- Leaders give reasons for splitting, say there’s no going back
- The henchmen of the splinter group, their political antecedents
The saying by Josh Billings, an American 19th Century humourist, that “Ambition is like hunger; it obeys no law except its own appetite,” is apt in describing what played out in Abuja last Wednesday, where the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) formed a faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). With the springing up of the splinter group led by Alhaji Buba Galadima, a former dye-in-the- wool supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, APC may have to return to the drawing board ahead of the 2019 presidential contest.
This is so as the formal announcement of the faction, Sunday Sun gathered, was to enable all the serving lawmakers at the national and state levels to defect without losing their seats.
It was also gathered that members of the group had feared that if they defect without creating the faction, the government may come after their members, using relevant portions of the constitution to create “unnecessary” distraction for them.
Although, the group is yet to announce its next destination, Sunday Sun can authoritatively reveal that the group is headed for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A top member of the group who spoke exclusively to Sunday Sun, but in confidence, disclosed that “recall that I told you last year that if the party does not change its way, we are going to leave. Recall also our conversation shortly before our convention last month. I told you we are moving as a group across the country out of the APC.
“That movement is what you saw on Wednesday. We have reached a point of no return. No amount of negotiation will make us stay back.”
Asked where they are headed and why, the source, who is a serving lawmaker, said: “We are heading to the PDP for a number of reasons. One, no party has its kind of spread for now. Two, the party’s structure is solid. Three and most importantly is that those anti-democratic features they were exhibiting before, they have done away with them. And there is sincerity on their part to accommodate us through an MoU that would be signed between the two parties. They have also agreed to change their name to accommodate our interest.”
Reminded that PDP may be unwilling to change its name, the lawmaker retorted: “We are also aware that government may want to move against the party to frustrate the change of name. So, whether we achieve name change or not, that is where we are headed, principally because what we saw in the PDP for 16 years, it took the APC only two years plus to exhibit all that it took PDP 16 years to exhibit.
Moreover, Nigerian electorate have also expressed their desire to have APC dislodged, therefore, whatever and anything that can be done to send them packing, I believe most Nigerians won’t mind. What we have seen in APC is worse than what we witnessed in the PDP.”
Interestingly, apart from members of the group who have since made up their mind to leave the APC, there are other aggrieved members of the party, who may not defect to any other party, but remain in the APC, to only work for Buhari and work against the governors of their respective states.
One of such persons is the immediate past Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.
In a recent interview he granted barely two weeks to the party’s national convention, Lawal who insisted that the governor of his state, Senator Bindo Jibrilla would suffer the consequences of his “arrogance”, insisted that “there are no two ways about it, those states where congresses were not conducted in a free and fair manner by some powerful stakeholders and governors, will certainly pay the price of undemocratic activities. In democracy, people have different aspirations with the hope to achieve them on the platform of a particular political party. But once you are denied the opportunity to participate democratically, naturally, you must feel aggrieved and the temptation may be for you to seek your ambition on another platform.
“The immediate past congresses cannot stand the test of time from what I read in newspapers. What aggrieved members are saying is a sad development, because the governors decided in their offices to write the names of their secretaries and their family members. Adamawa State appears to be unique in this negative regard. So, you are not wrong to say these undemocratic activities may affect APC’s performances in some states.
“Even if the presidential election is secured, the lower elections will still be affected negatively. Houses of Assembly elections, where local issues are at stake will suffer losses and other elections up to the Senate and probably the governorship elections. So, for democracy to survive and thrive there must be justice in the electoral process. But when injustice takes the centre stage, the majority of democratic lovers will be disillusioned and the tendency is to migrate to other parties.
“The APC itself gained heavily from this kind of undemocratic practices by PDP, where some key stakeholders were aggrieved and made their way to APC. In Adamawa State, for example, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) and his group moved to APC and quite a lot of them that called themselves nPDP. So, as a senior stakeholder, I am worried about the trend playing out in APC, and if serious actions are not taken to address these grievances, many people will certainly abandon the party to realise their ambitions on other political platforms.”
And like Lawal predicted, the first set of aggrieved party members, who will be realising their ambitions on the platform of another party other than APC emerged last Wednesday.
The pillars of the breakaway R-APC and their antecedents:
Alhaji Buba Galadima
He is the leader of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC). A former Director-General of National Maritime Authority (NMA), Galadima, who hails from Yobe State, has been with Buhari from 2003 when he first contested for the presidency. He was for a long time the Secretary of the Buhari Campaign Organisation.
In 2007, when Buhari again ran on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), he was the secretary of the party’s presidential campaign organisation. In the build up to the 2011 election, he moved out of ANPP with Buhari to form the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), where he later emerged as the national secretary.
Galadima and one Sule Hamman, who was also very prominent in the Buhari Campaign Organisation (TBO), were variously accused of being responsible for Buhari’s three previous failed presidency attempts. Although, he was part of those who signed the APC merger document on behalf of the CPC, he parted ways with Buhari shortly before the party’s presidential primary in 2014. He backed the then Kano governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Before then he had served as the National Financial Secretary of the defunct National Repub- lican Convention (NRC) from 1992 – 1993. Although he may not have won any election before, his oratory is legendary. He has capacity to sway the ordinary Nigerians in the North to the side of anyone he is backing. He has never been part of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP). His association with Kwankwaso, a leading member of the nPDP, may have been responsible for his leading the R-APC. He once told this reporter in an exclusive interview in 2008 that as the only surviving child of his father, the
prophecy of his late father that he was going to be useful to not only his immediate family, but also the entire community and the society at large was what has made him remain consistent in his struggle to enthrone social justice in Nigeria, saying that most Nigerian leaders are “dishonest, corrupt and lazy.”
He is Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s man-Friday. He led the nPDP out of the PDP’s convention ground in 2013. He, together with former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola later led the group to join the APC in the same year. He has been the face of the nPDP in all its negations with the APC in the last two months. He was former national secretary of the PDP. He was also at a time acting chairman of the party. His electoral value is largely tied to that of Saraki. And as long as Saraki holds the ace in Kwara State, Baraje will continue to be relevant politically.
Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi
Hunkuyi is a household name in Kaduna politics. He is currently representing Kaduna North Senatorial District. He was one of the brains behind the emergence of the first Christian governor in Kaduna State through the ballot in 2011. His support for Nasir El-Rufai before and after the primary election ensured victory for El-Rufai in 2015. Today, he has parted ways with El-Rufai, and has since become the rallying point for the APC members in
the state opposed to the governor. His association with the R-APC will see all his supporters and foot soldiers leaving the APC. Like Baraje, he was formerly in the PDP before defecting to the APC.
Kwankwaso is a household name in Kano. A former governor, who now represents Kano Central in the Senate; his about two million votes to the APC and Buhari in 2015 was a major decider in that presidential contest. Although, he is eyeing the presidential ticket of the PDP, he may not likely get it. His exit from the APC would certainly affect the fortunes of the party in the state. Buhari may eventually win Kano, even without Kwankwaso’s support, but certainly not with the same margin with which he won the 2015 presidential contest. Like Baraje and Hunkuyi, Kwankwaso too was formerly a member of the PDP before defecting to the APC. He has always been associated with the nPDP.
Aminu Tambuwal is the current governor of Sokoto State. He is a former Speaker of the House
of Representatives. He defected from the PDP to the APC. Like Kwankwaso, he has his eyes on the presidency. But he cannot deliver Sokoto without the support and backing of Aliyu Wamakko, former Sokoto governor, now Senator. Wamakko was initially part of the aggrieved members of the APC planning to defect; however, he has been silent of late. He made Tambuwal won the contest in 2015; therefore, Tambuwal needs him in Sokoto, as he cannot go it alone.
He is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives. He also defected from PDP to APC. He is from Bauchi State. He is still very popular in the state. He doesn’t need the governor to win election, as he could run and win on any platform. He defeated his rival in 2015 to become Speaker by just eight votes – 182 to 174. Ironically, only three APC members voted for him. PDP members made him Speaker. He has always been identified with the nPDP.
He is the current Senate President. Like Dogara, he became Senate President because PDP senators preferred him to his rival, Senator Ahmed Lawan. He holds the ace in Kwara. He could also influence voting pattern in one or two states in the North-central. He has always identified with the nPDP. The recent decision of the Supreme Court, which made nonsense of his trail at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), will further embolden him and the group to confront the APC frontally in the days, weeks and months ahead.
What R-APC and nPDP share in common
The nPDP left the PDP with five serving governors, but no governor has announced his association with the R-APC publicly, four days after it announced its existence.
Although there are two serving governors associated with the group, it may take time before they declare their stand publicly. The nPDP left the then ruling party about 17 months before the election, but the R-APC is likely to formally leave the APC about seven months to the election.
Regardless of the timing, however, the exit of the group, pundits say is a major blow on the fortunes of the APC, which may substantially have negative effects on its performance at the polls next year.