The breakup of the APC was long foretold. It’s coming to fruition at last. The faction in the party that goes by the name Reformed-APC on Monday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the main opposition PDP and 39 smaller political parties to form the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), with the aim to “wrest the presidency from the APC in 2019”. But the cataclysmic turn would be when the “three governors, 30 senators and 70 members of the House of Reps,” as reported by The Cable takes place.
How did we get here?
The problems in the APC started from the run-up to its 2015 presidential primary (less than two years of its formation). Recall APC wanted a consensus presidential candidate, but all attempts to agree on a choice was unsuccessful. Even the efforts by northern leaders–the region the party had zoned the presidential candidate–to broker a deal among the 4 presidential candidates were abortive. The stalemate ended polarizing supporters of the frontline candidates, Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar.
And the selection of Buhari’s running mate was another tense time for the party. Buhari was keen on picking Bola Tinubu, a Muslim and powerful power broker from the southwest, for vice president. The Muslim-Muslim option was clobbered, though, and Buhari later settled on Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a Yoruba Christian. But that dying minute decision left footprints of polarisation, impingement in the party’s power balance. And, of course, Tinubu bruised.
But the deepest crack at the time came from the election of principal officers for the Senate and House of Representatives (together called National Assembly or NASS). The party couldn’t successfully lobby its members in the NASS to agree on a unified list of preferred nominees. That debacle without dispute was the beginning of the opposition within the APC. Today, there are factions in more than two-third of the states. Key members like vice president Atiku Abubakar have left the party.
But political interest is big factor. As another election cycle is approached, politicians concretises existing alliances or make new ones. Senator Abdullahi Adamu made quite interesting remarks recently to this effect. Though, some of what he said is hogwash, but he was fairly right in others.
Who did what
The crumbling fortunes of the APC are the repercussions of actions or inactions of some people. The cocktail of unconscionable mischief, hubris, stupidity, and inattention is what has brought the party to its present state.
Muhammadu Buhari was bafflingly inattentive and invisible in the leadership of the party, especially, early on in the administration. The president was reluctant to intervene in internal conflicts. Buhari apparently missed his shift, and he didn’t pretend his lack of political acumen. He promised rather naively to work “cordially with whoever is elected Senate President,” without first judiciously extracting assurance from Bukola Saraki, knowing he rebelled against the party and allied with the opposition. Meanwhile, Buhari ended up achieving the opposite of what can pass as cordial working relationship with the legislature.
John Oyegun, the ex-chairman of the party is not innocent as well. There’s little to admire of his term. Agreed he had constraints: for instance, he was caught at the middle of a power play between camps within the party, and most of his decisions furiously undermined. But he was also incredibly orthodox politician. He demonstrated good intentions, but lacked tactical skills and charisma to manage the party. By every measure, his term was a failure.
The maverick Bukola Saraki started the by fire. He rebelled against the party and allied with the PDP to pull the rug from under APC’s feet. The two dissidents that headed the NASS by intent or intuition, became increasingly froward to policies of the administration. Saraki and co renegades in the NASS replicated and extended the polarity to their respective states. That was how the likes of Shehu Sani and others became resistance forces. And, of course, some state governors like Umar Ganduje, Nasir El-Rufai, Abiola Ajimobi, Rochas Okorocha by commission or omission, contributed to the conflicts in their respective state chapters.
APC, by all indication is not OK. Again, the immediate national executive council (NEC), and some leaders in the party are to blame for apparently failing to nip the crisis at the early stages, thereby leading it into a bad corner.
But don’t write off its 2019 chances. It’s still the party to beat. Nonetheless, how the current leadership reconciles aggrieved members and factions is going to be critical. The new NEC headed by Adams Oshiomole may prove to be exception, but it is still too soon to tell. The challenge is huge, and time is fast running.
Rommel Miebara writes from Kaduna