Fight For APC’s Soul

Inside the ruling All Progressive Congress, it is a dog eat dog world and political gladiators are cancelling each other out.

The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party has been enmeshed leadership crisis since its national was removed by the appellate court / Photo credit: The Nation
The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party has been enmeshed leadership crisis since its national was removed by the appellate court / Photo credit: The Nation

It has taken four whole years for President Muhammadu to take ownership and control of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party forged on the promise of making him president.

The very first step towards reclaiming the party came in June 2020 with the sack of the party’s National Working Committee led by Adams Oshiomhole.

More recently, the president has chosen to take responsibility for the failures of the party after it lost the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

Building a political party around a single individual can always be a risky endeavour.

Almost immediately after that that presidential ambition was realised, Buhari detached himself from the day to day decision making of the party, leaving in the hands party chairmen whose loyalty were not necessarily to him.

The question is why now? Why take back the party after already winning his constitutionally mandated two terms in office?

Does the president care about the survival of the APC or does he see it as a platform that has served its purposes and is no longer needed?

READ ALSO: APC Annuls Fayemi’s Suspension By Ekiti Chapter

Or is it that Buhari felt his presidency and governance was suffering in the squabble for the party machinery to determine which political heavy weight would inherit the platform and possibly the presidency?

What the president has hinted at is that he is putting country before party to ensure the will of the people carries the day during elections.

He said as much to Godwin Obaseki after the Edo election.

The governorship seat in Edo that APC lost on September 19 would make the fourth state the APC has lost or could have easily won if Oshiomhole had not made himself a part in the contest

Whatever the president’s motive to axe the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole as party chairman was, the impact goes beyond the party itself, and it is already shaping the politics of the country and the post-Buhari presidency.

But more than the actions of the president, it is still the choices made by Oshiomhole himself in every election his party has contested while he was national chairman and after his removal that is reverberating across the political field.

That he made strategic mistakes is undeniable.

But the real question is who made the costliest of errors, Oshiomhole, or Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos and national leader of the party?

In 2019, Oshiomhole, went to extremes challenging some powerful forces, state governors expecting to have way, and not be challenged by their own party leadership on their turf.

And now, because of his actions, APC has lost one more state to the opposition People’s Democratic Party.

Even more significant is that it has lost ground in the march towards 2023.

Probably less apparent is that Oshiomhole may have succeeded in completely obliterating the chances of at least one individual of becoming president in 2023.

READ ALSO: Hold Me Responsible For States Lost To PDP – Buhari

The governorship seat in Edo that APC lost on September 19 would make the fourth state the APC has lost or could have easily won if Oshiomhole had not made himself a part in the contest.

A judicial abracadabra brought Imo back into the APC.

In the case of Edo, he didn’t even have to be the national chairman of the APC.

But the loss of a state he once governed has far reaching consequences for the ruling party, more so for Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the party who may have to retire his presidential ambitions after what just happened in Edo.

Tinubu tied his ambition to the fate of Oshiomhole and in Oshiomhole being at the helm of the APC, and followed the former Edo governor down a dark tunnel to combat Godwin Obaseki.

They both took their eyes off the prize and now the consequences are becoming apparent.

If Tinubu hadn’t made the video pleading with the people of Edo to vote Obaseki, no one would have ever known that his brand of politics is this unpopular, and that wherever he stands, voters are likely to go in the opposite direction.

The video has specifically been identified by political watchers as a major reason why the APC was defeated.

If Tinubu hadn’t made the video pleading with the people of Edo to vote Obaseki, no one would have ever known that his brand of politics is this unpopular, and that wherever he stands, voters are likely to go in the opposite direction

Suggestions have even been made that it wasn’t the first time he would have that effect on voters.

It’s a bad sign for his presidential ambition and may even suggest that a Tinubu candidacy would be toxic for the APC in 2023.
Worst is the claims that governors within the party worked against their own candidate in Edo.

So how did Tinubu lose the support of so many APC governors? Beyond raising questions on the viability of a Tinubu candidacy, the loss in Edo also calls into question, his standing within the APC.

Surely, Oshiomhole can’t be blamed for that too.

Tinubu once pulled out his faction of the Action Congress to form the Action Congress of Nigeria when he fell out with Atiku.

Can he do the same today and will the Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Akeredolu and Ibikunle Amosun follow him.

Are there any real options open to him?

Inside the ruling All Progressive Congress, it is a dog eat dog world.

READ ALSO: Why I Can’t Go Back To APC – Obaseki

Political gladiators are cancelling each other out.

And it’s all about 2023.

For some who have been hit hard, the setback will be temporary.

For others, the damage to the political standing may linger for a long time to come and may even be permanent.

It is hard to say whether political events aimed at certain individuals are isolated incidents or orchestrated to remove one political player after another from the chess board of 2023.

The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo has taken a less prominent role in the presidency.

Former Osun governor, Rauf Aregbesola has seen himself relegated from the high position he once held in the politics of the southwest.

In recent times, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna has taken a hit after the snub by the Nigerian Bar Association, which will likely affect his viability as a candidate on the national stage.

And then there is Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti who is facing a small rebellion from members of his party at the state level.

All these events are probably totally unconnected, but a pattern is being formed and it looks like the mini civil war that took place within the Nigerian Army in the early and mid 1990s, which hastened the end of military rule in the country.

Ultimately, the likely beneficiary of the internal battle in the APC would probably be the PDP.

Written by Shuaib Shuaib

Shuaibu, a former Editor of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers, is based in Abuja.

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