By Tonnie Iredia
Senator Bukola Saraki, current President of the Nigerian Senate is quite calculated and result-oriented. When small minds sought to block his plan to lead the senate in 2015, the man strategically ousted them. As a former state governor and heir to a wealthy family, money to get people to be on his side was probably not a problem but Saraki relied more on areas no one imagined. For instance, several hours ahead of “road blocks” that his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) had erected for him, Saraki did not leave the car park in the national Assembly. He virtually slept there in his car and thus found it easy to come out of a nearby hiding into fame. Unhappy with how he smashed the APC; a major trap was set for him as he was dragged to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for an offence that every big Nigerian politician is used to committing. To those who are new comers to ‘savvy-politics’, the case against him was water tight. Today, what his accusers are worried about is no longer that case which has since crumbled, the new fear is: to where is Saraki headed-is he still in APC?
Last week, the Kwara Prince cleared the air that contrary to insinuations, he was still a full member of the party and has remained there in body and in spirit. Saraki told a forum of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the speculations were part of the mischievous activities against him and urged the public to discountenance them. He reportedly said that those spreading such information were doing so as propaganda for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If this assurance cleared the air to the party, it must have done so to only the naïve. To political analysts, the omission of ‘soul’ in the claim of being in the party ‘body and soul’ is weighty. The Senate President probably alluded to that with his explanation that those who suspected his moves did so because of what he called the inactivity in the APC, in which ‘the party’s leadership had failed to focus it properly.’ He, therefore, charged the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to wake up to its responsibility as it had remained without activities for too long because it was the docility in the party in his own view that was giving room for unfounded allegations against some of its members.
As if to throw light on what the APC was not doing right, Saraki argued that if the party had organised regular NEC meetings and other caucus meetings, there would have been enough activities to determine who the true members are. In Saraki’s words, “I think there is no APC member that will tell you he is happy with the state of affairs of the party. The party that hasn’t met for a long time, it’s beyond comprehension and I think that we should all quickly put that in order and start to get NEC, caucus and others going.” Saraki was neither joking nor was he the only big fish in the party that was virtually despairing. A few days back, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, one of the party’s leaders was more pungent in his charge that the APC had become a bullying party. Atiku who spoke at the second Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) of Nigeria annual conference 2017 held in Abuja was worried that the APC had become one of the country’s registered political parties without internal democracy. The former Vice President called for a nexus between internal democracy and the quality of leadership required to address the multifaceted problems bedeviling the nation.
Well an overview of what is happening across the nation seems to suggest that the APC is fast following the footsteps of the former ruling party-the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because is it not only the big names that have become critical of the party; everywhere, party members are grumbling especially over last week’s state congresses of the party. In Ogun State, for instance, aggrieved members, believed to be loyalists of former Governor Segun Osoba, have alleged that the party congress was done in contravention of Article 21 D (VI) of the party’s constitution. In Kaduna, a team led by Senator Shehu Sani, said the congress did not hold in the state and that some people merely compiled a list that was sent to Abuja insisting that Kaduna’s APC was nearing imminent destruction. The song from Rivers was not different as Senator Magnus Abe alleged publicly that no congress held in the state. In Bayelsa State, the crisis rocking the APC reportedly got messier as two opposing gladiators submitted two lists of delegates to the national body of the party. The two lists emerged from factions loyal to the former governor, Timipre Sylva and the embattled Chairman of the party, Tiwei Orunimigha.
As if the APC is the new name of a party at war with itself which the PDP represented in the past, the only story now in the air about the APC, is that of crisis here and there. In Lagos where factions are not openly at war, former governor Raji Fashola was conspicuously absent during the recent local elections in the state. In Enugu, the crisis is open as the reported expulsion of the Deputy Chairman of the party; Adolphus Udeh has turned the party into two warring camps. The national secretariat of the party is however not unaware of the issues at stake. A statement credited to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s national chairman stated that the party regretted the violence in Rivers and Kaduna and condemned the attack on the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariat in Kaduna which resulted in injuries to two journalists. Oyegun said the situation would be redressed.
But what is causing all of this? A fact finding reconciliation committee to Kogi state led by veteran journalist and lawyer, Chief Tony Momoh to Kogi, found a peculiar reason-hitch in communication. According to the committee, there was absence or inadequacy of communication in Kogi’s APC making everyone to “be singing his own song and telling his own story.” If so, where is the APC heading?