Atiku and the APC National Convention

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The readiness of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to pander to the dictates of those in power is threatening to destroy a party that once promised to be fair to all its members, writes Udenna Orji

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been ravaged by internal dissent since it took power at the centre in 2015. Much of the blame for the crises in the party has been attributed to the disposition of the party leadership to pander to the whims and caprices of elements within the corridors of power, rather than adjudicate in fidelity to the party’s constitution.

This leadership by sentiment, rather than by reason, has seen to the alienation of many party stalwarts who staked all they had for the successful formation of the party and its resounding victory at the 2015 general elections.

That the party leadership developed a penchant for undermining its own constitution has brought the party to its present sorry pass and only a decision by the party leadership to stop breaking its own rules will ensure the cohesion needed by the party to again win the looming 2019 elections, which time table has already been released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

As the APC prepares for its National Convention which, until it was postponed indefinitely just recently, had earlier been scheduled to hold on April 29, the party leadership must refrain from engaging in under-the–table deals designed to scheme out or weaken the position of perceived political juggernauts in the party who are not in the good books of the elements in the corridor of power remote-controlling the leadership of the party.

APC must learn from the Peoples Democratic Party. Some of the issues that snowballed into unresolvable disputes within the PDP, arose when those in power shut out ordinary members of the party.

Of critical mention is the ongoing discussion to transform the Board of Trustees to an “Elders Forum” amidst suggestions for a drastic reduction of the number of people that will make up the Forum. The story making the rounds is that the change is to be used to weaken the political base and support of some members, preparatory to the APC presidential primaries that will come up next year.

In his recently published memo to the president, Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai highlighted the alienation of many people who fought the battles that led to the formation and subsequent electoral success of the APC in the 2015 elections. He regretted that even the Turakin Adamawa, former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, was being frozen out by a cabal that controls both the presidency and the party.

The party leadership and the cabal must do well to ensure that a level playing ground is transparently on display for all members and aspirants in the party. Unless the cabals refuse to learn from history, the highhandedness and lack of internal democracy that led to the collapse of the PDP is already rearing its head in the APC. It will thus be a disservice to the interest of the APC if leaders of the party pretend that all is well and choose to sweep all alleged ills of the party under the carpet.

In the face of recent developments within the party especially as it relates to intra-party squabbles amongst members of the APC, it is high time a stalwart like Atiku Abubakar was treated with respect and fairness, commensurate with his immense contributions to the party. Apart from the large followership Atiku enjoys nationwide which is an asset to the party, he also has the pedigree of being a party builder and trustworthy democrat.

Indeed, Atiku has helped to give the APC the pole position the party occupies among political parties in Nigeria.

Rumours have been making the rounds that there is a grand scheme to cut the influence of the Turakin Adamawa by cabals in both the presidency and the APC. If these allegations are true, it is necessary to pass a note of warning to the cabal orchestrating such plots that they may end up being the bigger victims of their own poisoned chalice. Many of those who acted a similar anti-Atiku script during the reigning days of the PDP have gone into political oblivion, while today Atiku still shines like the Northern Star. The party leadership should adhere to the rule of law and due process in running the party.

Today, many seasoned politicians like Atiku are being scared away by people who believed the APC belonged to them. They remained an invaluable asset to the APC. Without them, APC’s victory at the 2015 election would have been an impossible task. As 2019 draws nearer, it will be a tragic mistake if these party faithfuls are sidelined. The party will have itself to blame in 2019 if those with experience are not given a chance.

The APC leadership must not pander to the dictates of some politicians who are clearly afraid of the ever-growing influence of Atiku and have always come up with one plot or the other to deny him the opportunity of presenting himself to the electorate for election to public office.

Of all those known to have contested for or interested in contesting for the presidency of Nigeria, none can marshal the intimidating credentials of the Turakin Adamawa. Atiku’s verifiable track record as a good democrat, astute manager of men and resources, job-creation aficionado, visionary leader, detribalized Nigerian, sound economic and financial manger, nationalist and patriot, coupled with his acceptability among all the ethnic groups in Nigeria should make the APC to seriously consider fielding him as its presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election should he declare interest to run for the office of president.

The APC and indeed Nigerians should pay special attention to Atiku’s incisive postulations on building the Nigeria of our dreams. Sentiments should not be used to deny Nigerians the services of Atiku as Nigeria’s president in 2019.

Anybody desiring true positive change in Nigeria should look in the direction of Atiku in 2019. He is currently one of the few Nigerian leaders that will have the foresight, wisdom and courage to restructure Nigeria and end the colossal waste of resources and debilitating backwardness that have characterized our failed attempts at national development for several decades. For instance, Atiku’s manifesto and ideas appear to hold the key to Nigeria’s greatness. Rather than scare him away, the APC has a lot to gain by embracing Atiku and others who meant well for the party before it is too late. PDP ignored this timely warning, today it is paying for it.

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That the party leadership developed a penchant for undermining its own constitution has brought the party to its present sorry pass and only a decision by the party leadership to stop breaking its own rules will ensure the cohesion needed by the party to again win the looming 2019 elections, which time table has already been released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).