With the R-APC and nPDP pulling out of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to rejoin the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the same manner nPDP left in 2014 to help the APC to election victory, EZEOCHA NZEH in this piece, asks if history is about to repeat itself, four years after, with the emergence of the great Coalition called CUPP, with targets at the 2019 elections.
It all started in 2014, when a group of aggrieved members of the then ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), revolted against the party, during its National Convention at the Eagles Square in Abuja.
The group, which had earlier warned the party of a looming crisis over series of allegation, which included imposition of candidates for elective position, shutting out of stakeholders in the control of party structure in the various states, and most importantly, the refusal of then President Goodluck Jonathan to shelve his second term ambition following claims by the Northern stakeholders of the party that the zone should complete it’s tenure, which was truncated by the death of late President Umaru Yar’ Adua.
The rebellion from the brake away group, which christened itself the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), coincided with the very time a group of political parties have dropped their various Certificates of Registration to fused into one united force, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the purpose of taking over power.
In the wake of little efforts by the then PDP leadership to mend fences with the nPDP, the group jumped into the waiting arms of the APC, who were readily available to extend their olive branch, seeing them as a willing tool to be used to actualise their target of unseating the ruling PDP.
Formed in 2013, the All Progressives Congress (APC), no doubt came with a bang, at a period when so many condemnations had trailed the 16 years leadership of the PDP, leading to its wide acceptability, especially in the Northern and Western geo political zones of the country.
The party, which came from a union of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), factions of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) received a bolt, when it received a large chunk of the nPDP with few months to the 2015 elections, and the party won overwhelmingly in 24 states and the FCT, out of the 36.
From the nPDP, came former PDP strong hold camps of four seating State Governors, Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Wamakko (Sokoto), Rotimi Amechi (Rivers), Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara), as well as numerous Senators, House of Representatives members and other stakeholders like former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Their dream turned to reality, when against expectations from the PDP, the APC won the presidential poll by 15.4 votes, a victory which turned the then opposition parties into a united ruling APC, while on the reverse, the 16 years rule of the PDP was cut short and they assumed the role of opposition.
Besides winning the presidency, the APC also won in 20 out of the 29 states, where governorship elections held. The states were Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Zamfara, Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Yobe and Imo.
The party was however welcomed into power with crisis, which commenced with the battle for the leadership of the various arms of the National Assembly, upon its inauguration. At the inauguration of the National Assembly, the co joiners, nPDP, showed their strength, when in their maverick nature, they clinched all the leadership seats, with the support of their allies from the PDP.
The National Assembly leadership crisis was the first baptism of fire in the ruling APC, and the crisis has never seized, with one stakeholders or the other, groups as well as some sections of the legacy parties grumbling over one issue or the other.
Before now, former Governor of Lagos State and National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was in the list of aggrieved party members, especially when his preferred candidates lost out at the NASS leadership tussle.
Tinubu until recently has being in the forefront of the anti APC leadership fight, which situation was worsened after the Ondo State governorship election primary, where his preferred candidate, Segun Abraham lost to his former ally, Rotimi Akeredolu.
After the Ondo State governorship primary, Tinubu, who is one of the arrowheads of APC’s formation, not only drew the battle line with APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, he described the former Edo State Governor as a fraud and regressive element, who cares nothing for the progressive ideas upon which the party was founded And from there, the battle to unseat Oyegun and some other members of the APC NWC began under the supervision of Tinubu.
While Odigie-Oyegun described as false all issues raised against him by Tinubu, describing them as figment of his (Tinubu) imagination, the development no doubt opened more trouble and crisis in the party as different other aggrieved faction joined the anti Oyegun war.
There were also complains from many other factions who accused the President of abandoning them without any form of compensation, after all their efforts at the party’s victory in 2015.
More and more crisis rocked the party, and even the appointment of Tinubu by the President to reconcile all the aggrieved factions and stakeholders could not return peace to the already mismanaged crisis in the APC.
Tinubu’s appointment, rather than heal the wounds, widened the crack as he accused Odigie- Oyegun of frustrating the reconciliation effort. He made the claim in a letter he personally signed and addressed to Oyegun, dated February 21. Copies of the letter were forwarded to the President, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Saraki and Dogara.
The letter, not only changed the narrative in the party, but set the stage for Odigie-Oyegun’s possible ouster as the party’s National Chairman, when his plots for a tenure elongation was thwarted by not only Tinubu, but the President.
The situation became worse, when the nPDP again took to protest, in a detailed letter to the APC leadership and President Muhammadu Buhari, where they listed a myriad of grievances, with a threat to continue in their journey, which they began in 2014, if they party maintained a sealed lip to their demands.
In the same manner they left the PDP in 2014 to join the APC, the nPDP, after waiting in vain for a positive response from both the APC leadership and presidency, began moves to quit the romance.
Definitely, there was no disputing the fact that APC was then enmeshed in crises in all fronts going by battles for the control of its structures at all levels. There was hardly any state chapter that was free from crisis. President Muhammadu Buhari had to step in, when it became clear that the crisis in the various chapters of the party could affect its chances of retaining power in the forthcoming general elections.
At the APC National Convention on June 23 in Abuja, former Edo State Governor, Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, was elected unopposed, after a voice affirmation by the delegates to replaced Odigie-Oyegun, who also hails from Edo State. Prof. Oserhermen Osunbor, Mr. Clement Ebri and Ibrahim Emokpaire, who were initially in the race stepped down for the former labour leader.
President Buhari, in his address at the convention, assured members of the party that the APC would be stronger after its national convention despite a few lingering issues over the ward, local government and state congresses in some states. He posited that the crisis over the congresses is the price the party has to pay for its success.
“I want to assure everyone here that despite a few lingering issues with the congresses in some states, our great party will emerge stronger after this convention. The unresolved cases we have are the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with a winning team. I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right,” he said.
While Oshiomhole and the new APC leadership were yet to settle down and commence moves to calm frayed nerves in the APC, the party again bolted into more crisis with attacks from the combined efforts of the nPDP and newly launched trouble shooting faction – Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC). Surprisingly, the faction is led by Alhaji Buba Galadima, a long-time ally of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The R-APC, according to Galadima, who addressed the media in Abuja, comprises of all the progressive forces in APC as well as leading members of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“The R-APC, as constituted, has officers in all the wards, 774 local governments, and all the 36 States of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The R-APC also has National Executive Committee (NEC), the National Working Committee (NWC) and other organs of the party that are properly constituted and functional,” he said.
As if that was not enough, the group along with the nPDP fussed into another Coalition, christened Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), with the main opposition PDP and other 36 political parties, aimed at unseating President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC.
At a well attended ceremony to sign the Coalition’s MoU in Abuja, the Chairman of the R-APC and former member of APC Board of Trustee, Buba Galadima expressed his delight on the birth of the coalition.
“What we are about to do “Galadima said, “will send shivers to the other side and the international community. Am sure members of the international community will be wondering whether there are men of courage in Nigeria that can face the monster.
“If we are fair to ourselves, do things transparently and bring out one man or woman, we shall save the country for ourselves and our children. This is not going to be easy, this is not going to be a tea party because the person that we shall be facing is an army general but I know him. If I were his advisers, I will advise him not to run. But I assure you that with what I know , Buhari will not only lose the election but also lose his deposit.
“We are prepared to take up this fight in spite all deprivation and even torture because this country belongs to all of us. We are prepared to lay down our lives for this great country” Galadima stated.
Former Chairman of the defunct nPDP Abubakar Baraje, while asking for forgiveness from the PDP, a party he once led said “we were led astray”, he thanked the PDP for accepting him after several years of hopeless political sojourn.
Also speaking, Chief Olu Falae, Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP) pointed out that most Nigerian are distressed because of the situation of the country which is an offspring of incompetence, selfishness and lack of direction hence the need to join forces to rescue the country from retrogressive government.
In the same vein, Chairman of Obasanjo’s third force and Chieftain of SDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola described the MoU is a water shed in the quest to redirect the affairs of the country.
According to him, “insecurity has become the norm and the government is lost and continues to pass the buck in a ridiculous manner. We must ensure that we come together to ensure that our country Nigeria is in good shape. This is an assignment from God which we must take very seriously and with sincerity of purpose.
“The APC failed and it failed woefully and that makes it imperative that we must do things differently. Beyond enthroning a new government, the key point of the MoU is to restructure the country. This is the last opportunity for all to rescue the country” he stressed.
The Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, recounted that coalition in Nigeria started in 1914 during the amalgamation and later in independence in 1960.
“On this day, “it will be on record that all of you have come together to rescue this nation. It is on this day that we all agreed to take our common destiny in our hands not only for this generation but for the generation unborn”
He challenged all to join hands to rescue the country collectively, saying, “Our destiny is in our hands, no one will do it for you, you will do it yourselves. Our fore fathers came together to fight for their rights, so you are right to fight for your rights, from intimidation, harassment, killing and conquest. Nigerians are waiting for you to come and vote out this government.”
As these developments manifest ahead of 2019 elections, with the counter revolts happening in the same way the legacy parties that formed the APC listed the support of the then powerful nPDP to oust the PDP in 2015, the big questions remain, Is history about to repeat itself?, Is nemesis fighting back at the APC?. Will the PDP with the combine efforts of the 39 political coalitions launch itself back to power?
Even as the APC has maintained that it still remains a solid and united party despite all the shaking plots against it, the party has also boasted that the Coalitions cannot decided the outcome of 2019 elections, these questions would be calling for answers and only time can provide them.