APC, PDP And The Move To Checkmate Obasanjo’s Third Force
Recent developments within the ruling APC and the opposition PDP indicate that both parties are leaving no stone unturned to ensure internal cohesion in order not to lose any of their members to the fledging ‘Coalition for Nigeria’ recently proposed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, write ANDREW ESSIEN and ADEBIYI ADEDAPO Barely a week ago, President Muhammadu Buhari delegated former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to proffer solution to the crises within the governing All progressives Congress (APC). The purpose of the assignment was to bring together aggrieved party members and ensure that unity reigns within the APC as the election year approaches. It is a known fact that all is not well within the ruling party. Political watchers are fully aware that the party has lately been moving from one crisis to another. From the national secretariat to the various states where the party holds sway, there has been in-fightings and rumours of fighting with many wondering what lies ahead as the nation gets closer to the 2019 general elections. As crises are witnessed Kano State, so are they present in Cross Rivers states. The situation in Kogi and Bauchi states are not any different. The same thing is witnessed in many other parts of the country. This has considerably weakened the appeal of the party to the support base in the affected states even as the opposition parties appear to be taking advantage of the development. This perhaps may be why the president asked Tinubu to take over the reconciliation of the partyAccording to a release signed by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and publicity, Shehu Garba: “As part of on-going efforts to improve cohesion within the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari has designated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts “The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the Federation. It will be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently condemned both the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as unfit to continue to provide leadership for the nation. In fact, he advised Buhari not to seek re-election in the forthcoming general elections. Obasanjo however, proposed a new political movement ‘Coalition for Nigeria’, a new political arrangement which he claimed would salvage the nation’s polity. “What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that party for eight years as president of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team”. “We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. “I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria (CN), taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be”, Obasanjo said. Hence, the recent challenge posed to Tinubu might not be unconnected with attempts to ensure unity in the party so that APC won’t lose any of its members to the fledging political movement. Similarly, developments within the opposition PDP where some aggrieved members had either to broken away to form a parallel party, ‘Fresh PDP’, had returned to the ‘umbrella’ through persuasion and reconciliation efforts has also been seen in the political circle as an attempt to keep the party united ahead of the election. Irrespective of whether or not the PDP is a virile opposition party, it’s loyal members seem to be undeterred, as they make frantic efforts to record election success at different levels, come 2019. To this end, party chieftains have reconciled factions which emerged shortly after the December 9 elective convention, so as to ensure unison and form a formidable force ahead of 2019. The group, which called itself ‘Concerned Stakeholders and Candidates of PDP’, otherwise known as ‘Fresh PDP’, last December, opened a secretariat at No. 10, Tito Broz Street, Asokoro Abuja, and threatened to inaugurate factional National Working Committee (NWC). Obi-Nwosu Emmmanuel, who said he was a member of the December 9 National Convention Planning Committee, was appointed Director General/spokesperson of the group. But at a meeting with some party leaders led by a former national chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, almost all known members of the group attended, except Obi- Nwosu. Olukayode Akindele, former Deputy Director General of Prof. Tunde Adeniran Chairmanship Campaign Organisation, assumed the position of interim chairman of the group. Although, the peace deal brokered between some members of ‘Fresh PDP’ a splinter group which declared itself a faction shortly after the convention, and the leadership of the Uche Secondus-led mainstream PDP is still being threatened by certain interests, the party appears to have conquered the opposition within. Nwodo, had penultimate Saturday, presided over a marathon truce meeting with purported leaders of the ‘Fresh PDP’ and a few chieftains of the PDP where the two parties in dispute openly declared an end to hostilities. The crisis was triggered by what some aggrieved members described as impunity and imposition of candidates at the party’s December 9, 2017 national convention, where a new set of national working committee members emerged. Citing the failure of the new leadership of the PDP to address anomalies and complaints arising from the conduct of the convention, a few disgruntled members, including two defeated contestants for party offices, announced the formation of ‘Fresh PDP’ 11 days after the convention. But after the meeting, the disgruntled members have decided to sheath their sword and has collapsed with its members declaring loyalty to the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. Consequently, the group withdrew its threat to inaugurate a parallel PDP NWC on Monday, January 22, proclaiming that the PDP remains one united party. Present at the peace meeting which held at the Abuja residence of Dr. Nwodo were leader of the group led Chief Olukayode Akindele and his colleagues in the now-defunct Fresh PDP including Godwin Duru and Franklyne Edede. Also at the meeting were Senator Stella Omu and the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan. According to Nwodo who spoke after the meeting, the reconciliatory process enjoyed the backing the national leadership of the party as well as that of the Board of Trustees (BoT). He said the reconciliation did not come with any condition(s), saying that the group was made up of enthusiastic youths needed by the party ahead of 2019. According to Nwodo, the end of Fresh PDP was the best gift the PDP could give to Nigerians at this stage. “A lot of people thought our house was divided and was about to cascade down. But we want to assure you that by God’s mercy an internal reconciliation capacity of the PDP, the cracks that you noticed has been completely sealed off. “Today, the Fresh PDP has collapsed and all its members have reiterated into the mainstream of the PDP and we have a United PDP, poised ready and promising Nigerians that we are going to take away this government that is insensitive to human life which is the primary responsibility of government, which is protection of lives and property and if the government fails to protect life and property it has no business being in government. “Today by what has happened here, we are sending a powerful signal across the country that the PDP wants to assure all Nigerians to expect of us we will not disappoint you. “We will give you a strong and united party that will wipe away your tears, restore confidence in your country make you proud as a Nigerian where ever you are because we will bring back a government that cares and is interested in the welfare of its citizens, in protection of our general good and prosperity of our nation.” Nwodo further noted that the members of the fresh PDP that is now disbanded are young vibrant politicians, who will takeover leadership of the country from PDP elders. “If a leader is leading, and nobody is following, he is taking a walk. PDP is leading and mentoring the young ones to take over the wish of a father is that his offsprings will be bigger than him. If a father does not bring an offspring that will surpass him he is not a good father. It means it doesn’t want his future to be better than his past,” Nwodo added. He emphasised that no condition was attached to the truce agreement as he said members of the defunct Fresh PDP were merely convinced by the assurances that PDP will accommodate all interests. “We have no conditions and that is why we are extremely happy. The young men and women in the Fresh PDP have absolute confidence in the assurances that we have given them. The PDP NWC is aware of this reconciliation and supports it to the hilt. We are also in close touch with the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the committee that BoT has set up to make sure that the cracks arising from the convention are properly sealed and we are united. And they are aware of what we are doing right now. The leadership of the party including the BoT are aware of what we are doing.” Nwodo however assured with the new development, defection of PDP members to other parties has come to an end. “We now have an authentic PDP. This is an envelope from the fresh PDP. That agenda is over,” Nwodo declared. Chairman of of the defunct group, Akindele, in his remarks, noted that while his group have always maintained that there is only been one PDP, they were forced to take the actions they did because of acts of impunity in the party. “But the issue of impunity and imposition has forced us into this situation because in PDP we don’t have any mechanism to address it. We have a mechanism for reconciliation. Reconciliation is when you have a dispute. But when it is a criminal political act then what you need is restitution. “But we had received assurances from our leaders here that this will be addressed and today while it marks the end of Fresh PDP, it brings a PDP that is caring and wants to address issues that may affect it in the primaries. “We have been having these meetings for a long time, and the executive meeting was held at 5 am today in the interest of the nation and the party so that we won’t have a parallel NWC come Monday. “This has been cancelled we have surrendered the list to our leader here and we want to assure gentlemen if the press that this is the best thing that can happen to PDP,” Akindele stated. He also dismissed fears that the PDP leadership could renege on the agreement reached, as he said “We are dealing with men of integrity and honour. You can have disputes with your father and brothers but at the end of the day the integrity of the family is what counts PDP has integrity.” National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ologbondiyan, assured all party members and Nigerians in general that what had been perceived as a new crisis in the party had come to an end. “We want to assure our party members all over Nigerian and in the diaspora that what is perceived to be a crisis is over and our party, PDP has become one all over again,” he said. Meanwhile, the PDP has described itself as a true coalition of Nigerians drawn from every part of the country, adding that its experience in governance and successful rebound from challenges that threatened its very survival has provided it an edge over every other existing or yet-to-be-registered political party in the land. The party disagreed with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on the need for a new coalition. But Ologbondiyan, spokesman of the PDP, said back in 2015, a coalition of “strange bedfellows” plunged Nigeria into this “regrettable situation”. The PDP expressed confidence in its ability to rekindle the democratic process. “PDP maintained that repeating the old mistake of congregating political strangers cannot help our nation at this time, more so, when the few concerns raised by the former president about the PDP no longer obtain under the refocused and rebranded PDP,” the statement read. “The PDP is now standing on a truly democratic ground that perfectly represents and reflects the hopes and aspirations of all Nigerians irrespective of their class, creed or tribe. “That is why our great party has now, more than ever before, become a centre of the new patriotic and broad-based engagements by well-meaning Nigerians and coalitions across the board, including past leaders, in rekindling our democratic process that places priority on returning power to the people.” The party also commended the elder statesman for asking Buhari not to seek reelection, describing the advice as timely and courageous. Ologbondiyan said Nigerians have seen that the president never possessed the capacity to effectively govern the country. “The fact is that Nigerians overrated president Buhari in 2015 but they have now seen that he never possessed the capacity and the required aptitude to effectively govern our great nation and pilot a healthy economy,” he said. “This accounts for the reason former president Obasanjo, just like most Nigerians today, are concerned about the quality of presidential candidates to be presented by various parties for the 2019 election. “The fact is that while the APC is already caught up with president Buhari, the PDP is open for a new engagement that will throw up the president, which our nation truly deserves at this crucial moment.