By Chinedu David

AT a time Nigerians, members and supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are expecting the party to get its acts right and to effectively and efficiently manage the transition period leading to the March 26 national convention of the party, it appears, after all, that the APC is really at a crossroads.

Apparently, whether by accident or a design, the APC is embroiled in an internal schism capable of hurting the party and possibly truncating its chances to hold onto power in the next national ballot scheduled for 2023.

From what may appear as healthy agitations for the control of the party, which is indeed, natural among political parties, especially as the country approaches another election year, the festering turmoil within the APC, however, has potentials to derail the aspirations of the party to retain power in 2023.

Whether we agree or not, the simmering crisis within the party, if not properly managed, is capable of hurting the party’s chances come 2023. The conflict of interests between major stakeholders of the APC is threatening the party’s unity, further confirming claims from the opposition that the ruling party may be heading for the rocks.

Even though the crisis began long after the party’s congresses, leading to the setting up of the party’s national reconciliation committee, which for intent and purpose, failed to reconcile aggrieved members of the party, as can be testified from ongoing litigations across many states, the matter got to a head after the media carried a report that President Muhammadu Buhari may have endorsed Senator Abdullahi Adamu, one of the 13 aspirants in the race, to occupy the position of the national chairman of the party.

Since the media reported the alleged endorsement by the president, the crisis within the party snowballed, as events spiralled to push the APC towards the precipice. First, there were visible disappointments and disagreements over the purported endorsement. The other aspirants view the alleged endorsement as a travesty of justice and a rash decision that is not acceptable to a majority of critical stakeholders.

With the reported denouncement of the alleged endorsement by none other than the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who issued a statement to the effect that the president is yet to adopt any candidate, the ray of hope ensuing thereafter, was however short-lived, as it appears more than ever before that a few individuals are using their closeness to President Buhari to pursue selfish and unholy personal agendas.

It’s clear for all to see that as the APC grapples with internal skirmishes emanating from the congresses, another dangerous dimension to the crisis was thrown into the mix arising from agitations for the control of the party. A few individuals, governors and key presidency officials are bent on foisting Senator Abdullahi Adamu on the party as the next national chairman of the APC. This is a decision that they claim was given the nod by President Buhari. This is even as governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Baduru Abubakar, denied any endorsement by the president while chatting with the BBC Hausa Service.

The attempt recently by Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, while appearing as guest on Channels Television, to give the endorsement allegation a semblance of facts, rather succeeded in raising more dust. According to El-Rufai, if President Buhari was initially reluctant to even participate in the selection of a national chairman of the party, how come he even went further to endorse a particular candidate?

Whether there was endorsement or not, the decision to foist Senator Adamu on the party is becoming an albatross on the neck of the APC and if not carefully handled, may lead to disastrous consequences on the fortunes of the party. Many agree that Senator Adamu, though qualified to lead the party, may not be the appropriate person to be made national chairman of the APC because among the other aspirants, there are even more qualified and suitable candidates that should be given consideration first.

The arguments against Senator Adamu are numerous, albeit worthy of consideration. Senator Adamu is weak from old age. He certainly will not withstand the rigours of political campaigns leading to the 2023 general elections.

At 85 or thereabout, Senator Adamu should be seeking to retire peacefully rather than to allow some people to use him and to throw him into a political turbulence that may prove tough for him mentally and health wise.

Even if President Buhari actually endorsed Senator Adamu, then the president must have forgotten how Senator Adamu, led other senators, the Like-Minds senators, in the eighth Senate, to rubbish the APC by installing Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Senate president. Not only that, Adamu and his colleagues carried out this back stabbing in collusion with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which saw to the emergence of a PDP Deputy Senate president, in spite of the fact that the APC had majority in the Senate.

Recently, at a time when efforts are geared towards ensuring national unity, Senator Adamu was vociferous when he was reported in the media denouncing zoning of the seat of the president between the North and South.

This gentleman arrangement between the two regions of the country has been a veritable tool for the fostering of national unity and as such any politician clamouring for the rejection of such must not be given the opportunity to lead a political party, especially the APC that was formed from a merger of regional parties.

Of most concern to members and supporters of the APC, is that if actually President Buhari endorsed Senator Adamu, then he should have a rethink because it will appear he will be rewarding disloyalty instead of recognising the loyalty and contributions towards the growth of the party by individuals like Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura.

It’s even inconceivable that after the APC in Nasarawa State unanimously endorsed Senator Al-makura for the position of the national chairman, President Buhari could chose to ignore this development and go ahead to endorse Senator Adamu. This is certainly not a wise decision, no matter the reasons given. Senator Al-makura’s loyalty and contributions to the formation and growth of the APC is enough to guarantee him respect and trust within the folds of the party.

The APC must not pay him back in a manner that will seek to reduce him politically and to infer that he “lacks” experience in political party administration. This is a ruse and unkind gesture towards Senator Al-makura who gave his everything to bring about the merger leading to the formation of the party.

In any case, if the APC must get it right, the Electoral Act 2022, has given the nod for the use of consensus in the election of the executive committee and other governing bodies of political parties. A consensus is not the same thing as imposition which is what appears to be with the alleged endorsement of a particular candidate.

A true consensus arrangement will entail that other aspirants willingly agree to withdraw from the contest. And from every indications, Senator Al-makura is strongly in the race, alongside other aspirants, which clearly shows that consensus has not been reached and that the party, devoid of any dictatorial tendency, must prepare for an elective national convention, at least, for the position of the national chairman. Even the arrangement leading to the March 26 national convention of the APC is replete with booby traps that could eventually spell doom for the party.

It’s, therefore, worthy to recall what transpired in Zamfara State after the party was removed from power. The opposition is studying every bid of the unfolding drama for loopholes to be exploited through the courts and to take over power through a pronouncement.

This is the time that true progressives should speak as silence at such moments, is no longer golden. President Buhari in particular must come to the rescue of the party by ensuring that the right thing is done. He must not allow the selfish interests of a few individuals whose major preoccupation is taking control of power at the federal level, destroy the APC. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!

David, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.

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