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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

EXPOSED!!! Full Details Of The Powerful Forces Behind APC Crisis

After winning the last presidential election, monitors say the crisis currently rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) was expected given its popular tag as a "marriage of strange bedfellows". EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE reports that the crisis is fueled by a supremacy battle among three political power blocs struggling to shape the workings of the present administration vis-à-vis political posturing towards 2019.

The defeats suffered by the 'anointed' candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the June 9 National Assembly elections highlighted the major cracks in the political party coalition that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power last month.

Despite APC holding majority seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, candidates backed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) managed to get elected.

"This party is a coalition of several other parties. So, these little squabbles must always be there. But the overriding interest of the people is what we are pursuing and the people who have agreed to be one, they have no choice but to be one," a member of the APC Board of Trustees, Chief Sam Nkire said on the party's crisis.

In spite of these comforting words from Nkire, the APC crisis is worsening and the party is increasingly polarised.

As it stands, the struggle for power within the party is being fought by three political power blocs: the Buhari/defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) caucus; Bola Tinubu/defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)/South West caucus and the Atiku Abubakar/Bukola Saraki/nPDP caucus. Another school define the political tussle as a straight fight between the party's northern elements/nPDP against South West interests led by APC's National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Meanwhile, the tussle is not unconnected to the different political power blocs posturing towards the 2019 elections. Even though President Buhari has not publicly declared that he will not seek re-election in 2019, political alignment by at least the Atiku Abubakar/Bukola Saraki/nPDP caucus has been reported.

At the APC presidential primaries held in Lagos, Tinubu backed President Muhammadu Buhari over Atiku to emerge flagbearer. Tinubu had also single-handedly picked now vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari's running mate.

Recall that Atiku came third in the APC presidential primaries after the former Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso clinched the second highest number of votes. However, the John Odigie-Oyegun-led APC got signed commitments from all the party's presidential aspirants to work for the winner of the presidential primaries, despite the outcome of the result.

After the presidential election, Atiku forged a new alliance with other power blocs within the APC – G5 governors; immediate past Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other politicians that decamped from PDP to APC in 2013 to present a parallel power arrangement within the party.

The politicians had a common adversary – Tinubu. They plotted to cut him to size and they did. The newly formed political bloc decided to throw up Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker to thwart Tinubu's inroad to the National Assembly. Atiku's bloc has taken Saraki and Dogara's emergence as its own share in the APC 2015 election victory.

Party insiders report that Atiku and his loyalists are working to check Tinubu's grip on the party's National Working Committee (NWC), as presently constituted.

Atiku's camp has not stopped there. Last week, the new leaderships of the Senate and House of Representatives rejected APC's National Working Committee (NWC) approved list of principal officers which included candidates backed by Tinubu, viz: Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila. Recall that Lawan and Gbajabiamila failed in their respective bids to emerge Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker, respectively.

Despite protests by some members of the Senate APC caucus, Senate President, Bukola Saraki refused to rely on the APC NWC list but opted for nominations brought by Senate zonal caucuses to appoint principal officers.

In the House of Representatives, the violent scenes that played out in the chamber last week Thursday over the selection of principal officers startled Nigerians including a group of secondary school students on excursion to the National Assembly at the time of the commotion.

On Thursday, proceedings in the House of Representatives turned rowdy and almost bloody after an attempt by a lawmaker from Sokoto State, Abdullahi Balarabe Salame, to snatch the Mace – the symbol of authority- threw the House into a free-for-all fight.

The constitution of the House APC caucus principal officers was deadlocked following the fracas. A fresh attempt to constitute the principal officers will be when the National Assembly reconvenes on July 21.

There were early signs prelude to Thursday's fracas. Reports filtered in early last week that the APC House caucus had broken into factions over the choice of candidates to fill four vacant principal officers positions in the newly inaugurated 8th House.

It was learnt that the two APC House factions communicated to the party's leadership on how the positions should be shared.

One faction loyal to the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara insisted that the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution must be adhered to in appointing the four vacant positions.

By this position, the North East and South West have been settled with the Speakership and Deputy Speakership positions respectively.

The other faction "Loyalists Group" loyal to the former Minority Leader and Speakership candidate in the June 9 House elections, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos/APC) insisted that the principal officers must emerge on the basis of popularity within the House APC caucus.

According to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Standing Orders of the Senate and House of Representatives, the political party with majority seats (APC) produces the House Leader, Deputy House Leader, Majority Whip, Deputy Chief Whip.

Zoning debacle
Since the presidential election, the APC on the directive of its National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun announced that the party would zone vacant political positions. Led by the former chairman of the defunct ACN, Bisi Akande, other Tinubu supporters including the party's NWC, Oyegun's zoning directive was overruled. The party conducted a contentious mock election to "select" its candidates for Senate President and House Speaker. The candidates lost.

Again, when the issues of National Assembly principal officers came up, Oyegun reiterated his call for zoning. The APC chairman's call fell on deaf ears. Backed by the party's NWC, some APC governors led by Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state brought seperate letters containing the party's list of principal officers in the Senate and House of Representatives. Again, Oyegun, it was gathered, was forced to sign the letter when the team insisted that it was the decision of the party.

On Wednesday, the APC North Central and South East House caucuses rejected the party's nominees to occupy the four vacant principal officers positions.

The zonal caucuses which were excluded from the APC nominations, insisted that the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution must be adhered to in occupying the four vacant positions.

Monitors say the party leadership's inability to rise above personal interest which has been characterised by imposition of candidates and weak internal party democracy has triggered the costly divisions the party grapples with lately.

A member of the APC in Kogi State, Oyisi Okatahi traced the party's problem to the fact that it was built on faulty foundations and selfish interests.

His words: "What is happening to APC is a result of building a party on faulty foundations. There is no perfect society or party but parties that have stood the test of time are built on core values. For APC, this is not the case, rather it is "the survival of the fittest", because many decisions are based on the interest of the day and not on any core value or principle."

Oyegun has now assumed the role of the fallen guy. He has been blamed for the recent political misfortunes in the APC, leading some governors and party faithful to call for his sack. The Tinubu camp accused Oyegun of not doing enough while the Atiku/Saraki camp accused Oyegun of acting Tinubu's script. President Buhari has repeatedly said he would not be drawn into the political face-off typified by the National Assembly leadership tussle between the power blocs within the party.

Also, not a few political analysts are of the view that the call for Oyegun's resignation is uncalled for, premature and diversionary.

"Honestly APC is going the politically wayward ways that led to the ouster of PDP from power. Must the chairman of the party be sacked anytime there are challenges within the party? How will such actions resolve the crisis? Oyegun is about the best the party can have for now as his track records of public service is outstanding. He is a seasoned technocrat; progressive politician and knowledgeable administrator," an APC stalwart stated.

Political drawbacks
Although Buhari has maintained his neutrality in the APC crisis and expressed readiness to work with Saraki and Dogara, it may not be a given. Since 1999, Nigeria's attempt at constitutional, electoral, anti-corruption, judicial, health, power, federal structure, security and oil and gas reforms have suffered, largely due to political drawbacks.

President Muhammadu Buhari's proposed reforms in governance, economy and security sectors will require legislative approval from the newly inaugurated 8th National Assembly which is led by Buhari's political party but backed by the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Monitors say having opponents in powerful positions in the legislature will not make Buhari's job any easier.

For now, most Nigerians are watching with keen interest if APC will fritter such historic opportunity or deliver on its promise of change.

Written by Edegbe Odemwingie for Leadership

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