Waiting for Maximum Damage

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Segun James and Shola Oyeyipo write that all evidence point to the possibility of more lethal blows being dealt on the All Progressives Congress, APC, from which the party may not recover. 

In politics, as in life, it is often the little noticed cracks that lead to the most damaging consequences.

That was the seeming situation in the All Progressives Congress (APC) when the least expected person, Alhaji Buba Galadima led a group that has since been branded, the Reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) out of the party.

Although the leadership of the party was expecting a breakaway by some recalcitrant persons, they least expected that Galadima would be the one to lead the rebels. This unexpected treachery made national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole short of words. He could only manage to say, at first, that the party would ignore members of the Reformed-APC.

From Oshhiomhole’s assessment the splinter group was not to be taken seriously. He said, “We listened to Buba Galadima. It is as if a very hungry bird is dancing at the centre of the road and a disgruntled drummer not far away in the bush is drumming for him.

“There are a lot of idle people who don’t have any other thing to do and once they don’t have access to national honey pot, they begin to complain.

“For me, there is no cause for alarm; nobody should panic over one Buba Galadima, whose group, I believe, cannot define us in the next election in 2019.

“Nigerians are wiser. They know that corruption is fighting back and that President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to fight corruption must elicit a counter force and that force must find attraction in some people,“

“I believe the rebellion will be crushed using the superior power of argument and persuading our people not to forget in a hurry where we are coming from,” he said.

What Oshiomhole’s cynicism deliberately left out was that Galadima and majority of the APC members in his group were not at the national convention of the party. Though the meeting went on as scheduled but the long-nursed grouse which was becoming a festering sore by the day refused to heal, despite re-assurance from well-meaning and influential members of the APC. Former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu who was given the task of bringing back obstinate members did not seem to succeed in the assignment. At the time, it appeared that his manifest face-off with the former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun stood in the way of genuine reconciliation.

The splinter group, which is aparently part of a larger faction of disgruntled APC members known sometimes as the new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP had complained that their members were openly harassed and that they were not carried along in the scheme of things in the ruling party at the centre. Their insistence on meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to address their grievances was blocked. The farthest they could get was a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The possibility of another meeting with Osinbajo was being considered when the Galadima group announced its exit, saying they were tired of waiting on talks that were not producing the right kind of result.

Although, the rAPC has said it was not leaving the APC, but was rather interested in rescuing the party from those it claimed had hijacked it, the bad turn of events in the APC, was predicted by many pundits. At every turn, the APC is buffeted by crises, which it could ordinarily do without.

Because the internal wrangling in the party did not appear to be risky enough on the surface, apparently, the leadership of the APC decided to treat the rAPC threat with kid gloves. This approach may be fraught with failure.

For over three years now, the party members engaged themselves in a macabre dance that may ultimately lead to the death of the party and political suicide for many of its leading members.

Every pointer suggests that the Galadima revolt may be a ploy to test the waters, ahead of more entrenched groups that are poised to leave the party. The likelihood of members leaving the APC is very glaring. Top stakeholders of the party like Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal may be waiting to deal a fatal blow that the APC may be able to recover from at themost injurious moment. As more members leave the party, where does this leave the president at a critical election time?

With the unfolding scenario in the APC, it seems history is repeating. A similar situation played out in 2015 and cost the PDP the presidency.The saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it is now manifesting in the APC. It was situation such as this that led to the crumbling of the PDP; and the same seems to be repeating itdelf with the APC

The leadership of the APC, in a statement by its National Legal Adviser; Mr. Babatunde Ogala, described the action by Galadima-led aggrieved faction as a form of coup detat and an “unruly conduct.”

Justifying its position, the APC argued that the convention held on June 23, 2018 had delegates from over 166, 000 wards across this country and all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory which produced the delegates was covered by Article 20 (1) of the APC constitution, which stipulates that party posts will be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective national convention or congress subject, where possible to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by ballot or voice shall be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.

“A clear reading of this provision shows that delegates may consent to a single candidate; however that consent must validated/reaffirmed at the convention. This was exactly the case at the convention where candidates who emerged based on consensus had their elections validated and affirmed by voice votes of the delegates. Galadima admitted this.

“It is therefore worrisome that he went ahead to suggest that the affirmation process was flawed because only a ‘yes’ question was put to the delegates and not a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ question,” the APC stated.

The party said by Galadima’s action, he and others who share his sentiment “committed several criminal infractions as well as give rise to civil injury against the APC.”

He allegedly committed the offence of impersonation punishable under Section 484 of the Criminal Code, breach of trademark and perpetrated action capable of breaching public peace and that as such, the authorities will be requested to do their work in bringing him to account.

“Mr. Galadima knowingly made his false statement with the clear intention of deceiving Nigerians to abandon the APC and instead follow him and his gang,” Ogala said.

Indeed, Galadima lashed out with several telling blows on the APC. The knocks must have been very painful to the party, coming from one of its own. He listed a number of infractions bothering on lack of internal democracy in the party.

The last straw was the congresses and convention of the APC. The congresses were intensely disputed as it was conducted with impunity, total disregard for due process, disregard for the party constitution and naked display of power and practices that have no place in a party we all worked the very hard to put in place. According to him, “there are countless cases in courts all over the country challenging the legality of congresses and even the National Convention itself. It is very likely that the judicial decisions on these cases will result in massive chaos, confusion and uncertainties. The fate of a party in this state with a few months to the elections is best left to the imagination, but it is not a fate we believe our millions of members should be abandoned to. There were parallel congresses in 24 States namely: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.

The so-called National Convention of the APC was even worse. The National Convention of the party was ridiculed with constitutional infirmities that were so glaring and obvious that no fair-minded person can claim that a legitimate and lawful executive emerged from that process. The Chairman of the organising Committee, Jigawa State Governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, declared 18 seats unopposed and uncontested, since only one valid candidate stood at the end of the grossly manipulated nomination exercise for each of the offices. He therefore proceeded to declare them duly elected in flagrant abuse and violence to the constitution of the APC.

But APC stalwart in Lagos, who is also a prominent member of the United Action for Change (UAC), Mr. Niyi Akinsiju sees nothing spectacular about the splinter APC group, because their decision, according to him, was based on inordinate ambition.

“I don’t think the r-APC is of any threat to the APC. It is a group borne out of desperation. It desires to create a diversion but unfortunately lacks substance and purpose. We have gone beyond politics of circumstance. Politics must be driven by substance and purpose. I can’t understand what the r-APC wants to achieve,” Akinsiju stated.

Former Kogi State Commissioner for Information and stalwart of the APC, Dr. Tom Ohikere, who is presently the chairman, APC Broom Platform, feels that the brains behind the faction got it wrong. He was optimistic that the ruling party has what it takes to beat them to their game.

“Though as a human organisation, there may be legitimate grievances but all discerning minds know that bringing down the party should not be the way to go. It is obvious that their overall agenda is to take power. So, I am sure that Nigerians will not be swayed or deceived by their antics,” Ohikere said.

According to him, “In political development of this nature, there is room for crisis of varied interests. In view of that, there must be room for reconciliation and realignment of interests. As politics is about interest and relevance,” he said.

Ohikere suggested that the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, being a man with great organisation and management abilities, especially having  managed worst crisis as the Nigerian Labour leader, should deploy his skills to address the situation.

“I expect all the parties concerned to give him the chance to look into the accumulated errors, correct them and consolidate on the emerging gains towards re-branding the APC, particularly as we move approach the 2019 general elections.”

Whether Nigerians believe Galadima or not, time will tell. For now, the rAPC has announced that it has presence in close to 20 states and the FCT. There is no doubt, however, that many agree with Galadima’s reasoning that, “The APC government, has been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced.