Last Tuesday’s humiliation of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the ensuing bad blood has drawn assertions from its foes that the party was only formed to win power and not to govern.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary tried to play down his enthusiasm over the distress of the ruling party yesterday.
“We want them to survive because the key to the stability of the country is in the survival of the party because they are in power,” Metuh said in a telephone discussion. That was a farfetch from the Metuh of before who before now had been severally quoted as describing the APC as group of power seekers only united by a common quest for power.
Last Tuesday as the power quest by the different tendencies in the party peaked during the National Assembly leadership contests, references to Chief Metuh’s questions on the survival of the ruling party inevitably came to mind.
That question was further driven by the APC’s terse rebuttal of the election of the four presiding officers, none of whom got the endorsement of the party.
Senator Bukola Saraki emerged as Senate President despite the party’s inclination for Senator Ahmad Lawan while even more agonising for the ruling party, Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP returned to office as the Deputy President of the Senate. It was the first time in the Fourth Republic that a bipartisan leadership had been thrown up in the Senate.
In the House, the party’s favourite, Femi Gbajabiamila lost to the unofficial candidate, Yakubu Dogara while the favoured candidate for deputy speaker, —Moguno was edged out by Lashun Yusuf who strode to office on the back of the rebellion spearheaded by Dogara.
The APC’s pain was manifest in a terse press statement issued by National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in which the party threatened sanctions against those who masterminded the rebellion.
“The APC leadership is meeting in a bid to re-establish discipline in the party and to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration “ it said.
The harsh response of the party inevitably drew references to the situation four years ago when leaders of the APC allegedly lured rebel members of the then ruling PDP to a similar rebellion against the official candidates of the party in the House of Representatives leadership contest.
The rebellion of four years ago was what paved way for the humiliation the PDP suffered in the recent general elections.
But their rage on Tuesday evening, APC leaders refused to be bothered by such references asserting that the insubordination and treachery of the rebel APC members must be sanctioned.
“A strong word of rebuke must be passed to them,” a national officer of the party said that night.
Even yesterday morning when the remaining senators-elect who were in the frontline of the battle against the emergence of Senator Saraki were sworn in by their foe, that disdain was very apparent. One of the leading pro-Lawan senators refused a handshake from Senator Saraki after the senator was given the oath by the new Senate President.
That development has now led to fears that the party could break up sooner than later given the schism that has been established.
The point of schism could start in the National Assembly. If the party decides to encourage the impeachment of the elected presiding officer it would further sharpen divisions that would inevitably lead the two senior presiding officers, Saraki and Dogara back into the PDP fold.
Yesterday, the PDP in unpretentious assertion of its complicity in the pains of the ruling party admonished the APC to eat humble pie.
“Nothing can be more astonishing than the whining by the APC that the PDP at the last minute expressed its preference for Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively after it had earlier stated that it was not interested the positions. This calls to question the capacity, experience and skills of APC leaders on political matters and we have no apology whatsoever for their naivety.
“The APC is merely suffering the consequences of the greed, lust for power and inordinate ambitions of their leaders. They should note that Nigerians have since moved ahead with the new leaders in the National Assembly and stop wasting their energy on propaganda and blackmails to heat up the polity”.
Remarkably, President Muhammadu Buhari has not toed the line of the party in threatening fire against the presiding officers. While claiming his vexation with their rebellion, he nevertheless acknowledged that the election of the new officers was constitutional, a direct opposite from party officials who had sought to reverse the election.
Party members, who were on the losing side have barely been able to hide their indignation of the aloofness of the president to their predicament. Many have also questioned the actions of the National Assembly, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in the matter and fumed that the national chairman has been unable to show leadership in the face of the contending aspirations of power mongers in the party.
Indeed, it is that continuing quest for power that is going to further test the party. Saraki’s ambition for the office of Senate President was opposed by many party leaders simply on the fear that he would use that platform to further his alleged 2019 presidential aspiration.