ISSUES | APC, PDP and Prospects of a Third Force – By Chibuzo Ukaibe
The core of the two major political parties, governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is shifting- hard and fast for that matter.
The centrifugal forces within these parties are pulling relentlessly, scheming to forge, what pundits aver, might be an inter-party alliance.
Ahead of 2019, party heavy weights are not at ease, as most appear to have either being schemed out in the power play or are in the process of being cut to size.
While former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been quoted as making allusion to the emergence of the new party, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State had last year warned that if his party failed to put its house in order, some of its members along side aggrieved APC members will form a new party to edge out the governing party.
Before then however, allusions to the emergence of a new party has been rife. Shortly after the 2015 general election and the loss of the PDP, the clamor for party to change its name emerged.
While the allegations that trailed its 2015 presidential campaign spendings spike the calls for a rebrand of the party in some quarters, other said the party is dead.
Consequently, the post-election defections started, just as key party members were detained upon allegations of partaking in sharing of public funds for party activities.
However, while it seemed the party had overcome that phase and put critics to shame, the clamor reemerged following the transition tussle after the exit of former chairman, Adamu Mu’azu.
The events leading to the emergence of Ali Modu Sheriff, his contentious ouster, and the emergence of the Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee has left the party open to tinkering with a new alliance.
This much was declared by the leadership of Sen Makarfi, when reeling out the terms of reference given to a 115-member strategy review and inter-party affairs committee.
Sen Makarfi, while speaking at the inauguration committee last week, explained that the drive behind the alliance is part of their strategy to return to power in 2019 through every democratic means.
The strategy committee is led by former minister of information, Prof. Jerry Gana.
However reading out the terms of reference, Makarfi said “To explore strategies to engage all possible allies with a view to building positive relationship in overall interest and in furtherance of democracy in Nigeria.
“To consider and recommend strategies to reposition to party and Recommend necessary amendment to the constitution of the party.”
He however added: “We do not begin by drawing conclusions but life is dynamic, so is politics. You don’t remain docile and inactive, you don’t remain cornered so that you will not be toyed about with at the whims and caprices of anybody.
“Time is going, a lot of things are happening and our men and women are on their own and are beginning to do all sorts of meetings.
“However, if you don’t bring all your flocks together to talk as one family, before long, good chunk of them would have gone on their own, because nobody will remain inactive for forever.
“After due consultation, we felt that time is now right to set up a committee, called strategy review and inter-party affairs committee. The strategy is how to come back to power in 2019 through every democratic means.
“Even as caretaker committee, we get approaches by various groups and we felt that it is not the few of us that should be talking to this people.
“The committee may seem large but its responsibilities are wide and huge. The committee will break into sub-committees to talk to different groups. It is also the role of the committee to advice on how to make the party stronger and better.”
The chairman of the caretaker committee however underscored that regardless of the reconciliation process, some of the issues raised in court must be resolved by the court.
He lamented the unending crisis in the party because of various interest, but, however, said that the terms of reference for the committee is to explore strategies to engage all possible allies with a view to building positive relationship in overall interest and in furtherance of democracy in the country.
The committee is also to consider and recommend strategies to reposition the party and to recommend necessary amendment to the Constitution of the party. The committee is to submit its report within three months.
Also speaking, the spokesman of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said “the committee is set up to strategise in order to end the crisis in the PDP and displace the APC in 2019.”
He further said that reconciliation in the party is another matter entirely, adding “we can’t be brought down because of the reconciliation process. We must manoevre to move forward and reach our goals. Time is going and a lot of things are happening.”
However the Sheriff camp won’t have any of that. A communique of PDP North-east zonal working committee, loyal to him, rubbished the formation 15 member committee, even though they also expressed hopes of reconciliation and return of the party to power at the center in 2019.
Following their meeting in Yola, Adamawa State, the communique signed by the Vice Chairman, Amb. Emmanuel Njiwa (OON) read
“The working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) North East zone closing from a meeting on 8th November, 2016 resolved as follows:- There shall be reconciliation among party faithfuls at all levels. Reconciliation committee consisting of people of proven integrity will be formed.
“That the party has the potential of bouncing back and clearing the entire zone by the grace of God comes 2019.
“The meeting of a so called PDP concerned stakeholders held on 6/11/2016 in Bauchi is hereby condemned in its totality because, the party constitution pages 44-49 does not provide for such a group.
“There are established structure of the party from the ward to the National level that party loyalist can forward grievances appropriately.
“By our party’s constitution of 2012 Zonal meetings are held at the instance of the zonal chairman only. Therefore any meeting, no matter how good the conception is that contravene the party constitution is illegal null and void.”
Recall that Makarfi and Sheriff camps had accused each other of being sponsored by forces outside the party.
While Sheriff accused the Makarfi of holding the party’s leadership in trust for an APC chieftain who, they said intends contest the 2019 presidential election, Makarfi had in turn accused Sheriff of working for APC.
But while PDP is transfixed in an intense leadership crisis, the APC is also not having the best of times. They have from the onset being having a rather tough time, managing their 2015 victory. The hurriedly knit merger of 2013 faces a threat as intrigues arising from sharing the spoils of electoral victory, continues.
The merger constituents, namely, the defunct, ACN, ANPP, CPC, part of APGA and the new PDP, were enmeshed in a tussle for who got what, a situation which culminated in the frosty leadership tussle in the National Assembly.
As it stands, former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, a major force in the APC, has not been having a smooth ride. What with the outcome of APC’s tussle in National Assembly, whose preferred lawmakers were shut out from assuming the leadership, the former governor has not been at ease.
Similarly, his preferred candidate in Kogi State, Hon James Faleke was also stopped from assuming the governorship position after, Late Abubakar Audu, who was the party’s candidate died mid-way into the polls.
Also, the former governor was shut out in Ondo State, which led to his outburst against the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
However the former governor has found an ally in former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who also is said to be having a not so smooth time in the party.
For some pundits, the reemergence of former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako and the return to APC of former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is perhaps a ploy to check the influence of the former Vice President.
What’s more the 2019 presidential endorsement he recently got from the Adamawa State government is causing ripples within certain party cycles. While its is less uncertain that he will contest in 2019, it remains hazy whether he win run under the current platform.
However, the APC and PDP have official criticized moves by some of their members to form a new political party.
The National Vice Chairman of APC (south), Ntufam Hilliard Eta admitted that the party’s leadership was aware of plans by some stalwarts of the APC to float another party, in cohorts with PDP members to form a new party, but warned that they would not allow them destroy their party before leaving.
However while the Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP said it was not aware of such moves, the Sen Ali Modu Sheriff camp said there could be an impending fatigue towards the turnover of political parties.
Talks of a new political party to dislodge PDP and APC had emerged following the crisis of confidence rocking both parties.
Responding however Etta said “Let me tell you my position, we are aware of the people who are planning to destabilize the party but my position is that we will not let that happen. Going by the constitution of our party, you would have to get a vote of no confidence on the NWC before you can get changes on the leadership. They had wanted to create chaos in our party and then break away.
“We are also aware that some elements from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some people in our party are in on the plan to float a party.
“My position is that they are entitled to float a party as Nigerians but where their liberty stops is when they what to destabilize the APC before they can float theirs. This will not happen.
“In fact, if I must tell you, some governors are in on the plot. we even have one in the south that is in on the plan. We are aware of all these but it will not stand the test of time. We are aware of all these.”
Segun Oni, said “Well, I am not aware let me say this, I have not attended any meeting for any realignment hence, I am not aware, but let me say that right from day one, the losers in this scheme had always been talking of alignments, don’t forget that right from when we started, they didn’t even wait for us to spend one year before they started talking of alignment. That is always the mentality of losers.
“The losers would always look for a new thing, the winners would always try to promote continuity psychologically and because unfortunately, our democracy is always going back to the starting block all the time, this has made Nigerians to think that we should always go to the starting block again and start another set of political parties, another set of thinking, it won’t happen all the time. Where if we have crisis we are going to resolve them, we will try as much as possible.
“If there is political alignment going on, I am not aware of it, but our responsibilities is to run the APC very well, so that whatever problems we have, we can resolve, that is it, that is our own responsibilities.
“That is what we are here to do and if there is anybody who has been attending meetings as it is term meeting for realignment goodluck to them, but me, I believe in doing what I am here to do to the best of my ability as much as possible. When it is time for me to leave this seat, I will leave with honour”.
When asked, chairman of the PDP national caretaker committee, Sen Ahmed Makarfi, in a terse response said he was aware of any attempt to float a new party.
Conversely however acting National Publicity Secretary, in the camp of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Hon. Bernard Mikko, said, “While the freedom of association is guaranteed under our constitution, individuals and groups can coalesce to pursue their interests, be it political or otherwise.
“However, looking at the our political system and the evolution of political associations in Nigeria, there could be an impending fatigue towards the turnover of political parties.
“This is because Nigerians have come to realize that the name or names of the political parties are not the problem, but the people and their penchant for impunity, greed and disrespect for rule of law and societal values.”
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