The palpable cracks in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress are certain to undo the ruling party if its leadership fails to see the inherent danger and urgently address it, writes Shola Oyeyipo
For those observant of the intricacies and the politicking that led to the emergence of the immediate past president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, something similar to what happened also played out in the build-up to the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari played. The former governor of Lagos, Senator Bola Tinubu, who recently dropped the title of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) played significant roles in the electoral successes of the two presidents by contributing the South-west votes to their victories.
Soon after Jonathan’s election, those around him, particularly the duo of Chief Edwin Clark and Alhaji Asari-Dokubo, took over what would easily pass as ‘South-south’ presidency. They were quick to castigate not just Tinubu, but also former President Olusegun Obasanjo and even Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos.
While South-west personalities, who contributed in no small ways to the Jonathan success were already subject of repudiation, the likes of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido; the current Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Rivers State governor and Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and other perceived enemies of the administration were eventually forced out of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Amaechi and Lamido’s sins were that they were reportedly named by Obasanjo as potential president and vice-president respectively, to Jonathan, who was considered as underperforming, not meeting the aspiration of the largely expectant voting public and at the same time, undoing the party structure in practically all the state as never experienced before.
At the long run, former political enemies like former Osun State governor, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola; former Ekiti State governor, Chief Segun Oni and Mr. Kayode Fayemi and in fact, Obasanjo and Tinubu, all agreed to sheath their swords and collaborate to work against their common enemy –Jonathan – and the resultant effect was the first of its kind historic defeat of a sitting president by an opposition party.
In another development that is gradually gathering momentum and having striking similarities to the Jonathan episode, the handlers of the Buhari political machinery, apparently concerned about 2019 and fearing Tinubu’s political relevance, are hell bent on cutting him to size by reducing his political relevance. And not only Tinubu, even Kwankwaso too is biting the bitter pie.
Though there are rumours of unsavoury attitude towards Tinubu and some forces within the APC, who are relying heavily on the powers of the presidency to whittle down his political relevance in the country, particularly in the South-west, recent developments have shown that all is not well with the APC chieftains.
The first indication was that his ministerial nominees were not favoured. Two, the way and manner Tinubu lambasted the junior Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu over his comment that he was not a magician during the protracted fuel scarcity did not show that he has the ears of policy makers.
And his recent castigation of the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun over the undemocratic roles he allegedly played in the emergence of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu as the APC candidate in Ondo State, are all pointers to an undercurrent in the party.
Another development that will interest curious minds and insightful political analysts is that Tinubu’s vituperative attack on Oyegun quickly got a positive nod from Atiku, who said: “It was wrong for the APC to have set aside a resolution it had reached at resolving the crisis in our party in Ondo State. It is a recipe for acrimony and division”.
The former vice-president was of the opinion that acting as though a problem doesn’t exist is not a way to make it go away. He, therefore, urged the APC leadership to do soul-searching and address why this problem arose and escalated.
He argued that the party leadership should always be guided by respect for rules, fairness, equity, neutrality and democratic consensus and counseled the APC on the need to promote the rule of law and due process in the conduct of its affairs, stressing that they are important to the unity and stability of the party.
“It is imperative for the national leadership of the party to live by the rules of internal democracy and respect for democratic consensus. You cannot break your own rules without creating problems,” Atiku stated.
Another very instructive development was that one of the very prominent Yoruba leaders, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who never hid his disdain for the Tinubu political tactics, came out with what could easily pass as a defense for the embattled APC leader when he opined that “People are expecting me to mock Tinubu and say God has dealt with him over the manner he treated me and other Yoruba leaders but I won’t do that because what is after six is more than seven. Attack on Tinubu is not directly at him but an attack on Yorubaland. I am not shortsighted. They want to break us up and cause division so that they can take over.
“He (Tinubu) has made his mistakes and I hope he has learnt from it. When he went into the alliance, I warned him that they are a conglomeration of incompatibles but they chose to ignore it. But I strongly believe that the gang-up against him is a ploy to divide the Yorubaland, so that these Northerners can take over. I can see that and nobody can convince me about that. Tinubu may have his fault but he has not been treated well by his party,” he said.
People should not be surprised that the position taken by Chief Adebanjo, who said although he and Tinubu had their differences, now is not the right time to mock him, would be widespread among Yoruba people. This is more so, that the APC stalwart is already mending fence with his old foes, at a time that many of them are already prophesying readiness to work with him in the interest of the Yoruba nation.
One can therefore deduce from the ongoing trend that the forces undermining Tinubu in the APC would eventually have the likes of Atiku, Kwankwaso, some prominent Yoruba leaders and some of his other allies in and outside the party to contend with. And this, by every measure will not be a profitable venture for the ruling party that is yet to worm its way into the hearts of the generality of Nigerians, particularly in the face of the lingering economic hardship the people are experiencing.
So, the ruling party and those that are machinating within its ranks must not forget some of the factors that brought about Jonathan’s waterloo at the last election. The BBC, among other factors, listed the broken alliance in the PDP, after the party lost some key figures, prompting even Obasanjo, who spearheaded his emergence to come out against Mr. Jonathan.
While at the same time, the opposition managed to unite under the APC banner and the last six weeks of desperate and dirty campaigning, in which the APC responded in kind, was not enough to turn the tide.
Another issue is that while Nigeria’s economy was growing, the wealth is not being spread around as many fail to feel the benefits with nearly half the population living below the poverty line. These trends are yet to go and may combine to undo the APC at the long run if the dirty politicking is not done away with.
Inasmuch as well-meaning Nigerians believe in the policy thrust of the APC government as one capable of reversing the negative indicators for which Nigeria has become notorious, genuine advisers in the party must begin to urge the forces to design better methods to share power and manage the affairs of the party so as to enable it steer the ship of the country long enough to put reasonable changes on the ground before it is scattered by power mongers. And this is in the interest of Nigerians, who saw hope in the party.
The first indication was that his ministerial nominees were not favoured. Two, the way and manner Tinubu lambasted the junior Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu over his comment that he was not a magician during the protracted fuel scarcity did not show that he has the ears of policy makers…And his recent castigation of the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun over the undemocratic roles he allegedly played in the emergence of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu as the APC candidate in Ondo State, are all pointers to an undercurrent in the party