Desperate moments as politicians weigh options

Ahead of party primaries, which according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s released timetable start from April 4 to June 3, politicians are weighing their options in their current parties.

BusinessDay Sunday gathered that following the outcome of the just concluded National Congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a lot of feathers were ruffled, which may lead to those who felt had-done-by to seek exit routes.

Speaking with our correspondent weekend, a member of the APC said the consensus option adopted by the party, particularly in the chairmanship category, generated a lot a bad blood.

“It is true that the Convention is holding, the enmity created from the consensus arrangement will be difficult to heal. How can anybody justify a situation where the President just decided those he wanted to emerge as chairman and vice chairman, without listening to the advice of those who have been in the party for a very long time?

This is just convention, we have not even gotten to primaries. I can tell you for free; many people are not happy,” the member who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The convention, which is a precursor to the conduct of primaries for candidates of the party, has a direct bearing on the fortunes of the party in the 2023 general election.

Those who lost out in the consensus arrangement are said to be aggrieved that they were not carried along in the arrangement and said to be reconsidering their future in the APC ahead 2023.

After a meeting by President Muhammadu Buhari with key stakeholders in the party, including governors and leaders of the National Assembly the APC agreed to adopt Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as consensus national chairmanship candidate.

Adamu, who was until recently the chairman of the APC National Reconciliation Committee will be the third substantive National Chairman of the party, as he takes over from Adams Oshiomhole.

Since Oshiomhole was sacked in June 2020, the party had been run by a 12-member caretaker committee led by the Yobe state Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

“It seems the choice of Senator Abdullahi Adamu has thrown the party in deeper trouble,” an observer said Saturday.

Signs that the idea of a consensus may breed trouble surfaced some weeks ago when some groups warned the party against breaching existing accord by not allowing party members to participate in delegates primaries.

They say that all the aspirants need to agree on the consensus whereby all the aspirants would sign a written document to show they agree with the consensus.

Meanwhile, observers say that Adamu and Nnamani’s nomination could be a pointer that President Buhari is less concerned about pampering those who ushered in his emergence in 2015.

They noted that for President Buhari to nominate them, was an indication that he is not only for the CPC or the ACN blocs of the party but always trying to satisfy certain unseen interest.

“The truth is that their nomination was a product of power-sharing and stylish imposition by the Aso rock cabal. You will see that the President suddenly becomes the chief marketing manager of Adamu immediately after he got back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom.

“Another thing Nigerians care less to understand is that Buhari would never do anything against the decision of some people with close links to him, either at party level or governance level. Adamu and Nnamani are close allies of these people,” Kunle Okunola, political analyst, said.

Speaking further, Okunola said the decision to impose the duo on the party may be a calculated move ahead of the party’s presidential primary next.

“Buhari would not want to go against the choice of these unseen forces because he knows that the two of them would play a key role in the emergence of both the presidential candidate of the APC and as well the winner of the presidential election in 2023,” he added.

Similarly, the PDP on the other hand appears to be engulfed in similar trouble. Part of it is the inability of the party to zone its presidential ticket despite clamour in some quarters. Rather, the party is encouraging anyone interested to contest.

Last year, some political leaders of the South East warned that it would be forced to vote against any political party that does not pick its presidential candidate from the region.

In the last few months, political leaders in the South East have insisted and warned that the region must be given a chance to rule in 2023 judging that it had not produced a president since the beginning of current dispensation in1999.

Thus, observers say that last week’s declaration by Atiku Abubakar for the presidency may further complicate issues ahead of the party’s presidential primaries in May.

Despite his influence, Atiku has faced criticisms in some quarters over his decision to contest the presidency after several attempts, they urged him to drop his ambition and support a younger candidate.

While urging his party to consider him during the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting, Atiku had said: “I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years. By the next eight years, I don’t know how many will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments.

Ordinary people naturally gravitate towards government. So this is a very, very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival. I want you to think about it.

“We are now at a crucial moment in this country. Many of you here, it is either we retire together or we move on together”, he told the BoT members.”

The declaration came when the PDP has not even made any pronouncement on whether to zone the slot of not. After his public announcement, Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, who also was the running mate of Atiku in 2019, declared his intention to run for the presidency in Awka, Anambra State.

Read also: Atiku declares for 2023 presidential race [FULL DECLARATION SPEECH]

In the last few months, leaders of the party across Nigeria have spoken in different tunes on the issue of zoning.

Last week, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal says the party should give its presidential ticket to a candidate that can win the election, not minding what part of the country the candidate comes from.

“I’m appealing to my party that we should be talking about how to win the election, not just zoning of where the President is coming from,” Tambuwal said.

According to him, “Zoning was a deliberate action by the political class of this country midwifed by the government at the centre to address a particular concern, the June 12.

“How come when we saw the advent of COVID-19, we were not applying HIV drugs to COVID-19? The power shift in 1999 was to the South-West to assuage a particular situation.

“Go back to the history of democracy in Nigeria. In 1979, NPN had Shagari, NPP had Azikiwe, UPN had Chief Awolowo, GNPP had Waziri Ibrahim and PRP had Aminu Kano.

“There was no zoning. When you go to 1992/1993, SDP had Abiola, NRC had Bashir Tofa, and there was no zoning.

“This is to show you that when you go back to our history, zoning has not been the main issue. The main issue is that political parties throw up candidates and Nigerians decide on who to elect president.”

The governor noted that the president can come from wherever provided he has the capacity and competence to fix Nigeria of the moment, adding that the Nigeria of 1998 is different from the Nigeria of 2023.

Observers says that Atiku see the coming general election as his last shot and would fight with his last blood, stressing that despite the challenge by younger politicians like Tambuwal, Saraki and Bala Muhammad he may likely emerge victorious at the primaries.

“But I don’t think the PDP is ready to zone the ticket to any region. Would that led to division? I don’t see, I think there may be initial annoyance by the South East if they don’t get the ticket, but in the long run it would be resolved.

“For me, I think the PDP should work in accord and support any candidate now for them to defeat APC for now,” Lanre Ogunyemi, public affairs analyst said.

Christian Okeke, a Political Science lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, said: “Understanding that politics in our country is mainly and unfortunately driven by self-interest rather than national interest will clearly give a clue into what will happen among the national political elites in the coming days. It is this self-preservation that will push them into alignment and re-alignment as they rush into destinations where their bread is buttered the most.
It is sad that some of the negatively defining features of Nigerian politics right from independence have not given way for a more positive political participation in the country.

It is quite unfortunate that we still witness lack of internal party politics and dominance of money in politics.
“These issues are going to shape outcomes of politicking within the dominant political parties as we approach the next general election.”

According to Okeke: “As expected, until the candidates for each of the major parties finally emerge, the politicians will keep moving from one party to another and making the much they can from the process. If you check well, the majority of members in APC were formerly in PDP, and some of the current members of the latter were in the former.

“This kind of thing kills ideology, beauty and consistency in parties. Today, it is difficult to pin down what constitutes ideology of these parties. Actually, Nigeria is not showing leadership to other African countries in many fronts, including how to organise political parties to win elections.”

He also faulted political parties of not having any worthy legacy for the younger generation.

“The political class is not yet ready to bequeath decorum to upcoming politicians.
Instead, they have sown the seed of chaos, discord, instability and gluttony, and those negatives have now become part of our political culture. It is very sad.”

Patrick Adewunmi, a political analyst, said that the likes of Tinubu, Atiku have plan B and C, being political strategists, adding that he does not see any of the two leading parties zoning their presidential slots.

“The permutations thus far show clearly that mass defection is possible. I think neither of the two leading parties would come out and say they want to zone for now knowing the implication of such a decision. Atiku would get the PDP ticket I am sure of that and I don’t see the party zoning,” he said.