Jegede vs Akeredolu: A wake up call for APC

Sani Danaudi Mohammed

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is a product of three political parties that came together in February 2013 and regrouped under a banner of changing the narratives in our democracy.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) originated from The Buhari Organisation (TBO) formed in 2006 by the incumbent Nigerian leader and his political allies, the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Ogbonnaya Onu’s All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) metamorphosed to APC.

Since the return to.democracy in 1999 , Nigerians have been crying loud that democracy is fortunate to find its way into Nigeria as most of the elected political office holders were non-career politicians. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was imposed on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaving behind those who laboured for the party breathing the air of mystery. The party was then accused of turning its members as balloons who lived in the spirit of expulsion.

Impunity and imposition of candidates against the will of the members became the order of the day. I don’t-care-attitude on the part of leadership was made a norm within the PDP.

However, the emergence of one of Nigeria’s finest leaders late Umaru Musa Yar’adua that never lived long to implement his policies and programmes left many in the party singing optional songs and with their eyes widely open looking for exit doors. 

The fall apart in the zoning arrangement that brought Obasanjo and late Yar’adua was thrown away in 2015 by the Supreme Court paving the way for former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to run having completed their joint ticket. 

The northern oligarchy protested against President Jonathan who recontested in 2015. According to them, he has taken an oath of office twice as president; after his predecessor Yar’adua died in 2010 and in 2011 when he contested and won elections. 

The verdict of the Supreme Court cleared the road for Jonathan to contest which ended the tussle of his eligibility based on the PDP zoning arrangement.The former president’s camp was celebrated that landmark judgement and were eying his return while aggrieved party members started digging the grave for the party that ended its 16 years rule.

In August 2013, five governors and ex-presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, formed a PDP splinter group which included former Governor of Rivers state and current Minister of Transportation Rt. Hon. Chibuke Rotimi Amaechi (Game Changer), former Governor of Kano state Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Governor of Kwara state Abdulfatah Ahmed, former Governor of Sokoto state Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamako and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state. The story that went viral on the social media then citing 16 votes (Jang) were said to be greater than 19 (Amaechi) was seen as highest level of conspiracy against any democratic government.

The strategic meeting that had in attendance former head of state and current President Buhari, former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and current national leader of the ruling APC, former APC National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande, then nPDP chairman Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, former Osun state governor and former PDP secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Kwara state Governor and immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Nasarawa state Governor Senator Adamu Abdullahi, former Bayelsa state Governor Timipre Sylva who is current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and former ANPP chairman and the current Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. 

After exhaustive deliberations, the two parties agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation, that was according to Abubakar Kawu Baraje.

This was how the rulling APC came to be and Nigerian jubilated that a party full of angels is finally here to wash the sins of the PDP.

The irony of this scenario is that they could not open their eyes to see the faces of those accused of turning Nigeria to a child playing ground jumping into the change party.

During this marathon of defections, I said that the only change Nigeria needs is the change of character and mindset towards doing the right thing, at the right time and as when due not a change of political party.

My submission was objective owing to the fact that those joining the APC today are same set of politicians in PDP yesterday and vise versa. They were  privileged to have held positions during PDP’s regime as governors and ministers but with little or nothing written on their faces as their recorded success.

One of the challenges to the sustainability of democracy and the evolution of a robust political system and process in Nigeria is the gale of defections in the country. This has to a large scale led to a lean political base in the country, that is consistent in the political philosophies, beliefs, values and convictions.

Defections cripple government’s sound policies and programmes that are geared towards making practicable solutions meant to heal the wound of the citizens because hardly the opposition hold the rulling party accountable to its campaign promises. 

Developed democracies like the United States, Germany, France and United Kingdom have politicians with over three decades of experience in politics without wavering in party affiliations and ideologies. 

The APC is generally considered to be a centre-left political party by Nigerians that has come to favour controlled market economic policies, and a strong and active role for government regulation.

A substantial number of its political leaders are followers of or politicians who subscribe to the social democratic political philosophy of Obafemi Awolowo and the socialist and anti-class views of Aminu Kano.

The APC will support state’s rights, advance state police, unity, fairness, justice and equity for all as a template of nationalism. Both the president and the rulling party were before now seen as a Messiah that came to end corruption regimes, fight crimes and criminality, enhance capacity building, sustain economic growth through sound and effective implementation of government policies, protect lives and properties, create jobs for the teaming jobless Nigerian youths (graduates) and revamp agricultural sector from subsistence to mechanised farming.

There is no system that works perfectly without crisis which means just like PDP had their turn, the rulling APC is currently battling to fix their own internal party conflicts.

The emergence of Bukola Saraki and the 14th Speaker Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara against the will of the rulling party sparked a lot of crisis in the first tenure of the change party.

The internal aggrieved formations within the rulling party made it to loss elections in Bauchi, Adamawa, Edo and Zamfara states among others apart from many legislative seats both at the states and National Assembly. This is manifest in the various factions and executive in the party especially now that some within the APC family are challenging the eligibility of his Mai Mala Buni-led committee. 

The Supreme Court judgement between the Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (APC) and Eyitayo Jegede (PDP) has opened another page of narration.

The Minister of State for Labour and a chieftain of APC Festus Keyamo SAN had drawn the attention of the party that the only reason APC survived the judgment was the inability of the PDP candidate Jegede to include Mai Mala Buni-led committee in the prayers.

Former Minister of Youths and Sports Development Solomon Dalung was quoted from his Facebook page that he has been vindicated having raised similar concerns long before Keyamo fired this bullet.

I also read two separate submissions against Keyamo’s submission from Magnus Abe and Daniel Bwala a lawyer describing Keyamo as having spoken more as commentator than a lawyer, therefore, he has scored his own goal.

Virtually all major political parties in Nigeria are afflicted with the virus of internal crisis where the APC seem not to be exception despite riding the vehicle of change to clinch power. 

I am not a legal luminary but a statistician that can pin point from our archives how lack of internal democracy, impunity and imposition forced others out of power and APC may be a victim of the same PDP’s arrogance.

There is urgent need for the party to urgently re-examine and re-engineer its internal mechanisms for managing conflicts.There is no doubt that almost all political parties in the country have processes for internal conflict management as enshrined in their constitutions, it would appear from existential realities that these institutional frameworks are weak.

The Zamfara scenerio that caused the rulling party all the elected seats until recently should have been enough lesson for the APC. A party that came under a mantra of change has failed to eradicate impunity and imposition to restore internal democracy.
In Bauchi state, for example, imposition and impunity were among the reasons Bauchians protested against former Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.

Yakubu Dogara was denied ticket of the party to recontest despite enjoying overwhelming support in Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro, his Constituency. Dogara being one of the party’s kinsmen in the state force joined the then opposition PDP to align with other aggrieved members of APC to send him (Abubakar) out of office.

The former chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was accused of destroying APC’s fundamental principles of internal democracy. His actions and inactions almost were similar to Bamanga era in PDP. He fought his party in Edo state by imposing Pastor Ize Iyamu, instead of supporting the re-election of Godwin Obaseki.

I thought, APC has learned from these internal conflicts to move forward but it seems the change slogan is becoming a mere political song rather than an action plan to bring back community participatory democracy.

The recent defections of Governor Matawalle of Zamfara state and Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River state have opened another wide range of power tussle in the two states as the stakeholders were left out of the negotiation processes. 

Senator Kabiru Marafa and former Governor Albdul’aziz Yari that were at the loggerheads together, have today teamed up against Governor Matawalle.

Senator Marafa was the key player that ended the APC reign in Zamfara state as he became a celebrated political goat after the Supreme court landmark judgement that sacked all elected offices.

On a personal ground, though Buni has delivered enough of capital projects in Yobe state in the areas of infrastructural development like housing scheme, the completion of Yobe cargo airport, building and remodeling of hospitals, fighting insecurity through logistics support and human capacity building.

His position as caretaker chairman of the rulling APC has not done well enough to unite the party as the celebrated defections leaves behind conflicts taking Ebonyi, Zamfara and Cross River states as references. 

These conflicts are gearing up before the party’s national convention and presidential primaries that will determine the party’s lifeline as predicted by many political analyst. Many including the senate president hold the view that APC is likely to collapse after President Buhari’s tenure.

This is because Buhari himself is an institution that carried the party on its shoulders for years and he will not be on the ballot come 2023. The inability of the party to achieve so much of its promises has affected greatly the party’s popularity and will hunt them in the coming elections.

In conclusion, the rulling party must forget its ego (knowing that power is transient) and respond urgently to the issues and concerns raised by some of its members.

They should know that their party has countless Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) with some occupying key positions in today’s government with the Minister of State for Labour Festus Keyamo making the list.

However, as a party of due process, they must learn from the recent development regarding Jegede Vs Akeredolu Supreme Court judgement as Zamfara state scenario was indeed a great lesson.

Mohammed, National President, Arewa Youth Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi.