…Threat to the party is real – Taofik, APC chieftain
By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
The political climate in the All Progressives Congress (APC) is slowly heating up ahead of the 2019 general elections, with scheming and power play among powerful groups and individuals taking its toll on the unity of the party.
Already, several foreign and local agencies have hinted that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC may lose the presidential election.
Business Hallmark findings show that things are no longer at ease for the party that swept to power on May 29, 2015, through the defeat of an incumbent president, a very rare occurrence on the African continent.
Buoyed by the general malaise in the country as well as the international support it got from foreign governments, the PDP government was sacked and replaced by the APC government which had inspired great expectations from Nigerians.
But barely three and half years into the much heralded ‘change’ administration, there is disillusion in the land as Nigerians have lost hope in the government. Right from inception, it has been one trouble to the other for the government that came in with much promise.
Deep divisions along the broad lines of pro and anti-Buhari elements in and outside the party, owing largely to the president’s failings, as well as scheming ahead of the 2019 general elections, had to a very large extent weakened the support base of the government.
According to BH investigation, virtually all the power blocks that worked together for the emergence of the APC government have been alienated and pushed out of the party.
It would be recalled that political parties such as the New PDP, ACN, CPC, APGA, ANPP, as well as many others teamed up to defeat the PDP government.
Several civil society groups, Christian and Muslim bodies, business communities, as well as influential individuals made up of retired generals, scholars, clergies and opinion molders also supported the change mantra.
But today, apart from the defunct ACN block, led by its leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the CPC and ANPP blocks that are still behind the Buhari administration, all other groups have been pushed out or left angrily.
Worth mentioning is the powerful ex-service men group led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Others in the group include Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, Domkat Bali, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Zamani Lekwot and Joshua Dongoyaro, among others.
The insecurity challenge in the country, especially Fulani herdsmen attacks and upsurge in Boko Haram activities have angered the nation and also offered the coalition a massive opportunity to take on the Buhari administration.
Also, owing to their disagreements with some key policies of Buhari administration, the ex-generals, it was gathered, have formed a secret coalition to defeat President Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
All the prominent ex-generals so far linked to the coalition reportedly have personal axes to grind with the current administration over several issues, it was learnt, leaving them no option than to unite against Buhari, who they now consider a common enemy.
The plot, according to sources, is spearheaded by Obasanjo, who on January 23, 2018, wrote Buhari to put his reelection bid on hold, accusing him of non-performance.
The letter, a source close to the military establishment disclosed, was timed to rally other ex-generals who were skeptical over the workability of the plans.
Apart from losing the support of the retired generals, Buhari has also lost the support of the international communities, the Church, as well as South West and North Central leaders who supported his emergence in 2015.
Some of his most ardent supporters in the South West, including Pastor Tunder Bakare, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana, have so far dumped the president. Though they have not totally severed their link to the president and his government, they often attack some of the president’s actions.
North Central leaders on their own part are angry with the president’s handling of the Fulani herdsman attacks on their people in Taraba, Benue, Plateau and others. Rather than acting swiftly to protect the Middle Belt people who are killed daily by rampaging herdsmen, the president and some influential members of his cabinet had on many occasions advised them to be tolerant of their tormentors.
The government had also made a daring move to carve out lands in the Middle belt and the southern part of the country to serve as cattle colonies, while severe pressures have also been put on governors who had enacted anti-grazing bills to abrogate them.
While the Buhari government was busy grappling with the accusation of bias against the people of the Middle belt in favour of his Fulani brothers, his government has been accused of nepotism, owing to lopsided appointments he had made so far.
Several Nigerians, particularly from the southern part of the country have denounced the “clannishness” that has characterised Buharis’ administration.
BH recently published a report, ‘How Nigeria is shared’ where it reported that over 70 percent of all important positions are occupied by Presidents Buhari’s kinsmen from the North, particularly from his home state and town of Katsina and Daura.
Angered by this development, former president Olusegun Obasanjo recently castigated the president for his inability to bring discipline to bear on “errant members of his nepotic court”.
While noting that it appears “national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest,” the former president listed the case of Abdulrasheed Maina, former pension boss, as an example.
“What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action?
“How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?” Obasanjo had said.
The Buhari administration, which swept to power on a massive mandate from Nigerians to fight corruption due largely to his reputation as a morally upright individual, is also enmeshed in numerous corruptions cases.
The verdict of Nigerians on the president’s anti-corruption war is damning. The general consensus among Nigerians is that the present administration has failed to deliver on its promises to fight corruption to a standstill and is as corrupt as the government it succeeded.
Several reports from abroad have also dented Buhari’s reputation as an upright person, as well as casting doubts on his claims to be winning the fight against corruption, thus putting his government under scrutiny as the 2019 presidential poll approaches.
Recently, a report on corruption by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace slammed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as being equally corrupt and inclined to using political power to steal public resources.
The report titled, “A New Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria”, said despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture, there was little difference between his party, APC, and PDP.
“Kleptocratic capture of political party structures is a sine qua non of gaining power and thereby unlocking corruption opportunities across a range of other sectors. Little distinguishes Nigeria’s two main political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – in this regard. Both are constellations of fluid national, state, and local elite networks.
“Both are almost identically structured, non-ideological organisations. Both rely on misappropriated public funds to finance election campaigns. Neither values internal party democracy, allowing money and high-level interference to corrupt candidate selection processes,” the report said.
According to the report, top politicians in the two major political parties are always seeking, by hook or by crook, opportunities to secure lucrative public appointments or high-level backing for their ambitions.
It stated further that party officials always sought to monetise their influence over internal party processes by soliciting cash from aspiring politicians or seeking to be co-opted by them.
Giving an insight into the corrupt practices prevalent in APC and PDP, the report explained
what it called “the symbolic relationship between legislative and bureaucratic corruption”, which resulted in the country having three “expensive and unnecessary” space agencies. It said it had identified 500 kinds of corruption in Nigeria.
According to the author of the report, Matthew T. Page, corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multifaceted. Page, a former American envoy to Nigeria, added that corruption could be seen in how the government tended to “waste” limited resources.
He took a swipe at Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. “Among the forms of corrupt behaviour, the taxonomy includes ‘legalised corruption’ and ‘deliberate waste’. These categories are not generally recognised as forms of corruption, but they make sense to include in the Nigerian context.
These tactics include legislators’ exorbitant salaries – roughly $540,000 annually –, vanity projects such as one governor’s decision to erect multi-million-dollar bronze statues of South Africa and Liberia’s former presidents, and Nigeria’s three – yes, three! – expensive and unnecessary space agencies,” Page explained.
Another report which was released almost the same time by the United States government mocked President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. The 2017 Human Rights Report indicted the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration of massive corruption and festering of human rights abuses.
The report slammed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for flagrant disobedience to court orders and not following the due process of law in its operations.
The Department of State Services (DSS) was accused and blamed particularly for arbitrary abduction of persons opposed to the government of President Buhari.
The list also included “denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against women and children; trafficking in persons; and early and forced marriages.
Another major dilemma that is threatening the reelection hope of President Buhari is the intractable crisis rocking the party.
The ruling party is presently enmeshed in wars of attrition which is threatening to tear it apart. While there are crisis at the national level of the party, states and local government chapters are not left out.
According to findings, crisis first resurfaced in the party over the sidelining of several interest groups by a cabal loyal to the president. Owing to this development, several estranged party members, such as Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwa, Senator Kwankwaso, among others dumped the APC for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Several groups and individuals that lost out in the quest to impose their excos later abandoned the party for others. BH reliably gathered that many will leave the party after its’ primaries in October.
Another trouble appears to be looming in the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country over alleged imposition of the mode of primary to be adopted by states in picking its candidates for 2019 elections.
In many states where the state governors are in battle with rivals such as senators and other influential politicians, the ruling party appears to have favoured the stance of the governors which was glaring in states such as Adamawa, Kaduna, Kogi and Imo.
However, many states executives and elected officials have rejected the decision of the national leadership to foist direct and indirect primaries on them.
Direct primaries involve all card carrying members of the party electing its candidates while indirect primaries adopt the use of delegates to elect party candidates.
In Adamawa, top politicians like the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and former anti-graft commission, EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, had requested direct primaries while the party leadership backed by incumbent governor Bindow Jibrilla called for indirect primaries. The APC national headquarters however approved indirect primaries.
For Kaduna State, aspirants like Sen. Shehu Sani though insisted on direct primaries while the party’s leadership in the state backed by the incumbent governor, Nasir El-Rufai, called for indirect primaries but the APC headquarters approved indirect primaries.
In Kwara, the National Working Committee (NWC) approved direct primary against the position of some top governorship aspirants and stakeholders in the state.
A chieftain of the party in Ogun State, Alhaji Inaolaji Taofik, warned of dire consequences for the party if the crises brought about by the controversial primaries are not amicably resolved.
“The National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the president would need more than a miracle from God if they hope to save the party from destabilization.
“Ogun people are kicking against Amosun’s plot to foist his candidate on us. Look at Lagos State, attempts are being made to stop Ambode from coming back. If Tinubu and his group succeed in stopping him and he decides to leave the party, APC will be in problem in Lagos. The same applies to several states.
“President Buhari has suddenly found himself in the middle of a potential career ruining crossfire of entrenched interests within the presidency on the one hand, and from powerful interest groups of the party, on the other. Only God will save the APC beyond 2019”, he said.