The recent announcement by a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of the formation of the Reformed APC (R-APC) ahead of the forthcoming general elections has set a new tone in the nation’s political discourse. ANDREW ESSIEN in this piece interrogates this action vis-a-vis a similar move that saw to the birth of the nPDP prior to the last general elections.

A few months to the conduct of the 2015 general elections, which was when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway, Nigerians were greeted with the news that a faction of the party consisting of seven of the its then 23 governors had announced that they had moved to form a faction of the party.

At a press briefing in Abuja, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, a former acting National Chairman of the party, was announced as the leader of the new faction. The press briefing was attended by at least seven governors including those of Kano, Sokoto, Rivers, Jigawa, Kwara, Adamawa, and Niger.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was also at the press briefing. A former Osun State Governor and then National Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was announced as the National Secretary of the new PDP faction.

The party leaders said they took the decision to salvage the PDP from those who they claimed had hijacked it. More influential members later joined the ranks of what eventually became known as the nPDP and the mother body, the PDP, went on to lose the 2015 general elections after 16 years of being in power.

In a related development, penultimate Wednesday, a similar scenario played out, now within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), when a faction christened Reformed- APC, emerged, even though the move has been punctured at various quarters, saying the move was made by men who allegedly had lost political relevance and so on. This was barely 11 days after its national convention.

The breakaway faction comprising most of the leading members of the defunct nPDP, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) within the party made a former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Buba Galadima, its head.

The R-APC that was officially unveiled in Abuja said it would work with other compatible political parties and groups to offer Nigerians what it described as good governance in 2019.

In their press conference attended by the leader of nPDP bloc in the APC, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Galadima noted that the R-APC remains the authentic party and does not need to approach the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for registration, noting that anyone who feels uncomfortable with the arrangement can go to court. Giving reasons for the separation, Galadima described the local and state congresses as well as the national convention of the APC as undemocratic, just as he declared that the APC-led government is a monumental disaster.

His words: “You will recall that in the build up to the 2015 general elections, some political parties and groups came together, and formed a brand new political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). This merger was based on the strong belief that Nigeria had come of age, but it was severely under-performing and unable to meet its potentials for good governance. The Nigerian people entrusted power to the APC based on its promises and potentials.

“We are sad to report that after more than three years of governance, our hopes have been betrayed, our expectations completely dashed. The APC has run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people”.

The R-APC chairman further listed imposition of dictatorship, impunity, abuse of power, complete abdication of constitutional and statutory responsibilities, infidelity to the rule of law and constitutionalism as reasons why they decided to form the R-APC.

“It (APC) has failed to ensure the security and welfare of our people and elevated nepotism to unacceptable height. The APC has failed to deliver on its key promises to the nation. There is no evidence of any political will to reverse the decline of our party, while leaders who have created these circumstances continue to behave as if Nigerians owe our party votes as a matter of right.

“The APC government, has been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced. The political party that was a vehicle for enthroning the government was rendered powerless by manipulations and complete lack of due process in its operations”. Noting that the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the state congresses and the national convention of the APC held recently, the R-APC leader said the congresses and convention “were intensely disputed as it was conducted with impunity, total disregard for due process, disregard for the party Constitution and naked display of power and practices that have no place in a party we all worked the very hard to put in place.

“There are countless cases in courts all over the country challenging the legality of congresses and even the National Convention itself. It is very likely that the judicial decisions on these cases will result in massive chaos, confusion and uncertainties.

“The fate of a party in this state with a few months to the elections is best left to the imagination, but it is not a fate we believe our millions of members should be abandoned to”, he added.

He listed states where there were parallel congresses to include Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.

Galadima stated: “These congresses in Wards, Local Government Areas and States all over the federation produced different sets of delegates. We therefore had an unfortunate situation where the party has been seriously factionalised and divided in not just 24 States but the 36 States and Abuja FCT. “The so-called National Convention of the APC was even worse. The National Convention of the party was ridiculed with constitutional infirmities that were so glaring and obvious that no fair-minded person can claim that a legitimate and lawful executive emerged from that process.

“The Chairman of the organising Committee, Jigawa State Governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, declared 18 seats unopposed and uncontested, since only one valid candidate stood at the end of the grossly manipulated nomination exercise for each of the offices. He therefore proceeded to declare them duly elected in flagrant abuse and violence to the Constitution of the APC”.

He announced that the R-APC is made up of all the progressive forces in APC, including most of the leading members of the defunct nPDP, CPC, ANPP, ACN and others.

He said, “The R-APC, will work with like-minded political parties and groups to offer Nigeria qualitative good governance in 2019. Nigeria faces an existential threat arising from three years of near destruction of this country and the exacerbation of our ethnic, religious and divisive cleavages. We will in concert with others offer real change to Nigeria. Not fake change.

“It is clear that our party needs a leadership that will live by its founding ideals. We have therefore decided to legitimately lead those members to work to rebuild our nation more firmly on genuine democratic principles, to enshrine good governance and restore the faith of Nigerians in the possibility of the existence of a prosperous, secure and peaceful nation”.

He implored Nigerians not to despair, assuring them that a rescue plan is in the works and will be unfolded soon.

The questions on the minds of many Nigerians are: “Will this new political movement last considering the various pronouncements against it? Will it serve as the game changer, the same way the nPDP tilted the political pendulum in favour of the APC?”

Undoubtedly, the nPDP was one of the power blocs that fused into the APC before 2015 general election that significantly boosted the chances of the APC to upstage the then ruling PDP.

Analysts however aver that unlike the nPDP that had the backing of some influential state governors and some more amongst the fold even joined the nPDP in its breakaway move. This is however not the case here and thence the wonder as to how far this move may go.

But in its response, the party disowned the splinter group within its fold, saying there is no faction in the party. The party noted that the original plan was for the convention to be scuttled but having failed in the attempt, the R-APC members resorted to creating confusion by Wednesday’s declaration.

In a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, APC stressed that the party is not divided as widely reported. The statement noted: “The All Progressives Congress (APC) wishes to affirm that there is no faction in our party and declares the action by these individuals as mischievous and ill-advised. Having failed to scuttle the National Convention as was their original plan, they now resort to this subterfuge as a way of achieving the pre-determined end of causing confusion.

“As a matter of fact, we doubt that these individuals parading as leaders of the so called faction are actual members of our Party. We are currently investigating their true membership status within the party. “While we shall continue to monitor developments in this respect; we will not hesitate to take lawful actions to defend the unity of our Party and protect the sanctity of its identity. We are currently reviewing the action of this so-called faction in order to determine if any aspect of the Party’s constitution has been breached with the connivance of any of our members.

“For those members who have genuine grievances, we want to assure them of the commitment of the new leadership of the party to address those grievances as quickly as possible in a manner that ensures that justice is done to all”.