Eighteen months into power, the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives (APC) is getting more complicated by the day, with many chieftains engaging in fierce war of words. While some party members have expressed the fear of possible disintegration, others say unless urgent steps are taken to avert its imminent breakup, President Buhari may no longer seek re-election on the platform of the APC in 2019 if he decides to go for a second term.
For Alhaji Buba Galadima, one of the close allies of President Muhammadu Buhari who worked with him in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 general elections, the governing APC has become like an orphan because nobody is there to take responsibility for its current crisis.
Galadima has declared that Buhari’s lack of interest in party politics, especially in resolving the APC crisis, may lead to its disintegration, thereby leaving him (Buhari) with no political platform on which to run for a second term in 2019 if he decides to seek re-election.
“The APC has been raped aground, and it is only claiming to be in government because it is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that is actually controlling power,” Galadima told Daily Trust on Sunday, adding that by his utterances, Buhari was not interested in party politics; hence the rancour within the APC.
“Definitely, I know that General Muhammadu Buhari will not want to run on the platform of any party because he has already cast aspersion on party politics and politicians. So we would try to find out on what platform he would contest if he wants to be president in 2019. On what vehicle he would ride, but definitely not on a political party,” he said.
Galadima said certain people were undermining the party; hence the difficulties in having a solid house, pointing out that several meetings of the party were aborted.
“The party had shared invitation letters for Board of Trustees (BoT) meetings and it was aborted. You now have to find out who aborted those meetings. We only met once as the national caucus of the party. Let’s assume that the president doesn’t like the party executive, he’s now the president, he can find a way of easing them out.
“Have you ever seen in the history of Nigeria, where in the secretariat of the ruling party, water is disconnected, electricity is disconnected, salaries of aides and workers are not paid for six months? It’s shameful, it’s disgraceful and we claim to be in government. We are not saints,” he said.
He also disclaimed insinuations that members of President Buhari’s former party, the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are being favoured so that even if the APC disappears before 2019, he (Buhari) would have something to fall onto.
“Can there be CPC without Buba Galadima and Sule Hamma and AVM Mukhtar Mohammed? What appointment do they have? Have we ever seen the president since he became one?
“Who are the CPC people? Even the national chairman of the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, told me that the president only appointed CPC people. Can you count five people that were CPC and are in this government? I hope you know that the CPC was formed on this desk (referring to his office at Zone 4, Abuja) without even Buhari’s knowledge. So, if they appoint CPC people and I don’t know them, who else would know them?” he asked.
Galadima said those fighting for the presidency ticket of the APC would realise their mistakes when they found themselves in prison.
“For those of us who had worked with the head of this government (Buhari) in the last 14 years, we are not surprised that this is happening. In fact, our view is that the nation is yet to see the better part or the worst part of this government,” he said.
“We never expected any magic to happen; and even while we were there, we took initiatives and responsibilities. This is why people saw things moving in the movement; people saw things being done in the party (defunct APP, ANPP, CPC and APC) in the campaign because there were those who would make initiatives and take responsibility, whether wrong or right.
“For now, there isn’t such kind of group or people within the system. I know that people accuse certain individuals who are close to Mr President, but I consider them innocent,” he said.
Asked if the problem bedevilling the government and the APC as a party was because there was no adequate preparation in terms of blueprint and manpower to take over from the PDP, Galadima said: “Well, I wish when he was running for 14 years as candidate he had certain people in mind, because from what’s happening, which we all know, is that the president has not appointed more than three people he actually knew.
“Apart from his personal domestic staff that were being paid salaries to work for him as a former head of state, any other person was brought by somebody else. He doesn’t even know them; he doesn’t even have a background check on them because if he knew, or those around him knew, certain people would never have been appointed into some of these sensitive positions,” he said.
Galadima re-echoed the rumble within the hierarchy of the ruling APC, which was hitherto seen as an alternative to the PDP, which 16 years in government at the centre since the return of democracy in 1999, have been described as wasteful.
But to many political watchers, the purported “hegemony” of the APC is being questioned from within and without; with some founding members of the party saying it would hardly survive 2019. While some believe the crisis in the APC is the consequence of ‘marriage of convenience’ that could not be sealed, others accuse President Buhari of not serving as a rallying point for varied interest.
A senator from the North-East who is very close to Buhari, however, said the president was being undermined by those desperate to take over from him in 2019.
“The rancour in the APC is being orchestrated by some people in order to frustrate and distract Buhari from performing,” he said, stressing that Buhari is so far the only person that has the capacity to bring social reforms in the country, and if he is not supported, the country will fail.
The senator, who wouldn’t want his name in print, drew reference to the recent diatribe between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, as well as the fight between the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and national leader Bola Tinubu, in addition to a widespread disaffection and fight for the soul of the party in states like Kano, Bauchi, Ondo, Lagos, among others. Pundits believe that it is no longer news that the APC is exploding.
President Buhari has not clearly said he would be going for a second term, but there seems to be a consensus in political circles that he may likely seek re-election in 2019.
Amidst this dicey option, the echo from the South-West, which gives big support to the Buhari project, is not in any way palatable, while in the North, there are pointers to the fact that those who feel they have a stake in the APC have already adjusted their sleeves, gunning for the president’s seat.
In the South-West, supporters of Tinubu are reportedly calling on him to float a new party and strip the APC of his support, saying he has been set aside in the scheme of things.
Under the hash tag #IStandWithTinubu, a grand rally was held in Lagos, where Tinubu’s supporters expressed displeasure over state of affairs in the APC.
The argument is that in the event that Tinubu pulls out of the APC, the party would be ‘too malnourished’ to win re-election although there are insinuations that President Buhari is building a new bloc in the zone through ministers and other appointees.
In the North, a war has broken between Atiku and El- Rufa’I, with each accusing the other of nursing ambition.
“Alhaji Atiku is already running for 2019, and he thinks he can make people like us collateral damage in his attempt to rejuvenate his image.
“This obsession for power inclined him to support the rebellion against the party (APC) that manifested in the National Assembly, and is continuing with obvious disrespect for the incumbent president.
“Everyone knows that I support and will continue to work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari as he leads our country through tough times,” said El-Rufai in a statement issued within the week.
The Kaduna State governor was responding to an allegation made by Atiku in an interview, in which he claimed that he turned down shares offered him by El-Rufai during the incorporation of Transcorp Hilton.
Analysts believe that both El-Rufai and Atiku are struggling for the presidency in 2019, and that their fight will take a different shape in the event that Buhari goes for a second term.
As the APC is being gradually fragmented as predicted, it means that almost everybody, including the president, would have to look for a different platform to survive.
‘APC lacks leadership’
Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South), however, heaped the blame of the chaos in their party on the national leadership of the party.
“People should not forget that the APC is an amalgamation of different factions, orientations, experiences and even personalities.
“Therefore, if the party wins and forms the government, the party leadership should be able to mash those different groups. There should be a proper and proactive approach while the government is concentrating on governance. Again, they must have some proactive engagement with the government too, but unfortunately, the leadership of the party is not active enough,” he said.
He said Buhari should not be blamed because he has too many things to contend with. “Buhari is the president of Nigeria, and of course he is the national leader of the party. But who does the day-to-day running of the party? Who does the day-to-day monitoring of the party? Who does the day-to-day control of the party?
“Look, the fact is that Mr President is handling lots of serious jobs; somebody who wants to change Nigeria, somebody who wants to crush corruption, somebody who wants to fight insecurity, and then the economy is dwindling. How can he have time to go and be talking on the party? So, the leader (chairman) of the party is the person responsible. If the party is in crisis, it’s his responsibility,” he said.
Senator Ibrahim also dismissed claims that President Buhari has shot his doors for the party leadership; hence their inability to galvanise forces.
“Unfortunately, people thought that as a retired federal permanent secretary, he (Oyegun) should be able to set up internal conflict resolution mechanisms, considering where the party came from, which is amalgamation of various groups.
“The president is facing gargantuan task, the price of oil, the revenue, then fighting insecurity and fighting corruption. I mean these are enough to fill caps. Therefore, he needs an astute political party manager, who will be able to see things, who will be able to create mechanisms that would resolve conflicts,” he said.
Asked if he agrees with the call by Tinubu that Oyegun should resign, Senator Ibrahim said, “Of course, if he likes let him resign, I don’t bother myself. You see, unfortunately, in Nigeria you don’t resign.”
He also expressed reservations over the fight between Atiku and El-Rufai, saying that they were running faster than their shadows. “We have a sitting president. And did he tell you that he’s not going to contest? We have not even gone halfway and we have to perform first before we would start thinking of winning election.
“So, all of them should cooperate with the president to perform and make the party winnable. They all know that if Buhari is going to contest, he will be the first to be considered, he will get the right of first refusal.
“They should be cooperative and control their ambitions until the party and the government reach a certain level and do enough to sure that we would win again. They should advise the president on what to do so that by 2019 we would have no opposition,” he said.
‘Tinubu has been sidelined’
The APC chairman in Lagos State, Chief Henry Oladele Ajomale, who is a core loyalist of Tinubu, said the South-West was sad over the unfolding events in the APC.
“Asiwaju has been somehow taken out of the caucus of the party, the leadership of the party. We believe that it should not be so, having considered the tremendous contributions he made to the success of the APC in the last election.
“I think the party has been hijacked, or Mr. President is not really facing the party as necessary. Perhaps he is concentrating so much on governance without using one eye to watch the party, and that is where the problem is.
“When you say you have a programme in government, that platform should not be abandoned because that is the stage post. And the promises that were given out on that platform during the campaign are what the party should be reminding Mr. President of. These are promises we made, so let us follow them strictly,” he said.
Dispelling the rumour that Tinubu is supporting the move for the formation of a new party in the South-West, Ajomale said: “We are not part of it. I can assure you that we are not part of that.”
‘APC overloaded with problems’
A member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2015, Alhaji Ibrahim Jirgi, said the APC was overloaded with problems.
“There is crisis all over. If you look at the state chapters, they have their own crisis. At the national level, there is a serious problem, and the fact is that the APC is derailing. The plane is full of passengers, but they are mostly PDP card carrying members who are sabotaging the will of progress of the party,” he said.
Jirgi wondered why nearly two years after taking over, hundreds of board members inherited from the previous PDP government are allowed to flourish when those who worked for the APC are left grumbling.
“Where is the fate of the over 5000 President Buhari’s campaign coordinators and the APC campaign council members that were drawn from all over the country?” He said many members of the APC were angry despite the fact that the journey hasn’t gone far.
Re-alignments gone far
A senator who is aware of the developments in the APC told Daily Trust on Sunday that all the stalwarts of legacy parties that merged to form the party are now regrouping and realigning ahead of 2019.
“It is true that the CPC are holding secret meetings independent of the APC, but they are not in it alone as the nPDP and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) top guns have also formed a new alliance,” he said.
According to him, the #IStandWithTinubu rally staged in Lagos was part of the strategy, and members of the CPC bloc in the APC are fully aware of it. The senator, who is part of the re-alignment, said there was no how the crack in the APC could be cemented before 2019. The senator, who sought identity protection, said South-West governors were teaming up with the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the forthcoming Ondo election against the APC candidate in order to start depleting the influence of the party.
“As I am talking to you, over N800million has been contributed to the AD candidate by the governors of the South-West. The governors are solidly behind the AD candidate. It is by God’s will that our party (APC) candidate will win.
“The defunct ACN and the nPDP are working hard and secretly. They are reviving their political structures and machineries because they feel that they are not being treated well in this administration.
“They said it was as a result of their structures that the APC won the 2015 elections, but they are being treated as second fiddle in this administration, “he said.
A political scientist at the University of Ilorin, Professor Hassan Salihu, said President Buhari made a mistake which is hunting him now. He noted that it would not be ideal for any head of government to detach himself from other arms of government.
“Given the level of political party system in Nigeria, the level of government institutions, it would not be idealistic for one head of arm of government to detach himself from happenings in other arms. As the captain of the ship, he should have had a way of monitoring events if he is not involved directly, and speak to some people in order to get the outcome that will enable him implement his campaign promises.
“The president is idealistic in terms of what should be the relationship between him and the party, but because he so distanced himself in a way, that is why we are having problems in the APC, which is why we are having problem in the National Assembly, translating to the rejection of everything he sent to them,” he said.
APC moves to mend fences
Two weeks ago, governors elected on the platform of the APC moved to address the grievances in the party.
The chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) and the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, who met with the Odigie-Oyegun-led APC National Working Committee (NWC), said the party leadership needed to make some amendments to enable the party forge ahead.
Okorocha also met with Senate President Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, where he said President Buhari would soon meet the APC leaders to address the problems in the party.
Speaking to newsmen at the APC secretariat after the meeting, Oyegun said: “We noticed that there is so much bitterness among the ranks and members of our party, and there is a need for communication and dialogue, otherwise, division is inevitable.
“The party will be restructured for the purpose of making it stronger, and to move forward as a people and as a party. No one is going to boot anybody out. Where there is need, we shall make amendment in order to save the party and move it forward,” he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also met with Saraki, Dogara and five governors of the APC last Monday, to resolve the rising discontent in the party over lack of consultations by President Buhari in his federal appointments.
The governors who attended the meeting were Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Sanni Bello of Niger State, and Jibril Bindow of Adamawa. Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola arrived after the meeting had been concluded.
Also in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David, and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
‘Tinubu’s interest well served in Buhari’s government’
Chief Osita Okechukwu, an associate of Buhari and the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), told Daily Trust on Sunday that the division in the party was not deep enough to cause the kind of rift peddled in the media, and that the president was not engaged in any scheme to give him advantage come 2019.
He said the national leader of the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, had no reason to complain of marginalisation because his interest was being well catered for in the Buhari-led government.
“Buhari is faced with the task of repositioning Nigeria for development. This is a more urgent task than the 2019 power game. He has been elected to put the country on the path of development, and that’s what he’s doing. If you talk about marginalisation in government, Bola Tinubu cannot complain. His interest is well served in this government. He has not come out to express the discontent that we have read about in the newspapers.
“The current government is an amalgamation of five interest groups: the CPC, which produced Buhari, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which produced Vice President Osinbajo, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which produced the Minister of Science & Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the new the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), which produced Senate President Bukola Saraki, as well as diverse individuals and groups from other political groups who joined the APC before the 2015 elections.
According to him, Buhari is not ignorant of complaints by party members. “Those who came together to defeat the PDP want to have their own share of the spoil, mainly through appointments, which have not been forthcoming because this government met an empty treasury. The only substantial amount in the purse when Buhari came in was used to bailout states who owed workers salaries for many months,” he said.
On the allegation that the party is funded by government, Osita said: “Buhari can’t implement PDP’s template for running party offices. He is fighting corruption; hence he can’t engage in corruption.”(Daily Trust)