The recent exchange between the APC-led presidency and the PDP over the 2023 transition election, signals tough times ahead for both parties, CHIBUZO UKAIBE writes.
2023 might be less than two years away but the Presidency and the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are already talking tough. The Presidency believes PDP should perish any thought of a comeback to power at the centre in 2023. And its reason is simple.
President Muhammadu Buhari who spoke at his residence in Daura, Katsina State while receiving, on Sallah homage, 92 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving in his hometown, Daura, told PDP and other opposition parties to forget about 2023 because Nigerians look up to his leadership on how the next leadership will emerge.
Speaking through his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the president said the unshakable support he enjoys not only in his hometown but also across the country is enough for the opposition to admit that the president matters a lot from the ruling party and Nigerians in general.
He said, “The masses will never abandon President Buhari’s leadership. I assure you that in 2023, the masses will be waiting for the president to show the way in courtesy of what he has been building for the country in terms of infrastructure and wellbeing of young people in the country.
“Nobody will take the risk by inviting another party to come and take over in 2023.”
PDP would not let the president’s posturing ahead of 2023 slide. It fired back, describing Buhari’s comment as alluding to a self-succession plot by what it called “the cabal in the Presidency.”
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said “Such a statement by the Presidency, which is in its last lap of the second and final tenure in office, is not only provocative but also smacks of plots to derail our constitutional democratic order.”
PDP’s allegation of self succession against the president caught APC’s attention, even though the presidency had, in the past, denied nursing such intention.
The national secretary of the APC caretaker committee, John Akpanudoehede, reacted to this fresh allegation albeit in a tough manner.
Akpanudoehede alleged that the PDP, while in power, had a third-term agenda and that it is now “being haunted by its past”.
The national secretary added that the APC would not allow individual ambitions to derail the Buhari administration ahead of the 2023 presidential poll.
“After our congresses and the national convention, we will shock them (PDP) by bringing a consensus and an agreeable candidate that will fly the flag of the party come 2023,” he said.
“APC has no third term agenda like PDP. What we are doing now is to stabilise the party and not allow individual ambitions to derail President Buhari’s administration,” Akpanudoehede said.
Although the president’s comment, to some pundits, gave an inkling into the Villa thinking ahead of 2023, the declaration indirectly signals the commencement of the 2023 politics.
While pundits may differ over whether or not governance would have to suffer in light of the political traditional in Nigeria, the back and forth between the president and PDP came at a time the amendment of the Electoral Act has become a critical talking point ahead of the general election.
For an electoral amendment process that saw lawmakers vote largely along party lines, the controversy that trailed the provision for electronic transmission of results raised concerns over the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Those who raise this concern question the rationale behind having the electoral commission clear with the NCC before e-transmission of results can be done.
Immediate past INEC national chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega who carpeted the Senate and the House of Representatives over their alleged attempt to undermine electoral integrity by whittling down the powers of the election management body and subjecting its decision to NCC, a body under the Presidency, said it was a senseless decision.
Nevertheless, as much as the president/APC and PDP grandstand over their capacity to win the 2023 polls, their ability to resolve simmering internal wranglings within their folds would be instructive.
APC has began the process of conducting nation-wide congresses just as the race for who emerges national chairman of the party intensifies. But there have been some tension points in the party.
While the seeming plot to edge out some powerblocs lingers, the dust generated by the registration and revalidation exercise is yet to settle in some states.
What’s more, the tenure extension of the national caretaker committee, and the recent declaration by the party leadership that it’s presidential candidate will emerge by consensus has set some party leaders on edge.
Also where and how the party zones it presidential ticket will determine whether it will remain formidable going into the polls. However, APC has the benefit of a president who at critical moments would rein in members and cause for a united front when it matters.
But whether members will yield to such entreaties is another matter, considering the outcome of the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje/Senator Musa Kwankwaso faceoff; the Governor Godwin Obaseki/Comrade Adams Oshiomhole feud and the imbroglio among party members in Zamfara State.
In PDP, the raging battle between the National Working Committee (NWC) and some influential governors is causing tension in the party. Although the tenure of the Prince Uche Secondus led NWC will end by this December, some party members led by a governor from the South South is bent on sacking the NWC before that time.
These set of party leaders blame Secondus and his team for the defections of governors from PDP fold. But other party stakeholders argue that Secondus should be allowed to serve out his tenure.
For them, they fear a repeat of the post-2015 leadership crisis between the Senator Ahmed Makarfi camp and the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff camp which almost crippled the party. More so, with its ranks depleted after the defection of three governors, the party, despite its denials that it won’t affect them, will require much more than luck to put up a strong fight in 2023.
There is more. The opposition party is perhaps more burdened with the concern of how it will zone it’s presidential ticket. The issue was so contentious that it’s panel led by Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, had to recommend throw the ticket open to all geo-political zones, a move which drew attacks against the party. Although PDP has since said it has not zoned it’s ticket, how it manages this thorny issue will be insightful.
In the whole, the debate over whether or not the Buhari-led APC government has fulfilled or will fulfill it’s key campaign promises of ensuring security, killing corruption and growing the economy will rage on as the 2023 elections pan into view.
The prospect of a third force emerging out of the ashes of APC and PDP has been romantisicised for sometime, perhaps too long. But whether, if it eventually emerges, it would have the capacity to stage an upset in 2023 is another matter.
“Both parties have since been politicking. The defections tell so much. However, the onus lies with Nigerians who I want to believe are increasingly becoming aware of their place in the dynamics of how those who hold public offices emerge and the impact that will have on their overall wellbeing. I do agree that having an independent and nonpartisan electoral commission, a dedicated and neutral security structure will engeander confidence in the electoral system and encourage voter participation. But I do think the people, citizen must begin to become patriotic and active in determining who leads them goinh forward,” Maxwell Obiekwe, a political analyst, said.