Another election year, 2019, is less than three years away, and power brokers, popularly known as “godfathers”, have begun fresh and intensive moves to control political party machineries.
The current crises in the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have been attributed to this intense political battle to control the party structures across various states of the federation. Daily Trust takes a look at the scenario.
National Assembly leadership tussle:
The election of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, against the party’s preferred candidates, Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, set the stage for the battle among the major power blocs in the APC.
The crisis over the election of principal officers in the National Assembly that affected the smooth take-off of the party was seen as a political contest among loyalists of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the former PDP governors who joined the APC. The notion that Saraki and Dogara are loyalists of Atiku, believed to have commenced surreptitious campaigns for the 2019 presidential election, has continued to heighten tension in the party.
Analysts say the strong belief that Atiku, Saraki and the PDP may be preparing to work together in 2019, considering the support which the Senate President has continued to enjoy from the PDP senators has pitched them against Tinubu’s loyalists.
Ceaseless fights over APC spokesperson:
The delay in the decision to choose a successor to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who resigned to become the Minister of Information and Culture, is one issue that has exposed the presence of mutual suspicion among APC power brokers. The matter is the cause of a disagreement between the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank.
While Frank believes that he should be the Acting National Publicity Secretary, Chief Odigie-Oyegun says the successor should emerge through a fresh electioneering exercise. Hence, the party decided that only the national chairman and the national secretary should speak officially on its behalf. The APC has continued to ignore the provision of its constitution which empowers the deputy to act in the absence of the first-in-command. The controversy is, however, seen as a consequence of the ongoing battle among various power blocs in the party. Frank is a key loyalist of Atiku.
Governors, ex-governors’ lust for power:
Former and incumbent governors in the APC and PDP-controlled states are ‘godfathers’ as they determine who gets what in their domain. The governors are so powerful that they nominate their successors. This power usually prepares the ground for a political contest between the former and the incumbent governor as they battle for control of the party in their quest for power and relevance.
An instance is the case in Kano State where the state APC chairman, Umar Haruna Doguwa and the Organising Secretary, Sanusi Surajo Kwankwaso, key loyalists of former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, were sacked and replaced by Abdullahi Abbas as acting chairman and Ahmed Muhammad, the former assistant state organising secretary, as the acting organising secretary, supporters of the incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
A four-member fact-finding committee set up by the APC national leadership said on Wednesday that the decision of the Kano State executive committee to remove them followed due process. But pundits see the development as a way to oust loyalists of Kwankwaso from party leadership.
Similar fights between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani in Kaduna State, Governor Yahaya Bello and Rep James Faleke in Kogi State, former governor Danjuma Goje and Senator Usman Bayero Nafada in Gombe State, former governor Timipre Sylva and Comrade Timi Frank in Bayelsa State, are all examples of stand-offs among power brokers.
Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed:
Dr. Mohammed, a former acting BoT chairman of the PDP at the party’s 66th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Wadata Plaza, the party’s national secretariat, Abuja in September 2014, moved a motion for the adoption of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as the party’s sole candidate for the 2015 presidential election. This followed Jonathan’s bid and readiness to contest for a second term on the party’s platform.
Dr. Mohammed was seconded by a former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo. The then PDP national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, put the motion to vote and members of the NEC adopted the motion. A Presidential Declaration Committee with Haliru Bello as chairman was immediately raised and inaugurated.
Analysts say Jonathan shouldn’t have contested, considering the fact that the presidential ticked was supposed to go to the North in line with the party’s constitution. The endorsement was a big mistake made by the party.
Jonathan accepted the endorsement with excitement without considering the wrath the party would face for jettisoning the zoning formula. He said he was really humbled, overwhelmed and promised not to disappoint the PDP governors, the leaders, stakeholders and members of the party.
Sequel to this, some presidential aspirants on the party’s platform were shut out. However, following intense pressure, the party’s national leadership made a u-turn and printed more forms to accommodate other aspirants.
This prompted two other PDP presidential aspirants, Dr. Abdul Jahil Tafawa-Balewa and Akasoba Zainab Abiola to obtain forms for the contest.ý The two opponents of the former president were persuaded to step down.
Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu:
After the party’s defeat at the polls, the party’s former national chairman,ý Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu faced pressure from other party leaders, elders and stakeholders. He was accused of treachery and not working for the party’s presidential candidate to win.
Mu’azu was forced to throw in the towel for leading the party to a humiliating defeat after 16 consecutive years in power. At the heat of the debacle, Mu’azu wrote a letter to his deputy, Prince Uche Secondus, saying due to the abysmal performance of the party in the elections, it became necessary for him to quit. Mu’azu vacated office on May 20, 2015.
Prince Uche Secondus:
Prince Secondus swiftly stepped in, in acting capacity, following Mu’azu’s resignation in line with the PDP constitution. Mu’azu’s exit, however, left the PDP without a principal officer from the North-east zone in its top hierarchy, a development that left chieftains of the party restless.
Secondus’ reign as acting national chairman was, therefore, bedeviled by centrifugal developments which culminated in a splinter group led by Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, a former Political Adviser to ex-president Jonathan, storming the PDP headquarters to oust Secondus and claim leadership.
The court ordered the acting chairman to vacate office within 14 days, paving way for the emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as PDP chief.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff:
Sheriff was not among the nominees sent by the North-east caucus to be considered by the national caucus of the party as PDP national chairman. Therefore, his emergence, ab initio, was described by some party leaders as “flagrant abuse of the PDP constitution.
Sheriff, who emerged in February 2016 as the party’s chairman to complete Mu’azu’s tenure, was given only three months within which to organise a national convention for the election of new leaders. However, the convention he organised on May 21 could not hold.
Justice I.N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos on May 20, a day to the Port Harcourt convention, restrained the PDP from conducting elections into the offices of the national chairman, national secretary and national auditor of the party. The same court also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from monitoring the conduct of any election into the affected offices.
Senator Ahmed Makarfi:
On Tuesday, May 24, Justice Buba declared the Makarfi-led caretaker committee illegal and ordered the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to enforce the order. This followed Sheriff’s move to stop Makarfi from operating in that capacity. Sheriff insisted he remained the authentic party boss.
On the same day, a Federal High Court, in Port Harcourt, following a suit by the Rivers State chapter of the PDP, delivered a conflicting judgment that gave the Makarfi-led caretaker committee legal backing.