Saraki and the nPDP: Time to Call it Quits – By Jude Ndukwe
In recent times, members of the New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, bloc in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have been agitating over what they consider a gross shortchange and maltreatment of members of their bloc in the power equation in APC.
As one of the legacy parties that formed the APC in 2014, the nPDP is supposed to control a major stake in APC as they boast of arguably the cream of political giants in the current ruling party and that is apart from their number considering that they pulled a sizeable membership from the PDP to APC.
Ordinarily, in normal political settings, that should have been an advantage to them. It should have given them the leverage to negotiate their ways into relevance. But we are in abnormal times when raw strength overpowers number and when strong men ride roughshod over institutions. In such times, negotiations are unwelcome and accommodation of divergent interests is alien.
Unfortunately, members of the nPDP were coming from a system where balance of power was key and consideration for all interests was on the front burner of statements and actions of both party and government. It is too strange to the Kawu Baraje-led nPDP that they have found themselves in a party and government that treats its own as trash and cares less about the delicate issues of power balance among its members in a way as to reflect fairness.
Although some might argue that the nPDP members are holding important appointive and elective positions like the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, governorship positions, key ministerial appointments etc, the truth of the matter is that a majority of the office holders would rather have not held such positions than be as troubled as they are today.
While other more organized political parties and a more sensitive federal government would be happy to keep these positions, the APC has been acting as if these positions are held by opposition members. They have become the most virulent opposition to themselves and unleashed all manner of political cudgels on their own even before this administration effectively took off. The APC seems to be the only political party where the ruling party is also the most vicious opposition party.
While the CPC bloc which was President Muhammadu Buhari’s bloc has carried on like the Alpha and Omega of not only APC but also Nigeria, they act like a like a people whose words are law and who must not be questioned. Most of the hard-line approach and strategies of this government are products of the CPC bloc of APC. As it is, the ANPP bloc has been swallowed and they have almost become extinct both in name and in character.
The ACN bloc which was led by the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also been cut to size to the extent that no sooner than the president appointed Tinubu to head a reconciliatory committee of the party to bring everyone back on board and same page than the crises in the party assumed hydra-headed dimensions to the point where different interests today can no longer be effectively reconciled.
Simply put, APC is a party where things have indeed fallen apart!
Today, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the immediate past governor of Kano State cannot as much even try to visit his State because the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has decreed so. This has lingered for so long; yet, neither the president nor the party could wade in to this anomaly and bring it to a halt. Today, Kwankwaso is on exile from a State he was governor for 8 years and only handed over 3 years ago. Kwankwaso delivered the Kano which became pivotal in deciding who won the 2015 presidential election. But today, he cannot even visit that same State.
Dino Melaye, the flamboyant, boisterous and outspoken Senator from Kogi West, has had his own more than fair share of troubles written, initiated and executed with ruthlessness by agents of the APC-controlled federal government. It is the general belief that Dino’s troubles started when he supported the emergence of Bukola Saraki as president of the Senate against the wishes of some cabal in the presidency and the party.
In addition to that, Dino has been at loggerheads with Yahaya Bello, the governor of Kogi, his home State. His contributions on the floor of the Senate which come across as being anti-establishment but seen by neutrals and a majority of the people as exceptional boldness to speak against the anomalies of government even if such ills are caused by his party, and at the risk of an easily predictable witch hunt.
The story of Dino’s travails is well known to everyone.
Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi has had his properties demolished in what many believed to be a politically motivated action by the governor of Kaduna State. Senator Shehu Sani is being hounded for murder. Senator Isah Misau is being harassed and intimidated. Rotimi Amaechi’s wings are being curtailed. Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State is so disenchanted with how things have turned out in APC that his eventual defection back to PDP is believed to be just a matter of time.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has since returned “home” after seeing, according to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, that the APC is a “party of lies and propaganda”.
Matters got to a head and leaders of the nPDP bloc in APC had to write a letter to the president and leadership of the party reeling out a retinue of grievances that must be addressed if they must continue to remain in APC. Although the vice president has been detailed to meet with the nPDP leaders on the issues they raised, political observers say that rather than delegate this assignment to the vice president, the president himself ought to have taken the matter more seriously by meeting with the nPDP members. This action of delegating that important assignment to the vice president considering the calibre of people that make up the nPDP means the president is carrying on as if the nPDP do not matter in the equation of things. And, of course, the APC has loudly demonstrated this over time.
The question most people are asking is, how long will the nPDP continue to endure unending humiliation of their members in a party that would never have come to power but for their intervention? President Buhari had earlier contested the presidential election three times and failed three times until a coalition that saw other major parties including the ACN, ANPP and the nPDP come together in a formidable show of strength that ousted the gargantuan PDP who also made the mistake, although on a lesser scale, which the APC is making today, by taking critical leaders for granted and allowing them to leave “for free”.
With these persisting persecutions which nPDP members are facing in the hands of the government they contributed immensely to put in place, isn’t it high time they fought back? The earlier they do that the better for not only their political careers but also their constituents.
There are several legislative instruments which the Senate and the House of Representatives can deploy to fight the executive and drive them back to their own half of the field. The truth is, in politics, you cannot wield the enormous power which the legislature has and still be this docile or allow the institution to be this ridiculed by agencies of government continually. If you do, then you get badly bruised if not totally obliterated. It is always better to stand fighting than to kneel succumbing even without throwing a punch.
Saraki though has been dragged from pillar to post by the executive for what many think is because he defied it to become senate president, he has nonetheless taken the persecution thrown his way with political equanimity. He has been the restraining force behind a Senate that would have loved to bite more than it barks; a stabilizing factor in the management of the delicate balance of power between the executive and the legislature. Yet, he is a man marked for the guillotine even if that means ridiculing the institution of the Senate, emasculating it and bring it down to its knees.
Apart from this, members of the nPDP should show their strength by leaving the APC with their members and join forces with other parties to contest the presidency against Buhari next year. It is very clear that APC has not only failed them but has also failed Nigerians since they left the PDP for the APC with the socio-economic development of Nigeria in mind.
At this stage, there seems to be no redemption for the APC. It is obvious that it is a party of strong men and weakened institutions. Fortunately, despite the continued intimidation of Nigerians including the judiciary, the so called strong men are daily being demystified and mocked by Nigerians for their inability to pursue socio-economic development of the country with the same energy and enthusiasm they pursue perceived political opponents.
It is time for Saraki and co to pull the rug off the feet of APC and cause the final cataclysmic implosion of a party that seemed to have been formed to fail from inception. With the shambolic congresses recently organized by the party leading to bloodshed in several parts of the country, the continued killing and sacking of villages by herdsmen without resistance from government, rising rate of kidnapping and other violent crimes, it is obvious that the APC does not deserve the cream of leaders in the mould of the nPDP and there is no way the party would win next year’s election no matter their antics if the nPDP members leave.
The truth is, if APC returns to power, things would only get worse as it is generally believed that they have shown a lack of knowledge and capacity to run a country like Nigeria with all its complexities. A party that behaves the way it is behaving now when it is in need of a second tenure ticket would behave worse if they return to power. For the sake of Nigerians who cannot afford another round of intimidation, harassment, selective obedience of court orders depending on the ones that favour them, assault on the legislature and the judiciary, loss of jobs in their millions, insecurity and other national malaise bedevilling the nation, it is a duty to God and service to man for members of the nPDP to call it quits and pull out of APC now!
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