APC: Challenges Of Managing Its Electoral Success
SINCE emerging the ruling party on May 29 this year, the All Progressives Congress (APC), its leadership and the Presidency have been grappling to tackle the myriad of challenges bedeviling the country. More than six months in power now, many Nigerians are of the view that the party and its leadership appear to be faltering in handling the affairs of the country. Even crisis within the party has not been maturely handled, thereby raising concerns over the capability and readiness of the party to lead the country well. Many had believed that lessons would have been learnt from the events that culminated in the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections. But several unfolding events in the APC and their resolution have shown that nothing has been learnt by the party leadership.
Kogi Governorship Conundrum
Ahead of the APC governorship primaries, there were internal tussles among the barrage of aspirants on the party’s platform. At a stage, it was as if there was a gang-up against the then leading aspirant, Alhaji Abubakar Audu. The near intra-party crisis that trailed the party primaries was doused by the outcome of the primaries. The primaries which was conducted by a committee headed by the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El Rulfai was transparent. Audu beat other aspirants to emerge the winner. Other aspirants accepted the outcome and promised to form a common front with the winner to ensure the party’s victory in the poll.
During the November 21 governorship poll in the state, while the APC candidate, Audu was leading in the poll which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared inconclusive, his sudden demise created an unprecedented political and constitutional crisis. This is because as many legal experts have said, the framers of the country’s constitution and Electoral Act did not envisage the situation.
After due consultation, INEC asked the APC to substitute Audu ahead of today’s supplementary election. The development ignited crisis within the party especially in the state. With INEC’s position, the National Chairman of APC, Mr. John Oyegun announced that the party would conduct primaries to pick Audu’s substitute. Along the line, the party retreated and announced the choice of the second runner up in the primaries, Alhaji Yayaha Bello as Audu’s substitute.
Since the announcement was made, Audu’s running mate, Mr. Abiodun James Faleke has gone to court to challenge decision of INEC and the APC. Faleke had argued that he was the governor-elect and should be declared so by INEC. He alleged that he was not duly consulted by the party leadership before the decision was made and threatened to withdraw his running mate position ahead of today’s supplementary poll.
Many Nigerians have expressed concern on the manner in which the party leadership and the Presidency handled the matter. A caucus member of the party who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that the problem in Kogi is being instigated by some forces within the party.
“Some forces within the party hierarchy and the Presidency are behind the Kogi political crisis. The people of the state are being pitched against one another. The party leadership was not firm in handling the situation. There was need for wider consultation. Even if the party wins the supplementary poll today, there is need for the party leadership to quickly wade into the intra-party crisis in the state,” the caucus member said.
Meanwhile, ahead of today’s supplementary poll, some have accused Audu’s substitute, Bello of working against the party’s interest during the November 21 poll. They argued that his loss of wards during the exercise was an indication that he worked against the party’s interest. Now that Audu and Faleke’s supporters have teamed up against Bello, how will the party fare in the state and how will Bello and Faleke work together as governor and deputy, if they win today’s supplementary poll?
There is no doubt that in the days ahead, the party may have more crises to battle with in the state. Such battles may be legal or political. Waiting in the wings to reap from the APC intra-party crisis in the state is the PDP. The party’s candidate and incumbent governor of the state, Alhaji Idris Wada has already approached the court to contest INEC’s decision on the matter.
Lingering National Assembly
Crisis As APC’s Albatross
Many Nigerians believe that the lingering crisis of confidence rocking the 8th National Assembly since its inauguration was caused by the untidy manner in which the APC leadership and the Presidency handled the election of the Assembly’s principal officers.
As the ruling party, it was expected that the APC leadership would come out clearly with the rules indicting how Assembly principal officers will emerge. But that was not so, as the party leadership instead of being decisive and prompt on the matter, decided to play the ostrich. This singular action bred uncertainty and division in the party ahead of the Assembly’s inauguration on June 9. Not even the Presidency cared to intervene in the matter when it degenerated to almost physical chaos. The senate was divided between the Likemind Group that was loyal to Senator Bukola Saraki’s ambition, and Unity Forum group that was also loyal to Senator Ahmed Lawan.
In the House of Representatives, the division is between loyalists of Mr. Yakubu Dogara and those loyal to Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. Despite that APC has majority members in the Assembly, members of the opposition PDP decided the emergence of the leadership of the Assembly to the detriment of the ruling APC. Even in the selection of principal officers of the two chambers, the opposition PDP dictated the pace. In the appointment of the committee chairmen, the opposition PDP for the first time in the last 16 years, shared it almost equally with the ruling APC; a development that made some APC members to threaten to quit their committee chairmanship positions. While these events unfolded and still unfolding, the leadership of the APC and the Presidency appear helpless and clueless. They do more of procrastination and prevarication that is neither her nor there. It is for this obvious reason that since the inauguration of the Assembly, one crisis or the other has rocked both chambers.
Investigations reveal that there may be more crises of confidence, in-fighting and back-biting in the chambers ahead of 2019, a development many believe will continue to distract the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Sam Ngri told The Guardian that Nigerians cannot understand the direction of the APC-led government and its leaders. His words: “The ruling party seems not to have any plan on how to rule the country. Winning election may be easy, but governance is very tasking. APC leaders are behaving as if they are in a fix. There is no way the government can perform with the consistent crisis in the National Assembly. The unfortunate thing is that the APC is pretending as if all is well. It is clear that the party lacks crisis management, considering what has happened and still happening in the National Assembly and Kogi State.
“If the party does not sit up, it may end up not achieving anything before 2019. There is need for proper organization in the party and the Presidency. Nigerians are running out of patience. They need more of action that will benefit them, not crisis of the elite as being exhibited by the ruling party now. Enough of the ongoing political shenanigans by the APC government”, Ngri said.
But to Anambra State member of the APC, Mr. Okey Adiba, the party’s national leadership and the Presidency are on the right track, considering the level of decay they inherited from the PDP.
“Do not expect APC to do things the way PDP did for 16 years. APC is a government of change. The change is taking shape gradually. Change is not always easy. Surely APC government will take the country to the next level. The party and the Presidency are mindful of the needs of Nigerians. They will meet the expectations of Nigerians to the surprise of their critics. It is too early to write APC and the Presidency off as failures,” Adiba said.
He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the APC-led government. “I disagree with those who say that APC government is taking its luck too far. Buhari’s government don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. The party’s leadership don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the PDP leadership. The government is working hard to tackle some of the rot left behind by PDP,” he said.