Is APC Ready to Take the Bull by the Horn?

Is APC Ready to Take the Bull by the Horn?

Segun James writes that President Muhammadu Buhari is subtly fighting some political battles with politicians and that this may have consequences on the 2023 permutations of the ruling All Progressives Congress

There is no denying that the race towards 2023 presidential election is already on, but what is unclear is whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari has realized this.

Hardly has a day passed without Nigerians waking up to yet another negative headline in the media suggesting that they are facing an existential crisis. If the nation is not fighting terrorists masquerading as Muslim fundamentalists in the North-east, it is engaging economic saboteurs claiming to be liberators in the Niger Delta.

At the same time, Biafran agitators are still pushing their agenda; and as all these go on, the dollar-naira exchange rate continues to confound the government.

All these are disheartening to the citizenry who, feeling the pangs of poverty, are blaming it on the Buhari government, either rightly or wrongly. At no other time has Nigeria being so unpredictable, polarized.

This is the situation in the country when the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) announced that it is yet to determine if it will honour or jettison the time held gentlemen’s agreement that presidency will rotate between the north and south, the system that herald the coming of Buhari as President of the Federal Republic.

Condemnations have continued to trailed the claim by the APC that it had not decided on where to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 elections. The politicians are sure to fight back and this is reflective in some first of its kind actions seen lately.

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had before the party’s March 26 National Convention, stated that even though the ruling party had not decided on zoning the presidential ticket, the swapping of national offices was an indication of where its presidential candidate would come from.

The APC swapped its national offices between North and South, leading to the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu from the North-central as the National Chairman in March.

The emergence of Adamu from the North is a strong indication that the presidential candidate of the party will automatically come from the South.

But Adamu, who spoke on the controversial zoning issue after presenting the party’s candidate in the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election, Biodun Oyebanji, to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said the party had not taken any zoning decision.

He said such a decision would be the job of the entire party, which he said was bigger than himself as chairman. “I am today privileged to be the Chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot preempt what the party’s decision will be.”

But in a swift reaction, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Arewa Consultative Youth Forum (ACYF), and the South-South Elders’ Forum (SSEF) have condemned the indecision.

This is coming as the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, said he would support President Muhammadu Buhari and APC’s preferred candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

In its reaction to APC’s indecision on zoning, PANDEF described Adamu’s claim as careless and ill-considered. “How can he (Adamu) make such a remark? Do they mean well for this country at all? This is a man who emerged as National Chairman of the party through the instrumentality of zoning,” Robinson said.
He noted that all the positions in the party had been switched between the South and North.

“It is an established political stratagem of political parties in the country that any time the national chairmanship position of a party goes to the South, the presidency goes to the North and the other way round. In 2014, the APC zoned its national chairmanship position to the South, and the presidency went to the North; therefore, in 2023, the presidency of the APC, and indeed, any serious political party in Nigeria must go to the South. Anything otherwise would be more than an overture to undesirable cataclysms in the country,” he explained.
Also reacting, the SSEF warned that any attempt to deny the South the position of the presidential candidate of the APC would be an invitation to anarchy.

According to the National Leader of the SSEF, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, such a decision will give ethnic nationalities in the South a sense that they are not wanted in the country.

Sara-Igbe expressed the fear that any attempt to jettison the unwritten gentlemen’s agreement between the North and the South would lead to a catastrophic reaction, the end of which nobody can predict.

On its part, the ACYF has called on the National Chairman of APC, Adamu, to withdraw his statement that the party had not taken a position on zoning.

The ACYF, in a statement yesterday, said the statement credited to Adamu was capable of heating the polity and spelling doom for the party if not quickly withdrawn.

The group said it was worrisome that the party chairman could come up with such an inflammable statement when all critical stakeholders are already on the same page on the need for the presidency to return to the South in 2023.

 “The unfortunate statement credited to Senator Adamu is regrettable just as it is demeaning of his status as the chairman of a ruling party. Even a political novice is aware that the consensus from critical political stakeholders is that the presidency must return to the South in 2023.

.“His statement that no agreement had been reached on zoning is not in the best interest of the party. The statement is capable of leading to electoral defeat for our great party if not quickly withdrawn.

“It is a statement that can confuse, overheat the polity and eventually lead to electoral defeat. Leaders must learn to weigh their words and also feel the pulse of the people when making statements on issues as important as this,” AYCF explained.

In its reaction, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate strong courage and leadership by prevailing on his party to zone the 2023 presidency to the South-east.

Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the organisation said those who came up with the issue of dividing the country along zonal structures were not wrong.

“Some patriots tried to create six zones for the country and this was done to ensure equity, justice and fairness. That singular action has helped to stabilise the country.

“It is the same wisdom that made President Olusegun Obasanjo to ensure the emergence of a northerner in 2007 even when the odds strongly favoured the then Governor Peter Odili. Since then, power has been moving from North to South.

“This time around, Buhari has to decide and ensure that nothing truncates this process to maintain peace, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria. As the leader of the country and the leader of the APC, President Buhari must demonstrate strong courage by ensuring that power is moved to South-east after him,” the organisation noted.

The organisation, however, warned that anything outside zoning the presidency to the South-east zone would not only boomerang but threaten the nation’s very existence.

“The way APC prevaricates over this issue of zoning is troubling. We however believe that the onus lies on the president; but if he chooses to play the ostrich, he should also bear in mind that history will not be kind to him. He must sail this ship to safe harbour.

“If they fail to do the needful, let them bear in mind that restiveness, insecurity and cries of marginalisation will never cease and those championing such will be right. The President must write his name in gold by doing the right thing,” Ogbonnia explained.

But not surprising, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi insisted that “I will Support Whoever is Buhari, APC’s Choice.”

Amaechi who expressed his loyalty to President Buhari and the APC.
Amaechi, in a statement, said this at a consultative meeting with executives, delegates and another party faithful at the Rivers APC Secretariat at the weekend.

The minister indicated that in his bid to become the President of Nigeria, which he is thoroughly qualified for, he was neither desperate nor disloyal.

The two terms governor of Rivers said it was sad that many politicians do not understand the concept of loyalty.
“Loyalty is not when you are not chosen, you become disloyal, loyalty means you follow the man that leads you, that you have surrendered to his leadership.

“If you don’t follow, it means you are not loyal, you are only benefitting from the man politically and economically. The day he’s not able to give you that economic reality, is the day you become disloyal.
“I am a very loyal person, and those who are disloyal, I wish them well, those who want to do whatever they want to do, I wish them well,” he said.

According to him, the opportunity will be given to everybody and all will run in this presidential election. “We will run and I am loyal to the President and I am loyal to the party. If the party says it is me, thank God. If the party says it is not me, whoever the party chooses, I will support it.
“If the party and President choose anybody, I will support the person, if the party chooses me, I will be glad and say thank God,” Amaechi explained.

The position of Adamu is a reflection of the position of presidential cousin, Alhaji Maman Daura that rotational presidency should be jettisoned. Daura’s position is seen as speaking the body language of Buhari, a position which is fast manifesting as his term winds to an end.

That all of a sudden, the northern leadership of the party announced that it may discountenanced the agreement and allow all eligible persons, irrespective of region of origin will be allowed to contest the presidency. And this is coming on the heel of the imposition of a northern leadership on the party in accordance with the rotational agreement already worked out. This is just after the president forced his anointed candidate as National Chairman on the party. It was a devastating blow for southern aspirants in the party.

Expectedly, righteous indignation has followed the decision. The implication of the move is that the party may be preparing itself for failure as the southerners are expected to revolt.

The next couple of months will hold what is expected to be the biggest exercise in the APC. The election or selection of the next presidential candidate of the party. Who becomes the candidate will determined the fate of the party.

By many measures, the Nigerian economy is unhealthy. Unemployment is at an all-time high, growth is running at less than one percent and the population index shows an uncontrollable eight. Many Nigerians are worse off than in 2015 when Buhari took over and the labourious recovery engineered by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from financial meltdown has burnt out. Inflation and interest rates remain at historic high and the value of wages plummeting.

The bubble is about to burst in the APC. Bubbles are hard to identify with certainty in real time; but defecting them may cause more harm than good.

However, there are fundamental questions to be answered. Who owns the country? What do we want to do with it? Should it still be one country or break up? What is the benefit of being a Nigerian for now and what are the expected gains in the future?

In its reaction to APC’s indecision on zoning, PANDEF described Adamu’s claim as careless and ill-considered. “How can he (Adamu) make such a remark? Do they mean well for this country at all? This is a man who emerged as National Chairman of the party through the instrumentality of zoning,” Robinson said.
He noted that all the positions in the party had been switched between the South and North

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