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How crises in leading parties expand political space with APDA

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There is no denying the fact that the protracted crisis that engulfed erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), right from the months preceding the 2015 general elections, was a potential threat to the continued existence of the platform.

The unveiling of a new political group, Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in Abuja last Monday, was a strong indication that the increasing quest for alternative platforms by politicians is already causing proliferation of political parties.

The Guardian gathered that with the high rate of political activities across the country in preparation for the next general elections, more alternative platforms might soon follow APDA to appear on the horizon.

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It was further gathered that the pressure within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has created enough realignments in the country’s political space to nurture the formation of other political platforms.

A source within the party declared, “It is sad that things have gone bad in both the APC and the PDP. But I can confirm to you that there are many patriotic politicians who would not just fold their arms to allow things deteriorate.

“Funds are already being mobilized by politicians across political boundaries to sponsor the emergence of platforms that would offer enough space for the realization of serious and genuine constitutional and democratic political ambitions.”

In the APC, there have been some storm and disquiet among leading members to such extent that signals have gone out that many of the “strange bedfellows” that came together to form the party, can no longer work together.

A few examples of the troubles would best explain why APDA and more new platforms became inevitable. Between March 28, 2015 when the APC won the presidential election and today, a lot has changed as the party no longer enjoyed the unity that bonded it to successfully defeat a ruling party for the first time in Nigeria’s political history.

Words and body languages in the ruling party have shown that some of its leaders are already looking elsewhere. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had never hidden his views about the failure of this administration to fix some naughty socio-economic and political problems. He recently expressed his preference for a restructuring of Nigeria, a topic that the APC government is shying away from.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who led several lawmakers to defect to the APC in the National Assembly to boost the party’s strength in 2014, has been facing prosecution in the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a development he has described as politically motivated.

A national leader of the party and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, has also not hidden his disdain for the manner the APC is being managed. He, at a time, even called for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.

The controversy over Odigie-Oyegun’s continued stay in office and the antagonism of Tinubu, which came to the fore following the emergence of Rotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the party in Ondo governorship election last year, is still so hot that the APC has not been able to hold its convention after two attempts.

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In the PDP, particularly in the last 11 months when it became obvious that its leadership crisis might have come to take the party’s life, smart politicians within its fold have devised a means of staying afloat in case the boat capsizes.

It began with the two factions accusing each other of building some links with other political parties. While the Ali Modu Sheriff faction was alleged to be playing the mole for the ruling APC, the Ahmed Makarfi faction was accused of being used by some state governors and powerful politicians within and outside the party, to negotiate for an alternative platform.

And as the crisis deteriorated, a very strategic decision was taken by the Makarfi group late in 2016 to set up a committee with the mandate of considering among others, possible political alliances with other willing political parties and platforms. The committee, which was led by former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, submitted its report last December.

Emergence of APDA
Although no official link has been established between the new platform and key political figures in the PDP, some top notches of the party including some governors had already begun moves to ‘liberate’ themselves from the political bondage created by the Sheriff/Makarfi crisis.

The political intrigues and machinations, which characterized the crisis, produced a scenario where every faction would want to produce the party’s candidate for every election especially the on-going local council exercises in some states.

The Sheriff faction had successfully ensured that if the candidate is not from its camp, then it is better that the party loses the election to another party. It is the same thing for the Makarfi faction.

This was the situation that played out in Edo and Ondo states governorship elections, which the PDP lost to the APC. In its bid to avert this scenario in subsequent elections including the ones coming up in Ekiti, Anambra and Osun states, the Makarfi faction directed its members to seek alternative platforms with which to contest elections until the matter in the Supreme Court is resolved.

Spokesman of the faction, Dayo Adeyeye, explained,
“It is important to state at this point that Senator Sheriff and his cohorts have been creating factional chapters in different states of the federation in order to compromise our chances in the local government elections.

“In the circumstances and with no hope of the Ali Modu Sheriff problem abating before the Supreme Court judgment, we are left with no choice than to consider ways by which our members will not be disenfranchised in these elections.

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”However our position is not to choose a platform for any state where true PDP candidates are denied the opportunity to stand for the elections. State chapters are allowed to take any decision they consider appropriate.”

Also, early in the year, Makarfi himself had hinted that should his faction lose the case to Sheriff at the apex court, it would sound the death knell for the PDP.

According to him, “If it happens that way, PDP would die. But those who would be working to kill PDP that way, I assure you they would end up being confronted with a bigger political force than the PDP itself.

“Because politics is about people, there is no way, let me speak here for the North that I know so well; there is no way in the North with Sheriff at the helm of affairs of PDP that voters would on their own go and vote PDP, there is no way.

“We have just seen it in a recent election in Delta State that they have turned their back against PDP because of Sheriff. And it may be so in many states of the southern part of this country.”

The ground has therefore been sufficiently prepared for new platforms to emerge to allow those politicians within the PDP and even those in the  APC who may not have accommodation within the parties to push their ambitions through.

Already no fewer than four strong contenders of northern extraction are now jostling for the presidency in 2019. They have begun the task of trying to build bridges across the geo-political zones ahead of the next general elections.

These include Atiku Abubakar, erstwhile governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, his counterpart in Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso and former National Security Adviser to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Hamzah Al-Mustapha.

So, when two days ago APDA was unveiled in Abuja, many political watchers were in no doubt about its origin. Curiously, a former Labour Party (LP) National Chairman, Dan Iwuanyanwu, was among those pushing the new party even though the Makarfi group disowned it. The party, which said its national convention would hold in November, was unveiled with proxies as its interim national officers. Chairman of DAAR Communication, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and Iwuanyanwu attended the ceremony.

Although Dokpesi, a very prominent chieftain of the PDP, chose to remain inconspicuous at the venue by mixing with the crowd, Iwuanyanwu, who had dumped the LP a few months ago, played an active role at the ceremony.

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The new party featured Alhaji Shittu Mohammed as chairman; Mr. Fijabi Adebo as Deputy National Chairman (South) and Alhaji Mahe Dange, Deputy National Chairman (North).

In a statement yesterday by its spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the Makarfi faction of the PDP swiftly denied any links with the new party.

The statement said, “In the last few hours, we have received numerous calls from our party members, concerned citizens and well-wishers on our association or otherwise with the Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), which was unveiled today in Abuja.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we reiterate once again that we are not in any way associated with the new party in any form or guise. The APDA is neither an offshoot of the PDP nor its alter ego as some are speculating.

“This statement is made purely to set the records straight and to avoid unnecessary innuendos, speculations and ambiguity that may threaten the continued unity and solidarity of our party members.

“We thank millions of well-meaning Nigerians for their concern and commitment to the defence of our nascent democracy. In the end, this democracy cannot survive without a strong and vibrant opposition.”


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