Why APC Is Jittery Over Mass Defection of Party Leaders

The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is worried stiff by the lingering crisis between the executive and legislative arms of the Federal Government controlled by the party, reports NewTelegraph

They fear that a mass defection of some top members of the party might be looming. Many of the party leaders are worried that the APC might be going the way of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan, when the then Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, jumped ship from the PDP to the APC. That was also when five serving governors of the PDP, namely, Rotimi Amaechi, Aliyu Wamakko, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Muritala Nyako and Musa Kwankwaso of Rivers, Sokoto, Kwara, Adamawa and Kano states respectively, abandoned the then ruling party and joined forces with members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form what is now known as the APC.

Those moves left the PDP in disarray, which it never recovered from till date. With the current posture of the Senate and a resolution passed by the House of Representatives, warning the executive against hounding the legislators, many in the APC are worried that the party might soon recreate the Tambuwal scenario if breaks were not pulled on the lingering crisis.

Leaders of the party are worried that if the Senate President, Bukola Saraki decides to confront the APC and cross over to the PDP or any other upcoming party, he would not only tilt the Senate in favour of the PDP by the number of other APC Senators that might follow him, he would also do a heavy damage with some governors and party leaders who are sympathetic to his cause.

Already, it was learnt that discussions are ongoing between some disgruntled members of the APC and their PDP counterparts on either the formation of a new party Buhari Sarakicompletely or an alliance that would see a mass defection from the APC. Also, there are accusations and counter-accusations between the Ali Modu Sher- iff camp and the Ahmed Makarfi Committee in the PDP of working for a chieftain of the APC in 2019.

New Telegraph learnt that the APC hierarchy is disturbed that its members, who head the two arms of government, are yet to close ranks and work as a team more than a year after the party was elected into power. A chieftain of the APC who revealed the worries of the party leadership, said the party was running out of time and risks rejection at the next general elections, except it puts its house in order and deliver on its promises to the people.

The source, who pleaded anonymity over possible sanction by the party, however told New Telegraph that the APC national leadership was looking for a political solution to resolve the crisis even as he blamed the wrangling on interest and the executive’s interference in the affairs of the legislature.

Saraki, who is a member of the ruling party, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false declaration of assets as well as facing another trial at the Federal High Court alongside his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP over alleged forgery of the Senate rules.

The Senate President has pleaded not guilty to both charges and many had expected that the party hierarchy would step in and possibly broker an out-of-court settlement as Saraki has persistently claimed that politics was responsible for his ordeal.

But the rift has continued to fester and is assuming a more dangerous dimension. During the last Ramadan period, President Muhammadu Buhari had hosted different classes of people, including party leaders, business moguls, physically challenged persons and friends of the government, among others. But his planned breaking of fast with members of the National Assembly and their leaders was cancelled for no known reasons.

While the presidency held that the dinner was just postponed, sources at the National Assembly said that the legislators simply refused to attend, owing to what they perceived as the persecution of Saraki and Ekweremadu.

Similarly, the Senate has stalled the confirmation of the list of ambassadorial nominees submitted by the president on the pretence that some states were not represented on the list and some other irregularities that ranged from promotion of junior officers above senior one to other sundry issues.

The Senate rather invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, to appear before it this week.

There have been hot exchanges of words between the Senate President, his deputy and the Presidency in the past one month, with accusations and rebuttals that the country was sliding into dictatorship. Decrying this development, a member of the National Assembly added that the crisis, which has made the people to perceive the APC as not ready for governance, was being worsened by the delay in the implementation of the 2016 Budget. According to him, implementation of the budget is unlikely to commence until November due to bureaucratic issues.

He said: “The leadership of the APC is worried that the lack of cohesion by the party’s elected members are still leaning on their old party blocs, which have practically made it impossible to see themselves as members of one family.

“You will recall that APC is a merger of various interests ahead of the 2015 elections, but having won the presidential election as well as the majority in both houses of the National Assembly, many had expected that the various interests would have closed ranks by now and work as team to deliver the promises the party made to Nigerians during the campaigns for the last elections.

“This development is a source of worry for the party leadership, although it is putting measures in place to resolve it so that the party can focus on governance and deliver on its promises. The fear is that we are running out of time, even as the nation’s earnings have drastically dropped due to the fall in oil prices at the international market.”

On Saraki’s prosecution, the source said while the belief is that the APC is hounding him because he defied the party’s leadership to emerge as President of the Senate, it should be noted that the present administration has persistently said that its war against corruption is total.

His words: “I agree that politics is a game of interest. So, I cannot dismiss those who are saying that the Senate President is being persecuted because he defied the APC leadership during the election for presiding officers of the Senate, but one thing we must bear in mind is that the present administration has never pretended that there would be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.”

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