For two years, the All Progressives Congress (APC) operated without an organised opposition in the country. What looked like opposition were the voices heard from Ayo Fayose, and Nyesom Wike, governors of Ekiti and Rivers State, respectively. Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister, also played a vital role in this wise.
Following its disastrous defeat at the presidential election in 2015, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) slipped into leadership crisis. To show their anger over the PDP’s tragic fall, some bigwigs in the party had pointed fingers at the then national chairman, Adamu Mua’zu, a former two-term governor of Bauchi State.
Muazu was stampeded to resign his position and some of the governors had approached Ali Modu-Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, and pleaded with him to take over the leadership of the party. The thinking at that time was that since the PDP had lost the presidency and many of the states it controlled, it would be very difficult to effectively run the secretariat and other ancillary activities of the party. Those who went to Modu-Sheriff thought that the man could shoulder the financial responsibilities of the party to a large extent given his stupendous wealth.
But the thinking changed when allegations began to fly that the former governor of Borno State was on a mission to destroy the PDP in favour of the APC. The allegations spread like wild fire, particularly when security operatives disrupted a convention slated to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It was difficult for many people to understand how Sheriff was wielding such an enormous power against an association. So, some analysts concluded that he must have been dancing to the tune of the music being played for him by some unseen drummers.
Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, was elected in Port Harcourt as chairman of the Caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the party until a proper executive was constituted. However, Sheriff resisted the outcome of the convention, saying that he would never vacate the Wadata national secretariat of the party and resisted any move to unseat him. The party thus was plunged into legal tussles to determine the authentic leader.
While it was embroiled in internal wrangling, a number of big names across the country including those who had become something in the Nigerian political arena on the platform, kissed the party goodbye, and they joined the ruling APC. Sad enough, the broom party failed to take advantage of the crises in the PDP. It operated as though Nigeria was a conquered territory that had no choice. It turned its anti-corruption sword on members of the PDP. However, whenever any member of the PDP crosses over to the APC, his corruption case is dropped.
Within the APC itself, all was not well; the broom party oscillated from internal crisis to power tussle; from lack of vision to denial of campaign promises; from impunity to elevation of hate that has torn the country farther apart; from moves that show obvious lack of preparation for governance to intolerance of dissenting voices. Although the party received an overwhelming support of the electorate at the 2015 presidential poll on the basis of a touted high integrity of its presidential candidate at the time, Muhammadu Buhari, it has not only squandered the good will of Nigerians but has failed to take advantage of that electoral victory to prove itself as a better party than the one it sacked.
In the last two years, basic things of life have gone out of the reach of many ordinary Nigerians; corruption has increased even though the government says its focus is on stamping out corruption. Security situation has taken a dangerous turn; poverty has become more pronounced in society as the economy has remained in recession despite repeated assurances that it would “soon” end.
Following the Supreme Court verdict that brought to an end the PDP crisis, APC now realised that the game has changed. Within the APC fold, consultations have been going on at the highest level. Last Thursday, after the National Economic Council meeting, the Acting President had a closed door meeting with the governors on the platform of the APC.
The meeting, it was gathered centred on how to remain relevant and the way forward given the development in PDP family. They deliberated on the need to urgently hold their national convention which they have been shifting on account of the President’s ill health and absenteeism from office.
The APC’s reactions at the moment appear the party is jittery, putting paid to some observers’ view that although it may be difficult for the PDP to launch back into governance in 2019, its revival this time around is capable of jolting the APC from its perpetual slumber.
Speaking with BDSUNDAY, Kolade Oni, a public affairs commentator, said the only good aspect of the PDP revival from its crisis is that it has sent a signal that it (PDP) is not dead yet, but he is not very optimistic that the party can produce the president in its present form, name and constitution in the nearest future.
“I am one of those that feel elated at the resolution of the PDP crisis. But what I am not sure at the moment is the extent the resolution of its crisis will help the party return to the enviable position it held for 16 clear years. Agreed that the APC has refused to assert itself despite the confidence reposed in the party; the PDP disappointed Nigerians and wrecked the country. It is not possible for the PDP to win a presidential election in 2019,” Oni said.
According to him, “Activities of the PDP are still fresh in the memories of the masses of this country. What may happen is that towards election, a fusion of parties will take place and there would be a name change. I think APC will be given quit notice in 2019, unless there is a drastic change in their modus operandi.”
Paulinus Njede, a legal practitioner, is of the opinion that the development in the PDP is a huge minus for the APC.
“I don’t do politics, particularly the way they play it in this country. That, notwithstanding, I follow the game of politics. I have always said that the APC is no party. Tell me of any serious party that would do what the APC is doing? You won an election and went to sleep. You won an election and constituted a federal government and you began to fight among yourselves. Today, every child in Nigeria knows that the Executive and Legislative arms are fighting. Does that show seriousness? What they have proved to Nigerians is that they are not capable of leading a country. APC cannot change. It is too late for them to awake from that slumber they slipped into two years ago,” Njede said.
According to him, “What I foresee may happen in the nearest further is that some big names in the National Assembly who were originally PDP, including Saraki, may team up to form a strong force to wrest power from the APC in 2019. PDP may not go into election with that name because as it is today, they have lost their charm. But they would provide the springboard for any other association to emerge. For, APC, they have been weighed and found wanting.”