The crisis dogging the ruling All Progressives Congress appears to be getting worse as some prominent members are threatening to leave while the party is still grappling with the unpleasant fallout of its primary election in Ekiti State and ward congresses which held on Saturday, May 5, thereby creating fear of an imminent breakup
By Olu Ojewale
IF events of the last few days are anything to go by, it appears that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is heading towards total implosion. Since the last governorship primary election in Ekiti State and the ward congresses held across the country on Saturday, May 5, the party is nothing but a house divided among itself and, perhaps, an accident waiting to happen.
On Tuesday, May 8, it took leaders of the party in the South West several hours at a meeting in Abuja, to get the all 33 gubernatorial aspirants to agree to a fresh primary election in Ekiti State. In a statement signed by Bisi Akande, former interim national chairman of the APC; Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State; Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State; Niyi Adebayo, former governor of Ekiti State and Pius Akinyelure, national vice chairman, South West of the party, the leaders said having reviewed the entire process that led to the botched primary on Saturday, May 5, it was decided that a direct election be done on Friday, May 11. The date was later changed to Saturday, May 12.
In their message to stakeholders in the state, the leaders said: “We also encourage delegates to vote according to their conscience and ensure that the process is not monetised in the overall interest of our party, the growth of our democracy and consistent with our progressive tradition which our people are noted for. The aspirants themselves are enjoined to shun all manners of sharp practices and avoid any resort to violence during the rescheduled primaries.”
The message of the party leaders had hardly digested when the party was hit with a much bigger trouble. On Wednesday, May 9, members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, bloc which merged to help form the APC in 2013, gave the strongest indication of a possible exit. They claimed that the party had not been truthful with their article of association. They alleged that the alliance had not favoured them since 2015.
They accused both the party and President Muhammadu Buhari of sidelining members of the new PDP.
Kawu Barajje, a former national chairman of the nPDP, led a five-member delegation, which held a closed-door meeting with John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the APC, at the party’s National Secretariat, in Abuja, on Wednesday, May 9.
The meeting followed a four-page petition signed by Baraje and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, dated April 27, 2018.
Baraje, who addressed members of the press after the meeting, said they were at the APC headquarters to register their displeasure with the shoddy treatment meted out to the bloc since the APC came to power in 2015.
The former chairman while responding to a question as to whether members of the bloc were leaving the APC, said, “We are here to discuss with our national chairman on how to strengthen our party.”
Nevertheless, the leaders lodged their complaints in a four-page letter, which was delivered to the APC national secretariat in Abuja, on Wednesday, May 9.
In the letter addressed to the national chairman of the APC and copies sent to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo, the nPDP members listed seven reasons why, they said, the coalition which led to the birth of APC was not working.
These were given as lack of concession of any position to new PDP in power sharing; no significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies; fewer appointments of new PDP members into boards of various government agencies; opposition to the emergence of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; general lack of consultation, non-recognition and even persecution of former new PDP members and leaders; and harassment, intimidation and persecution of former new PDP leaders by the government.
Consequently, the members issued a seven-day ultimatum to the leadership of the APC to arrange a meeting with the leader of the party and the party executive to resolve the issues raised.
The petition said in part, “We the members of the All Progressives Congress, who moved over from the People’s Democratic Party to form the APC before the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, are desirous of strengthening our party especially now that new party congresses have commenced and the convention and another round of general elections are imminent.
“Obviously, this cannot be achieved without addressing fundamental issues which we wish to raise in this letter.
“We, therefore, wish, with due respect, to restate 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.”
The letter alleged that while it was a fact that those who moved over from the nPDP to form the APC contributed immensely to the electoral victory being enjoyed today, their sacrifices had not been acknowledged or appreciated.
Specifically, the letter said: “These efforts, contributions and sacrifice were made in spite of the fact that the presidential ticket was taken by the erstwhile Congress for Progressive Change, and the Action Congress of Nigeria blocs of the party. It is a matter for grave concern that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has never publicly acknowledged our efforts…”
Hence, they said among other things: “At this stage, we would chronicle a few grievances which if addressed will lead to a harmonious APC where justice, equity, fairness and peace will reign and enable APC avoid rancour, reinvigorate the pace of national development and face the 2019 general elections as one united party.”
It listed the nPDP’s grievances to include non-inclusion in the Federal Executive Council, no significant patronage and appointments into executive positions in various government agencies, marginalisation, unkept promises and general lack of consultation, non-recognition and even persecution of former nPDP members and leaders by the APC and the Buhari government.
“There is an inadequate reflection of programme and policy contributions of members of the former New PDP bloc in the running of the government.
“Our belief is that it does not augur well for our party if a section of it feels that it is being treated as an outcast and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong with the legitimate expectation to be treated with justice both in the running of the party and the government.”
Hence, the aggrieved party members requested for an urgent meeting with Buhari and the party hierarchy to find lasting solutions to the issues raised in order “to prepare the party as a fighting force to deliver more pungently on its manifesto and face the 2019 general elections with even greater commitment.”
The letter further said: “Given the constraining factor of available time and in the interest of our great party, it is strongly advised that the said urgent meeting be held not later than seven days from the date of the receipt of this letter.”
At press time, the party leadership was yet to respond as it was still locked in a meeting with its governorship aspirants from Ekiti State.
Nevertheless, there were strong indications that the letter was a smokescreen to lay the foundation for the exit of the former PDP leaders from the ruling APC.
Those who may leave include Bukola Saraki, Senate president; Yakubu Dogara, speaker, House of Representatives; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State; Danjuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe State and now a senator; Aliyu Wammako, a former governor of Sokoto State and Oyinlola.
Interestingly, Oyinlola, who resigned on Thursday, May 9, as the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission, NIMC, is the coordinator of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM.
Obasanjo founded the CNM as a pressure group to stop Buhari from seeking a second term in office.
A national newspaper, in fact, reported that although they said they were ready for consultations, a top source said: “The letter is a sign that the 2019 war has started. This is the first salvo from New PDP members who are tired of the APC coalition.
“Almost all nPDP leaders like Saraki, Dogara, Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Wammako, are already on their way out of APC.
“After the seven-day notice, if there is no concession, these leaders may leave the APC. In fact, Dogara was not at the Ward Congress in Bauchi last Saturday.”
Indeed, the Wednesday’s step by the nPDP has also been seen to be the beginning of a process that would lead to the defection of some public office seekers within the APC, who believe that they would not have the opportunity to actualise their ambition within the party in next year’s general elections. Many of them such as Saraki and Kwankwaso are believed to be nursing presidential ambition which Buhari’s plan for second term, may deny them the opportunity.
Besides, many of them are believed to have fallen out of favour with the president because of their body language which tends to be part of the opposition from within instead of supporting the government by their utterances and actions.
It is believed that some of them have been holding meetings with leaders of the PDP and other political parties in order to actualise their ambitions.
Taking a cue from the crisis, Uche Secondus, national chairman of the PDP, appealed to former members of the party to return. He said the party was being rebranded and that its leadership was ready to accept them.
He said it was unfortunate that the APC could treat those he described as formidable politicians that contributed to its electoral success in 2015 with disdain.
Secondus said: “The PDP is their party. They should by now know that they are in a strange land where they are not seen as human beings despite their immense contribution to the formation and electoral victory of the ruling party…
“The APC, unlike the PDP, is not a political party but a group of desperate Nigerians who wanted power at all costs. Having won the power, it has become extremely difficult for them to settle down to govern because there is no synergy among the various groups that formed the ruling party.”
For Akin Osuntokun, spokesman of the CNM, the development was not new. He said: “Most of the key stakeholders in the APC who are feeling marginalised now should realise that if he (Buhari) is treating them this badly while seeking a second term, it can only get worse for them if he finally wins a second term.
“When a man seeks re-election and treats you as a ‘nobody,’ how do you think he will treat you when he finally gets a second term and doesn’t need you anymore?
“It is a reflection of the clannish, nepotistic style of Buhari’s leadership. Junaid Mohammed made it clear when he revealed that Buhari only surrounds himself with his kith and kin.”
Be that as it may, it is also true that Buhari is not the only cause of the crisis in the APC. The ward congresses held by the party across the country on Saturday, May 5, showed that all is not well within the party.
The elections were grossly marred by violence, killings, thuggery and acts of brigandage in several states including Bauchi, Delta, Ebonyi, Oyo, Abia, Imo and Rivers states, thereby giving Nigerians something to worry about the internal democracy of the party.
For instance, in Enugu State, Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of Foreign Affairs, decried the “poor conduct” of the ward congress of the APC in the state. Addressing his loyalists in Enugu on day of the congress, Onyeama said he was sidelined alongside his loyalists in the ward congresses across the state.
Onyema attributed the conduct of the parallel congresses to a flawed process that excluded a significant part of the party faithful in the state. He alleged that leaders of the party including Juliet Ibekaku, the senior special adviser to the president on Justice Reform, were also excluded from the process.
In conclusion, the minister said “the processes were completely flawed.”
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State could probably not believe that he could be outwitted by his opponents at the congress. A disappointed Okorocha rejected the results of the ward congress in the state and at his meeting with Buhari on Sunday, May 6, the governor sought for the cancellation of the results.
In any case, there were divergent views about the outcome of the congress. While some members insisted that there was no congress in the state, others said the congress was held and successful despite some challenges referred to as ‘family affair.’
Ireagwu Obioma, secretary of the party in Imo State, who led other ward chairmen, told journalists on Monday, May 7, that there was no congress.
He said this was due to the disappearance of one of the congress committee member with materials for the congress. He then called on the party national hierarchy to schedule a new date for the ward congress in the state.
Others members, however, insisted that the congress was peaceful, free and fair. They called on the national body of the party to disregard any other information from any quarters.
Hilary Eke, APC chairman in the state, expressed delight over the outcome of the congress, saying “the outcome of ward congress last Saturday was peaceful and devoid of rancour. Even though there are one or two hiccups somewhere, as a family affair, it will be definitely resolved, ours is to use this medium to inform the general public that the congress was peaceful and disregard any other information emanating from anywhere.”
The results of the congress were said to be in favour of Eze Madumere, deputy governor, who seems to gotten the party’s endorsement for the governorship ticket for the 2019 governorship election. According to information from the state, this has caused a stand-off between the governor, who prefers his in-law for the ticket,.
Similarly being contested was the congress, which held in Kaduna State. While Adamu Modibbo, chairman APC, Wards and Local Governments Congresses Committee for Kaduna State, said on Monday, May 7, that the committee was satisfied with the conduct of the ward congresses in spite of protests against the exercise.
Modibbo told journalists in Kaduna, that the exercise was conducted “peacefully in well organised manner without any incident recorded throughout the state.”
But Shehu Sani, a senator representing, APC Kaduna Central, and Suleiman Hunkuyi, a senator representing APC Kaduna North, in separate interviews told newsmen that the congresses did not hold in any part of the state.
According to Hunkuyi, elective congress did not hold in any of the 255 wards in the state as stipulated by the APC constitution. He concluded by saying: “We join all APC members and supporters in mourning the death of democracy and its burial in Kaduna State, where its resurrection may be an impossible task.”
In Kano State, two top leaders of the ruling APC, boycotted the party’s ward congress held on Saturday, May 5.
Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State and senator representing Kano central, and Hafiz Abubakar, the state deputy governor of Kano State, did not participate in the ward congress.
Reports said that the ward congress at Madobi, the local government of Kwankwaso was supervised by Musa Kwankwaso, his political rival and the state’s commissioner for Rural and Community Development. But the former governor was not seen anywhere around the ward.
However, it was later learnt that the APC members loyal to Kwankwaso conducted a separate congress in 484 wards of Kano State.
Abubakar, was also not sighted at his Mandawari ward of Gwale Local Government Area. The deputy governor was said to have complained in the media that his younger brother was removed from the chairmanship of the APC in Mandawari ward in Gwale.
Different complains were similar adduced in many parts of the country where allegations of injustice and manipulations were made over the ward congresses.
That notwithstanding, the APC described the conduct of the election as “generally peaceful,” even as there were reports that at least one person was killed each
in Rivers and Delta states while a local government secretariat was burnt down in Bauchi State during the congress.
Bolaji Abdullahi, national publicity secretary of the APC, in a statement said the exercise was “generally peaceful.” He appealed to disgruntled stakeholders to file their complaints with appeal committees.
All the same, to many Nigerians, the crisis in the APC has shown that the party is fractured over ambitions of some of its leaders. Kolade Olalere, a former bank official and now a politician, said it all showed lack of internal democracy in the ruling party. He said it was time for Nigerians to change the leadership of the country to allow democracy to thrive. He told Realnews: “It has shown that Buhari and his people are only taking Nigerians for a ride. We cannot continue this way. It is time to eschew dictatorship in our body polity.”
Shako Haya, a commentator has no sympathy for the likes of Kwankwaso. He said: “What goes round comes round. Karma at work. When Kwankwaso was installed governor in 1999 by the late Abubakar Rimi he not only hijacked the party from Rimi but forced him to decamp from the PDP.
“Today, he Kwankwaso is ripping what he sowed. He cannot even attend the party’s ward congress and according to his spokesperson they are compiling their list away from the press, public and APC members, in Kwankwaso’s Kaduna sitting room from where he operates following his banishment from Kano. Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.”
That notwithstanding, Bashir Omogbolahan, a political scientist, said it was time for the Nigerian youths to take charge and do away with current politicians. He said in an interview: “Over the years, politicians have been identified as a group of individuals who love their countries, who are in politics for the love of their people, who are willing to serve for the development and progress of the people, country and its democracy.
“In Nigeria today, all these qualities are found wanting among our leaders. What I see are just bunch of business men and women whose intentions are to milk and rob the nation of her resources for their personal gains. They parade themselves as dedicated, law abiding, patriots, philanthropic, white hearted politicians. The founding fathers were never like this. It’s time for the youths to rise up, or else these old men would corrupt us before they go.”
Whatever, what seems to be obvious is that the crisis in the ruling APC is growing like a festering sore and only the party members are in the position to either stop it or allow it to become gangrene. The choice is for the party to make.
– May 11, 2018 @ 18:55 GMT |