The recent in-fighting among the stalwarts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has again underscored the need for a sustainable peace building mechanism in the party, writes ANDREW ESSIEN
There is no gain saying the fact that these are not the best of times for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) given series of knotty issues that have bedevilled it in recent times. On a daily basis, threats of anti-party, defections, among others are steadily becoming the news as party faithful continue to grieve over issues they feel were orchestrated by leaders of the party against them, whether real or imagined.
From the circumstances leading to the recent elective convention that brought in the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to the introduction of the Direct Primary System, the APC has greatly been polarized even as pundits wonder on its ability to rise from the dust of the crisis that has beset it, galvanized all its ‘formations’ and ‘arsenals’ in time to prosecute the 2019 general elections.
Analysts have continued to wonder what will happen after the elections even if it wins the much coveted presidency. As it stands, the party is sharply divided along interest lines. For what it is worth, the task of reconciling aggrieved members of the party will be somewhat difficult, even as the crisis of confidence among gladiators at the federal and state levels seems to be ballooning into a stronger momentum.
From the crisis in the Kaduna State chapter of the party where the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, is locked in a battle of wits with other factions of the party in his state, an issue that has seen his most vocal critic, Senator Shehu Sani, pushed out of the party, to Kano State, where Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, for example, is battling to extricate himself from the web of accusations that have seen the party in the state more polarized than it has ever been in recent times. These are some of the states that the APC leverages on because of the votes in its bid to easily net the presidential seat and comfortably coast home to victory. This is aside the battle of wits between the current governor and his predecessor.
Governor Ganduje has told all those who care to listen that his refusal to allow Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso dictate to him was the main reason behind their political feud. What he did not say is the fact that his support for President Muhammadu Buhari could be the major factor behind his opposition to his former principal.
Ganduje, having been fully aware of Kwankwaso’s presidential ambition did not leave anyone in doubt about where his support lies.
In Kogi State, the no-love-lost relationship between Governor Yahaya Bello and the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, saw the latter pulling out of the party.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, for the most part of his stay in the APC had been engaged in an intense political feud with the governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar. Dogara has since left the party.
The fallout of the recent primaries in the state has also set the governor and some other party leaders on a path of head-on collusion even as the insist that there was no primaries held in the state and therefore no candidate for the party. The faceoff between Zamfara State governor, Abdullazeez Yari, and Senator Kabiru Marafa and other sundry issues of the APC have cost the party in the state a chance to field a candidate for governorship in the 2019 elections, at least for now, pending any untoward of a court of competent jurisdiction.
A similar scenario is also playing out in Oyo State as the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, is taking on the incumbent governor Abiola Ajumobi in the unending battle for the soul of the party in the state.
Ondo, Borno, Bayelsa, Gombe, Sokoto and Ogun states’ chapters of the party are grappling with their own internal bickering.
Another of this is the crisis arising from the Imo state primaries even as the national leadership, against the governor’s preference, adopted Senator Hope Uzodimma as the governorship candidate of the party against Governor Rochas Okorocha’s preferred candidate and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu. Both candidates have consistently laid claim on the party’s ticket for the gubernatorial elections but the fight has crystalized to the national body.
It was learnt that the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had earlier advised Okorocha to cede 45 per cent of the party structure to the Uzodinma group in a bid to cater for the interest of the contending forces within the party and choose between his senatorial ambition and his desire to have his son in-law, Nwosu, as his successor.
The governor was reported to have explained that he and Nwosu were the best candidates for the governorship and senatorial seats, arguing that no one could win election in the state as presently constituted without his backing.
With all these issues bedevilling the party, analysts are of the opinion that the party must now, more than ever before, put in place a reconciliatory mechanism to sure up the APC’s chances at the polls.
A lecturer in the Department of Political Science of the University of Jos, Mr. Joseph Anuga, explained that the challenge anyone who is given an assignment to reconcile aggrieved politicians is bound to face includes but not limited to “managing egos and ambitions.”
He added, “The political season has begun. Those occupying offices, who will want to remain in office will struggle to remain while opponents, wishing to replace them, will also be at their best to achieve their political objectives.”
Some party observers are of the view that previous attempts to reconcile feuding members of the APC, especially in the states, have failed to yield any positive result because of the personal interests of party leaders. Those that subscribe to this school of thought argue that the understanding that governors are the leaders of the party in their states will make it difficult, if not impossible, for governors in crisis-ridden states to accept any arrangement which could make them appear weak before their supporters.
“These issues must be resolved before any reconciliation can begin” a party leader wondered aloud. The party must now make spirited efforts in ensuring that peace prevails and create the enabling environment for stalwarts to close ranks even as new alliances are being forged.
Already, the various opposition parties are making quick gains, strategizing and preparing adequately for any eventuality.