Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently fighting a battle of its life on how to put its house in order and focus on delivering the change it promised Nigerians who voted it into power. But it appears the party is in misstep on managing its electoral success.
Aside the crisis in the party at the national level which has polarized members of the National Working Committee (NWC) into different factions, there is also distrust amongst the lawmakers both at the Senate and House of Representatives over the emergence of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
The aftermath of the crisis has also pitched some state chapters of the party against one another leaving many Nigerians to wonder if the party is capable of managing its success at the polls or be consumed by it.
Daily Independent had reported in its lead story published on April 15 titled ‘APC: Threatened By Own Strength’ that the party may be faced with issues of scheming for political power, jostling for cabinet positions, satisfying various interests of political godfathers and managing the gale of defections particularly from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Things started to go awry for the APC when it conducted a primary exercise and elected Senator Ahmad Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila as its candidates for the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This however did not go down well with Saraki and Dogara who allegedly teamed up with some PDP lawmakers and were elected in place of the APC’s candidates.
Also in the election of the deputies, the APC’s candidate for Deputy Senate President, George Akume was floored by Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP while Yusuf Lasun of Dogara’s camp also defeated Mohammed Monguno to emerge as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the APC who vowed not to recognize Saraki and Dogara. The party later made a detour and accepted the verdict after President Muhammadu Buhari, who had chosen to remain neutral in the selection process agreed to work with the new leaders. The party however said Ekweremadu must resign his position.
Despite sending a list of its candidates for other key positions to both chambers, the lawmakers rejected it and elected its officers on zonal basis. The crisis led to some senators who were insisting on party supremacy to engage in fisticuffs with the independent-minded ones, while there was a free-for-all in the House of Representatives forcing both chambers to adjourn till July 21.
The crisis further degenerated when a former National Chairman of the party, Bisi Akande wrote a letter alleging that some politicians who joined the APC from PDP from the Northern part of the country had masterminded the election of Saraki and Dogara.
Akande, who is a former interim national chairman of the APC had stated: “Most Northern elite, the Nigerian oil subsidy barons and other business cartels, who never liked (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s anti-corruption political stance, are quickly backing up the rebellion against APC with strong support”.
This did not go down well with the Northern leaders who said that Akande who had led the party and served as a state governor could author a statement in which he was allegedly seeking to divide the nation by setting the North against the South-West.
A national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, Vice- President, Yemi Osinbajo, Akande and other notable leaders of the South West later boycotted the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party held in Abuja a fortnight ago. That was not before a Presidency statement declared that President Buhari is the national leader of the party.
These and other key issues are said to be penciled down for discussion at the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting scheduled to take place sometimes within this week.
Before that meeting though, the clandestine move to dethrone Ekweremadu of his position has been met with a stout resolve by the senator who vowed to resist any such move. Just last Friday, the South-east Caucus of the senate rose in defence of him, insisting that their loyalty remains with him and no subtle move will remove him.
Perhaps angered by APC’s stance on his office, the Senate Deputy President, Ekeremadu, called on the party to ‘shameful’ put its house in order and focus on delivery the change mantra for which they sought and got Nigerians’ mandate. Other notable members of his party – the PDP – are equally in that school of thought.
Olisa Metu, PDP’s Publicity Secretary is more emphatic: The APC must deliver on its electoral promises to nigerians. The Buhari’s administration must tackle the Boko Haram insurgency with dispatch; create the welfare state and start paying unemployed Nigerians monthly stipends; implement free education at all levels as well as provide free meals for primary and secondary school students across the country. Besides, he must tackle corruption and deliver on infrastructure.
While the APC, especially the faction loyal to Tinubu is not happy with Saraki and Dogara’s emergence and may not accord them the necessary cooperation in the National Assembly, the PDP which has bounced back to life after the National Assembly elections has thrown its doors wide open for the lawmakers and their supporters to return if they are frustrated out of APC. Should this happen, the APC will automatically lose Kwara State to PDP given Saraki’s influence in the state and the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
However, speaking in a chat with Daily Independent, a chieftain of the party, Hassan Alih Ogwu said the APC cannot afford to keep quiet when some members of the party are trying to scuttle the programmes the party had outlined for the country.
Daily Independent further learnt that as part of ending the crisis in the party, it has been agreed that majority of the leaders in the party have agreed that Tinubu will emerge as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT).
“I don’t know your definition of managing success. If managing success is not to speak out when things go wrong, then you can say we are not managing success. Like I said earlier, the APC is a responsible and disciplined party and as such when things go wrong, we will have to straighten it out.”
“We will not shy away from confronting it irrespective of the personalities involved. That to me is how you manage success. To say that the party is supreme and that whoever wins an election on the platform of the party is not bigger than the party, that is how you manage success”.
“Positive change is always difficult to imbibe and as a party we know that some persons will need to be rehabilitated and transformed for us to move smoothly. I am not a spokesperson of the party but I can assure you that Nigerians will remain the greatest winner at the end of the day. The APC is a one happy, united family we will always disagree to agree” he said.
Also speaking, a legal expert and public affairs analyst, Asiwaju Bisi Adegbuyi, called on the party to urgently stem the tide of the division in the party so as to allow President Buhari deliver on his electoral promises to Nigerians.
Adegbuyi, who was the Deputy Director-General to Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun in the just concluded governorship election also said individual’s ambition should not be greater than that of the party and the president’s desire to deliver the gains of democracy to Nigerians.
While adding that the expectations of Nigerians are high, he said the APC must urgently ensure that it put its house in order, while also calling on the National Assembly to assist in achieving the much needed change.
“I believe the leadership of the party will rise up to the occasion in ensuring that the division in the party that is likely to affect or hamstring the president’s capacity to deliver on the change mantra. We have to be very careful because the expectations of the people must be met.”
“Expectations are very high. Therefore, it is incumbent on the leadership of the APC to quickly put its house in order and ensure that President Buhari is not in any way handicapped in urgently delivering the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people,” he said.
But analysts are however of the opinion that the APC shouldn’t be a party harping on party supremacy. They recall that in 2011 one of APC’s main components, the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), actively connived with recalcitrant members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect Hon Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of the House of Representatives against the position of the PDP.