Before APC holds a national conventionWritten by Muhammad Ajah
With the gradual but steady abandonment of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by its top shots to join the All Progressives Congress (APC), APC should not be in hurry to hold its national convention. PDP is interested in the fall of the APC and would want to plant its members in the ruling part. APC too is working hard to ensure that the only opposition PDP does not gather weight again. PDP members, with frivolous reasons basically personal, not on convictions that APC is really working are cross carpeting to obtain or maintain positions ahead of 2019 and beyond. Ordinary President Ahmad Isa of Berekete Family would repeatedly say: “Be careful”.
APC said it will hold its national convention not later than April 2017, according to a statement issued by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi. This was said to be the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting presided over by the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. The convention would commence with congresses to fill vacancies in the state party structures across the country, such vacancies created from political appointments, deaths and resignations. The congresses, in turn, would be followed by the national caucus meeting and capped with the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party, which will consider and set the dates for the national convention.
Grand and impressive as this proposal looks, effective and critical strategies are required to put the ruling party on the path of success. Many politicians within the APC have started gathering interest in the 2019 presidential polls. The former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been called upon to make himself available for the 2019 Presidential elections under the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), though he is seen a staunch member of the ruling party. Former governor of Kano, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is warming up. Others are yet nursing their interests.
Events are mounting up to oust the party out ahead of 2019. Three former heads of state have thrown their weight behind a Southeast president. The Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio recently claimed that about 20 serving senators of APC have perfected plans to join the PDP once the leadership crisis in the opposition party is resolved. “All they want is return of peace to the party. Once that is done I can assure you that 20 senators are on their way to joining the PDP,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has been holding the position presumed to be for the ruling party and has resisted all pressures to dump PDP for APC. He accused those who left PDP for the APC in the Southeast as saboteurs and described them as contracts and employment opportunists. He claimed that after the contracts and employments, they would know who is who in the Southeast. That is why the defections into APC open the room for scrutiny. Though in politics permanent interest is paramount, those who had criticized the APC and its policies badly or had sat on the fence during the last general elections are now joining the party. Especially after the political upturn in Ondo, Edo and Rivers, it is sure that invaders and opportunists would prefer the ruling party.
Three governors of Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states are said to be warming up to join the APC. This is according to a statement credited to Governor Rochas Okorocha, the only APC governor in the Southeast. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state recently declared support for President Buhari ahead of 2019, even if it were to be his only vote in the state. The governor also claimed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will collapse if he leaves the party, with reports of his secret arrangements with his deputy to move to APC.
Former Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia state recently joined the APC, pledging full support to the party leader, President Buhari. He posted on the Facebook: As an Igbo man who have seen it all, trained in business by the Hausa Fulani and started business in the South West. I sincerely believe it is better for the Igbos to sit where other Nigerians are sitting”. He recalled his complaint to Mr. President over bad roads in the Southeast which are being reconstructed, implying the sincerity of the APC government to fulfill its promises to the people of Nigeria.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and ex-Governor of old Anambra state, Senator Jim Nwobodo, described their entry into APC as a good omen for Ndigbo just as they declared PDP dead. Recall that in October 2016, President Buhari named Nnamani the chairman of the electoral reform committee. All of these Southeast entrees are pushing Ndigbo to join the APC with a view to reintegrating into the nation’s body polity ahead of 2019 general elections.
Chief Nnamani said the song had changed, thus his desire to change dancing steps. He noted that no political party was perfect but that APC can be panel beaten and brought to near perfection. “I am in APC in the day and night. If you have skeleton or tribunal hanging on your neck, do not come to APC and sit on the front row. You can be a member of APC but not to be at the front line. A party is strong when it has large membership. PDP said it is democratic but it does not practice democracy. APC has all it takes to buy something good in the market”, he added.
According to Nwobodo, it was high time Ndigbo joined APC because it was difficult to fight from outside. “You cannot talk of APC without Igbo. Nigeria is on tripod. Unless injustice done against Ndigbo is redressed, there will be no peace in Nigeria. My friends from the West who are progressives are all in APC and if I meet them I will tell them I was a progressive before them”
On its part, the APC has intensified grassroots registration especially in the Southeast. During the flag-off ceremony in Umuahia, Paul Chukwuma, who led a six-member committee from the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, said the exercise was informed by the demand of teeming supporters across the Southeast.
While this is going on, the opposition party PDP is still struggling to agree on its leadership. Senator Ahmad Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sherriff are still on each other’s neck. Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose was recently announced as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, a move that has been faulted by many such as the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Prince Buruji Kashamu. “We must reject Governor Fayose now or strictly restrict him to running the affairs of the Governors’ Forum while well-meaning leaders and elders of the party who are not part of the crisis bedeviling the party are allowed to take charge of the affairs of the party and run it properly and legitimately,” he said. Recall that Governor Fayose said his successor in the forthcoming governorship election in the state may not be from the PDP.
But Mr. Fayose believes that PDP is a “sleeping and not a dead lion” that needs reactivation to assert its influence. He said that despite APC’s control of the centre, it could not match the outreach of the PDP requiring rebuilding ahead of future challenges. Speaking through his special assistant on public communications and new media, Lere Olayinka, he said that the party so sharply divided could still boast of the best and established structure across the country.
APC must do the needful to remain a beloved party to Nigerians. From evidences, President Muhammadu Buhari was voted for on personal recognition more that party affiliation, though in Nigeria individual candidacy is not encouraged. Party attachment is still the recognized system. Neither the party nor the President has practically touched the lives of the citizenry as hardship keeps biting harder. The President has shown the good heart to bring back the rotten economy and lives of the people, but corruption is yet holding sway. This means that the party has a lot to do.
Things have to change for the people. Civil servants and the populace have to feed and clothe. Cost of living must be made to come down. People who suffered for the party must benefit from the government through appointments and contracts, though they must be monitored against corruption; the APC members and Nigerians of like minds with Mr. President must answer the names of leadership of government organs. The party must be extremely careful with those joining it at this time the buildup to 2019 politicking is gearing up.
Corrupt politicians with heavy corruption cases in the courts are looking for soft landing. PDP is trying to prove to be a cat with seven lives. It seems to be realizing its mistakes of frustrating internal democracy and effective plan for national integration and development. They were in government for 16 years and had the largest political structure. They are still in government doing their best to prove Nigerians wrong for voting them out. APC is a young idea that has the potentials to make a clear difference. Just about two years old, it requires careful planning and execution, corrupt-free leaderships and holistic exposure to re-win the waning enthusiasm with which it was accepted in the 2015 general elections. In the nutshell, justice, internal democracy and patriotism must prevail.