APC IN POWER: Change Begets Exchange
THREE months after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released result of the presidential and National Assembly elections, the real verdict is now on full display. New conclusions about the election are currently being grasped in the public domain. Some of the uncomplimentary verdicts of history are as follows: The All Progressives Congress (APC) did not win the election on its merit. The party snatched victory through guile and mass hypnotism. APC’s victory was defined by greed.
Some politicians saw a man, who had 12 million votes in the bank and went for him. Therefore, like every conspiracy, the gory details of what went wrong and who did what are threatening the party’s existence. And in the present testy circumstances, it is obvious that those Nigerians, who felt that APC is showing early signs of fatigue based on the absence of cohesion among its coalescing partners, are being proved right.
But when the former acting national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, stated that individual competence and capacity (ICC) would determine the election into the topmost positions of the National Assembly, little did he know that he was raising the code for the eventual defeat of his party early in the life of the Federal Government it was forming. The ICC code, this time, International Conference Centre, was to cap up the dangerous dent on recent history for APC.
Though, Akande was reflecting on the contentious issues of who occupies positions of Speaker of House of Representatives and President of Senate, on a larger scale, individual competence and capacity continues to play out on the contest for power and influence in the party and its appendage systems.
For a very long time, the idea of convening a meeting of elected representatives on the same day and about the same time the National Assembly was proclaimed to kick off would continue to haunt APC leaders, who wanted to dictate the tune in the election of principal officers of the Eighth NASS.
It was obvious that inebriated by the fact of its control of the levers of federal political power and might, some APC chieftains forgot that it was the same behavioural tendency that it daubed ‘impunity’ when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was exercising authority.
The role reversal between APC in opposition that waged relentless propaganda warfare against then ruling PDP and APC in power versus a defeated PDP that has settled for opposition politics, shadows the confused state of the polity. That national stagnation has set in is all too evident judging from the fact that three months after it succeeded in dethroning PDP from presidential power, APC is yet to settle down and form a government.
The greed for power, which energised the major actors in the legacy parties to unite in combat against PDP, has reared its ugly head to torment the victorious party. As the struggle for prominent and influential positions in the bi-cameral federal legislature has shown, APC is also being haunted by indiscipline and political arrogance.
As the chieftains of the party must have seen, the indiscipline, which it encouraged in PDP, both by supporting political deviance and receiving with open arms those who excelled in acts of gross insubordination to PDP leadership, is at the root of its present organisational trauma.
Nigerians are now getting to know that the merger that produced APC was hastily procured without building necessary institutional pillars that sustain political parties. What seemed to be uppermost in the minds of the leaders of the major tributaries of political influence during the merger talks was how to then defeat incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, instead of how to build a durable political platform. Now that APC has succeeded in that promise, it is now left with the question of who could be said to be the leader of the party.
Is it the man who had 12 million votes in the bank or the one who had six states under his control? National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, attempted to answer the question by stressing that given the circumstances of the birth of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari (not minding that he has emerged president on that platform) is not the leader of the party. Much later, Special Assistant to the President on Media Matters, Mr. Garba Shehu, dismissed Mohammed’s answer as being laced with ignominious mischief, and rather, stated that President Buhari is the leader of APC.
It is left to be seen whether on account of the fact that both men have their bread buttered by either of the personalities in contention, their position stands with objectivity.
But then, having managed to raise the structure, how about the superstructure, the connecting philosophy and guiding principles to complete the tripod? What the foregoing predicts is that the integrity of the party is in doubt as such the crevices that have so far emerged may keep on widening leading to a possible collapse as happened to PDP in August 2013.
That may be in the long run, but in the immediate, the various schemes that threw up the present existential pangs in APC and influenced the fights in the twin chambers of the National Assembly revolved around several individuals.
It is, therefore, this individual conflict of desires and designs more than any other factor that would continue to trouble APC. A lot therefore depends on how the clash of individual interests is resolved in the party:
Atiku Versus Buhari FORMER Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is a politician who has the gravitas for political battles. Apart from being blessed with a deep pocket, Atiku understands Nigeria politics well enough, having mingled with powerful politicians like late Tafidan Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. That the former Vice President is interested in occupying the presidential seat is not in doubt.
Having contested the presidency long before the enthronement of this dispensation, he has also demonstrated serious efforts to become president after serving as Vice President. In 2007, he defected from PDP to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to contest the presidency. Again, in 2011, after reconnecting with PDP, Atiku beat General Ibrahim Babangida, Ahmed Gusau and Olubukola Saraki, to clinch the consensus ticket of the north to confront President Goodluck Jonathan.
The irony of the presidential contest of 2011 and northern elders to retrieve power from President Jonathan was that in their search for consensus candidate, they did not give chance to General Muhammadu Buhari, whose candidacy on the platform of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) was a given. In 2015, after APC came on the scene, assisted by the Asiwaju political structure in the South West, Buhari beat Atiku, Governors Rabi’u Kwankwaso, Rochas Okorocha and Sam Nda-Isaiah to clinch the presidential ticket.
Many a Nigerian politician, mostly those of the PDP stock had the impression that Atiku would quit APC if the ticket were not available for him.
But after the well-organised national convention of APC in Lagos, Atiku took his loss to Buhari with uncharacteristic humility and comradeship. To a great extent, Atiku’s display supported the perception that he entered into a pact with Buhari.
Those who are in the know disclosed that a mutual relationship was cemented between the two northern politicians in the understanding that should Buhari go ahead to win the presidency, the coast would be clear for Atiku to have another taste of the action in 2019. “Moreover, Buhari agreed that Atiku was a consummate politician and that since he was coming to reposition the country, he would not want to exceed just one term in office,” a source disclosed.
Perhaps, it was against the background of such a political understanding that Atiku decided to play the politics in APC, while Buhari concerns himself with the rigours of delivering on his mandate. As it turned out, the June 9, 2015 encounter between Senator Saraki and Senator Ahmed Lawan, was the first fruits of Turaki Adamawa’s deft political engineering. Atiku suspects that the attempt to drag Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe into the APC structure is to rekindle the leadership rivalry in the North East.
Both contested the presidential ticket of Social Democratic Party (SDP) before Kingibe was chosen by M.K. O Abiola to serve as his running mate. Tinubu, on the other hand, seems to want to dictate the political tune in the zone to further whittle down Atiku’s influence.
Atiku Versus Tinubu AHMED Bola Tinubu is not called the Jagaban Borgu, for nothing. The former Lagos Governor proved his political wizardry, in 2003, when he dared the Ebora Owu and survived the political Tsunami that swept other South West governors out of office prematurely.
Sensing the insincerity in the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s pact with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors, Tinubu mobilised enough of area boys in Lagos, threatening to set the whole place ablaze should garrison style rigging be allowed to feature in Lagos. Those who could, would recall that the name of the PDP governorship candidate in the election featured briefly on the INEC website before Tinubu was announced as winner.
That way, Tinubu got his second term mandate. And employing a mix of political magnanimity and strategic planning, Tinubu used his second term in office to build up other politicians in the South West. To some, he gave political appointments; to others, he empowered for political relevance and visibility in their respective zones.
That political engineering paid off in the 2007 election. AD, which had become ACN, swept the governorship poll in all the states in the zone, but one.
It was that platform that Atiku crossed over to for an energised contest in the 2007 presidential election against Obasanjo’s preferred candidate in PDP, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. However, believing that Tinubu skewed the resources for the election to carve out his own political empire and personalise the ACN, Atiku moved back to PDP.
In the absence of Atiku, Tinubu brought the former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, to contest the presidency in 2011.
At the end of the day, it was obvious that ACN returned all its governorship candidates in the South West, losing by hair breath Adamawa, from where both Atiku and Ribadu hail.
No sooner was the presidential election won and lost than words started making the rounds that Tinubu allegedly sold ACN support in South West to President Jonathan.
This narrative was said to have featured in several discussions between Atiku and Buhari after the 2014 convention, where Atiku was quoted as complaining that this ‘Man’ from Lagos believes that every northerner is a political moron that he can trade with.
And purposed not to allow Tinubu the pleasure of calling the shots in APC at the expense of Buhari, Atiku decided not to quit the second time, but to stand and fight from within! He abandoned the special purpose vehicle (Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM) that was got ready for his presidential campaign and supported Buhari to victory to Tinubu’s dismay.
Saraki Versus Tinubu EVEN from his name, Olubukola, it is easy to identify the former Governor of Kwara State and Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial zone as Yoruba.
Like Tinubu, Saraki understands Nigeria politics very well, and has his eyes set always on the future. Since both men are also Muslims, they know that 2019 was a propitious moment to rejig the political configuration of APC.
Consequently, they seemed to understand that only the person that remains relevant till that opportune time could have a breathing space to ventilate any ambition, either to be godfather or go-getter.
As an experienced politician, Asiwaju knows that ambition defines Saraki’s politics, as such, the former Lagos Governor suspects that if Saraki should be allowed to increase in political strength, he definitely would have to decline in influence over the South West politics.
It is, therefore, in a bid to limit Saraki’s climb on the national political ladder that Tinubu devised the political equation that sought to remove the Senate Presidency away from the North Central, having seen that the young political Turk from Kwara would make a mince-meat of Senator George Akume, in an electoral contest at the floor of the Senate.
With the benefit of hindsight, most people argue that Tinubu would have played the religious card to deliver Akume as Senate President and save APC the attendant headache caused by the zoning alteration.
PDP Versus APC IF APC succeeded in trouncing PDP at the 2015 election, the fact that it did not garner absolute majority in the National Assembly, particularly in the Senate, proved its albatross.
Literally, if APC smothered the snake PDP, the failure to cut off its head, turned out to provide the facility for the reptile to fight back with its venomous tongue.
Feeling the shame and bitterness of having to lose the presidential seat to an inchoate amalgam, PDP recalls how APC laid the foundation for its destruction by feeding on the sensibilities of some of its highbrow members.
But for APC, for instance, the five state governors that eventually defected from PDP would not have had a commensurate platform to join and enjoy national attention. Not that alone, the misreading of the dynamics of majority membership in the legislature under a presidential system, which shook PDP when 37 members defected to APC, encouraged the indiscipline that trailed the last days of PDP. This led to the attempted shut down of government.
And so, falling back on its 49 members in the Senate and the facility of former renegades, PDP was eager to recover its voice and face by paying back APC in its own coin of mischief and destabilisation.
Unsure of its strength in the dying days of the 7th NASS, PDP did not get its acts together until it kissed defeat for the first time in 16 years. With the present setting and PDP sitting comfortable to mock its unsure and unsteady steps toward forming the federal government, APC’s travails looks as if it would linger.
Dogara Positioning WITH the body language of Buhari suggesting a one-term presidency, the desire by various entrenched political interest groups to position effectively for the 2019 election adds to the tense situation in APC.
As Tinubu is said to have decided to go for Lawan in a strategy to dispense some political good deed to North East so that in 2019, he could support a Christian candidate from that zone with whom he could contest the presidency.
Yet the Saraki seemed to have decoded the plot and with the influence of nPDP, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, a Christian was elected as Speaker of House of Representatives.
In effect, the Dogara Speakership fits into similar mould presented by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, when he was associated with the possibility of flying the APC presidential flag. Now, with the present setting, if APC moves to instill discipline by going after Saraki and Dogara, the party must have opened itself up for a repeat of history.
Though, PDP may not be the ultimate beneficiary of any mass defection similar to the one APC midwifed against it, there is time enough for a new political party to come on stream.
Already, sources hinted that a group of politicians held talks on the possibility floating a new party in Dubai and Saudi Arabia recently.
There is no doubt that should such an opportunity present itself, APC would end up as a flash in the pan. Is a Dogara/Saraki presidency feasible then? In politics everything is possible and remains on the table! After all the Lawan/Akume kite that failed to fly has provided that indication.
Ekweremadu’s Devious Logic WALLOWING in the euphoria of his emergence as the only man standing from wreckage of PDP leadership, Deputy President of Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, announced to journalists in Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; that his emergence was to balance the political equation in Nigeria, which tends to isolate the South East in the emerging APC Federal Government.
What seems to be missing from Ekweremadu’s devious logic is that not being a member of the APC, his position as Deputy President of Senate would hold no more relevance than serving to discomfit the party with the majority in the Senate.
Despite the fact that it could be hard for APC to garner the two third majority needed to remove Ekweremadu from his position through impeachment, should good political counsel prevail in the APC, he could be easily traded off.
Ekweremadu’s return may have succeeded in ensuring that the two APC members of the House of Representatives from the South East were not considered in the zoning of offices at the Green Chamber, but it cannot attract any positive political advantages to South East.
However, the possibility that time and chance could necessitate the Deputy President of Senate to preside grants PDP a hat trick against APC, something it achieve, but by proxy in Tambuwal.
Buhari’s Absentee Leadership NOT long ago, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar observed that Buhari is a leader and not a politician. What Atiku did not add is that the converted democrat knows how to give leadership in a military setting.
Otherwise, he should have known that a Nigerian president that would need his executive bills passed should be interested in who calls the shot in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
As such, it could be politically correct to assert that as a democrat and president of all, you would not interfere in the processes that would provide the leaders of the legislators that would give you the raw materials needed to drive governance in a democracy.
In the same vein, it would be also politically expedient to influence the process by working towards an answer, as clever politicians are wont to do. But if you insist that you belong to everybody and belong to nobody at the same time, at your back, your interest may not be protected. Even in the animal kingdom, ii is often said that whenever the kite is away, the mice will play.
The playacting taking place in NASS to the shame and detriment of APC as a party could therefore be traced to the absentee leadership Buhari is showing by his non-interference posture. At least, as a president that yearns earnestly to turn around the fortunes of Nigeria, even if you would not interfere, nothing stops you from leading discussions to resolve some knotty issues.
This is the same political aloofness that robbed the former infantry General of the support and collaboration of northern political elites until Tinubu came around with his political dexterity?