Are Things Falling Apart In The APC?

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All Progressives Congress

After the much celebrated win of The All People’s Congress at the recently concluded polls in Nigeria, every Nigerian has waited eagerly to see how this new government will handle things. Needless to say, the expectation is very high and this is not unrelated to the fact that the party promised Nigerians so much.

With the Presidency won and a majority in the National Assembly secured (even if not a 2/3 majority), most people still expected that the APC will stamp its authority on every arm of government. The National Assembly elections held yesterday the 8th of June 2015 showed otherwise.

Anyone who knows the basics of politics understands that it is important for the ruling party to control the National Assembly. The APC understood this and went ahead to choose candidates they felt will best protect the interests of the party. Ahmed Lawan was picked for Senate President while Femi Gbajabiamila was picked for the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This did not go down well with some members of the APC who had their own choices. Despite every attempt by the party to wade in and settle things, the dissenting group refused to step down. The PDP on the other hand capitalized on this disagreement to step in and play a fast one on the APC. The result of the NASS elections was nothing short of a coup. How did a minority party manage to produce the Deputy Senate President? It is now obvious that Senator Bukola Saraki got a block vote from the PDP senators in exchange for the sit of Deputy Senate President.

Though the President has not come out to congratulate the winners; he has stated that he will work with them. It will be recalled that he had earlier stated that he will not interfere in the choice of the principal officers of the NASS. The party however seems to be divided on this as members especially from the South West are saying they do not accept the elections and will be conducting a fresh one. This at best is an exercise in futility. So long as due process was followed and no laws of the house and nation were contravened, the aggrieved members of the APC can really do nothing about the results of the NASS elections.

Is the APC falling apart? This is a question that really begs an answer. Some political analysts have said that the APC is not a party but an amalgamation of parties. What really is a political party?

Generally speaking, a political party should be a group of people with the same political ideology or purpose. In saying the APC is not really a political party, are we insinuating that they have no party ideology and purpose? A quick look at the APC might shed some light on this.

APC vs PDP

The APC is a party that was borne out of a desire to wrest power from not necessarily the ruling party but GEJ. The strength of the APC came from members of the PDP who defected because their demands that GEJ should not run for a second tenure was not heeded. Looking back, this was the most unifying factor in the APC. They all wanted GEJ out. The mantra of Change that was chanted across the length and breadth of the country was supposed to be a kind of ideology. Given that the APC was made up of old politicians from different parties especially the PDP – the same party accused to running Nigeria to ground – that ideology could not hold water. It was therefore more an issue of a change of hands or change of leadership or party.

With the elections out of the way and GEJ swept off to Otueke with the broom of change, the broom now hangs seemingly with no purpose. With no common enemy (GEJ) in the picture, personal interests come to the fore, throwing away any facade of the ideological change that was touted. This is graphically displayed in the way the party could not reach an agreement on who would be the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Certain forces were certainly at play behind the scene, bringing about the result we saw.

Going back to before the elections, every major defector from the PDP to the APC defected on the basis of personal interest. There were promises made and agreements reached. Though these are more in the realm of rumours since no solid evidence can be given to back this up, it provides a good basis for investigative analysis. Some PDP governors defected to APC on the strength of certain promises or agreement. There is a strong indication that the governors were promised the position of the V.P for one of them. Everyone knows that Amaechi or Rivers State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Bola Ahmed Tinubu were all interested in the post of Vice President. Eventually, none of them got it. It was however given to an ex Commissioner under the Tinubu administration in Lagos. This gave rise to the talk that the Vice President is Tinubu’s lackey. Were the former PDP governors happy with this development? It appears not.

If the statement credited to Senator Bukola Saraki is anything to go by, it appears the former PDP governors who defected to APC have no love for Tinubu. Saraki is said to have responded to the Vice President’s call for a meeting by saying “how can a mere commissioner be calling a former governor for a meeting?” If these former PDP governors are not happy with Tinubu, it may explain why they did everything possible to ensure that none of Tinubu’s candidates emerged winner in the last NASS election even if it meant giving the seat of Deputy Senate President to a PDP Senator.

Some APC members are now calling for disciplinary actions to be taken against their members who did not heed the party’s directives. If such an action is taken, how will it affect the party? It is important to note that these deviant members include the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Can APC survive this crack? Some are suggesting that Bukola Saraki is corrupt and that the EFCC will be used to unseat him. Did Saraki become corrupt only after he became Senate President? Why wasn’t he disqualified by the party at the party primaries before he even contested for the senatorial seat?

Aside from the issue of corruption, some people think there will be moves to impeach Saraki and the Speaker. The issue with impeachment is that it is not easy. If APC could not win an election that required a simple majority, how will it win in a situation where they require 2/3 majority? The APC alone does not have 2/3 majority in any of the houses. With the current split, their influence is even weaker. To successfully impeach Saraki, they need to make peace within their ranks (which includes Saraki and his supporters) and then convince some PDP senators to join them so they can achieve 2/3 majority for a successful impeachment. This certainly does not look like something they can pull off.

These are interesting times in the Nigerian political landscape. What can APC do now to regain some form of control in the NASS? The APC has unwittingly handed power over to the PDP in the NASS especially the upper house. Saraki is a former PDP governor and he knows that without the PDP senators, he would not gave won the seat. Where will his allegiances lie? With the APC that did not want him or the PDP that helped him get there?

This situation can easily be the beginning of the end for the APC. Some leaders of the APC have been called “Master Strategists.” This is the time to prove their political mettle. The APC must understand that Nigerians will not stand for excuses. They made promises that they must fulfill. It is time for them to put personal pride aside and try to glue the party back together if they can. They must know that the PDP is simply sitting back looking for loop holes to exploit. Some people noted that the PDP could easily have elected a PDP Senator as the Senate President since a number of APC senators did not dim it fit to be present during the elections. While this may be true, the PDP is clearly playing for the long run. Putting a PDP senator as the Senate President will once again unite the APC by giving them a common enemy. The PDP benefits most from a split APC and how best can they ensure the continued split but by appealing to the selfish interests of the individual members.

All eyes are watching closely to see how this will end, if it will end. Winning power is one thing, sustaining the win is a different ball game entirely. APC needs to put its house in order quickly to avoid annihilation.

Yakubu Dogara

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