Wednesday, November 27, 2013

APC’s new mega-headache

Itis a great misnomer to call the joining of the All Progressives
Congress, APC, by the G.7 and other rebel PDP members two days ago a
"merger". It was more of a defection. The difference between these two
political expressions is clear.
A defection means the transfer of membership, belonging or loyalty
from one platform to another. A defector drops his old individuality
and assumes the identity of his new group.
A merger, on the other hand, can be illustrated with the political
action that led to the birth of the APC. Three separate registered
political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the Congress
for Progressive Change, CPC and the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP,
shed all their old identities and assumed a completely new one.
Some of the faces at the merger includes Ogbonaya Onu, nPDP chairman,
Kawu Baraje, Senator Bukola Saraki, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, former
Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, chair of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande,

The three parties formally held their respective valedictory national
congresses and announced the end of their old parties in favour of the
new one. The leadership of the main parties sat down, negotiated,
shared power and offices and evolved a new flag, symbols,
But the PDP defectors simply emptied into the APC, unconditionally, it
would seem. By so doing, the size of the APC has ballooned (at least,
on paper) from 11 to 16 governors compared to PDP's 18 (assuming that
Governors Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu are now rated
"non-aligned"); 48 senators as compared to 58 of PDP and (as some
newspapers put it) and 199 members of the House of Reps compared to
147 of PDP).
Watchers of these unfolding monumental political events must be
dumbfounded by the PDP's rather cool attitude to the threat of these
defections. Every expectation by the rebels that their grievances,
whether real or contrived, would be entertained in any way was calmly
rebuffed. It was the rebels that were hungry for a deal, but the
Bamanga Tukur-led PDP simply refused to play ball.
When the President returned from his recent London visit, he parried
an opportunity to meet with them. He pretended that his six-hour plane
ride from London was exhausting, when we know that a politician would
plunge head-long into a crucial meeting if he considered it of import
to his political survival. Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku
Abubakar, quietly ducked into a dark corner after riotously leading
the nPDP out of the August national convention of the party.
Immediately the news of the defections hit the airwaves, the reactions
were predictably mixed. PDP members and their sympathisers were
relieved to see them go. Perhaps, the party will now sit down and
prepare for 2015 without looking over their shoulders whether Alhaji
Abubakar Baraje or Governor Rotimi Amaechi and their agents would be
snooping around for information with which to sabotage the party or
accuse the Jonathan administration of real or imagined misdeeds. Now
swallowed in a new party, the newcomers will be forced to shut up and
allow the APC's leaders and spokesmen to tackle the PDP and its
Federal Government.
On the other hand, APC members and sympathisers rejoiced. It was also
understandable. A venture that started with rumours of Asiwaju Ahmed
Tinubu, the leader of the ACN going into a merger with General
Muhammadu Buhari, founder of the CPC has now spawned a true mega
party, with the potentials to rival the ruling PDP in every department
of the game come 2015. It is a success story unlike any other in the
annals of merger efforts aimed at curbing the nation's drift towards
one-party state.
But then, I daresay that the real work has begun for the APC. First of
all, it has to come up with deft strategies to accommodate the
newcomers and give them a place of belonging. How they go about this
will be a major test of their strength as a political party. For
instance, how will the old APC stalwarts in states like Kano, Nasarawa
and Sokoto fare, with the governors of those states coming in with
their structures from PDP? How will Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau weigh
alongside Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano, or who will the APC as a
party listen more to in a battle for supremacy between former governor
Attahiru Bafarawa and the newcomer Governor Magatakarda Wamakko in
SokotoState? Amaechi has no such problem in RiversState because APC
was virtually nonexistent before he decamped. It is now left to be
seen how he can convert Rivers from a solid PDP base for President
Jonathan to that of APC, even if he becomes the unfancied vice
presidential candidate of a Northern flagbearer as being speculated.
The APC also has to brace up for the fierce battle for the
presidential and other tickets come next year. It remains to be seen
how Kwankwaso's presidential ambition will fly in his new party, since
he was committed to it enough to decamp from the PDP. We wait to see
whether Tinubu will still be able to manipulate the Speaker of the
House of Representatives, Waziri Tambuwal, as his favoured
presidential candidate, especially now that the North has upstaged the
South West.
Yes, and that is another thorny issue that the APC is condemned to
tackle in the days ahead. Things have changed in the APC. The South
Western media have been branding Tinubu as the "National Leader" of
the APC. When Tinubu controlled six states (Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo,
Ekiti and Edo) and the North had only four (Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa and
Zamfara), he was able to win the concession of the interim National
Chairman and other prime spots for his group. Now, with the coming of
Kano, Kwara and SokotoStates into the APC, the comparative advantage
has gone into Northern hands since they now have seven states.
Northerners in APC are likely to rally around one leader since they
desperately want to recapture power in 2015. Tinubu will have to learn
from now on how to play the second fiddle.
If Buhari succeeds in clinching the presidential ticket of the now
seriously enlarged APC, his chances of winning the election in 2015
will significantly improve from his woeful running in the past, though
it be an uphill task to topple President Jonathan at the polls.

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