From Baraje, a sermon on APC’s travails, survival
When Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, then acting national chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led some serving governors and other prominent members of the party away from their national convention in Abuja and formed another faction of the party in November 2013, only a few took him serious.
Besides, fewer persons ever imagined that the movement which they thought was a joke, could result in the major plank upon which the then opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) metamorphosed into a formidable force to defeat the incumbent and become the ruling party.
Some of the notable persons then in that seemingly harmless group were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako, incumbent governor of Kwara state, Abdulfatah Ahmed, former governor of Sokoto state, Aliyu Wamako, to mention but a few.
Baraje is at it again. This time around, the Kwara-born chieftain of APC, after a long period of remaining in the background, has surfaced with a warning to his party that the circumstances that informed the mass exit from the PDP were manifesting dangerously in the party.
His is one of the few voices that the Senate President respects and takes seriously. Thus when Baraje talks on issues like this particularly as it affects Saraki, political observers tend to link such comments with Saraki’s unspoken position.
One other voice that is used by the age long Kwaran political hegemonic dynasty now headed by Saraki to test the proverbial waters, is that of the former Leader of the state House of Assembly in the Third Republic, Chief Wole Oke.
Baraje’s recent comments that some members of the APC would not sit back and continue to tolerate impunity in the party especially on the alleged persecution of the Senate President, “by a few elements that don’t like his face,” have begun to generate some interpretations among politicians in the state.
He noted that the zig-zag movement of members of his political block, from one party to the other, especially since the beginning of the present political dispensation in Nigeria should not be interpreted as being political prostitution of a sort.
The fact that we belong to a group that is not very satisfied with the performance of the party not only because the Senate President is currently going through a very pronounced political persecution, but also because there are other cases and instances where we are not happy about the performance of our party,” he added.
There are people in the party in the guise of reconciling people and say they are working for the success of the party while actually doing that for their own selfish interest. But it will lead them to nowhere. We would never romance with impunity. President Buhari should be wary of them and play more politics now
While one would require the prowess of innuendos to unveil the semantics connotations of Baraje’s comments, that of Oke’s could be considered an overt statement.
Oke in a chat with The Guardian in Ilorin, said: “if by any reason the leadership of the APC allows the Senate President to forfeit his seat at the National Assembly, then what will be our benefits in Kwaran politics under this dispensation? It may eventually push the ‘Sarakites’ out of the party and it may spell doom for the APC. This was what the PDP undermined before the last General Elections and eventually became its albatross at the polls.”
Oke said if Saraki had not been duly elected at the Senate as the President, then the problem of his identity could be in doubt. He added, “Saraki was duly elected by his colleagues and ever since had risen to the challenges of the seat as a capable and trusted friend. All that the APC should do is to give him supports and not to distance itself from him. He is the Senate President not by his power but by the reason of his membership of the APC.
“It will be difficult for me to tell the stance of Saraki on his political calculations on pages of newspapers. But we are cautiously waiting for the outcome of his trials. We believe that Saraki will laugh last. Anything can divinely happen in life, so he may be divinely lifted out of the mess. But I pray it will not be the time for the fulfillment of the prophecies of Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory that we are about to witness on this Saraki’s issue. Awolowo had said then that thesis and antithesis would come together and the people of like minds to form a political party. I am already seeing three powerful parties emerging ahead of 2019 and these are APC, PDP and the predicted party.”
But the PDP chairman in Kwara, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo said the PDP rather than breaking into fragments is becoming more solid by the day just as he cited the results of recent polls in some parts of the country. Oyedepo expressed optimism on the fact that the PDP would form government at the national level come the year 2019.
He added, “We should allow the trial to take its due course. Nobody is above the law of the land. If Saraki is discharged and acquitted at the end of the day, no qualms, but we should not stop his trials at all as being canvassed by some people, it will serve a bad precedence.”
Already, some of the lieutenants of the Senate President, Yusuf Maja has said that the movement of Saraki out of APC would spell doom for the party, “but I don’t pray for that anyway.”
Maja noted, “Saraki did not only deliver 100 per cent for the APC in the last general elections but he also spread the same gospel of 100 per cent success to other states in the North Central geo political zone. We are waiting for whatever directive from our leader (Saraki). We are with him and we shall continue to be with him.
Senate’s President trial
Baraje in his comments said: “Many of us have been surprised or taken aback that the party has not been living to expectation about the trial of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Living to expectation in terms of making the Senate President to feel beloved and as part of the party, which is very important for any member, let alone the calibre of the Senate President who has sacrificed lot of money and resources for the party. I have been trying to make the party realise that not only the senate president but everybody that contributed to the success of the party matters from the highest to the lowest hierarchy. We have gotten to a level where we have to be realistic and ensure that the right thing is done at the right time and in the right manner.
“A case in point is the recent rerun elections in Rivers State. You will agree with me that before and during the elections, the APC does not have the expected and desired presence of our party in Rivers State. With the volatile nature of the rerun election, some of us with our humble experiences expected the national presence of our party much more during poll. It is regrettable.
“Today the APC has lost majority of the elections. Not because the party has lost popularity, but because of the lack of enough presence of the party in the various elections. Politics is not technical but practical. If the APC decided to abandon its members at the middle of the election, you don’t expect magic from such action.
Politically, the party should be proud that the Senate President is from the APC. Even though some interests did not want him, he went into an election and won. The PDP episode with (Aminu) Tambuwwal is still fresh in history. The PDP then didn’t throw the baby with the bath water knowing fully well that such move will be counterproductive. It was well managed and that speaker still remained the speaker of the then PDP.
Fulfilling of campaign promises
“But the question should have been what has been stopping us from achieving those promises. I want to say there had been distractions. The (President Muhammadu) Buhari led administration is well intentioned. Lots of things went wrong before Buhari came in and to build is difficult. When there are lots of distractions, you would lose focus and the APC has lots of distractions created by the party itself.
“As disorganised as PDP was, everybody was a member. It was because of the tradition of impunity that was creeping into the PDP that made us raised the alarm and that was why we left and you can see the consequences. Now the same scenario is creeping into the APC. We must sound a note of warning to the President to shine his eyes. There are people in the party in the guise of reconciling people and say they are working for the success of the party while actually doing that for their own selfish interest. But it will lead them to nowhere. We would never romance with impunity. President Buhari should be wary of them and play more politics now.
Possibility of a new party
“We also heard it just like you. But I have not entered any alliance or gone into any meeting with anybody. So far so good, APC is still on ground but we want Mr. President to shine his eyes as Nigerians would say but that cannot be done successfully except he plays politics.