EXISTENTIAL PREDICTIONS, for Nigeria’s ruling political party, All Progressives Congress, APC, began way back on its formation. As a political party, analysts stated, that APC was built on fragile democratic foundation. Its existence, they predicted, may not pass the test of time. Political cynics, especially, the opposition camp, consistently stated that APC may be extinct after Buhari’s presidency.
APC was formed, February 2013, from merger of three major opposition political parties, to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – made of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Altogether, four political parties merged, ahead of the 2015, general elections. July 2013, INEC gave approval to the merger as a political party.
Political analysts saw the coming together of these hurriedly assembled political parties, as “strange bird fellows”, without clear political party ideology, party philosophy, governance direction and focus; and had no meaningful development agenda for the country. But merely to wrestle political power from the ruling PDP. Optimists, however, saw the emergence of APC differently. It was a “good development” for Nigerian politics, they argued.
APC took advantage of the euphoria of the moment. Nigerians desired change from what they considered as “inept administration” of President Goodluck Jonathan. APC launched campaign slogan of “change”. With promise to change the country’s fortune – give the country sound economy, security, social development, and war against corruption. Nigerians bought into it, even with mixed feelings. APC’s choice to govern the country, was seen as “better evil”, to Jonathan’s administration.
Heading towards the terminal date of Buhari’s eight years of [two four-years tenure] in 2023, APC’s fledging leadership, manifested in all facets of national development index – economy, citizens welfare and national security, among others, holding the country hostage. As a political party, its house seems to be in shreds. The views that APC is an amalgamation of “strange bird fellows” have their way.
DEMOCRATIC TENETS, which include rule of law, rights of citizens, healthy competition, disciplined political class, predictability and accountability, seem to elude the APC political class. Experts argue that democracy itself, does not lead to good governance and development. For a democratic country to develop, requires discipline political elites and distinguished leadership culture.
The past few months, plans to hold the ruling party’s national convention to elect national party officers, have been topical in the country’s political space. The convention date has been subject of inconsistent postponements, under an interim national caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee, headed by Mai Mala Buni, Governor of Yobe State. It is presently planned to hold March 26, 2022.
The party’s congresses held across the country ahead of the convention were riddled with, in some cases, glaring controversies, and the party fictionalized in several states. Some of the cases are in court, and a national reconciliation committee, headed by Abdullahi Adamu, was set up to reconcile aggrieved members to pave way for the party’s smooth convention. The reconciliation met stalemates.
Political logjam hit the ACP and its convention plans. Chairman of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee, Mai Mala Buni was not spared. He was accused of having hidden agenda and was working against the convention holding. Buni’s actions pitched him against party stakeholders, including state governors of the ruling party. Some members of party’s Youth Wing insisted Buni should be relieved of the chairmanship responsibility.
While APC house was burning, chieftains of the party, grandstanded. They painted the picture of “all is well” with the ruling party. That whatever challenges the party was facing were “family affairs”, expected of a “large political party” in the country. But the drumming of the fictionalized ruling party was noticeably heard and seen across the country.
THE FINAL SURRENDER, Mai Mala Buni, Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, was sacked by President Buhari, at the weekend, before he travelled to London on medical vacation, Sunday, March 6. Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, of the ruling party, replaced Buni.
Monday, March 7, section of media reported that Buhari has approved the removal of Buni, as chairman, caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee, and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Bello, would take over. It was further reported that a faction of APC governors complained strongly to Buhari, that Buni could scuttle the convention as rescheduled, as preparations, did not indicate that the convention would hold as scheduled.
In APC’s usual grandstanding, John Akpanudoedehe, secretary of party, issued a statement, same Monday, March 7, and denied that there was change in the leadership of the party. “Our attention has been drawn to sponsored media reports on an imaginary leadership change in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)”, the statement said.
And added: “The APC is a progressive political party guided by rules. Leadership changes are not announced by ‘sources’ through name dropping in the media. We urge our teeming supporters, members and indeed the general public to remain calm and support the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC conduct a rancour-free and credible National Convention deserving of our great party”.
APC’S EPISODE TWO, same Monday, March 7, Abubakar Bello, Governor, Niger State, arrived the national secretariat of APC, and took charge as Chairman, in acting capacity. He met with nine members, including John Akpanudoedehe, who had earlier issued a statement denying any change in leadership; out of the 12 members caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee.
Bello’s further engagement was receiving the report of the Zoning Committee of the party, submitted by Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Governor, Kwara State. Bello stated while receiving the report that the national convention, rescheduled for March 26, will be held “hitch free”, according to a statement by Mary Noel-Berie, Chief Press Secretary, on Monday.
Bello said: “I will like to thank you for this assignment handled in a very mature manner. This is the beginning of good things to come to our party. This exercise was hitch free and by God’s grace every other exercise will be hitch free”. He, also, inaugurated the state Chairmen of APC.
Events changed and turned so fast. Some APC governors surfaced at the national secretariat on solidarity visit to Bello on his new assignment. Bello told journalists that the governors were at the secretariat to show their support. The governors present were Yahaya Bello, Kogi State; Babagana Zulum, Borno State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State; Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State; Inuwa Yahaya, Gombe State; AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq, Kwara State; and Hope Uzodinma, Imo State.
Bello said: “Most of my colleagues are here to support me to receive the report. You know the zoning committee report is a very important one. And all the governors here are here to support me. Now, at zonal level, they can go and do their work”.
Ahead of Bello taking charge as Acting Chairman, Nigeria Police deployed about 70 of its men with 10 vehicles, as early as 8:00am, on Monday, for strategic operation at the APC national secretariat, likely, to avert breakdown of law and order.
Bello said: “Every time there is a major event, we beef up security. Today we have a major event and all the chairmen came in. And they are to maintain law and order.”
THE DRAMA over APC’s convention may not be over. It will not be over, until it is over. However, one clear fact is now obvious. There has been, and still trouble in APC’s house.