APC: A House Divided

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Dan Agbese

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By Dan Agbese  |

THE ruling party, APC, is demonstrating an unusual and embarrassing ineptitude in properly managing the challenges of power thrust upon it by the electorate. We, the people, anxious for change and a new style of governance in our country, swept the party into power in the last general elections. Its victory at the polls came with loads of expectations, not the least was the national anxiety to forge a new national political ethos in which service to the fatherland trumps stomach infrastructure.

I find it both sad and disappointing that the party leaders choose to engage in mutually assured destruction. Even the blind can see that the party is hoisted on its own petard. Its self-generated crisis in the national assembly is obviously taxing the loyalties of its leaders and members and heating up the polity. I am torn between pitying the party and condemning it.

It is no use arguing otherwise: since the controversial election of the leadership of both the senate and the House of Representatives, the bottom has been threatening to fall out of the party cohesion. The bottom is shaking rather dangerously. The party is in search of its soul. APC is divided in the national assembly and it is divided outside the national assembly. You can feel the bottom shaking.

By an act of benevolence or foolishness, APC dashed the deputy senate presidency to the opposition PDP. It has become its problem and its nightmare, however much its leaders might pretend to the contrary. If the bottom continues to shake or falls out, the PDP that controlled both houses of the national assembly for 16 long years, would be only too glad to step in and wrest power in the national assembly from APC.

I am sure the prospect of this is horrendous enough to subject the party leaders and its members to the kind of sleep that leaves the sleeper with bleary eyes. The senate screening of the president’s ministerial nominees, part serious, part farcical, may create the impression that the senate leadership is all chummy chummy with the executive. There just can’t be many takers of that impression.

The senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, is in trouble with the law. As you know, unless you are living on the moon, the Code of Conduct Bureau has charged him with a false declaration of his assets. The man can feel the hairy hands of Esau but hears the voice of Jacob. I am sure no man would be naïve enough to try to convince the senate president that his own party leaders are not behind his ordeal in the hands of the conduct bureau. He has dropped a hint or two to show he knows where his ill wind came from.

On Wednesday, October 21, his colleagues in the national assembly took the unusual step of demonstrating Saraki can count on their sympathy. The senate has already given its vote of confidence. The national assembly was shut down October 21 because Saraki had to appear before the Code of Conduct tribunal that day. About 80 senators and a large number of members of House of Representatives trooped to the court with him.

What does that tell you? It tells you this: Saraki and his colleagues believe that he is a victim of power struggle within the party and that his alleged transgressions were trumped up to crush his surprise coup that put the senate president’s gavel in his hands. This pits the legislators against the leadership of the party. And the bottom is shaking.

What the party is doing to itself in and outside the national assembly should be of more than passing interest to the rest of us. Our destiny and the destiny of our nation are in the hands of the party in the foreseeable future. What its leaders and members do or fail to do affects our country and us.

Whatever its leaders might say to the contrary, the party is torn by centrifugal forces pulling in different directions. The party has many centres of power. There is the Bola Tinubu centre of power; the Oyegun centre of power; the Saraki centre of power and, of course, the centre of power in the executive branch, for which read, President Muhammadu Buhari. Such power centres are not strange to political parties or wherever the government of the people for the people takes root in the management of human affairs. Usually, such centres function as legitimate means of negotiating deals and compromises and are, therefore, healthy. However, the problem here is that these power centres are centres of muscle-flexing and mutual suspicion. All the centres of power are powerful and are led by formidable men. If there is a contest for which centre would blink, we might as well wait for either Godot or until hell turns itself into a habitable after life. It makes me jittery.

The party is clearly in a mutually assured destruction mode. I think it is dangerous. If we love this country, if we love the Buhari administration and want it to succeed and if we love good governance, a fusion of the sweat of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, then good men and women must not feign indifference to what the party is doing to itself. They must help the party by pulling it away from precipice of self-destruction.

I have said it before both here and elsewhere: APC does not have all the time in the world. A four or eight-year term does not cannot be the correct spelling of eternity. There is much to do in the limited time of four or eight year term. Sit up, APC!!

—  Oct 26, 2015 @ 12:25 GMT

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