By YUSUF MOHAMMED
The All Progressives Congress, APC is not as formidable as it was a few years ago due to internal wrangling and the mismanagement of the people’s goodwill. The 2019 elections have ironically exposed the party’s underbelly; though it won the presidential election its fortunes have diminished politically largely.
When the party was formed in 2013, it was the darling of the middle class and the lower class because of their messages of change and hope.
These messages churned out by the main opposition party then, resonated with majority of Nigerians.
The APC was amalgamated in February 2013. The party is the result of a merger of Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties then– the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The main aim was to take on the People’s Democratic Party and dislodge it.
As soon INEC officially accepted the party, they hit the ground running. With each passing day, the party waxed stronger with millions of Nigerians accepting it. The people saw APC as the best alternative to the PDP which they felt did not really better their lot after 16 years in power.
To make matters worse for the PDP, five governors in the ruling party announced their decision to join APC, as well as 49 legislators who joined the rank of 137 legislators in the APC.
The party adopted Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as presidential candidate to face President Goodluck Jonathan. It was obvious from the start that Buhari would be the party’s flag bearer as he was one of the main drivers of the merger of opposition parties.
Buhari, from Katsina (North West) was too powerful for Jonathan from Bayelsa (South South). Jonathan, despite his good gestures towards the north in form of political appointments and federal government projects, such as the Almajiri schools and establishing universities in a few states, was not able to get the love of the North.
The northern establishment saw Jonathan as a traitor for going against the ‘gentlemen agreement’ of the PDP in 2011. Jonathan’s predecessor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from the North, died in office in 2009 and Jonathan was to only complete his term.
Before Yar’Adua assumed office, Olusegun Obasanjo from the southern part of the country had governed the nation for eight years (1999 – 2007). The North felt it was their turn to be at the helm of affairs for eight years. Unfortunately, Yar’Adua died just after two years in office.
Jonathan took over as acting President for two years and decided to contest in 2011 against the wish of the North.
Buhari was accepted not only by northerners within the APC but many members of the PDP supported him, discreetly.
The next line of action by the PDP was to label the APC as an “Islamic party” with an “Islamization agenda.” While Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is a Muslim was warming up to be Buhari’s running mate, opposition to a Muslim/Muslim ticket became very loud.
The APC had to switch gear. Professor Yemi Osinbajo who is a senior pastor at the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG) was chosen as Buhari’s running mate. Buhari who was seen as an upright Muslim was paired with a pastor. That combination sealed the fate of Jonathan as he became the first democratically elected president in Nigeria to be defeated.
The APC won 2015 presidential election by 2.57 million votes. Buhari of the APC got 15,424,921 votes of the 28,587,564 valid votes cast. His nearest rival, Jonathan won 12,853,162 votes.
The northern states were swept by the APC in the governorship elections that followed. People were carried away with the promise of ‘change’ that nothing the PDP said made any sense. Many described it as a political tsunami. Tinubu called it “the broom revolution.”
PDP was down but not out. In the just concluded elections, APC struggled to retain many states. While they retained some states, it was not with ease.
The APC lost one state in the South West and may lose another in Osun with the recent ruling by the Tribunal which declared Senator Ademola Adeleke of the APC as winner. The tribunal deducted the votes scored by the APC candidate Gboyega Oyetola at the rerun after declaring the rerun illegal.
In Oyo State, Seyi Makinde of the PDP received 515, 621 votes to defeat his closest rival from the APC, Bayo Adelabu, who polled 357, 982 votes for the governorship position.
Before the victory of Mr. Makinde, the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi lost Oyo South Senatorial District to Dr Kola Balogun of PDP.Balogun scored 105,720 votes to trump Ajimobi, who recorded 92,579 votes.
In Lagos, the APC won but not without relying on voter suppression as widely believed.
Edo State is the only state under the control of the APC in this zone as there was no governorship election this year. The election promises to be a keenly contested one. In the presidential election, Buhari was not able to defeat Atiku in any of the south south states including Edo.
In Akwa Ibom, a former governor, Godswill Akpabio could not even help the APC win the state. He even lost his bid to return to the Senate for a second term as a result of joining the party.
Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP won the election in Akwa Ibom North-West District.
As for Rivers State, although INEC has not collated the results, Governor Nyesom Wike is well positioned for a second term.
The PDP’s chances in Rivers were boosted by the failure of APC to field candidates in the election, after the Supreme Court found that the party did not satisfy election guidelines to produce a governorship candidate in the state.
This is a PDP zone. APC were able to make inroad in 2015 with Governor Rochas Okorocha. Now state is gone as they lost to the PDP in the just concluded gubernatorial elections.
A former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, won the governorship election in Imo State.
He polled 273,404 votes to defeat his closest rival Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance who polled 190,364 votes. The APC candidate could not even make third position as that was for Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) who polled 114,676 votes. Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC came fourth with 96,458 votes.
Kwara State has been captured by the APC. But this has not in any way brightened their fortunes. APC won Kwara because the people got tired of the Saraki dynasty. Senate President, Bukola Saraki lost his re-election to the senate to Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the APC.
In the governorship election, the APC also won with Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman defeating Abdulrazaq Atunwa of the PDP.While APC gained Kwara, they lost Benue as Governor Samuel Ortom who was a member of the APC defected to the PDP and got reelected.
As for Kogi State, the governorship election will be coming up towards the end of the year. As it stands, if the party goes ahead with Governor Yahaya Bello as candidate the PDP may reclaim the state. This is another state the APC is likely to lose.
In Kano, Governor Umar Ganduje won his re-election but in a controversial manner. In 2015, Ganduje won the governorship election with a margin of over 1,036,708. He scored 1,546,434 votes to defeat his PDP counterparty Salihu Takai who polled 509,726. This time around, he won with a margin of 8,982. He got a total of 1,033,695 against Abba Yusuf of the PDP who got 1,024,713 votes. The result clearly shows how APC has lost popularity.
In Zamfara, the APC is not home and dry as INEC has not handed over a certificate of return to the Governor-elect Muktar Sheu, and other winners of the 2019 polls on the platform of the APC. In the end, the state may be won by the PDP. That would be another huge blow to the ruling party.
Against all predictions, PDP won Sokoto though with the slim margin of 308 votes. Governor Tambuwwal who defected to APC and won in 2015 returned to PDP and was reelected.
APC has lost Bauchi and about to lose Adamawa. A former Minister of the FCT, Mr Bala Mohammed of the PDP defeated the incumbent Governor Muhammed Abubakar who is the candidate of the APC.
Mohammed polled a total of 515,113 votes while the APC polled 500,625 votes. This was unthinkable four years ago. There was no way the PDP would have won Bauchi State in 2015 with the popularity of the APC across the North.
Hamza Nasidi a political commentator told BusinessHallmark that he is disappointed. He said, “It is rather unfortunate. A man who has been tagged as highly corrupt has become governor of Bauchi. It clearly shows how poorly the APC performed in the state.”
In Adamawa State, supplementary elections did not hold. While the poll held in other states, Adamawa suffered as a result of a suit filed against INEC by the governorship candidate of Movement for Restoration and Defence for Democracy (MRDD), Mustafa Shaba.
As at the time of filing this report, the PDP candidate was cruising. The results of the elections announced by INEC shows that the PDP’s candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, won the elections by 367,472 votes against 334,995 votes by the APC candidate, Governor Jibrilla Bindo.
Business Hallmark gathered that a total number of permanent voters cards collected in the 44 units are 31,027, a figure that would not reverse Fintiri’s lead even after the supplementary elections in the 44 units, just as the registered voters in the polling units is now only 34,101.
Based on the results of the 2015 general elections and the just concluded 2019 general elections, it is obvious that the APC is not as mighty as it was.
Alhaji Mahmud Yakubu, former Kogi East senatorial candidate and a chieftain of APC told this newspaper that the party must try to redeem its image or die.
“They made promises which were out of this world. All they wanted to do was to grab power. As soon as they got power, they did not know what to do with it. Nigerians have realized that the party has little or nothing to offer.”
“Going forward it may get worse as the party has not been able to put its house in order. There will be a fierce battle for the presidency ahead of 2023. The South West political heavy weights are already positioning themselves. A few of them see themselves as replacement for Buhari.
“On the other hand, northern within the party have their own plans. Not all of them agree that it should be the turn of the Yoruba. Where does this leave the Igbos, another ethnic group that is part of the super structure? If the situation is not properly managed, there will be a further implosion in the party. Also, there will be no time for governance which will further drive Nigerians away from the party.
Politicking for 2023 may just be the final nail in the coffin of the APC.