By Rotimi Fasan
THE nPDP faction of the different groups that constituted the All Progressives Congress, APC, contraption finally made good its threat to ‘leave’ the party to seek its own fortune elsewhere several days ago. This faction of the APC has long been aggrieved. Indeed from the first few weeks if not days of APC’s victory over the PDP in 2015, the nPDP had conveyed the impression of being outsiders in a political house several groups claimed to have erected. The thin rope that held the nPDP to the mainstream of the APC broke when the faction announced Buba Galadima, an erstwhile ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, as chair of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, the name by which the new group within the APC wishes to be known.
Technically, the R-APC is still a part of the APC family as it is yet to make a complete break with the party. A few reasons could account for this among which may be the fact that the R-APC is yet fishing for a convenient place to berth its political ship. The group is still engaged in negotiations with other political groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party from where it broke away in 2015. Leading members of the R-APC include the two legs that control the Nigerian legislative assembly, namely the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. But in spite of its control of both the executive and legislative arms of government, the APC has operated like a house divided against itself.
Except for very brief spells of cordiality the relationship between these units of the APC has been marked by mutual suspicion if not downright hostility and dislike. Both arms of government and indeed the leadership of the APC have functioned at cross-purposes. Advantages that should naturally accrue to a party in control of both the executive and the legislature are often far from the APC. There is neither cordiality nor goodwill in the treatment accorded bills sponsored from even members of the party.
Avoidable obstacles are thrown in the way of bills including those meant for national appropriation to the extent that the passage of bills is delayed and the bills are left to languish on the floor of the National Assembly for many months on end due to disagreement among members of the APC. A mere breach, a sore that could have been better handled in the early days of the party was allowed to fester until it became a gangrenous wound that now demands complete amputation of the diseased parts.
The marriage of convenience that resulted in the formation of the APC exhibited signs of distress right from the moment the party succeeded in pushing the PDP out of power. It started within a month of its electoral triumph over disagreement about the leadership of the National Assembly. While the party leadership thought it had the matter all settled and was sure of those it wanted to lead the party in the legislature, a rebel arm led by Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, both members of the nPDP, ambushed the APC leadership and took over the leadership of the legislature in cahoots with its former PDP ally in the National Assembly. It was an early warning sign to the APC leadership that its nPDP counterparts were not ready to tow party line much less play second fiddle to the other factions that made up the APC.
Things would take a turn for the worse right from that time as Saraki would be accused of false asset declaration and brought before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Even at this time, the issue could still have been resolved. But President Buhari in a false show of neutrality stood aside, as he sometimes still does, watching as the party that brought him to power fell apart. He would not try to put things right in the party until he realised he would need this same vehicle for his re-election. By this time matters had got to a head.
Only days ago, Bukola Saraki was handed a reprieve by the Supreme Court that discharged and acquitted him of all charges pertaining to false asset declaration. Coming at this time, he is parting ways with the APC leadership, the Supreme Court decision is a boon that will strengthen the hand of the R-APC in their fight with the APC leadership. This is without prejudice to the fact that Bukola Saraki, arrow head of the R-APC, still has other charges hanging around his neck. But his discharge and acquittal by the Supreme Court could only strengthen the impression he and his supporters had given that extant charges against him, like the ones he’s just been relived of, were trumped-up allegations meant to hobble him politically.
Like a house built with spittle which the Yoruba say will be washed away by dew, the contraption that was the APC appears to be falling apart. Having won the electoral war the party seems lost as to how to win and sustain the electoral peace. While nobody can tell what the actual impact of the R-APC move may yet have on the APC, the mainstream party appears strong to weather the rising storm, no thanks to the absence of any viable opposition from the PDP or any other party out there. The R-APC is itself hobbled by its members’ past history of serial defection. Their place in the APC is made more precarious by the fact that they do not appear trustworthy to potential allies that may be hard put to understand their members’ penchant to give allegiance to none but themselves.
Their role in the electoral defeat of the PDP is another factor that could affect their talks with the PDP and other groups. And although they call themselves reformed this claim is nothing but an unconvincing way to distinguish themselves from the mainstream elements of the APC. The R-APC is anything but reformed. Nothing sets them apart from their estranged comrades in the APC leadership. The losers in this self-serving game of shifting labels are the Nigerian people who have few options available to choose from. From the last election that threw up both Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians have been left with hardly any credible choice of leaders or political parties. It’s been a case of ‘how-for-do’ in almost the entire history of this country. We have had to settle for the available where the desirable has been elusive or nowhere to be found. The Nigerian political firmament has been devoid of stars bright enough to lead us out of the gloom of poor governance signposted by corruption, ethnic and sectarian interests that have turned the country into a bloody field of mass murders.