By Omoniyi Salaudeen
The leadership crisis ravaging the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as its main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is as intertwined as it is mutually reinforcing.
As already evident from the pattern of power scheming, everything is all about the 2023 general elections. And unless there is a dramatic turn of events in the months ahead, neither the APC nor PDP would be able to guarantee the stability of the leadership selection process in the country. This is simply because the two parties are a coalition of big people and power brokers whose influence and authority have always been at variance with the overall objective of good governance.
And so, when one sneezes, the other catches cold. For instance, at the height of the intrigues that culminated in the loss of Zamfara and Rivers states governorship elections by the APC in the 2019 general elections, PDP walked away with a triumphant smile, gloating over the unearned victory. In the end, the former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had to pay the ultimate price for what some stakeholders described as poor mismanagement of the situation in the affected states.
For the record, the APC could not contest the governorship elections in both states because of court judgments which declared that the party did not have validly nominated candidates for the polls, thereby paving way for the respective governors to easily win the election.
As a backlash of the avoidable loss, APC supporters accused Oshiomhole of taking side with some particular gladiators in the states and consequently called for his resignation.
Of course, he didn’t just simply throw in the towel like that or chicken out. He fought the battle with all the powers and energies in him, but eventually bowed to the overwhelming pressure.
As they say, what goes around comes around. Now, the tide has turned against the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, who is currently facing an uncertain political future even with a two-month respite given to him by the NWC to hold the national convention in October instead of December as earlier scheduled.
The latest move by some bigwigs in the party to force Secondus out of office is the anti-climax of the crisis of confidence that has been trailing the recent defections of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, his counterparts in Zamfara, Bello Matawalle, as well as Cross River State’s Ben Ayade.
In a manner similar to Oshiomhole’s trial, some concerned members of the National Working Committee of the party in an overview of the situation, said: “Sequel to the meeting held on the 3rd of August 2021 at legacy house where members of the National working committee (NWC) sat and decided that a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) should be held on the 8th of August 2021 at Hilton to further deliberate on the matter bedevilling the party, the meeting held and extensively deliberated, nine members of the National Working Committee (NWC) agreed that the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus has grossly mismanaged the party, highly incompetent, factionalised the party and has lost the confidence of members of the party.”
But for the intervention of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who swiftly rallied his colleague to hold an emergency stakeholders’ meeting to counter the plot by the seven aggrieved members of the NWC, who had earlier resigned, by now, Secondus would have been eased out.
Those who resigned are the Deputy National Financial Secretary, Gerald Irona; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Hassan Yakubu; Deputy National Legal Adviser, Ahmed Liman, and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi. Others are the Deputy National Woman Leader, Hadizat Umoru; Deputy National Auditor, Divine Arong.
According to reports, if four other key members of the NWC, including the Deputy National Chairman (North), National Secretary, Youth Leader and the National Auditor had also made good their words to resign as earlier planned, the governors would have had no other option than to move for a total dissolution of the entire NWC on account of a crisis of confidence.
All these intrigues have been linked to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and and other party chieftains who are bent on removing Secondus before the National Executive Committee meeting of the party so as to thwart his re-election at the party’s national convention.
But Secondus got the backing of a former governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson, who insisted that the party leader cannot be stampeded to resign, saying only the National Convention could remove him.
While the peace of the graveyard pervades the PDP camp, APC on the other hand has continued with its macabre dance. This past week, the police had to intervene and take over Buhari House, the APC national secretariat, Abuja, to stave off a violent protest against the Buni-led committee.
In the way, a group under the aegis of Save PDP Group also peacefully marched across major streets of Abuja, demanding the immediate ouster of Secondus, carrying different placards with various inscriptions like “Uche Secondus Must Go”, “We have lost confidence in your chairmanship”, “We cannot afford to lose more governors,” among others.
For the APC, the police intervention was a manifestation of the internal dissension arising from competing interest groups among the political groups that coalesced to form the party in the run up to the 2015 general elections. Already, there is a loud disquiet between the members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who are said to be the major beneficiaries of political appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari, and those of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), an umbrella body controlled by Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, who are angling for power shift agreement. This scenario is expected to continue as the politics of 2023 gradually gathers momentum.
Though Mai Mala Buni-led extraordinary Convention Committee put in place to take charge of the affairs of the party has been doing its best, a 4-3 split decision of the Supreme Court on July 28, which dismissed the petition filed by the PDP candidate in the 2020 Ondo State Governorship Election, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), against the incumbent Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and the ruling APC is now seen as a clog in the wheel of progress.
The Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) in his analysis of the minority judgment of the apex court had threw up legal controversies, alerting the party about the dangers of having Buni in the saddle.
In his opinion, ignoring “the provision of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which states that ‘the governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever,” could be used against the party in the future.
Buba Galadima, speaking with Sunday Sun on the raging crises in the two parties, stressed the imperative of a Third Force. He said: “For me, personally, I don’t believe that both the APC and the PDP are in a position to sort out the ills of our country namely disunity, insecurity, lack of opportunities and economic development.
“Instead, I am looking at the possibility of good Nigerians coming together to identify the problems of the country with a view to proffering solution to them. Anyone who wants to join this platform should be a person who subscribes to the unity of the country. We want to recruit more Nigerians to start looking at that because the PDP and APC are no-go areas because they have no desire to sort out Nigeria’s problems to create a country of our dream. They feel they are above the law. If you want to repent, I will get you to swear by the Holy Quran before you join me.’’
Senator Rufai Hanga also shared the same view, predicting a re-enactment of the 2015 experience when some political groups joined forces to form the APC.
His words: “There are some people in the PDP who are playing godfather, acting like kingmaker. That is why those who are not comfortable with that kind of attitude are living the party. But I don’t see APC or PDP forming the next government at the centre. What happened during the emergence of APC will most likely happen. The moment the third force emerges, a lot of people in the APC will decamp to that party. A lot of people from the PDP will also decamp to that party. A lot of people folding their arms watching from the sideline will willingly join the third force. I assure you, a force will emerge much stronger, much better, and much more oragnised than APC when it came on board the other time. This is my prediction and this is what I expect to happen because people are tired of these two parties.
However, Hon. Wale Oshun expressed strong disagreement, saying the emergence of a third force would make no difference.
“The people prospecting for third force are not different from the people in these two political parties. Democracy is about governance and the opposition. When we talk of opposition, it has to be virile opposition. But now everybody is aspiring to be a part of government to share whatever comes out of government. That is the problem. What we need is to strengthen the opposition to make the government curtail itself. What you have in well-developed climes is a functional opposition party. They aspire to put the government on its toes all the times. But what we have in Nigeria is that everybody wants to be a part of government. When the PDP was boasting of being in power for 60 years, you find a situation where even the chairman of opposition party was being paid monthly by the presidency. That kind of subjugation weakens opposition. So, for those who are talking of third force, in what way are their own practitioners different? If they are really serious, why don’t they join the government to strengthen it or join the opposition to stream jacket the government? That way, we will have two solid parties,” he argued.
While it may be too early to preempt the outcome of the trouble-shooting efforts in the two parties, it is also not impossible for the realignment of forces to change the balance of equations ahead of the 2023 general elections.