The clash of political interests in the ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC, according to many Nigerians, is significantly responsible for the current slow economic recovery under President Muhammadu Buhari administration. SAMUEL ODAUDU critically examines the issues
THE TASK of fixing the myriads of Nigeria’s economic, political, security and social problems inherited by the present administration in 2015 has been a subject of public debate among Nigerians. Has the government of President Muammadu Buhari delivered? Or is it delivering the change agenda as promised? Are the signs positive that it will deliver? The answers to these questions are readily in the streets among the citizens. To many Nigerians, one of the greatest challenges to this government in terms of its performance so far is tied to the divided interest among the political class, especially in the ruling party, th All Progressive Congress, APC. From all indications, all reports are pointing at the division in APC’s leadership echelon. While many believe that the famed cabal around the president and it’s desperation to entrench its ulterior interest is what has tied the progress of the administration, other analysts are of the view that rather, President Buhari’s biggest problem is that the variegated interests in APC have made it impossible for the party leaders to come together in one spirit, synergise their socio-economic strategies and mobilize Nigerians towards one purpose, actualisable Change Agenda. The consequence is that Nigerians are growing impatient. Worse still, there is a wide government-public communication gap that has significantly disconnected the masses from government policies and programmes. But instead of the governors, party leaders and loyalists to join ands together with the executive council in order to help Presudent Buhari, it seems all attention has been shifted to 2019 elections. APC Governors: Obviously, the most influential political pressure group in the system, the governors of APC extraction under the aegis of Progressive Governors are wielding enormous power under the current dispensation. Recent reports state that the governors are seriously making strategic moves to become the most respected voice in the polity ahead of 2019. Besides, they are already disatisfied with the Iyegun-led leadership. They contend that the national chairman creates divisions in the party by supporting candidates outside state governors’ interest during crucial state elections. They are thus plotting to remove the national chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun, as well as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. One of the recent accusations by Timi Frank, the suspended Publicity Secretary of the party. According to him, the national chairman intends to review the party’s constitution in order to push some party leaders out of the party. Other top leaders of the party such as Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president, have spoken openly their displeasure over the way and manner Oyedpgun has been handling the affairs of the party. Infact, Tinubu has made an out call for Oyegun to resign as the national chairman of the party. The SGF controversy Some analysts have posited that the controversy surrounding the recent ordeal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Engr. Lawal Babachir, is not unconnected to the political division in the ruling party. It is a political media trial, they insist saying that it is a handiwork of political cabal that is uncomfortable with hus loyalty to President Buhari. They are of the view that, if it were during the era of the People Democratic Party, PDP, the party would ave shielded him from any form of public embarrassment. NASS Factor It is the same political interest factor that has put a knife in any understanding between
the leadership of the Natioal Assembly and the leadership of the party. According to political observers, it is abnormal for the National Assembly with APC law makers as majority to keep working across purposes with an APC-led government resulting in recent open disagreement between the president and the law makers on major policy issues and appointments into federal institutions such as the issue of $30billion loan, confirmation of the acting chairman of te EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, as the substantive chairman of the Commission, amba sororal nominees, and recently, the allegations of corruption leveled against the SGF, Babachir. North-east stakeholders: An influential group in the North-east known as North-East Consolidated Farmers Forum, NECFF, has waded into the matter. For a while now, they have been holding consultative meetings, organsing press conferences and issuing press statements to maintain their position as political stakeholders in the North-east geopolitical zone. According to the president of NECFF, Mohammed Liman Abba, all the happenings in the party are calculated efforts to destabilise the government of President Buhari. “All that has been happenning in our party, APC, is well known to all well meaning Nigerians. It is a calculated effort to destabilise the government of President Buhari by trying to remove those that are loyal to him. All these point at 2019 election and it is the APC governors that are causing the instability in the system. The ultimate target of the plot is to frustrate Mr. President’s administration and armtwist him from recontesting or endorsing anybody to contest, that is, if he wishes not to recontest. They (governors) are the ones making moves to remove the national chairman of our party, Chief John Oyegun because he is loyalt to Mr. President; they are the ones plotting the downfall of the SGF, Babachir; they are the ones plotting to sack the NWC of APC under Chief Oyegun”, he said. The group further said that the entire plot is to make the government of President Buhari vulnerable and whittle down the influence of North-east political stakeholders ahead of 2019, a situation they said was unacceptable to them. The farmers with strong grassroots support resolved that they are fully in support of President Buhari and the loyal support of SGF, Babachir. Lima recalled that PDP was destroyed because the national chairman was answerable to state governors instead of the president simply because they were the ones funding the party. “It was the case of who pays the piper dictates the tune. And that is why there should a critical policy shift in our party’s administration. Politicians should shoulder sponsoring parties, not government. As it is practised worldwide, national and state chairmen of the ruling political parties have says in governments. I am proposing that the national chairman and the leadership of the party should come up with the list of party’s loyalists and donors. As it is done in developed democracies, it is such persons that get contracts, out which they give a token percentage to the party. This is one of the main revenue sources of the party. “If governors keep funding parties, they will trying to lord it on the Natioal chairman and the NWC. This is not in the best interest of our party. Oyegun was a first class student in UNIBADAN, became permanent secretary, elected governor in Edo State, held several positions at the highest level and now a national chairman of APC. He is the most qualified person at the moment. We fully in support of his chairmanship and he is a good job for our party and the country. “The president should not lose such core loyalists. The governors see Oyegun as a threat to their ambition in 2019. We want APC to be very vibrant and strong. The president shoud consider setting up up a strong committee to be headed by the national vice chairman (North west) of the party, SGF, Chief of Staff to the President, and Minister of Justice to be befriefing and advising him on daily affairs of the party. “There are governors whose tenures end in 2019 and they have cases to answer. They want the president not to contest becase they have corruption cases to answer, especially the way they ran their states. They are looking for power to protect them from probe after 2019 when they will no longer enjoy immunity. We in the North-east are fully in support of the party, APC, and President Muhammadu Buhari government and his relentless efforts to make sure that Nigerians reap dividends of democracy under this Change Agenda. To this north-stakeholders, if the president does these, it would help him stabilize the political issues in the party and he will have better focus on the economy. Expectations are indeed high in the country as Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see how the president balances the power game and sustainable, result-oriented policies on economic recovery.