Reconciliation Challenges Delay APC’s Campaign Launch

  • PDP: Buhari not preparing for election, only interested in rigging 

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and  Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

About two months to 2019 general elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to formally kick-off its presidential campaigns nationwide, as it battles to resolve the grievances that trailed its highly contentious primary elections across the country.

While the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has not only launched its presidential campaigns with its  flag-bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, already campaigning and reaching out to various segments of the society, the ruling APC is still bugged down by internal crisis.

Informed sources told THISDAY that the ruling party is at the moment battling to fix some of the damages caused by its contentious primary elections. 

The party is said to be waiting for the peace committee it established to create the right atmosphere for its national campaigns to be commenced.

“We are still having unresolved issues among some leaders of the party, especially with the aggrieved governors and their loyalists who have not withdrawn their court cases against the national leadership of the APC. The reconciliation committee is making efforts to mend fences and hopefully they will soon conclude their assignment,” a source said.

So far, out of the six reconciliation committees set up by APC to go and resolve intra-party disputes arising from party primaries, only the North-east panel has submitted its report, while the other five committees are still engaging aggrieved stakeholders in the North-west, South-west, South-east and South-south zones.

The source, who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend, also confirmed that the presidency and the party leadership have been meeting to iron out issues relating to the composition of the national campaign council.

Apart from the delay occasioned by the primary elections crisis, the APC, it was gathered, is also  adopting a strategy of buying time by allowing the PDP to exhaust their energy and resources before embarking on massive campaign in the last two months to the elections.

But the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, denied that internal disagreement was responsible for the non-commencement of campaigns.

Nabena, who spoke during an interactive session with journalists over the weekend, insisted that the ruling party was keeping to its campaign strategy. He said, “Everybody comes with a different strategy. You are a boxer and you go into the ring, waiting for your opponent; you started fighting even when your opponent is not there. 

The PDP has started fighting even when they have not seen anybody to fight. They have gone to three places to campaign and suddenly stopped when they realized that they have not seen their opponent. So, they don’t know from where the APC is coming. Don’t worry about the campaign because we have our own plans.”

Nabena, who had earlier alleged that the PDP was recruiting the services of Russian internet hackers to help in their rigging plans, said APC intended to come up with surprises.

“You have to put them in suspense so that they will be thinking for you and that is what they are doing,” he said.

When asked to comment on the not too successful move to reconcile aggrieved stakeholders, Nabena said the peace committees might be finding things difficult because of the mind-set of some of the party men. 

He said while there were those with genuine grievances, some others were merely acting on selfish interest.

He said, “There is no doubt that people are aggrieved, but the good thing about APC is that there are people who loved the party and the president genuinely. But there are people who act purely for their own selfish interest. For those who are acting on selfish interest, what do you want to give to them in the process of this reconciliation?

“You must have something to give to the next person for him to fall in line. 

But you have nothing to offer him, what do you expect? So, when you set up peace and reconciliation committee, you must be sure that you achieve results. If I wanted to be a senatorial candidate and I did not get that, I will be looking out for whatever you want to offer me in return.” 

Nabena said the reconciliation committees must have a package that can help stop some genuinely aggrieved party men from leaving the APC.

PDP: Buhari Not Preparing for Election, Only Interested in Rigging

Meanwhile, the PDP has said that the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to constitute his campaign council or developed a clear-cut campaign blueprint, with 61 days to the February 2019 presidential election, is an indication that he is not preparing to stand for elections.

The National Publicit Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said, “Mr. President has nothing to offer on security; he has no message on education, agriculture, health, energy, power, employment, manufacturing and other key sectors, which he wrecked in the last three and half years.”   

The main opposition party noted that the president and his party, the APC, had failed to set up a campaign structure because they were banking on their plots with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to manipulate the electoral process and rig for them.

Ologbondiyan said, “It is clear that President Buhari has been overwhelmed by his rejection by a vast majority of Nigerians, who are bearing the brunt of his incompetent and corrupt administration; that is why he cannot articulate any campaign message after the failed launch of his copied and widely spurned “Next Level” mantra. “All over the world, patriotic and obligated leaders, who are seeking (re-) elections, go to the electorate to canvass for votes with their messages and solutions. 

“But our president and the APC have been busy procuring phony endorsements, harassing and intimidating opposition leaders, compromising the electoral body to create illegal voting centre, delaying election budgets and holding the process to ransom by refusing to sign amendments to the Electoral Act that eliminate avenues for rigging.”

The PDP alleged that Buhari, who has wrecked the nation’s “once robust economy, crippled critical sectors, entrenched corruption at the high places, and whose administration has dangerously divided the country with escalated violence and daily bloodletting, is seeking re-election with no solution to offer on any critical sector of our economy.”