By Sheriff Garba
The All Progressives Congress (APC) bridge of change is gradually undergoing avoidable turbulence at the federal level and nobody seems to be in control at the centre except one, two or three ambitious northerners camouflaging individual interests as those of the entire country. And without equivocation, the avoidable leadership squabble in the National Assembly must have emanated from the antics of these men who have stayed long enough in the corridors of have now forgotten that they have nothing more to contribute to the country but trouble.
The unraveling power game, though unnecessary, is a testimony to the need for the altruistic leadership of the ruling party to think deeply now about how to rescue the party from imminent perdition from inordinately ambitious members. And the sad truth is that the buck stops on President Muhammadu Buhari’s table as leader of the party; he must do something to guarantee party supremacy that governors under the platform are demanding.
Now that the party with the ‘change’ mantra has mounted the saddle, what Nigerians are being subjected to is another theatre of the absurd as senators’ and Reps are in leadership contest. The man at the heart of the bout is Dr Bukola Saraki who won the Senate Presidency through subterfuge in an election that deliberately ensured that half of senators were disenfranchised.
This development has kept mouths agape while pundits are wondering if the defiance to party order by Saraki was not without the backing of powerful elements within the fold. Saraki had gone ahead to defy the party on the list of other principal officers of the red chamber. Speaker Dogara equally played the Saraki game in the appointment of principal officers for the House of Representatives.
Some observers have pointed out that ordinarily what transpired on the day Saraki was elected in cahoot with the opposition PDP is nothing but a betrayal of the APC and what it stands for. How can the party that produced the presidency make meaningful change in a National Assembly with the leadership that allied with the opposition which the electorate worked assiduously to send out of power during the last elections?
Others argue along the same line saying that despite the political inadequacies of Buhari, some northerners, who ought to help him achieve the ‘change’ mantra, are already scheming to succeed him in 2019 by putting up structures in the legislature and the states and also preparing ground, even though pretending to be the president’s loyalists, to dismember the APC before returning to the PDP stronger to possibly take over power.
One of such northerners, a former chieftain of PDP and AC, but now in APC,occupied a top position under the Obasanjo administration. Pandits pointed in the direction of his recent press release that needlessly distanced him from the shenanigans called election in the Senate that produced Saraki as Senate-president contrary to the position of the ruling APC.
This position must have been given impetus by an earlier release by the APC chieftain’s media office moments after Saraki was elected in a controversial manner and at a time other respectable leaders of the party were still at a cross road over the abracadabra that happened in the red chamber.. Some moments after the Senate election, he congratulated Saraki and Dogara. As a northerner, I consider it an irreconcilable hypocrisy for the chieftain to believe that irrespective of the political mix through which the presiding officers emerged, even if it means that the PDP is directly in control, the 8th National Assembly would not lose focus of its role as a partner in progress with the other arms of government, especially the executive arm.
It would not be wrong to agree with some observers that see his calling on those that collaborated with the PDP to shortchange APC to ‘see their elections beyond the narrow interests of respective political parties’ as a signal of his plan to gather more followers across party divide to buy into his future presidential ambition which many believe he plans to pursue by 2019.
Further to the fact that there is no rumour without an iota of truth behind is the content of his second release which tried futilely to dispel the notion that his target was how to dislodge the current presidency in 2019. In that release, he dispelled the insinuation that he has anything to do with the avoidable tussle in the Senate despite admitting that it is correct for individuals or groups to seek to pursue their interest even if such is in defiance of party principle and resolution and can break down chain of discipline.
For instance, in a situation where a party man’s ambition contradicts that of the political party that gives him the mandate, this top APC chieftain did not tell Nigerians how that can benefit and sustain our democracy or promote equity, fair play and justice. To him, supremacy of the party can be sacrificed simply because, according to him: “In politics, it is a mistake to expect fixed outcomes.” No wonder that he has not said a word about the latest defiance to party directives by Saraki and Dogara.
Simply because Buhari, in his wisdom, maintains an apolitical stance on the democracy of ambush that happened at the Senate that tallies with the mindset of the particular APC chieftain, he has gleefully announced to the world: ‘On this, I stand with President Buhari.’ Will he still be standing with the president in the next three years or is his loyalty with him in as much as he feigns non-concern to measures he and his team are taking to dislodge the president from power?
In his usual way of playing politics of divide and rule, he has infiltrated the rank and file of the party. Just recently, the APC, under the aegis of the Chairmen’s Forum under the leadership of its Acting Chairman, Alhaji Umar Haruna Muhammed of Kano State, after supposed four days of deliberation in Abuja, noted: “We are urging all the aggrieved National Assembly members to embrace dialogue and the re-conciliatory moves championed by Mr. President, and the national leadership of our party, for the sake of national interest and APC”. The question to ask the group is, how can you have time to pursue national interest in the midst of unleashing detrimental parochial interest and infliction of injustice against elements in the party?
The direction that the Saraki clique in the Senate, with the obvious covert backing of the northern APC leader, will only dump the nation in a cul-de-sac that may act as catalyst for denying Nigerians the much expected change. This urge for inordinate ambition will only batter beyond recognition the APC and the Buhari brand. The president can only be a victim of his dangerous apathy to serious issues of politics. Where is the national interest that they claimed was being pursued in this instance? May God save the country from politicians without conscience!
*Garba is a political scientist and lives in Asokoro, Abuja.