Analysts had predicted the implosion of the ruling party shortly after the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly. In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL writes that APC is currently in a crisis situation and that seems to be impacting negatively on governance.
It is obvious that all is not well with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC going by the division in the party. There are lots of bickering and backlashes by some members. Unfortunately, this has negatively affected governance in general.
Shortly after the party won the 2015 Presidential election, analysts had predicted that APC would soon implode because of the circumstances surrounding it merger.
In 2013, four different political parties came together to form APC so as to wrestle power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. They are: Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and factional All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA led by Rochas Okorocha.
Chairman of the merger committee of the ACN, Tom Ikimi, who later left APC due to his ambition of becoming chairman of the party was thwarted, had said the need for a formidable party to wrest power out of the PDP was more urgent than ever.
“At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge, we the following political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become All Progressive Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people,” he said.
Ever since the party came to power, it has been from one crisis to another owing to different political background and ideology of its members. First, it was the leadership crisis in the Senate where some group of Senators called ‘Likes Minds’ defied the party and championed the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President as against the choice of the party in the person of Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Of course, some leaders of the party like Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande were not happy with the development because it was seen by many as a slap on the face of the party. The other group of senators known as the ‘Unity Forum’ mounted serious pressure on Saraki to respect the wish of the party and step aside, but to no avail.
Tinubu and other APC leaders wanted Lawan to become Senate President because he is loyal to the powers that be. Again, he was a ranking member of the then ANPP, one of the political parties that gave birth to the APC. On the other hand, Saraki is seen as member of the new PDP and somebody who cannot be easily controlled.
The party has been desperate to remove Saraki as the Senate President and one way to achieve this is through the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Saraki is currently facing trial at the CCT for under declaring his asset as governor of Kwara state.
Nigerians are much aware that Saraki’s trial is politically motivated to remove him in office. In view of this, it is not surprising that no member of the party has come out to speak on the matter except recently when the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of party, Mr Timi Frank, said the continued trial of Saraki at the CCT was worrisome.
According to him, “I sincerely hold that the current trial of Saraki is not only undeserved,but amounts to paying a good man with evil. I also want to say that the leaders of our great
party have unfortunately remained quiet in the
face of evil. I don’t believe we have forgotten that the victory of the APC during the last general elections could not have been possible without courageous strategists like Saraki who lent their political weight in favour of the APC at the risk
of their own lives and personal survival.
“I don’t think we have forgotten how Saraki as a Senator in the 7th Senate brought the attention of Nigerians to the fraud perpetrated by the last administration in the name of fuel subsidy. I recall how Saraki led five other governors of the Peoples Democratic Party into the APC – a development that successfully turned the political tide against the PDP and eventually tipped the electoral scale against them during
the 2015 general elections. I don’t think we have forgotten how Saraki led scores of Senators to cross over to the APC on the floor of the Senate”.
While some people say Timi Frank was making such comments because he was not allowed to occupy the position of the national publicity secretary, others argued that he was merely stating the fact as an insider.
Perhaps, this seeming crisis rocking the party has forced many to ask: Can a house divided against itself stand? The answer is simply No!
There are palpable cracks in the party because many of the members are no longer happy with President Muhammadu Buhari not funding the party. There are internal squabblings going on in the party. For instance, the party is having problem in Kano because of the face-off between Governor Umar Ganduje and Senator Musa Kwankwaso. The party is also facing crisis in Bayelsa where Timipre Sylva was accused of collecting money from Heineken Lopobiri to nominate him as minister.
Many are of the opinion that this festering crisis brewing in the ruling party has the potential of destroying it. Although APC leaders have always projected that the party remains strong and united, the body language of some members indicates otherwise.
While reacting on the Bayelsa crisis, Timi Frank said, “I spoke about my state in Bayelsa, people ignored me. I am speaking again; it would happen soon at the national level that these things we are hiding have started already.
“If anybody should tell you there is no division even at the national level, they are telling lies. I can tell you there are issues; there are very critical issues.The issue of the Senate President is still lingering; nobody is saying anything at the national level, but I tell you, any Nigerian that knows will tell you very clearly that with the body language of our party as of today, if we are not careful, we are going to lose our popularity.
“It will be a very big disgrace that we have hands that are not competent at the centre to harmonise the aggrieved persons and make us to move forward. So, there is crisis in the party. We have too many divisions right now within the party. So, I won’t be scared to speak; that is my personal opinion and I have spoken again and I will continue to speak out.”
But the National Secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni swiftly dismissed Frank’s assertions, saying the allegations were “bogus” and should be disregarded.
According to Buni, “The bogus and misleading allegations are unnecessary distractions to the party’s resolve to fully support the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to deliver on the motley promises made by our great party to the electorate. The APC national leadership remains united and solidly committed to the task of bringing cohesion to the party at all levels. Recently, the APC held its National Caucus and National Executive Committee meetings where positive and far-reaching decisions were collectively taken by the party’s leadership to drive the party forward”.
Buhari government is almost one year now, but from all indication, he has not hit the ground running in terms of reviving the comatose economy and address youth unemployment.
Of course , there is no way Buhari can achieve on his campaign promises without support from his party. Leaders of the party, knowing that all is not well with the party, had to summon a National Caucus and National Executive Committee meetings to address some of these crisis bedevilling the party. At the moment, Nigerians are at the receiving end of this crisis because governance is gradually taking the back seat.
Furthermore, many political pundits have argued that at the moment, the ruling party is like a house divided against itself. They strongly believe that unless and until the leaders of the party are able to come together, walk with one accord and find lasting solutions urgently, APC will not only become history in no distant time, but also give way for the opposition in 2019.