened the current crisis in the ruling party to what transpired in the PDP before its 2014 national convention when some power brokers of the party formed a new block and eventually collapsed into what became the APC today.   

In some quarters it believed that the ruling party is more divided than the opposition PDP, such that questions are being raised over its preparedness to lead the country for another four years.

There is a school of thought that the crisis in the APC has contributed largely to the slow pace of governance. One of the examples cited is the case of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is currently facing several criminal charges.

But what could likely be the cause of these crises. In a recent interview with LEADERSHIP former Labour leader and Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, described the rift in the party as an organic reaction after the merger and manifestations of that is some of the crises seen in the party today, saying such incident is normal in every society or group.

‘‘Every party that is committed to social democracy, that is pro people, that is not govern by one godfather, people who feel that they are equals in a voluntary association are bound to engage in internal contestations even when they agreed on the objectives and designation. It is always a viable thing to have debate over various policy choices and tools available to be deployed to arrive at a destination that is even not in dispute.

‘‘This process doesn’t necessary lead to implosion. I believe there is no fear of implosion. I believe APC is fine, there are challenges and the recent elections have perhaps seemed to have amplified some of those challenges.

‘‘My understanding of each of this when I took some samples of cases, I found that they were just little cracks arising from sometimes communication gap, sometimes both sides are victims of rumour mongers and rumour merchants and some other time it is about ego- who will give up for who’’, Oshiomhole had said.    

But beyond this, when the APC came on board in 2015, Nigerians expected a change in the style of internal political leadership in the party which of course would impact on the quality of governance.

Literarily, the party snowballed from a union of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the New PDP, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Congress of Democratic Congress (CPC) and a tiny section of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The leaders of these parties had different political philosophy, even as progressive elements who came together with the believe to correct the anomalies and impunity in the polity. But three years down the line, the APC harbours both progressive and conservative elements.

The party had hardly kicked off when it was hit by its first crisis as a result of power tussle. Saraki had from the formation of the 8th National Assembly formed a bloc with some Senators elected under platform of the APC loyal to him and others from the opposition PDP to snatch the Senate President seat from the jaws of some power brokers of the APC, thereby defiling the initial arrangement made by the leadership of the party.

While the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has been held solely responsible for his inability to manage the crises in the party, some have blamed it on President Muhammadu Buhari for his seeming aloofness on the rifts between members of his party, both his appointees and elected members.

However, with 2019 in view, Buhari has been more assertive politically a situation which seem to have resulted in vote of no confidence on Oyegun. For many analysts, the reversal of tenure extension for Oyegun-led exco was the first clear sign that his time was up.

In a recent interview with newsmen, the former Edo State Governor said he took the decision to step out of the race out of personal conviction, though it is clear that he had little option of retaining his seat after the President’s endorsement of Adams Oshiomhole’s candidacy.

While the out-going chairman has taken his portion of blame for the protracted crisis in the party and division among key members, the blame has since shifted to Bukola Saraki and the nPDP members. The Senate President is believed in most quarters to be stoking cracks within the party which have lingered till this day.

Saraki at the inauguration of the National Assembly staged what many have described as farcical coup to make himself the Senate President. He further sent a clear message by making a member of the opposition,  Sen Ike Ekweremadu, his deputy. This move was against the initial plan of his party.

A fall of these brickbat has seen the legislature, especially, the Senate locked in several clashes with the executive. While they had rifts with the Nigerian Customs boss, Col Hamid Ali, they have refused to recognise the appointment of the EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu and most recently passed a vote of no confidence on the IGP Ibrahim Idris.

But the executive have started fighting back.

Besides Saraki’s trial at the CCB, he is now being investigated for alleged links to suspects in the horrifying Illorin armed robbery. Some Saraki allies, like Senators Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Musa Kwankwaso among others have also felt the wrath of the executive at some point.

The Saraki-led National Assembly have on their part scaled up their engagement with the executive by making inferences of impeachment moves against President Muhammadu Buhari.

Interestingly, the crisis seems to have heightened in the face of agitations by nPDP members in the APC.

Only recently, the nPDP bloc in the ruling APC had issued an ultimatum to the APC after what they have described as marginalisation of its members. The petition, dated April 27 was signed by the national chairman of nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje and Secretary, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

However, sources in the party have alleged that the petition was a fait accompli because many of the nPDP members had perfected plans to move out of the APC to other parties to join former President’ Obasanjo’s Africa Democratic Congress (ADC).

Recent efforts for reconciliation talk suffered a major setback along the line as the chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, issued a statement saying his group was putting its participation in the talks on hold, citing the persecution of Senate President Bukola Saraki and the misrepresentation of their position as some of the reasons behind their decision.

Initially Vice President Osinbanjo was expected to lead talk between groups, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had also been nominated to lead the nPDP team that included Baraje and Senators Barnabas Gemade, Danjuma Goje and Adamu Aliero from Benue, Gombe and Kebbi states respectively to the aborted meeting.

Baraje has in the statement said, despite their commitment to achieving reconciliation, harmony, truce and cohesion it appears that there is no purpose of sincerity on the part of the Presidency.

“We were alarmed that immediately after our meeting with the Vice President last week, the presidency misrepresented what transpired at the meeting.

“Similarly, the leadership of the party (APC) went ahead to ratify all the Congresses from ward, local governments, states and zones where many of our members have complaints, effectively presenting us with a fait accompli.

“The persecution of our members using state security apparatus have continued unabated,” the statement added.

Clearly, the political development in the APC is tilting towards what happened in the PDP in 2014 which eventually cost the party its grip at the central. The circumstances is no different from what transpired in the PDP before its 2013 special delegates convention in Abuja where five governors Abdufatah Ahmed of Kwara, Muazu Aliyu of Niger, Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto States all walked out of the Eagle Square.

Governors Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers States, who were barred from attending the convention, eventually joined the other governors to form the factional PDP. Former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, Senator Bukola Saraki and others later joined the group and eventually formed what is now the nPDP.

The APC national convention is a few weeks away from here, an attempt to save the party from imminent collapse lies solely in the hands of key stakeholders of the party who will be expected to give room for talks and be ready to shift ground.