The All Progressives Congress is like a pot on a pressure cooker. It is in an uneasy state. It is clear to see why. These days, the party has been on the defensive in terms of its governance—not a good omen for its future.
The founding fathers are equally divided along the old order of Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) and Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) ideologies. It is typical to see APC’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the company of former chairman of ACN, Chief Bisi Akande, just as you will see President Muhammadu Buhari in the embrace of his old ally from the CPC and governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai.
Yes, APC is in shreds, but not on the surface. Its bedraggled look is what lies beneath. At formation, the APC didn’t have membership of its own, sufficient enough to win national vote to form a government. A band of frustrated politicians from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and millions of infuriated Nigerians with no party affiliation, who believed party oscillation will transform our politics, made APC what it has become: the ruling party.
Sadly, the way APC emerged has become its albatross. The party seriously needs a fixer to put it together, at least for the 2019 elections.
The exacting task is now the burden of the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu—the man who was influential in the amalgamation of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to create the APC.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Tinubu has everything on his sleeve to unite the APC. He’s a founding father of the party, former governor, senator and one of the few politicians to be honored with chieftaincy titles by northerners and southerners together.
Highly regarded for his forward-looking politics, Tinubu is a political celebrity with collegial leadership, who has unhindered movement in south-west politics. And though he has been accused of imposition of candidates during party primaries, most people have come to agree with his style, because of performance by his ‘imposed’ candidates.
Perhaps the most important talent Tinubu possesses in this task is his ability to form a circle out of any shape. The deftness of his politics, oratory power and charisma that make him a frontline politician for nearly three decades will surely make Tinubu’s effort to reconcile the rancorous APC members in different state an easy stride.
But it will be hard for Tinubu to secure the fidelity of the APC powerful players and increase their zeal at this short time.
The situation in APC is known to everyone. In one part it is like Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, which provides several interesting insights into the way things are in the ruling party. For this article, I will pick the starvation part between two interesting personalities that opened the play—Vladimir and Estragon. In the play, the two characters are seen waiting for an unspecified person named Godot, who will never come. Let’s take Estragon for an infant who needs nutrition to be provided by a mother—Vladimir. Estragon is wearied, hungry and in bad shape. The responsibility is on Vladimir to provide food, but she offered bad food (Turnip) first, before bringing out the good food (carrot). Obviously, Vladimir herself is depleted of nutritious food and has little to offer to save Estragon. The way out for them is to wait for Godot as a mother to provide food, protection, and recognition generated by love for both of them. There is a sense that the Godot is forever destined to provide them with nurturing to become what they should be. In the end, there is no Godot as the emissary came the second time to say “Godot is not coming tonight.”
The APC has been starved as a baby and it has affected its growth. The party’s nutrition crisis is festering in several states and powerful players are now waiting for Tinubu to provide that carrot. But one carrot is not sufficient to bring needed nutrition to the APC. Starvation takes time to overcome and that is my message.
The other part is that the situation of APC looks like a 1968 play by Ola Rotimi, The gods are not to blame. In the famed play turned into novel, an important character, King Odewale, was the source of the suffering of the people of his kingdom, yet he refused to accept.
Now, let’s call APC a kingdom. In this kingdom populated by the ‘progressives’, the paramount ruler is the source of the problem of the kingdom. The inconsistency in his response to issues brought to his notice by the subjects. His alienation style and his creation of loyal chiefs from one state to another have influenced the direction of the kingdom negatively and have not only turned him to memes in the eyes of people, but even his kingdom has become a subject of national abuse.
In plain words, the APC may struggle through reconciliation despite Tinubu’s efforts.
In one example, what happened in Kaduna this week is a good way to look at the crisis. The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, has been in a long-haul battle for the control of the state as he faces opposition from nowhere else other than influential members of his own party— Suleiman Hukunyi, senator representing Kaduna north and Senator Shehu Sani, from Kaduna Central.
Multiple times, el-Rufai has been suspended by one faction and multiple times his suspension has been overturned by another faction. The arrogance of power known with el-Rufai is worsening the situation and the greed common with politician is at play in Kaduna. What will Tinubu do?
To be sure, Sani has said “It is going to be a tragedy if he (Tinubu) fails. This is what I know and I can speak in parables.”
Sani has equated the kind of reconciliation needed in Kaduna to building bridge over an ocean—the task is going to be arduous for Tinubu.
“Right now, the party is already divided in Kaduna and it is for the national secretariat to note this and we have said it in clear terms. The problem has defied solution for two years, but we believe that Asiwaju can do a lot of reconciliation. We hope that he will be able to achieve a lot, because if he fails, it is going to be doom for the party,”Sani said.
If you ask me, the power players in Kaduna are full of ego and I do not see any genuine peace deal before the elections.
I agree that APC still has a path to victory, but the duel in Ogun, Kogi and Ekiti States, where Tinubu loyalists are feeling frightened, because Buhari/Oyegun’s men are controlling the party may be places, where the mediator (Tinubu) will find hard nut to crack.
And this, the headlines out of the Oyo State chapter of APC portend a bad omen for Buhari’s game plan. The Cable’s recent headline says, “Shittu writes Buhari, accuses Ajimobi of nepotism, dividing APC in Oyo. The Nation says, “2019: Ajimobi, Shittu tear Oyo APC apart.” What will Tinubu do in Oyo, where Shittu is tied to Buhari’s apron and Ajimobi is Tinubu’s beneficiary?
Of course, the whole of middle belt may be in the play during presidential election, not just because duel exists among party faithful, but how do you get rid of the sentiments they now hold against this government of being insensitive to their cries?
In kano State, where APC is finding a peace deal, there may be none, because the face-off between former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his successor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has reached a dead-end.
Now, using his position as the head of the National Assembly, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has built his own cult out of APC. Saraki, a highly ambitious man is only waiting in the wing to unleash the dragon. He has suffered humiliation, even in the hands of Tinubu, when he decided to go against the party position over who holds the gavel at the Senate. What will Tinubu do?
Like other two peace-deal committees before him, my natural instinct tells me Tinubu is only on a fact finding mission and not on a journey of reconciliation as APC wants us to believe. But the journey is well-suited for a man, who created political change that was hijacked from him. At the end he will write a report that will not be implemented by the very man who sends him on a wild-goose chase just for a political set up.
But as precarious as the moment feels for the APC, I do not think the party will lose its grip on the center—no thanks to PDP’s poor political strategy for a comeback.
The PDP continues to have its elected representatives in the National Assembly depleted by defection. The party has not yet found either a serious candidate or pure leader. Its message is equally poorly crafted with no particular appeal. Yes, PDP is not taking the advantage. Its drivers are officially blind to see a clear path to destination and evidently dump to speak to excite Nigerians about 2019. Wait, things can change for both parties, if APC finds presidential candidate other than Buhari or PDP can nominate the best man for the job. Let’s see what happens after the primaries of both parties, when the race hots up.