The opposition All Progressives Congress is gripped by political fever following the gale of impeachments blowing against its governors coupled with the negative international image that it has sympathy for Boko Haram insurgents
| By Olu Ojewale | Aug. 4, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
THESE are not happy times for the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. The party, which was riding high last year after five governors from the ruling Peoples Democratic, PDP, had joined its rank, appears to be losing its bearing. In less than two months, the party has lost two states to the ruling party and is at the verge of losing a third. The woe of the APC seems to have been heralded with the defeat of Governor Kayode Fayemi in the gubernatorial election held in Ekiti State on June 21. Fayemi’s loss to Ayo Fayose, former governor of the State, has been a big blow to the party. Even after Fayemi had initially conceded victory to his opponent, the party is still insisting that the election was not free and fair as adjudged by international observers.
While the party was still busy threatening fire and brimstone, over Ekiti, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, was impeached and removed from office by the state House of Assembly on Tuesday, July 15. The political hurricane has now moved to Nasarawa State, where Tanko Al-Makura is most likely to lose his seat as governor of the state. There are also fears that the impeachment gale would also sweep through Edo and Rivers states where PDP members of the two houses of assembly are at loggerheads with the APC governors.
Fearing for the worst, leaders of the APC have taken their discomfiture to the public. Muhammadu Buhari, retired major-general and former head of state, has clearly brought to light the party’s fears ahead of the general elections slated for next year. On Monday, July 21, the APC presidential hopeful warned that the nation’s democracy was being endangered by the gale of impeachments in the country and pointed an accusing finger at President Goodluck Jonathan, whom he said, is the mastermind.
In his statement, Buhari appealed to Jonathan to stop the impeachment process which, he said, could spell doom for the country. He warned: “Whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan is behind the gale of impeachments or the utilisation of the desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state, what cannot be denied is that they are happening under his watch, and he cannot pretend not to know, since that will be akin to hiding behind one finger. In my capacity as a former head of state, rather than a politician, I have spoken to President Jonathan in private over these issues but indications are that the strategy has not yielded positive fruits.”
Buhari, who said his warning transcended being an opposition leader, raised the alarm because he could not fold his arms while things were allowed to get out of hand. “I cannot, just because I am an opposition politician, fail to do what is expected of me as a former head of state to help rescue our nation in times of great trouble and palpable uncertainty. History will not be kind to me if I sit back while things turn bad, just so that no one will accuse me of partisanship,” he said. The APC boss also pointed out that he needed to speak out because posterity would not forgive him if he did otherwise. “I can say, in all sincerity, that I have seen it all, as an ordinary citizen, a military officer, a state governor, a minister, a head of state, a man who has occupied many sensitive posts and a politician. I have been a close participant and a witness to Nigeria’s political history since independence in 1960. Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian president declare war on his own country as we are seeing now.
“Never before have I seen a Nigerian president deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian president utilise the commonwealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, all in the name of politics. Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes.”
Jonathan, however, described the allegations by Buhari as unwarranted and totally uncharitable. In a statement by Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, the president noted that Buhari had sadly moved away from the patriotic and statesmanlike position he recently adopted on national security to become an “unbridled political partisan.”
He said it was unfortunate that instead of the APC working to put its house in order and resolve its leadership crisis, Buhari and the party leadership have resorted to blaming the president for their woes. While describing the fate that had befallen the APC as self-inflicted, Jonathan said he had never, in his acts or utterances, recommended or promoted violence as a tool of political negotiation. Besides, he pointed out that the president does not have the constitutional power to intervene in the affairs of the state and that President Jonathan would never arrogate such powers to himself or seek “to exert any nefarious and unconstitutional influence on state assemblies in Adamawa, Nasarawa or anywhere else in order to secure undue political advantage for his party as General Buhari unjustifiably alleges.
“President Jonathan remains true to his declaration that no political ambition of his is worth the life of a single Nigerian. The President has definitely not declared war on his own country or deployed federal institutions in the service of partisan interests as General Buhari falsely claims. Neither has he been using the commonwealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, as the formerhead of state inexcusably asserts.”
In an apparent reference to Buhari’s government ill-fated effort to repatriate the late Umaru Dikko, second republic politician and former minister of transport, from Britain in 1984, Abati said President Jonathan had never at any time ordered that any Nigerian be kidnapped or be crated and “forcefully transported in violation of decent norms of governance. We, therefore, urge General Buhari to tarry a while, ponder over his own antecedents and do a reality check as to whether he has the moral right to be so carelessly sanctimonious,” adding: “It may well be time to pull the brakes, as Gen. Buhari says in his statement, but it is he and others who have resorted to idle ‘scapegoating’ and blaming President Jonathan for their self-inflected political troubles ,who need to stop their inexcusable partisanship and show greater regard for the truth, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, peace, security and the well-being of the nation.”
The PDP added its voice to the altercations on Tuesday, when Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the party, alleged that the APC was on a destructive march. Metuh asked the party and its leaders to look inward rather than point accusing fingers at the ruling party for their woes. “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP has never been involved in any impeachment process and we wish to publicly urge our members in all the state Houses of Assembly to tread with caution and be guided by due process and the rule of law in the execution of their legislative duties,” he said.