APC, equity and defections

Although they  were among the prime movers for the successful merger of three major opposition parties and factions of two others to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, recently shocked many Nigerians when they defected to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

As former governors of Kano and Sokoto states, Shekarau and Bafarawa were among leaders of theAll Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP)which lost its registration certificate to pave way for the emergence of APC. With no party to return to, they were forced by circumstances to seek refuge in the PDP against their perceived personal and political convictions.
Somepeople were disappointed that the two men chose a party which is diametrically opposed to all that they claimed to have stood for. Yet others saw nothing wrong with it, because with topleaders of PDP crossing over to APC almost on a daily basis, the difference between the two parties is now only in name.

So far five governors, 37 Reps, 11 Senators, and lately ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar have dumped thePDP for APC. What remains now is for former president Olusegun Obasanjo and more legislators to follow suit. If this happens, there is no doubt that ex-PDP elements would ultimately control the commanding heights of APC and it will truly become the “alternative PDP” it is already derisively dubbed by some critics.
Shekarau and Bafarawa opted out of APC, according to them, not only because ofits failure to do the needful as designed by its leaders six months after registration but because they would not get justice at state and national levelsof the party. Firstly, they were piqued that when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led a powerful delegationto Kano and Sokoto to woo their governors they were neither informed before hand, invited, nor briefed afterwards.

And shortly after their defection, the governors were given the unwarranted privilege of having five out of nine slots in the party’s state executive councils, leaving only four for the three major legacy parties. But more perplexing is the grossly undemocratic reward of automatic tickets to defected ex-PDP legislators to contest the 2015 elections. Shekarau said when he complained about this and other infractions against the party’s constitution through a petition signed by him and over 250 supporters it was neither acknowledged nor responded to.

After the visit to Kano by APC leaders, some supporters of Shekarau began to blame Buhari for complicity in the attempt to sideline their leader. To absolve him from blame, Engr. Buba Galadima claimed on a radio in Kano that he and two others, Sule Y. Hamma and Ambassador Waziri, were actually the brains behind the visits to woo the G-7 governors. He said it was they who insisted that Shekarau and Bafarawa must not be involved in the talks.
What can we now deduce from this?

It is a confession of a deliberate plot by sadists to push some people and their leaders out of APC. It is also prooft hat members of the infamous TBO who were accused of sabotaging Buhari’s three attempts for the Presidency through manipulation of party affairs andlater announced they had parted ways with him are back to scuttle his APC project.

However, rather than convince his listeners by justifying their suggestion to APC leaders Buba betrayed bitterness and vendetta. So with men like these having the ears of Tinubu and Buhari, how on earth would the former governors ever get justice from APC?
Without doubt, Shekarau and Bafarawa were unfairly treatedby APC leaders in a way that was absolutely undemocratic. Besides non-observance of constitutional provisions, surely there is inequity in the concession given to the G-5governors regarding number of seats instate executive counci lsand the reward of automatic ticketsto their protégés.

But where is the wisdom in all this? Is it because the governors have the where withal to finance the party, rent the crowds or rig the elections for APC? I have reservations about the decision of the ex-governors but I certainly endorse their move. I believe they are justified in leaving the party as surely some officials of the party had malevolent intentions towards them.

Those who are disappointed that the two men have joined the PDP rather than remainin APC because of the general belief that the party is out to saveus from the alleged misrule of the PDP have right to express their opinion. However, I pray to God that their hope is not misplaced. This is because recently, Ijaw elder Chief Edwin Clark charged that Yorubas have no leaders because those who now claim to be their leaders can be bought. Cast your mind back to 2011 and recall the betrayal Nuhu Ribadu suffered and you may agree that he might know some thing we don’t.

So with this scenariothe hype that APC is the saviour of our people may be far-fetched. In any case, is the party not proving now that it is as PDP as they come? And how sure is anyone that the APC will be better than PDP in any conceivable way? Many young people are under the illusion that with Buhari at the top Nigeria will be a Utopia with sufficient supply of electricity and fuel, running taps, good roads, excellent health-care delivery, etc.

I sincerely hope that something even near that will ever be possible. But these highly impression able young people will be profoundly disappointed if this is not the case after APC victory in 2015. However, will itbe the same Buhari of the mid-1980s with a swagger stick in his hand? Will he be able to operate as efficiently in a democratic setting as he did three decades ago? Time will tell.
Muhammad is former Special Adviser to Kano Governor (2007-2011). Email: [email protected]

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