What R-APC rebellion reveals
Possible Destination(s), Motivation Of Protagonists
It was a development long expected and foretold, but not in the manner or magnitude it happened. When recently some prominent members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) openly declared their disenchantment with the party and decided to carve out a territory for their political expression, it captured the prediction of analysts that the ruling party was headed for an implosion.
However, against the background of the caliber of members involved and issues canvassed by the promoters of rAPC, could it be rightly said that APC has suffered an implosion or suffered a partial stroke?
Not that alone, what would be the final destination of the breakaway branch of the ruling party or was the move a strategy to force the ruling party to the discussion table for a better bargain?
But before examining those perspectives, it would be proper to look at the extenuating circumstances that disposed and propelled the disgruntled APC stalwarts into branching out from the party.
On the surface, the rebellion of Reformed APC (rAPC) could be explained by the confusion that trailed the parallel congresses across the states of the federation.
But, on a deeper level the outburst was the culmination of the organizational defects that hallmarked the amalgamation of former opposition parties as APC.
Given the emotive swagger of the promoters of APC, especially their haste to grab presidential power, they did not settle down to think through some of the crucial issues that pertain to power sharing, both within the party and the government they planned to form.
It is possible that most of the prime movers of the merger did not believe that dethroning an incumbent President with all the powers available to him was feasible. Or, it could be that they anticipated that all things would fall in place immediately victory was won so that it could use carrot and stick approach to panel-beat the party structure further.
But, at the end of the day, after the inchoate party defeated the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the President-elect started playing hard to get and avoided opportunities for further discussions on the way forward and strategies for mandate delivery.
Signs of the organizational disease and structural weakness of APC emerged nearly two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as fifth democratic President. Former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who, according to insiders, had been seeking opportunity to sit down with the President and fashion out how the government should be run, fixed a meeting, ostensibly to streamline the choice of officers to serve as floor functionaries of the National Assembly.
As it turned out, despite verbal assurances that he would be at the International Conference Centre venue of the scheduled meeting, the President did not show up at all, thereby providing the golden opportunity for the party to be routed at the Senate plenary that fateful June 9, 2015 during the election of principal officers.
To a large extent, the thread of instability that culminated in the desertion of the party on July 4, 2018, began on June 9, 2015, when President Buhari technically disavowed constructive leadership of the party.
As such, what was orchaestrated as recalcitrance of some APC members during the election of principal officers at the twin chambers of the National Assembly continued to dog the party.
It did not take time before political notice could be taken about the development as infighting between the members of the nPDP wing and ACN/CPC detachment of APC ensued.
While the bickering continued, the ANPP group, represented by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the national chairman of the party, decided to play safe, so as not to be consumed by the crossfire between ACN/CPC overlords and the nPDP visitors.
In a nutshell, that formed the background to the rift in APC, which tremor produced the Reformed APC splinter. It should be noted that at the onset of the simmering feud, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Comrade Timi Frank, kept urging the President, as the leader of the party to step in to save the party from imminent implosion.
But, feigning occupation with clearing the Augean stable left behind by the preceding PDP administration or better, believing that he would have no further need for the special purpose vehicle for another aim at the Presidency, President Buhari turned his back on the party.
Preferring the comfort of a sole administrator, the President destroyed the political fabric that held the party together, a development that was made worse by the lack of recognition or reward of party faithful that worked for the electoral victory.
It took only the declaration of his intention to seek another shot at the Presidency for the boiling cauldron to detonate. First, the President confounded party men by the crafty way he began to court the national leader of the party from the Southwest, Tinubu, after obvious display of distance from the former Lagos State governor’s politics.
Then despite being present when the issues of tenure elongation or its twin, caretaker committee, were canvassed and votes taken during the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the President returned with an infringement, namely, endorsement of an elective convention.
Worse still, without noticing the moral dilemma his perceived desperation was bringing to bear on his decision to seek a second term in office, the President supported the dispensing of Oyegun, who had all the while played the loyal card.
Consequently, the flipside of President Buhari’s insistence on stopping on Oyegun from seeking another term as chairman and endorsement of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to take his place, were the commencing metaphor of the Armageddon that hovered over APC.
nPDP Converts, Reformists
When President Buhari’s former loyalist and long term political ally, Alhaji Buba Galadima appeared alongside erstwhile national chairman of nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, to address a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, most observersalists imagined that a major political cataclysm was afoot.
Prior to the press conference during which the Yobe-born politician announced the birth of a branch of APC called the Reformed APC (R-APC or rAPC), there were no indications that a broad coalition of disgruntled members of the ruling party was in the works.
What existed and trended in the public domain was the threat by nPDP to seek their political relevance elsewhere on account of the marginalization and unfair treatments being meted to its members since the APC came to power.
The nPDP kept Nigerians guessing when, against all odds, particularly President Buhari’s refusal to grant them audience; they decided to grace the APC national convention.
But, unknown to watchers of the APC unfolding drama, it was as if the nPDP was working underground and won many converts through its public outcry against the state of affairs in the ruling party.
Engineer Galadima, who read from a prepared speech during the press conference, disclosed that instead of keeping faith with its promises of doing things different in the service of Nigerians, the APC “rather imposed dictatorship, impunity, abuse of power, complete abdication of constitutional and statutory responsibilities, infidelity to the rule of law and constitutionalism and failed to ensure the security and welfare of our people and elevated nepotism to unacceptable height.”
The message, especially the part referring to nepotism gained credence, because the messenger was a well-known and long term Buharist. The subtext of his leadership of R-APC is the insinuation that Buhari has lost much ground in the past three years, such that those who made his electoral victory possible have begun to rethink not only their support, but also the genuineness of his claims to salvage the country.
The summations were damaging enough: “There is no evidence of any political will to reverse the decline of our party, while leaders who have created these circumstances continue to behave as if Nigerians owe our party votes as a matter of right.”
And coming from Galadima, not many people would dispute his claim that the government his former ally, Buhari, runs “has been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced.”
But with all the reasons advanced by R-APC for its desertion of the ruling party, it does not seem as if the members crave a return to the dialogue or reconciliation.
Consequently it is obvious that they have just set the stage for some of its promoters in sensitive positions to capitalize on and quit before the 2019 election processes, particularly primary elections begin.
With the emergence of R-APC, it would be obvious that just as politicians ganged up to enthrone Buhari as President, they have resolved to combine to dethrone him.
The hurried meeting between the President and governors of Jigawa (Abubakar Badaru) Kebbi, (Atiku Bagudu) and Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, who is also the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, could be a strategic initiative to contain the expected fall out of R-APC campaigns.
But, it is obvious that the legendary 12m votes in Buhari’s kitty might be an uphill task this time around, given that Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto would end up as battleground states. More importantly, the President would not be running against a Southern Presidential candidate as in his previous four attempts.
In 2019, the north is sure to field more than one candidate that is if ongoing efforts to adopt the 2011 consensus approach fails. As such, the prevailing concerns in the north against foisting a similar helplessness on the zone as happened in 2010 and the effect of growing insecurity and mass killings would eat deep into the vote bank of the President.
Although APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, dismissed the challenges posed by Galadima and his co-travelers, there is no mistaking the fact that the R-APC boasts of very tactical and influential political actors, who know how to pull the plug out of the President’s second term ambition.
That being the case, it is too early in the day to say that the much-vaunted implosion in APC has taken place. But the tremor might assume a landslide or even Tsunami proportion if the life of R-APC is sustained sufficiently to ensure the facilitation of Sections 68(1) (109(1)) of the 1999 Constitution.