Published On: Mon, Jul 9th, 2018

2019: Plot against Buhari thickens

. Reformed APC threatens reelection bid

By OBINNA EZUGWU

It had seemed certain, until now, that President Muhammadu Buhari, despite the blatant failures of his administration, would have an easy ride to retain his seat in 2019, due largely to lack of strong opposition. But this possibility seems to be diminishing by the day with movements and political realignments happening in the polity, driven, in part, by the internal contradictions in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), especially in respect of the nPDP and the imminent pulling out of some of the party’s heavyweights.

Buhari

Also there is the coming together of the ‘old military generals’ in what is now certainly an urgent need to rescue a nation on the verge of falling apart; it would seem that interests against the president’s reelection bid is crystallising into a formidable force, and he would most likely have a battle in his hands notwithstanding his relentless attempts to silence the opposition.

For the APC, it had been a battle on many fronts in the lead up to the party’s congresses and the eventual convention that produced Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as new chairman. Governors and other top members battled for control of the party’s structure. It is a battle largely fought and won with the conclusion of the convention, but while the winners can celebrate, having been assured of second-term tickets, the losers are opting for alternative political platforms in moves that may ultimately prove APC’s undoing.

In Kano, arguably President Buhari’s and APC’s strongest support base, where he secured the highest number of votes, 1.9 million in 2015, the rift between Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his predecessor and political godfather, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has effectively forced the latter out of the ruling party and he is presently part of an ongoing coalition to oust the ruling party in 2019.

Besides Kano, three senators from Kaduna state: Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), Sulieman Hukunyi (Kaduna North), and Danjuma Leah (Kaduna South), have been at loggerheads with Governor Nasir El-Rufai, and having lost out to the governor and their chances of seeking reelection on the APC platform gone, they are most likely on their way out of the party. Senator Sani had indeed indicated that it was only a matter of time before they leave the APC.

“I can tell you confidently that our goods are now at the departure lounge of the APC,” Sani wrote. “And we are leaving the party because we can’t tolerate the embarrassment, but we are still giving the party time.”

On Thursday last week, the Senator again confirmed: “We the persecuted are on Exodus, riding on horses, chariots and caravans, departing Pharaoh Thutmose’s Egypt; we are now at the coast of Red Sea, about to leave the land of cruelty and injustice.”

Adamawa represents yet another state where internal contradictions could herald exodus of key political figures from the ruling party. A few weeks ago, Adamawa Central Senator, Abdulaziz Nyako told his supporters that he was preparing with the teeming supporters of his father and former Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, to leave the APC due to marginalization and that he had spoken to former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso among others who assured him that there was a new party coming up.

“We have no option than to go; but we are still discussing the party to move to with our entire structure. I have spoken with Prof. Jerry Gana in SDP. I also spoke with Attahiru Bafarawa and fixed an appointment for him with Admiral Nyako. Bafarawa wants us to return to PDP,” he said.

“On Thursday, I went to Abeokuta and sat with (Olusegun) Obasanjo about ADC. He directed me to see Col. Oyinlola who assured us that we will be absorbed with our structures if we join the party. I also spoke with Kwankwaso before the congresses.”

Kwankwaso, alongside former governor Nyako and former Sokoto governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, was part of the nPDP, a faction that pulled out of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014. A faction that at the time, included five sitting governors, namely of Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Rivers States, and former Governors of Kebbi, Gombe, Osun, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former acting National Chairman of PDP, sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives, many serving members of the National Assembly and many renowned politicians and PDP Elders. Their move dealt a heavy blow to the then ruling party.

But what the nPDP did to PDP in 2014, it is threatening to do to the APC and Buhari in 2018. The group, led by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, has all but concluded plans to pull out the ruling party over issues bothering on marginalisation. On Wednesday, a group known as the Reformed APC led by Buba Galadima, President Buhari’s former ally, broke away from the ruliny the party, citing incompence and failed promises by the party.

In a protest letter a few weeks ago, Baraje outlined several grievances of the group and requested a meeting with the President or the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to, according to him, “find lasting solutions to the issues raised so as to prepare the party as a fighting force to deliver more pungently on its manifesto and face the 2019 General Elections with even greater commitment.”

The meeting, he had said, “will also enable us to work out modalities to ensure a level playing field for all in the Congresses and Convention of the APC.”

But it didn’t quite happen. Although the group’s request was granted, and talks with Osinbajo proceeded, they would later pull out of the engagement in the aftermath of Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s invitation by the police over allegations of funding the Offa robbery attack in Kwara State. Yet, President Buhari would eventually rule out any possibility of meeting with the group.

The APC convention was to address the contending issues by accommodating the interests of the group. But it was not also the case. Kwankwaso stayed away to, according to him, avoid possible clashes between his supporters and those of Ganduje. Former Sokoto governor, Aliyu  Magatakarda Wamakko whose political son, Governor Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal is also targeted by the APC establishment because of him, was locked out, while both Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara looked detached from proceedings.

It is perhaps only a matter of time before the group pulls away to join forces against Buhari. Indeed, feelers has it that the nPDP is part of a new coalition of opposition political parties, including the PDP, Chief Olu Falae led Social Democratic Party (SDP) Labour Party (LP), African Democratic Congress ADC led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and about 34 other parties close to signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to form an alliance ahead of 2019.

The former Kano governor, Kwankwaso, remains a popular political figure in the state. He has been holding consultations with key members of the PDP, including former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who he visited a fortnight ago to harmonize positions, over who should fly the party’s flag, himself being interested in the nation’s top job.

He subsequently paid courtesy visit to Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose where he took aim at the Buhari administration for failing to contain the incessant killings in the country.

In a chat with Chief Dele Momodu, he noted that the PDP remained the potent opposition platform capable of defeating the incumbent in the upcoming presidential election, adding that he is the suitable candidate to fly the party’s flag to victory.

“I’m a free man now and available to try my luck elsewhere but I know that PDP is the biggest party and as long as they follow democratic principle, Buhari will easily be defeated, but if they handpick and force any candidate on the party, they will fail,”

“PDP needs someone from the 3-K States: Kano, Katsina and Kaduna to win the next election. That’s where the votes are. It would be difficult to win if they pick someone from any other zone.

Reformed APC members
Photo Credit: premiumtimesng.com

“I can guarantee them that I will beat Buhari if given the chance,” he said.

Kwankwaso, alongside Saraki, Dogara, Nyako, Senator Dino Melaye and many others, had on Wednesday announced the formation of a separate faction of the APC, the Reformed APC (RAPC) with Buba Galadima as chairman. With RAPC, the group hopes to negotiate a coalition with the PDP. The group is expected to officially announce it’s departure from the ruling party early this week, and the PDP say it’s hopeful of receiving them.

“We are praying that God should let it happen (their return). We hope that the New PDP members and other members also will return,” said Mr. Taofic Gani, Lagos Publicity Secretary of the PDP.

“It’s dawning on everybody now and we are regretting it, we have no reason to deny that and it was a big mistake that we didn’t listen to the Northerners then on the issue of rotational presidency.

“If PDP had brought out anybody from the North, we would have won that election. It is the fact that Jonathan was candidate that led to the anti party activities.

“It was not an election against Jonathan’s performance, it was an election against his personality. Jonathan performed very well as everyone can see now, but it was an election against his personality. It was like, yes, you are a good man, but its not your turn, and that is what we are all regretting now.

“So, if we can get our acts together; if all these people can come back to the party, there is no way APC can win in 2019.”

He noted that as it stands, President Buhari cannot win in 2019 and his decision to contest is an attempt to destroy the country.

“As it is, Buhari is only showing desperation by deciding to recontest, probably because he wants to destroy this country, and I say this boldly.

”If he does not want to destroy this country, he should step aside because all the indices that showed he was going to win in 2015, has shown now that he cannot win. So if it is obvious that he cannot win but because he is the incumbent, he wants to go into it, then there is something to it.”

Besides the prospect of the coalition of political parties, Buhari will also contend with the powerful ‘Class of 1966 ex military generals’ who are understandably worried about the escalating security challenges under his government.

BusinessHallmark reliably learnt that the former generals, including former president Obasanjo; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma; former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida; former Head of State Abdulsalam Abubakar, former Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau; General Zamani Lekwot; General Joshua Dongoyaro, among others, have been holding consultations in a bid to stop the president in 2019.

Obasanjo who has been vocal in his opposition to Buhari, apart from using his international reach to campaign against the president, is also at the forefront of the local coalition against him. He has been consulting with various leaders of the South West and only last week, made peace with Chief Bode George a chieftain of the PDP, all in a bid to unite the opposition ahead of a battle he admits won’t be easy in 2019.

On his part, Danjuma who recently alleged the Nigerian military was colluding with armed bandits on an ethnic cleansing mission, has also been active in opposing the president.

A few weeks ago, he led a delegation to a closed-door session with key officials of President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington DC. During which, it was gathered, he presented damning facts on the herdsmen killings in Taraba and other states, accusing Buhari’s administration of complicity and human rights violations.

Nonetheless, despite the groundswell of discontent against the president over the unabated killings in the land, nepotism and poor handling of the economy, he will not, from all indications, be an easy opponent to take on in what promises to be one of the most emotionally charged elections in recent history in 2019.

President Buhari is a polarising figure whose government has thrived, as many have alleged, on nepotism. Apart from concentrating nearly all the sensitive security posts in the hands of his Hausa/Fulani Muslim North, his inability to decisively deal with the menace of herdsmen wreaking havoc across the country, especially in the North Central, is given the impression that he has a hidden agenda.

Of late, the Christendom in Nigeria has risen in outrage, with many pastors and clergy speaking up against what they interpret as a mission to exterminate the Christian community in Nigeria. But while the President is incurring the anger of the Christian community by his inactions as it concerns herdsmen, his pronouncements and indeed his lopsided appointments, his popularity seems to be growing in his Northern Muslim constituency where he is seen largely as a promoter of the faith and among whom he had assumed the status of a demigod.

“When you look at those lining up to challenge Buhari in the North; people like Atiku Abubakar, Governor (Ibrahim) Dankwambo, Musa Kwankwaso or Ahmed Makarfi and the rest of them, apart from Kwankwaso, others, particularly Atiku are liberal Muslims who can easily be demonized as being anti Islam or even a traitor,” said Abuja based analyst, Barr. Tony Ezeugu.

“It would be difficult for anyone to challenge Buhari in the North, we shouldn’t make any mistake about it.”

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