“A political party whose common goal is to fight out a common enemy may last only as long as the enemy exists.”
This appears to be the unifying objective of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ever since the hitherto Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigerian (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) merged in February 2013 and subsequently were granted approval by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in July 2013.
The gang up aims to dislodge President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of Aso Rock villa by 2015. The emergency gathering of new and old friends, together with former foes seeks to forge a common purpose, which automatically qualifies my enemy’s enemy as my new good friend. On 25th November 2013, five governors in the ruling PDP decided to cross-carpet to the newly recognized APC together with legislators mostly from states under their control and since then their ranks have swelled considerably with majority in the upper house with 58 out of 109 Senators, and a slim majority in lower house with 172 out of 360 legislators.
This to some analyst might validate the point that the party boasts profiles of members whose credentials bears grievances against the ruling party at some point in their political careers, and it could be hard for them to shake off that tag of “Aggrieved People’s Congress (APC).” How the party will maintain a group of personalities with diverse ideologies and some without any ideology for a longtime is hard to see.
The party converges between 13th and 14th of June 2014 for a national convention that will elect new party officials who will take over the running of the affairs of the party from interim officials. However, some political analysts believe that the journey which most tagged as “a political marriage of convenience” begins in Abuja on Friday. This is no less an assertion derived from the fallout from the wards and states congresses earlier held across the country. How the party leaders remain united in their common purpose and ideology at and after the convention would be subject to maximum test, and any friction that arises at the convention this weekend will have enormous consequential effects on the 2015 presidential elections. It is worth noting that a similar fall out in the PDP’s convention resulted in the swelling of APC ranks, and ever since the ruling party has been committing most of their resources in healing the wounds which were inflicted at their convention.
With the APC national convention closing in, it is worth looking at the major actors and characters whose gathering under one roof may be likened to a gathering of different characters in a brothel to satisfy a common thirst. A conventional brothel serves as a neutral meeting point where all the good and mainly bad eggs of the society converge to satisfy a common desire. Down at the brothel there is no minimum standard set for who or who not to accept, as the door is widely open to all and sundry who long for a common goal.
This is where you can find a police officer that might have just murdered a non-complaint road user just for refusing to part with the now famous 20 naira note. In such a place, none cares to know or vet the characters of the others who may be an armed robber, murderer, military officer, market trader, banker, politician, or even a civil servant etc; the unique thing about this ungodly place is that nearly the entire patrons are persons of questionable characters especially moral characters. Therefore it is never surprising whenever a fall out arises from this place as the words thrown at each other are usually distasteful and unpalatable.
A key example is already brewing up after former Aviation Minister Chief Femi Fani Kayode (FFK) pulled out from the house. Already the interim national publicity secretary of the party Alhaji Lai Mohammed has hurriedly paid for pages on the major national newspapers to exchange words with FFK. While the former Aviation Minister is not a man easily won in verbal contest and has retorted by branding the gang Almajiri United; and more missiles is yet to come from FFK and APC. Just stay tuned.
Let us attempt now to mirror the antecedents and characters of the high profile personalities who are flying into Abuja this weekend to shape the path and direction which the party expects to follow, and come 2015 these names will likely fly the party’s flag in next year’s presidential elections.
General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd): 71 years old retired Major General in the army and a former military ruler from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985. His regime enacted retroactive laws to throw civilian leaders of that time into prisons in the most draconian manner. The scar of raping and truncating a legitimately elected democratic structure will be very hard to ignore irrespective of the cosmetics and publicity stunts by his handlers to cloth the retired general in civilian cloaks. Aside been a perennial candidate in the country’s presidential elections, if in a country of over 170 million people which boasts of accomplished professionals in diverse fields of human endeavors it is still a retired coup plotter and a face from the 80’s who is most qualified to lead then we all as a people must re-examine our mental state. Ambition in 2015: President
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu: 62 years old former Senator in IBB’s short-lived Third Republic. The Asiwaju of Lagos won election as the Executive Governor of Lagos State on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD) from 1999 to 2007. On 27 September 2006, a former financial crimes top dog Nuhu Ribadu while briefing lawmakers in the hollow chambers of the Senate on his commission’s anti-corruption activities had described Tinubu as a looter of international dimension. However, ever since then both men have found themselves working together, with Tinubu sponsoring Ribadu to fly his party’s flag for the 2011 presidential elections. The Asiwaju of Lagos who also doubles as the Jagaban of the Borgu Kingdom of the northern Niger state has found himself a new hobby as a kingmaker ever since he left office. He has installed his wife as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he is highly revered as the leader of the South West having installed most of his boys as governors of the region. He is allege to have played a frontline role in pressuring Gov. Kwankwaso of Kano state to appoint former CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the new Emir of Kano. A popular adage goes that kingmakers do not usually become kings themselves. Now how Tinubu will crown himself king in 2015 as widely touted to run as a Vice Presidential candidate under Buhari is yet to be seen, as his ambition is perceived to have received cold reception from other party leaders especially governors on the platform of the party. Ambition in 2015: Vice President or plan B is to go for broke and take it all for himself. Yes the GCFR of course, why not
Engr. (Dr.) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso: the 57 years old is the current Governor of Kano state. He was a Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives in the botched Third Republic, and later served as governor of Kano from 1999 to 2003 after which he lost re-election for a second term, and took appointment as Minister of Defence from 2003 to 2006 under former President Obasanjo. Gov. Kwankwaso made a comeback 8 years after vacating government house, with the political ideology known as the Kwankwasiyya Movement and was re-elected as governor of the state in 2011 under the platform of PDP. He was amongst the five governors who defected to the opposition APC after earlier staging a walk out of ruling party’s national convention. He is rumoured to nurse presidential ambitions and expects to fly the party’s flag should Buhari fail to clinch it. However, his biggest test to date on his suitability to preside over a multi-cultural and heterogeneous country such as Nigeria was put to test last week. Duty fell on him to invoke his discretionary powers which is guaranteed under the laws to appoint an Emir for emirate from the list of 3 possible candidates presented to him by the kingmakers. Kwankwaso has admitted been put under tremendous pressure in his choice for Emir, which saw his associates in APC camping in Kano for four days until a name was finally announced by his government. However, the probity of his discretion in settling for his choice is still subject to intense public scrutiny as his preferred candidate still has an air of uncertainty surrounding the last job he handled for the Federal Government. How all this might propel or backfire on Kwankwaso’s perceived presidential ambitions is yet to be ascertained. Ambition in 2015: President
Gov. Babatude Raji Fashola (SAN): the 50 years old governor of Lagos state who once served as Chief of Staff to his predecessor has done creditably well ever since he assumed office. His major challenge of late has been his perceived impunity, and out of touch with the poor. A case is a court order, which supposed to restrict the government from collecting toll on the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge. In addition, the recent hiking of tuition fees at the state owned university LASU to over 300,000 naira have led to the masses criticising their once praised governor as being elite and out of touch with the poor people. Fashola is a likely candidate in the race for his party’s Vice Presidential ticket. Ambition in 2015: Vice President
Gov. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi: 49 years old governor of Rivers State was also Speaker of the state House of Assembly from 1999 to 2007. A rugged fighter whose governorship dream was earlier punctured because of what former President Obasanjo referred to as a “K-leg” in his candidature. A huge sum of about 20 billion naira was allegedly in his account and his governorship ticket was handed-over to his cousin Barr. Celestine Omeiha. Nevertheless, the ruggedness in him waged on as he fought doggedly until he retrieved his mandate at the Supreme Court. However, the ruggedness has refused to abate even deep into his second term as he was among the arrowheads that spearheaded the walk out of the ruling party’s convention last year. He also doubles as a factional Chairman of the Nigerians Governors’ Forum (NGF). A thorn in the flesh of Mr. President who has repeatedly accused Jonathan of impunity, himself still has scratch of impunity around his actions as the highest judiciary body in the land (NJC) has advised him to reverse his appointment of Justice P.C.N Agumagu as the Chief Justice of Rivers State; an action he has refused. On assuming office, he promised to block public fund wastage and corruption; and he immediately sold off two aircrafts, which were purchase for commercial purposes by his predecessor former governor Peter Odili, but only for him to make a volte-face turnaround and purchase an even more expensive $50milion Bombardier aircraft. He is also interested in the Vice Presidency of his new party. Ambition in 2015: Vice President
Sen. Chris Ngige:61 years old former governor of Anambra State, who is presently serving as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also doubles as the Deputy Chairman, National Convention Committee for his party upcoming convention. Ngige was once locked-up in the trunk of a car for failing to honour the terms of an oath he voluntarily entered into with criminals to enable him become governor of Anambra state. He reneged on his words and his gang of friends came to evict him from government house, a plot that failed until the Supreme Court threw him out for the rightful winner Mr. Peter Obi of APGA. Since then he has contested two other times in the governorship elections of the state and has failed on both occasions, with the latest still pending in court. He is likely to be contention for the Vice President ticket of the party should the position be zoned to the South East. Ambition in 2015: Vice President
Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai: the 54 years old Katsina State born technocrat is the current interim Deputy National Secretary of opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). He was the former Director General of The Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), and later served as a Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) a position that came with huge controversy and led to the joint Senate Committees on FCT and Housing recommending to the floor of the senate that he be ban for life from holding public offices. His book “The Accidental Public Servant” attracted more controversy, as well his activities on twitter and facebook. He was once condemned for retweeting an expensive joke on Jesus Christ, and the man of diminutive status has refused to shy away from controversy with his latest tweet that “Jonathanians can go jump into the lagoon” after his bosom friend Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was announced as the new Emir of Kano. El-Rufai is thought to nurse gubernatorial ambitions in the religiously volatile state of Kaduna. How the Christian dominated southern part of the state will response to his jokes on Jesus Christ, will be seen if finally he makes it to the ballot in 2015. Although his name has refused to fade away in the presidential equation of his party, but time will tell which of the elective positions he will settle for. Ambitions in 2015: President or Governor of Kaduna State
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu: 53 years old, retired police officer was the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He is widely regarded to have done a good job during his stay at the commission. Ribadu currently serves as Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force; and he has received numerous awards locally and internationally for his anti-corruption fight in the country. He is a possible candidate for his party’s presidential ticket. His major obstacle will be his association with the same leaders in the party, which he once labelled as hugely corrupt. Now he has dumped his uniform for the babariga; it is hard telling him aside from the politicians such as Tinubu whom he now hobnob with across the globe. A case of show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. Ambitions in 2015: President
To be concluded.
Diana-Abasi Alphonsus Udoh
A public affairs analyst writes from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Email: [email protected]
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