The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lost the 2015 elections as a result of the breakaway of a faction, the New PDP, nPDP, which teamed up with the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of that election. The ruling APC is also treading the same path now with the nPDP retracing its steps and the emergence of Reformed APC, rAPC, writes OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU and TOPE FAYEHUN.
As Nigeria matches forward to the 2019 general elections, the two major political parties in the country, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are not leaving any stone unturned for the forthcoming battle.
The two major political parties are currently engaged in high profile political intrigues and permutations towards the forthcoming poll. As it stands now, the major opposition party in the country, PDP, is wooing some parties in the name of coalition to be able to oust the APC led federal government.
Recall that in the run up to the 2015 elections, aggrieved members of the PDP, pulled out of the party and shifted allegiance to the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
Prominent among members of the PDP, who tagged themselves New PDP, nPDP, who defected to the APC in late 2013, were five serving governors, the then governors of Rivers, Kwara, Kano, Adamawa and Sokoto, Rotimi Amaechi, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Rabiu Kwakwanso, Murtala Nyako and Magatakarda Wamakko, respectively.
Members of the nPDP in the National Assembly, who pledged loyalty to their governors from the five states, also shifted allegiance from the then ruling party to the then opposition party.
That singular action of the governors and their lawmakers probably signaled the end of the road for the PDP then as it never got out of the trauma of the defection and this eventually contributed immensely to its defeat in the 2015 general elections.
Prior to that defection, many things were perceived to be wrong with the PDP and many members smarting from various acts of impunity exhibited by the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, and the National Working Committee, NWC.
The nPDP also engaged the then Bamanga Tukur-led NWC and former President Goodluck Jonathan on how the party was being run and the alleged plan to hand Jonathan an automatic ticket to vie for a second term.
To many analysts, that defection by the five governors and many members of the PDP at the National Assembly and states Houses of Assembly, signaled the beginning of the defeat suffered by the PDP in the 2015 election.
They were of the opinion that the nPDP bloc contributed immensely to the success of the relatively newly formed APC to defeat the PDP, which had been in power since 1999 at the commencement of the present democratic dispensation and an incumbent governor.
To underscore the role of the nPDP in APC’s 2015 victory, the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, shortly before the inauguration of the APC-led Federal Government, said that the defection of five governors of the nPDP was a major factor determining the APC victory at the 2015 general elections.
Okorocha, who was then the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, PGF, while speaking at a valedictory dinner for Kwakwanso, Amaechi and former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said, “Make no mistake about it, without the five governors that joined the APC in 2013, we would not be here today.
“The moment the PDP lost five governors, was the moment it lost the Presidency and its planned 60 years in power.”
Today, that same scenario that played out in 2013/2014 in the then ruling party is playing out in the current ruling party, the APC.
For one, many watchers of political events in the country have said that the APC failed to manage its victory, especially in the way it handled the emergence of the principal officers of the National Assembly. They also agreed that the fusion of strange bed-fellows, with different political ideologies and interests was also anathemic to the survival of the APC.
Apart from the alleged sidelining of majority of those who contributed to the success of the party in the 2015 election from the mainstream of party activities, other members with perceived grievances were neglected.
Prominent among those who contributed to the party’s success but was allegedly sidelined was the National Leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The first sign of crack in the marriage of strange bedfellows, which include the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the nPDP, was the crisis that trailed the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, against the wish and desire of majority of the party stakeholders.
But the party had been managing the crisis, even though despite having the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, the legislature and the executive had been at each other’s jugular, almost on all issues, thus turning the National Assembly into an unnecessary opposition to the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
However, the festering crisis in the ruling party burst open when in May, the nPDP bloc served notice to the party that it will review its membership if it did not get the required patronage expected as a partner in the alliance. In a letter it wrote to President Buhari and the APC leadership, the nPDP alleged marginalisation and expressed its dissatisfaction with the present status quo.
The complaint came few days after the party’s ward congresses across the country, which left many party stalwarts angry about the process. The new PDP bloc also gave the APC leadership a seven-day ultimatum to convene an emergency meeting to address their grievances, just as it also accused the Presidency and the party of maltreating its members.
Following the letter, the leader of the nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, also addressed a press conference, after a closed door meeting with the former National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. In a four-page letter, dated April 27, 2018, titled: “Request For Redressing of Grievances of The Former New PDP Bloc Within The All Progressives Congress,” signed by Baraje and former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and addressed to the National Chairman of the party, and copied the President and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the nPDP declared that without the votes contributed by its members, the present government would not have been elected into power.
The bloc alleged that despite their contribution to the success of the APC, their members have been relegated to the background in the scheme of things in the party and in the government.
They noted that the only seat that went to members of the new PDP in the Federal Executive Council was given to a member whose state contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential election.
The explained, “We, the members of the APC, who moved over from the PDP to form the APC before the 2015 general electrons in Nigeria are desirous of strengthening our party, especially now that new party congresses have commenced and the National Convention and another round of general elections are imminent.
“Obviously, this cannot be achieved without addressing fundamental issues, which we wish to raise in the letter.
“We therefore wish, with due respect, to re-state our expectation then and now that the APC we all laboured to build would be one united, inclusive, cohesive and progressive party devoid of divisions, factions, cleavages and tendencies.
“We envisioned a political party promoting equal rights for all Nigerians and ensuring rapid and even development across the country. Of course there is no gainsaying that the fact that the lofty ideals enumerated above cannot be attained without ensuring justice for party faithfuls and citizens.”
It added that it is indisputable that the movement of the former new PDP bloc to form the APC contributed immensely to the victory of the APC in the election, adding, “It was a watershed moment in Nigeria’s political history. Most of these leaders did not only deliver their states to the APC at the elections, some of the governors were also assigned specific responsibilities to ensure that other states were also delivered to the APC in the 2015 election.
The then governor at Sokoto took charge of Kebbi and the then governor of Kano State took responsibility for Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa States, just to mention a few examples.
“There were also unprecedented efforts by many stakeholders such as Senator Saraki, in concert with others, to deliver the entire North Central to the APC.
“These efforts, contributions and sacrifice were made in spite of the fact that the presidential ticket was taken by the erstwhile CPC, and the ACN bloc of the party.”
The nPDP accused the APC of not acknowledging the effort of its members in installing the APC government, saying, “It is a matter for grave concern that President Buhari, GCFR, has never publicly acknowledged our efforts in the face of clear evidence that the total number of votes scored by the APC in states where leaders and members of the then nPDP bloc held sway made the difference.
“The stubborn facts are as follows: In Kano State APC scored 1,903,999 in 2015, and in Kwara 302,146. ln Sokoto State it scored 671,926, and 374 701 ln Adamawa In Kebbl State, APC had 567,883 votes and 885,988 in Jigawa. It was the same story in Gombe (459,898). Kogi (284,851) and Benue (373,961) votes.
“These represented significant additions to the APC victory column. Indeed, the influence, activities, momentum and ripple effect generated by the former nPDP bloc was significant in the victory of APC in the entire elections in the whole country.”
Among the grievances, it wants the APC leadership to address were to be adequately represented in the FEC, to be patronised significantly and given appointments to executive positions in various government agencies such as Chief Executive and Executive Directors of government agencies and parastatals, among others.
It added, “In appointments into Boards of various government agencies, very few former New PDP members were patronised. These are however not commensurate with our contributions to the growth and Victory of the party. When members of the former New PDP block showed interest in running for the offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, they were subjected to a vicious and relentless political opposition as if they were not legitimate members of the APC family.
“During the party primaries preparatory to the 2015 General Elections, most of the promises made to sitting members of the National Assembly who belonged to the then nPDP in terms of a level playing field were reneged upon or observed more in breach.
“There has been general lack of consultation, non recognition and even persecution of former nPDP members and leaders by the party and government. For example, some of our leaders are denied the security cover necessary to visit their constituencies even though they are elected representatives of the people in a government they sacrificed so much for.”
It also alleged harassment, intimidation and persecution of former nPDP leaders by the government, which it said is still an ongoing affair.
The bloc subsequently requested for an urgent meeting with the president as the leader of the party and the party executive leadership to find lasting solutions to the issues raised in their letter, to prepare “the party as a fighting force to deliver more strongly on its manifesto and face the 2019 general elections with greater commitment.”
As this was playing out, the PDP appealed to nPDP to return home as according to it, the APC has nothing to offer members of the bloc/ PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, stated this, in reaction to the ultimatum given the leadership of APC by members of the nPDP on some of their grievances in the party.
Ologbondiyan said that the APC is moving without a soul and has demonstrated it can kill the country’s democracy, adding, “They should return home; APC has nothing to offer them, and the democratic setting that they left in PDP they can never find in APC. APC is an amalgam; it is moving without its soul. It has demonstrated in three years that it can only kill our democracy; it cannot give it life.
“The democrats who left the Peoples Democratic Party and went on sojourn to APC should return back to their home. PDP is going to lead a coalition of every Nigerian who is sick and tired of the drift towards totalitarianism and autocracy.”
Following this, recently, the PDP, and 39 opposition political parties entered into an alliance in order for them to field a single candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, last week, the political parties under the aegis Coalition of Unity Political Parties, CUPP, also resolved to enter into a covenant with the Nigerian people by commencing work on a blueprint manifesto.
Just like what happened before the 2015 elections when some parties came together under one umbrella, the chairmen of the political parties, who took turns to lambast the APC administration decried the level of nepotism in the current administration, just as they lamented the failure of security, which has led to incessant killings in the country.
Admitting that the battle for 2019 would not be easy, they however called for unity within their ranks and urged themselves to brace for a lengthy tussle.
Like what is playing out now, the chairman of the merger committee of the then legacy parties that formed the APC in 2013, Tom Ikimi, said the need for a formidable party to wrest power out of the PDP was more urgent than ever.
According to Ikimi, who is now a chieftain of PDP, “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge, we the following political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become All Progressive Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
It was at that time that the then ruling PDP realised that the 2015 elections will not just be a tea party for it, despite all the Federal Government apparatus at its disposal.
The PDP back bone was finally broken when five of their governors staged a walkout from the Eagle Square, the venue of the convention , and joined by other party faithfuls who also felt aggrieved.
As it was then, when APC Governors were luring PDP lawmakers with automatic and governorship tickets, so also the current PDP are doing now in order to have upper hand in the next general elections in the country.
As if the nPDP imbroglio was not enough, some set of people within the ruling APC recently, after the party’s National Convention, broke away to form a faction known as the Reformed All Progressives Congress, rAPC, in Abuja with Engr. Buba Galadima as National Chairman.
Galadima, who was secretary of the defunct CPC and President Buhari’s former party, lamented that the APC administration has been “a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced.”
He noted that the party is in turmoil as there are countless cases in courts all over the country challenging the legality of congresses and even the National Convention.
He highlighted that the friction in the APC resulted in parallel congresses in 24 States namely: 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.
Speaking at a press conference, Galadima, who was flanked by Alhaji Baraje and other newly appointed executives of rAPC, explained that efforts to have the ruling party listen to them fell on deaf ears.
Galadima explained that the APC had in the last three years performed poorly and shamefully, thereby leaving a monumental disaster worse than the government it replaced.
He declared, “I stand here before you as the National Chairman of the reformed APC to remind you that preparatory to 2015, the nPDP merged with APC to wrestle power, but the content of that agreement was breached.The APC in the last three years has performed poorly and refused to sustain its core values.The APC government was a monumental disaster even worse than the government it replaced.”
The rAPC condemned the just concluded National Convention of the APC, envisaging that protracted legal crisis awaits the outcome.
“The APC conducted the worst national Congress so far and it is likely that the outcome of judicial decision on the Congress would further lead to protracted crisis.
“There were crisis in four states. The National Congress Committee Chairman and governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru declared 18 seats unopposed contrary to the Constitution of APC.”
The factional chairman also announced the structures of the party from national, states, local governments and wards levels. Galadima, a former National Secretary of the defunct CPC and who has previously been critical of the Buhari-led administration, added that the recently concluded APC ward and state congresses were intensely disputed as it was conducted with “impunity and total disregard for due process.”
But instead of learning from what led to PDP’s defeat in 2015, after spending 16 years in power, the National chairman APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the party would not be distracted by the antics of the splinter group of the party known as the Reformed All Progressives Congress, rAPC.
This was the same stance the PDP adopted in 2013, when the nPDP broke away from the PDP. It is expected that the ruling APC should have taken the raging crisis more seriously to avert the PDP calamity befalling it.
Oshiomhole who described the splinter group as an association of “bread and butter” politicians, said the APC leadership is holding talks with core members of the party to resolve the myriads of challenges facing the APC family. He alleged that members of the rAPC are mercenaries who have been hired to distract the party.
He said, “They are mercenaries who are willing to be hired for a purpose, they are right to be so hired. But that will not cause any distraction within the core of APC leaders. There is no breakaway, if people choose to be detained by their fears, it is their choice.”
Dismissing the activities of the rAPC with a wave of the hand, Oshiomhole said his leadership was not bothered by the antics of the rAPC led by a member of the APC Board of Trustees, Galadima.
According to Oshiomole, if members of the rAPC choose not to be happy with the developments within the party, they are entitled to their opinion. He, however, insisted that there is no breakaway faction from the mainstream APC.
“There is no break up. If one Galadima is not happy, that is fine. He has a right not to be happy. If he chooses to call himself whatever he wants to call himself, I will not lose my sleep over that. We know those who are in the system. Those who are seeking break-up, that is their problem,” Oshiomhole said.
He added that the party is engaging with the real stakeholders including the leadership of the National Assembly to foster unity among party members.
“We are engaging real stakeholders in the executive and the two chambers of the National Assembly. We have very important influential leaders,” he said.
Oshiomhole had during the opening session of the meeting assured APC lawmakers that the crisis rocking some state chapters of the party, would be resolved in a win-win manner.
Although the coalition of over 30 parties under the aegies of CUPP is already crumbling, as many supposed members of the coalition have continued to disown the alliance and withdraw their membership, the breaking away of the nPDP and the rAPC, would surely have a devastating effect on the APC come 2019.
Apart from Rivers State, the APC won convincingly in the remaining four states of four of the remaining four governors, Kwara, Adamawa, Kano and Sokoto, although, many analysts have also argued, however, that it was Buhari’s popularity in the North that gave victory to the party in those states.
Analysts are agreed that whichever way, the APC would feel the impact of the departure of the nPDP bloc and the rAPC from the mainstream APC, unless adequate steps are taken to nip the imminent departure in the bud.
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