Owing to my assessment based on environmental scanning of the local dynamics, l have been consistent in sounding the alarm about the inevitable and now imminent disastrous end of the ruling party at the centre if proper care is not taken by the leaders who need to quickly do some housekeeping to nip the persistent schisms within the party in the bud before they degenerate into catastrophic crisis as signposted by the following nine (9) ominous signs:
(1) Inability to hold a convention in about eight years since it became the ruling party at the centre.
(2) Hordes of aggrieved participants heading to court after a calamitous congress held recently.
(3) Frequent change of national working committee, NWC.
(4) Rebellion against the presidency from National Assembly, NASS via refusal to allow Aso Rock villa have its way by not deleting clause 84 (12) in the new Electoral Act as earlier agreed.
(5) Unable to decide on the zone from which its presidential candidate would emerge.(
6) Supremacy battle bordering on internal sabotage between governors of the ruling party with 19 supporting the new CECPC chairman, Abubakar Sanni-Bello, Governor of Niger state versus 4 governors in favor of the deposed Mai Mala Buni, Governor of Yobe state as claimed by El Rufai.
(7) Uncertainty on the presumed breach of party constitution via two serving governors back-to-back acting as chairman of the party at different times and therefore making APC susceptible to litigation and the risk of rendering all actions taken by CEPCC in the past two years as illegitimate and ultra vires.
(8) On account of the ruling by justice Ekwo of the high court in Abuja that Ebonyi state Governor, Dave Umahi, his deputy, Eric Dike, and 15 members of the house of the assembly who defected from the PDP to APC should vacate their positions because the electorate voted for the party and not the individual, Cross Rivers and Zamfara states governors who similarly defected to APC are running hitter titter around the courts hoping that the same calamity would not befall them.
(9) The snare of about 208 court cases instituted against the party by its own members, particularly the one stopping the proposed convention date is yet to be discharged and therefore an existential booby trap.Fellow Nigerians, you would agree with me that any political party that is fraught with the underlined litany or legion of deformities is certainly in jeopardy. So, whatever the parameter that is applied in assessing the crisis riddled APC, the bottom line would be that the ruling party at the centre is a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, and a contraption of sorts that was leveraged to achieve the objective of booting out ex-president Goodluck Jonathan from Aso Rock villa and replacing him with Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Without exception, all SPVs expire. And as President Buhari’s term expires on May 29, 2023, willy nilly, the SPV that ushered him into the presidency will be expiring pari-pasu. And I would dare to add that if the current commotion continues in the ruling party as it enters the electioneering year, the general election in 2023 is for the main opposition party PDP, to lose. Owing to the internal combustion consuming the APC, I suspect that Adams Oshiomhole, the deposed Chairman of the ruling party at the centre, would be laughing in derision at the sordid turn of events in the party which he led to victory in 2019 and which shoved him out thereafter.
It would appear that having exhausted external battles against members of opposing political parties, particularly the PDP that it had been blaming for all the calamities that have befallen our beloved country, during which the APC has poached at least three governors from the PDP and a legion of opposition parties legislators under Buni’s leadership, it is now turning the barrels of its guns against itself, hence the raging battle within the party that suggests that there would be a conflagration of immense proportions sooner than later.
I would like to take to heart President Buhari’s parting words to Aso Rock villa correspondents while departing for his medical check-up in the United Kingdom, UK, that the APC would not implode as being speculated, but all pieces of evidence are against such optimism. Hence on Saturday, March 12, obviously angry and disappointed president Buhari changed from his earlier optimistic prognosis of the state of inviolability or invincibility of the ruling party to a posture of recognizing the anarchy threatening to engulf the party, which he had earlier discountenanced. Aware of the looming dangers threatening the continued existence of the party if certain precautions were not taken, President Buhari, in a statement released by his media aide, Garba Shehu, read a riot act to the leaders of the APC that are causing the rift within the party.
Part of it bears repeating: “This is a party that has been in existence barely for eight years, becoming the dominant party because it has thrown open its doors to defectors from other parties, big and small.” Mr President further argued that: “This alone, addition to the fact we didn’t start on the note of arrogance of power, nor see government as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement, to be held at all costs, but a vehicle to bring development to all without discrimination-political, ethnic or regional to our dear country made this success possible”.
He out that: “When precisely the party’s convention is held and who is the party’s chairman is hardly a matter for the average voter: vastly more important is who convention delegates will elect as the party’s flagbearer in the coming weeks to take forward the party’s platform to the people in the general election in February next year. He therefore noted that: “It is therefore important for the media to put such matters into perspective. No one is debating policy differences here.” President Buhari is absolutely correct about the fact that barely a year to the general elections, nothing is being said about the policies and programs of those angling to take over from him. This applies particularly to how to save our beloved country from the clutches of the nefarious ambassadors that have made our country a killing field — Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits disguising as violent herdsmen on one hand — and on the other hand, the doldrums that the economy is currently trapped and which has seen the Naira exchange rate inching towards the N600 to $1 mark and diesel price skyrocketing to about N1000 per liter (black market rate) amid scarcity of petrol or Premium Motor Spirit , PMS that has been wracking the polity in the past couple of weeks.
Invariably, the next president has his job cut out for him. And that is dexterity in the management of the economy to pull it back from the brinks, balancing our ethno-religious diversity and adeptness in security/safety of the lives and properties of Nigerians. Remarkably, whereas it took the PDP sixteen (16) years to implode, it has taken the ruling APC only (8) years to reach a breaking point. In my recent comments about the state of the nation politically in the past one month, l have been advising President Buhari to beware of the curved balls that fellow party members may throw at him as he enters his lame-duck period which is the weakest point of a political leader’s time in office as he/she becomes very vulnerable. Just as the moment of interchange between night and day period is dangerous spiritually, it is equally so politically and at a time when a leader must yield power. That is basically because in the metaphysical realms before the clock strikes 12 o’clock and the night is transformed into early morning; all sorts of complex and dangerous activities take place. That event is mirrored in the world of politics hence the current hurly-burly or hullabaloos in APC.
It is trite restating the fact that Mr. President is currently effectively in his home stretch and at a critical period that he must maintain and sustain his control of the ruling party and the country as it is now barely one year to the termination of his reign. If he loses grip, his word may not be law anymore; and if he fails to bark and bite with the limited political strength that he can muster, he might literally exit Aso Rock Villa with his tails between his legs. That is why l counseled that Mr. President should beware of the proverbial Ides of March (in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar,” a warning given to Caesar about March 15, the day on which he was assassinated). To be clear, in this stance in Nigeria and in president Buhari’s case, I am talking figuratively and it means assassination politically as opposed to physical or taking of life. Already, President Buhari was surprised when a seemingly harmless nationwide exercise of registration of APC party members that was supposed to be a good thing became the first curved ball thrown at him as it was going to result in his losing control of the party following the introduction of direct primary as the sole process of producing candidates to political parties for general elections as captured in the electoral act reform bill packaged the National Assembly, NASS which he vetoed in the nick of time.
The rejected bill at Mr. President’s behest had subsequently been reworked by NASS, and the three processes -direct, indirect, and consensus options were retained in the new bill. But this time, it came with a caveat which is a new element introduced via clause 84(12) which ties the hands of the members of the executive arm of government behind their back as their appointees-ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers, Special Assistants etc are barred from voting or being voted for and must resign 180 days before an election to be free from disenfranchisement. The proviso controverts the 30 days provision for public servants interested in contesting for public office to resign from their jobs as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended.
Therein lies the dilemma which the electoral law in president Buhari’s eyes suffers as clause 84(12)is deemed as undemocratic simply because it disenfranchises political appointees from exercising their civic rights. Meanwhile, the legislators who authored it, feel otherwise and civil society advocates are hands in gloves with them. And they have the concurrence of the interpretative community which is the courts, hence justice Inyang Ekwo of Abuja High court, granted the application by the main opposition party, PDP that the newly minted electoral act 2022 cannot be altered as requested by president Buhari without due process. Apparently, the courts are also now exhaling and exercising some independence which is for the good of democracy in Nigeria.
Just as President Buhari was trying to absorb the blow, there was a manifestation of the type of schism that was about to tear the party apart through sabotage by some aggrieved stakeholders who had reportedly gone to the extreme extent of procuring a court judgment that would stop the convention from holding as planned on the 26th of this month, if it remains not vacated, because it would cause another postponement of the convention. And that would imperil the party and possibly the whole election process if and when the convention is held in contravention of INEC election rule of 21 days’ notice before a convention is held and also being duly informed about a change of guard in the leadership of a party. All of the above criteria have to be complied with.
But if Sani-Bello were to assume leadership of APC after INEC’s election timetable had started running from February this year, compliance with INEC rules as encapsulated in the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, would be impossible before March 26. Would Zamfara state experience whereby the ruling party APC’s votes were voided for technical reasons and the PDP took over the political leadership of the state from governor to legislators, manifest on a national scale in 2023 against the ruling party if it fails to put its house in order as cautioned by President Buhari in the riot act that he read out to his fellow party leaders last Sunday? As a crisis manager, I have been drawing attention to the entity formation processes that a group must pass through as espoused by psychologist Bruce Tuckman.
These are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Stabilizing. There is also the Mourning stage, assuming the initial four stages do not happen smoothly. That is what is staring the APC in the face right now. In my assessment, after Forming the APC in 2013/14, it was afraid to confront its demons, so it kept postponing the Storming stage which is only just happening right now. Put succinctly, the current storm in the ruling party should have happened long ago as opposed to taking place in the 11th hour or injury time as football lovers like to term last-minute actions in the field of play. Were that to have been the case, there could have been enough time for the Stabilizing process to kick in. And this would have been the healing period for the wounds that might have been inflicted during the Storming stage as reflected by the APC leaders using expletives on themselves and engaging in vile name-calling which is the underlying reason for the title of this article and a damning situation addressed by president Buhari in his riot act.
Right now, the APC may be going into a war (2023 elections) with fresh wounds owing to a rebellion within the ranks of its members, which is a recipe for a disastrous outcome. These are not cold calculations and they are not made with a view to hurting the APC or promoting any party, nor are they meant to stir up the society in any negative way as those who are averse to the truth may want to present it to authorities with the sinister motive of getting security agencies to start running ‘Kiti-Kata’ chasing shadows and unseen enemies. Rather, it is a patriotic effort to call attention to the odds stacked up against the APC which is the ruling party at the center and by implication whose imperilment may torpedo the entire political process and system for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. That is in case the leaders of APC that president Buhari recently chided and berated are too blinded by their naked ambitions to the extent that they are not thinking of the sustenance of our fledgling democracy that we all fought hard to attain and which they are jeopardizing by their crass actions.