In December 2015, about seven months after the All Progressives Congress (APC), was inaugurated to lead Nigeria, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a prime mover in the journey that led to the formation of the party launched a book in which he chronicled the efforts that led to the merger of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and later, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
He titled the book ‘From Opposition to Governing Party: Nigeria’s APC Merger Story’. The book was a riveting story of intrigues that pointed to a hazy merger and hijack.
However, information gleaned from Onu’s corner indicated that original title of the book was “The Making of A Giant”. In Onu’s estimation, APC was a giant.
Indeed, it was. But the failure to manage its greatness is now proving to be its albatross.
Nigerians went to bed on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 with the story of the formal factionalization of the APC. To many, it was no surprise development. Many had expected the formal announcement of the break-up, but it seemed that the leadership used state instruments to hold the dissenters down. But events leading to the recent national convention of the party showed that the center would no longer hold.
Build-up to the creation of the Reformed-APC started with the expression of dissentions over how President Muhammadu Buhari had managed the party. From 2015, Buhari exhibited an attitude that was antithetical to party cohesion and growth. He showed that he preferred a military dictatorship whereby no one questioned the supreme leader to a political party situation where every opinion is subjected to debate.
In doing so, Buhari turned deaf ears to complaints of estrangements by a horde of those who worked tirelessly to make his victory in the 2015 general election possible. First, he started out by ignoring the need to accommodate same persons in his government. He brought in more of persons who had no known record of toils for the party’s victory in 2015. Those became immediate beneficiaries of his administration.
This led to the open complaint by his wife, Aisha, who complained that those who made her husband’s presidency possible had been sidelined for those who played no known role. Here, fingers were pointed at Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari and their sons who work the president’s inner cabinets and determined his appointments. Buhari’s wife had threatened that she would not go out to campaign for him again if the situation was not reversed. Buhari and his acolytes called her bluff while reminding her that her place was rather in the kitchen and bedroom.
Speaking on the Hausa Service of the BBC in October 2016, Aisha accused a cabal of hijacking government and her husband and preventing him from working for those who elected him.
In her words, “Everybody knows them. These people I am complaining about are not more than two or three. I am pleading with them to have sympathy for the people, open their arms to embrace all for the smooth sail of governance not even for today’s sake but even against 2019. What I fear for them is the revolt of over 15 million Nigerians.”
Worrying aspect of Aisha’s outburst was captured in the following words: “whether he knows or not, those who voted for him know. I don’t even need to tell him anything after all he can see. Of all the people he appointed, assuming they are 50, if you ask him, he didn’t know 45 of them. Even me that have been with him for 27 years, I don’t know them… some people weresitting down in their homes folding their arm s only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”.
Finally, she threatened: “I have decided, as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again, and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it”.
She was reined in.
Tinubu To Lead Reconciliation
However, the seed she sewed had germinated and given rise to open dissensions. But Buhari suddenly woke to realize that damage had been done. To repair the damage, he appointed Bola Tinubu, who himself had become estranged from power, to lead the reconciliation.
Tinubu’s assignment as announced by Garba Shehu in a public statement was to “involve resolving disagreement among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation”.
Rather than mend fences, APC showed that Tinubu’s effort was of no effect as its congress, from the ward to state level, was characterized by rancor as most states, including Tinubu’s home base of Lagos, reported parallel congresses. That indicated that the problem had festered.
nPDP has axe to grind
At the height of this, members of the New PDP (nPDP), an amalgam of dissenters from PDP who were received with fanfare into APC in 2014, complained bitterly of being sidelined. They complained that they were not appreciated and recognized within the party despite their efforts at helping it to victory in 2015.
The frustration of the nPDP members showed in the relationship of most of its leaders with the APC in their respective states. An arrowhead of the motley group, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, was literally made a pariah in Kano by the incumbent governor, Umar Ganduje who was Kwankwaso’s deputy in his two separate terms as governor. Kwankwaso’s open cry to leadership of the party fell on deaf ears.
Choked for accommodation, the nPDP members saw the need to ship out. Their initial complaints were ignored. Their efforts to meet with the APC leadership, at first seemed fruitful, but it collapsed to the ambition of some members of the party who believed that state security apparatus could be used to rein everyone in.
However, the biggest of worries for APC members was Tinubu’s alleged overbearing character in the management of affairs of the party.
Tinubu had always wanted to keep hold of the party structure because of his touted ambition of using it as platform to his 2023 presidential plans. This, many believed was reason he moved to ensure that John Odigie-Oyegun was removed as National Chairman and to pave way for someone who was amenable to his desires.
In settling for Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state, APC landed itself in a trap that was cleverly laid for it by dissenters. The trap? Flouting constitution of the party and not allowing for internal democracy, serious allegation by promoters of rAPC.
Announcing the split on Wednesday in Abuja, Engr. Buba Galadima listed among other ‘sins’ of the APC the emergence of Oshiomhole as National Chairman as offending constitution of the party.
He said: “The National Convention of the party was ridiculed with constitutional infirmities that were so glaring and obvious that no fair minded person can claim that a legitimate and lawful executive emerged from that process. The Chairman of the organising Committee, Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, declared 18 seats unopposed and uncontested, since only one valid candidate stood at the end of the grossly manipulated nomination exercise for each of the offices. He therefore proceeded to declare them duly elected in flagrant abuse and violence to the Constitution of the APC”.
This is an indication that Oshiomhole, who had promised to dialogue with the aggrieved members and convince them to return to the party, lacks the locus standi to even appear before them as National Chairman of the party. This worsens the matter for APC because negotiating with an official which election is in contest as being unconstitutional would mean recognizing the office and the official. Describing the convention as “so-called” indicated that the rAPC does not recognize the convention that elected Oshiomhole and other members of the executive. In their argument, “so-called” means the convention never held.
The bigger problem is that APC does not even have a Board of Trustee that could be trusted to lead the charge in negotiating with the aggrieved group. The party had issued letters to members appointing them to the BoT, but has since 2014, been unable to agree on a choice for chairman of the BoT. This compounds its problems as President Buhari, who as national leader of the party, had voiced his difference with the renegade group stating that he will not negotiate with them. For now, the BoT of APC does not exist. It has members but no chairman. It has not met for once.
Grievances of rAPC
Galadimma listed a number of grievances against APC, and lamented, that “the APC government, has been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced”.
To show that what happened to APC has been long in coming, the RAPC did not just stop at announcing a break away from the party, it went ahead to list its officials and state coordinators. These include:
1. Yobe State – Buba Galadima (National Chairman)
2. Kano State – Bala Muhd Gwagwarwa (National Deputy Chairman, North)
3. Abia State – Chief Theo Nkire (National Deputy Chairman, South East)
4. Ondo State – Hon. Eko Olakunle (National Vice Chairman South West)
5. Kaduna State – Hon. Hussaini Dambo (National Vice Chairman North West)
6. Kogi State – Mahmud Mohammed Abubakar – (National Vice Chairman, North Central)
7. Benue State – Hon. Godwin Akaan (Deputy National Secretary)
8. Oyo State -Dr Fatai Atanda (National Secretary)
9. Edo State – Kazeem Afegbua (National Publicity Secretary)
10. Adamawa State – Daniel Bwala (Financial Secretary)
11. Jigawa State – Abba Malami Taura (Deputy National Auditor)
12. Kwara State – Hon. Kayode Omotosho (National Treasurer)
13. Anambra State -Barr. Nicholas Asuzu (National Youth Leader)
14. Rivers State – Barr. Baride A. Gwezia (Legal Adviser)
15. Katsina State – Haj Aisha Kaita (National Woman Leader)
16. Bauchi State – Mrs. Fatima Adamu (National Welfare Secretary)
17. Ogun State -Alh. Isiak Akinwumi (Deputy Financial Secretary)
18. Zamfara State – Alh. Bashir Mai Mashi (Deputy National Treasurer)
19. Abuja – Hauwa Adam Mamuda (Deputy Welfare Secretary)
20. Sokoto State – Hon. Shuaibu Gwanda Gobir (Deputy National Publicity Secretary)
21. Katsina State – M. T. Liman (National Organising Secretary)
22. Niger State – Dr Theo Sheshi ( Deputy National OrganisingSecretary.
11. Some of the State Chairmen include:
1. Adamawa – Dimas Ezra
2. Anambra – Sir Toby Chukwudi Okwuaya
3. Bauchi – Sani Shehu
4. Benue – Noah Mark Dickson
5. Jigawa – Hon. Nasiru Garba Dantiye
6. Kaduna – Col. Gora (Rtd) 7. Kano – Umar Haruna Doguwa
8. Katsina – Sada Ilu
9. Kogi – Alh. Hadi Ametuo
10. Ogun – Alhaji Adeleke Adewale Taofeek
11. Ondo – Hon. Otetubi Idowu
12. Oyo – Alh. Ali Alimi Isiaka Adisa
13. Yobe – Mohammed Burgo Dalah
14. Zamfara – Alh. Nasiru Yakubu
15. Niger – Hon. Samaila Yusuf Kontagora
16. FCT – Adaji Usman
Implication of this is that the break-away party had long organized itself for today. It was only a matter of time before the cards came cascading. As it is now, it will be difficult to get all back into same fold as allegations raised against APC are weighty.
The rAPC had planned to launch its ‘war’ against the party on the day its delegates gathered in Abuja for the national convention. The plan was to have members move out in drove after instigating crisis, and like the nPDP did to PDP in 2014, move over to the PDP headquarters and declare break-away. However, it was gathered that the plot was checkmated by the Federal Government using state operatives who blocked the progress of the plot.
The rAPC has indicated that it will work with likeminds to fashion out a better political future for the country. They insist that Nigeria is too big for the sort of politics that Buhari and his ‘crowd’ has unleashed on it. Indications however are that rAPC will team up with about 40 other political parties to sign a memorandum of understanding with PDP towards the task of ensuring that APC was defeated in the 2019 general election. The MoU could be signed in the next couple of days.
What this portends for APC is diminishing greatness. APC is watching itself fall from a height. This is mainly because it refused to learn from the mistakes of the PDP. While PDP was working to fix its problems and rework itself as the best party for Nigeria’s progress, APC and its leaders went on a garrulous journey of blackmail, insults and abuse. APC leadership and acolytes of the president behaved like Nigeria was a conquered territory and that Nigerians had become slaves who must take whatever the master forced down their throat.
In doing so, APC ignored the sins of lack of internal democracy which brought PDP to its knees.
Faced with same reality like PDP was in 2014, APC will need more than mere dialogue and persuasion to get its members back.
In 2014, the nPDP existed mostly in Abuja and gradually spread to the states leaving PDP with a gale of defections. In the instant case, rAPC already has tentacles spread in almost all the states of the federation, in an environment where politics seems the only thriving business. Those who have been named as leaders of the rAPC in the states will now work hard to retain their positions and use same to bargain for placements in post-2019 general election Nigeria.
As it is, APC will face serious hurdles bringing back the break-away group. Its only option would be to make more use of instruments of state –DSS, EFCC and the judiciary.
The joke comes back to APC as Onu’s envisaged giant is crumbling to its own machinations.
By Femi Qudus….
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