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Monday, September 25, 2023

APC At The Centre: Two Weeks, Wobbly Steps, By Alabi Williams

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by Alabi Williams

The APC craft has encountered bad weather in two weeks and has thus refused to fly. Despite much vaunted propaganda and hunger for power at the centre, there is now strong evidence that the All Progressives Congress is not in a hurry to cure a congenital deficiency, that of debilitating incongruity, just like the behemoth it disgraced and dethroned.

After all that post election excitement, post inauguration has been tedious and laborious. President Muhammadu Buhari means well. With age and experience on his side, the man simply cannot hit the ground running without caution. The party is not of much help, either, with too many leaders coming up with different pathfinders.

Therefore, we experienced a first week of an APC government that did not inspire much confidence. But if you think that was not good enough, how about a second week that was full of political abracadabra?

The trouble with the APC is that it is in a hurry to quickly consolidate and consign the weakened Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into oblivion, to become the all-conquering and dominant coalition of this dispensation.

Unfortunately, it was hardly out of the 2015 elections before it went into labour pangs for an imaginary 2019. The coalition partners are plotting different agendas against one another, thus rushing the party into premature mock elections and painful delivery.

What the party experienced last week could be likened to the pains of VVF patients and such details of under-aged pregnancies.

APC was not physically mature when it went into labour during the last elections. Though the delivery was successful, it has got a broken pelvis and running ass to live with. (Pardon the slang).

Another name for the APC, especially at that time it had issues with patenting an acronym in 2013 could have been UAJ (United Against Jonathan), except that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would not register a contentious brand as that. But that was exactly the rallying point for the disparate crowd drawn together for the sole purpose of defeating a tired PDP, another contraption for winning elections. And once that task was accomplished in the March elections, each camp had to fast forward to 2019.

Instead of waiting patiently to form government, get well blended as a party and deliver the change promised Nigerians, camp leaders in the party went their different ways to seek upper hand for the eventual control of party levers. Everyone is plotting ahead, but not one has a feeling for the party.

At its formation, everybody who had an idea about how to dislodge occupants of Aso Rock was an ally. Members of the nPDP, the original seven and later five governors who deserted the PDP and their NASS members, including the current Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki were all good men.

The common enemy was Jonathan and nothing was spared to achieve that formation. There was no need for an integrity check to ascertain the credentials of those coming on board the APC platform.

Even when it was clear, that some of the flotsams from the PDP wreckage could have been eternally infested with viruses of indiscipline and incurable lust for power, the APC took everybody on board.

The party became a rough mix of all sorts. There were the progressives of the Southwest, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who still lay claims to being heirs of the political ideology and governance blueprint left behind by the Awolowo school of the First and Second Republics.

There were remnants of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), that badly managed old rival of the PDP, from which Muhammadu Buhari pulled away to establish his Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), another of the legacy parties. Governor Rochas Okoracha and his faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are also in APC.

There are the former PDP governors who left because they wanted to contest the 2015 presidential election, but because Jonathan would not let go, despite the MoU he allegedly signed to do just one term, they had to join the APC. So you have all sorts – genuine progressives, pretenders and power mongers, all sandwiched and now having difficulty with breathing space.

The APC, despite its recent electoral success, was thus, an accident waiting to happen. That was the case last week in the National Assembly, when an exercise designed to be observed with pomp and soft backslaps became a nightmare from which the ruling party was unable to escape.

After two months of winning the elections, APC could not sit down and share offices. The party leaders kept playing hide and seek with one another. They said the party is averse to zoning of offices, even when the simplest solution was to apply geo-political sharing to accommodate every group.

One of them, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who also defected from the PDP, warned more than a month ago, that the leaders should sit down and zone NASS offices before it was too late. His projection was that some candidates could become uncontrollable if they had invested time and money running around campaigning.

Later, Chief Bisi Akande, a leader and close ally of Tinubu announced that zoning was out of the equation. He said the contest would be decided on the basis of individual competence and capacity. Close watchers knew he did not mean what he said.

The Tinubu camp had forged strong alliance with the Lawan/Akume camp, hoping it was watertight enough, but discounting with the capacity of the PDP senators to be mischievous.

On their own, the Saraki camp had to make a pact with the PDP, a party they had helped to dismantle in the first place. And what do you expect from an injured PDP, they jumped at it and helped to inflict temporary humiliation on the APC.

They also used the opportunity to demand the Senate vice presidency, which they ordinarily would not get if the APC were organised.

The way and manner the APC pack of cards crumbled was just unbelievable. The NASS is a critical platform of the presidential system. Party caucuses in the NASS are powerful blocs that a discerning president would not toy with, and it begins with elections and appointments of the key leaders.

When President Muhammadu Buhari told the different camps that he would not be drawn into the politics of how the NASS elects its leaders, many were amused. But given Buhari’s type of person, the matter was admitted by watchers as his prerogative.

After all, the Constitution of the Federal Republic explicitly domiciled such matters within the precinct of the NASS, even though that does not preclude subtle interferences from outside, particularly from within the ruling party.

We know what the tradition has been since 1999, apart from the opposition inspired conspiracy that took place in the House in 2011.

When the 51 Senators-elect of the APC were now summoned on Tuesday, June 9 to appear before Buhari at the International Conference Centre on a day of their inauguration, many felt that was not consistent with Buhari, to reprobate and approbate at the same time. If he was not going to be interested in who becomes NASS President and Speaker, and had said so expressly, why now summon a meeting to adjudicate on such issues one hour to D-Day? Smells a rat?

Those Senators-elect who were smart saw that purported summon by the President could as well be a hoax and refused to ‘abscond’ from the duty at hand. The duty at hand was to get inaugurated at 10 am and thereafter, elect a leadership. The conspiracies were carefully plotted and clinically executed.

But camps were smart, including those who had gone ahead to instruct that the NASS be kept under lock in the morning of that Tuesday. But the smarter camp had the last laugh. Last laugh? No, upper hand. There will be more battles ahead, so no last laugh yet.

But let nobody tell Nigerians stories in order to give anybody some soft landing. We know what happened and what went wrong. A grand conspiracy was hatched to reduce from Tiubu’s influence in the party.

The Jagaban was the game changer in the struggle to get the opposition together. It took many years of toil to come up with a coalition of the size and prospects of the APC. And one man is central to all of it, Tinubu.

Without his consent and approval, there wouldn’t be an APC. He surrendered his regional influence for the APC. But hubris might be his nemesis.

And that has been the trouble with Nigeria. One group will wake up and gang up with others to frustrate another. It was so in the First and Second Republics. It was so on June 12.

 Alabi Williams is a public affairs analyst.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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