The new Peoples Democratic Party nPDP bloc within the All Progressives Congress APC recently announced its decision to pull out of further talks with the presidency, citing among others, continued intimidation of its members by state agents.
Famed for their substantial contributions to the landslide victory of the APC in 2015, the second term ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari appears threatened, should the bloc exit the ruling party.
From Kano to Osun, the contributions of members of the nPDP to the emergence of President Buhari cannot be easily wished away.Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
While the then Gov. Rotimi Amaechi took charge of Rivers as well as the overall campaign of the then Candidate Buhari, Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso held sway in Kano and Sen. Bukola Saraki in Kwara, the list is endless.
But there is palpable fear within the ruling party now as regards the breakdown in talks between the nPDP and the presidency. A top party source in Abuja said in spite of the public display of bravado by party and administration officials, the main strategists within the party are looking for a way out of the crisis.
Currently, there are concerns that like they did in 2014 when they walked out of the national convention of the PDP, the nPDP might be planning to repeat same on June 23 when the ruling party holds its national convention.
“These people, nPDP, hold so much political and electoral value for us. They dealt a big blow to the then ruling party in 2015 and they still have a lot of supporters and resources at their disposal. This is why some of us feel that administration officials should be cautioned in the manner some of them carry on as if they contributed to Mr President’s victory. We must not push away, some of those that truly matter when it comes to elections. Whatever must be done must be done at least one clear week before the June 23 convention”, he said.
According to him, left to the party alone, the issues could easily have been resolved “but, here at the party level, we don’t distribute patronages. So, we are limited. We do not control the security agencies too. Otherwise, there are some things that should not be happening now when reconciliatory talks are ongoing”, he added.
However, in a manner that appears an attempt to downplay the threat, national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun dismissed concerns that the nPDP bloc were seeking a way to dump the party ahead of the elections. To him, the letter written to the party leadership by the nPDP is an attempt at political bargaining ahead of the reelection of the president.
“I just have a feeling that like all people who want the best terms for themselves, they (nPDP) will come out at a period which they feel is advantageous to them. Given the state of the polity, I suppose they chose this time not because they want to leave the APC. Not because they were fed up with the APC, not because they want to cause trouble for the APC, but because they want a good deal for themselves given the totality of what is going on in the party. So, we have accepted their protest in good faith and we are sitting down with them to work out something that will be mutually beneficial to both interests”, he explained.
Dear Mr President, this tokenism isn’t enough!
On Wednesday, the president declared that henceforth June 12 would be celebrated as Democracy Day, in commemoration of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Elections reportedly won by the late MKO Abiola.
As expected, the move, a deft political one at that, has generated mixed reactions with some Nigerians asking why the president could not make the declaration all these while or even as part of his “Democracy Day” speech last month.
Understandably, many view the president’s recent gesture as a poisoned chalice containing a hemlock; a Greek Gift or even tokenism. One of those is a presidential aspirant and activist-blogger, Omoyele Sowore who has described the tokenism as not enough and describing it as a campaign gimmick to fool supporters of the late democrat. But he was quick to however concede that the gesture has “partially” corrected an historical wrong.
“Compatriots, last weekend in Abeokuta, I spoke during a #TakeItBack Town Hall Meeting declaring that henceforth June 12th will become Nigeria’s ‘Democracy Day’, a few days later President Muhammadu Buhari has made it official via an ‘Executive Order’. While I understand that this is an election season gimmick to fool ardent supporters of Chief MKO Abiola and activists who seriously fought for the re-validation Of June 12 1993 elections, I accept it as a decent decision. It has partially corrected a historical wrong in Nigeria.
“However, this tokenism is not enough, therefore, upon assumption of office next year we will officially declare Chief MKO Abiola winner of the June 12 election, declare him posthumously a President of Nigeria, pay his Presidential salary for eight years to his family and ensure his family gets pension, allowances and gratuity due to all former presidents as well as a national reburial.
Finally, all victims of the June 12 struggle will be adequately compensated”.
Another presidential aspirant and protem national chairman of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party ANRP, Tope Fasua said Nigerians would not be swayed by the declaration, as its effect would soon wane.
“We will take the June 12 date and thank the man. Only that we will keep thinking caps on. How come I don’t believe Buhari is really into that June 12 gig? He knows he has goofed and will throw every bone at us all so he stays. Some who almost died for June 12 are tired of the idea now. Much water passed under the bridge. All of a sudden, Buhari woke up!
“At best, the June 12 gimmick will split the South West. That is what has happened on the social media already, but the effect will soon wane”, he declared.
However, in his reaction, Publicity Secretary of the June 12 Movement, Japheth Odesanya said the group was pleased with the president but would urge him to go a step further and declare Mr Abiola a former president. He however questioned the timing of the declaration, asking why the president did not do it in 2015 on assumption of office.
“What we are witnessing now is just a step. There are more steps to be taken. I am not too fascinated even though we did not expect it. We had expected this to happen in 2015. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari stemming from the consciousness of progressive politics has done this, we are happy but we expect that he should have done it since.
“One more thing is that MKO Abiola must be declared president. Declare him a president that never ruled so that we can address him as His Excellency”, he said.
Has Atiku lost Mama Taraba?
They have come a fairly long way in politics and the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar is regarded as the godfather of Sen. Aisha Jummai Alhassan but recent events have pointed to the possibility of shifting allegiances ahead of the 2019 elections.
Only last September the Women and Social Development minister had said she would support Mr. Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election even if President Muhammadu Buhari decided to run.
“Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics,” she said in Hausa. “And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019. Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest”, she was quoted to have said at the time.
But indications that she might have had a change of mind emerged in January when reports surfaced, quoting the minister as saying she would not defect from the APC, a party that her godfather had left only weeks earlier.
However, speaking when she visited the national secretariat of the APC on Tuesday, Minister Alhassan disclosed of her new preference for Buhari as she declared that APC “will rule Nigeria forever,” and that her party will win more states in 2019.
“Crisis is normal in a big party like APC; once we can do our national convention, then we face the opposition PDP and I assure you that APC will win more states like Taraba in 2019. I will make sure that in my zone I follow up and by God’s grace, Gombe and Taraba will be taken over in 2019, and don’t even talk about Nigeria because its already APC and it will continue to be APC forever”, she had declared. Has Atiku lost an ally popularly called Mama Taraba or is this all political gimmick?