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APC’s new mega headache

It is a great misnomer to call the joining of the All Progressives Congress, APC, by the G.7 and other rebel PDP members two days ago a “merger”. It was more of a defection. The difference between these two political expressions is clear.

A defection means the transfer of membership, belonging or loyalty from one platform to another. A defector drops his old individuality and assumes the identity of his new group.

A merger, on the other hand, can be illustrated with the political action that led to the birth of the APC. Three separate registered political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, shed all their old identities and assumed a completely new one.

Some of the faces at the merger includes Ogbonaya Onu, nPDP chairman, Kawu Baraje, Senator Bukola Saraki, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, chair of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande,
Some of the faces at the merger includes Ogbonaya Onu, nPDP chairman, Kawu Baraje, Senator Bukola Saraki, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, chair of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande,

The three parties formally held their respective valedictory national congresses and announced the end of their old parties in favour of the new one. The leadership of the main parties sat down, negotiated, shared power and offices and evolved a new flag, symbols, constitution.

But the PDP defectors simply emptied into the APC, unconditionally, it would seem. By so doing, the size of the APC has ballooned (at least, on paper) from 11 to 16 governors compared to PDP’s 18 (assuming that Governors Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu are now rated “non-aligned”); 48 senators as compared to 58 of PDP and (as some newspapers put it) and 199 members of the House of Reps compared to 147 of PDP).

Watchers of these unfolding monumental political events must be dumbfounded by the PDP’s rather cool attitude to the threat of these defections. Every expectation by the rebels that their grievances, whether real or contrived, would be entertained in any way was calmly rebuffed. It was the rebels that were hungry for a deal, but the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP simply refused to play ball.

When the President returned from his recent London visit, he parried an opportunity to meet with them. He pretended that his six-hour plane ride from London was exhausting, when we know that a politician would plunge head-long into a crucial meeting if he considered it of import to his political survival. Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, quietly ducked into a dark corner after riotously leading the nPDP out of the August national convention of the party.

Immediately the news of the defections hit the airwaves, the reactions were predictably mixed. PDP members and their sympathisers were relieved to see them go. Perhaps, the party will now sit down and prepare for 2015 without looking over their shoulders whether Alhaji Abubakar Baraje or Governor Rotimi Amaechi and their agents would be snooping around for information with which to sabotage the party or accuse the Jonathan administration of real or imagined misdeeds. Now swallowed in a new party, the newcomers will be forced to shut up and allow the APC’s leaders and spokesmen to tackle the PDP and its Federal Government.

On the other hand, APC members and sympathisers rejoiced. It was also understandable. A venture that started with rumours of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, the leader of the ACN going into a merger with General Muhammadu Buhari, founder of the CPC has now spawned a true mega party, with the potentials to rival the ruling PDP in every department of the game come 2015. It is a success story unlike any other in the annals of merger efforts aimed at curbing the nation’s drift towards one-party state.

But then, I daresay that the real work has begun for the APC. First of all, it has to come up with deft strategies to accommodate the newcomers and give them a place of belonging. How they go about this will be a major test of their strength as a political party. For instance, how will the old APC stalwarts in states like Kano, Nasarawa and Sokoto fare, with the governors of those states coming in with their structures from PDP? How will Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau weigh alongside Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano, or who will the APC as a party listen more to in a battle for supremacy between former governor Attahiru Bafarawa and the newcomer Governor Magatakarda Wamakko in Sokoto State? Amaechi has no such problem in RiversState because APC was virtually nonexistent before he decamped. It is now left to be seen how he can convert Rivers from a solid PDP base for President Jonathan to that of APC, even if he becomes the unfancied vice presidential candidate of a Northern flagbearer as being speculated.

The APC also has to brace up for the fierce battle for the presidential and other tickets come next year. It remains to be seen how Kwankwaso’s presidential ambition will fly in his new party, since he was committed to it enough to decamp from the PDP. We wait to see whether Tinubu will still be able to manipulate the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Waziri Tambuwal, as his favoured presidential candidate, especially now that the North has upstaged the South West.

Yes, and that is another thorny issue that the APC is condemned to tackle in the days ahead. Things have changed in the APC. The South Western media have been branding Tinubu as the “National Leader” of the APC. When Tinubu controlled six states (Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Edo) and the North had only four (Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa and Zamfara), he was able to win the concession of the interim National Chairman and other prime spots for his group. Now, with the coming of Kano, Kwara and Sokoto States into the APC, the comparative advantage has gone into Northern hands since they now have seven states.

Northerners in APC are likely to rally around one leader since they desperately want to recapture power in 2015. Tinubu will have to learn from now on how to play the second fiddle.

If Buhari succeeds in clinching the presidential ticket of the now seriously enlarged APC, his chances of winning the election in 2015 will significantly improve from his woeful running in the past, though it be an uphill task to topple President Jonathan at the polls.

Source - Vanguard

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