2023 polls: Is APC unravelling?

A few weeks to the 2023 general election there is growing fear among observers that current internal wrangling in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) could tear the party apart and affect its chances in the polls.

Formed in 2013, through a merger between four largest parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP), along with a breakaway faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the APC has passed through many phases in the last ten years that had threatened its existence and unity, but has managed to survive.

But despite its waning level of acceptance among Nigerians, because of the abysmal performance of the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last eight years, the party is hoping to produce a successor to Buhari.

In recent months, the dust over the APC’s decision to fly a same faith ticket had raged and the dust is yet to settle, with some Nigerians not yet convinced about the party’s decision.

Read also: Thanks, Tinubu for not supporting Buhari’s APC

It has also been a tough task selling the party presidential candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to many Nigerians.

Several leaders have defected from the party since he emerged as the candidate.

With the general election drawing closer, it was expected that party leaders would close ranks and speak with one voice and work collectively to return to power.

But recent intrigues in the party which have seen some party leaders publicly criticising the policies of Muhammadu Buhari leave much to be desired and cast doubt in the party’s unity ahead of the polls.

Perhaps, the first shot was fired by the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu when he said the current fuel scarcity and naira redesign was targeted at him.

Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, is believed to have the backing of most APC state governors; however, recent reports had indicated that some powerful individuals close to President Buhari may not be supporting him.

Some days ago, Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State governor, while speaking on a television programme, pointedly said that some elements in the presidency were working assiduously to ensure the failure of the APC in this month’s presidential election.

He also said the same forces were responsible for the current fuel crisis, adding that this was not the best time for the naira redesign policy.

Some leaders of the party are of the view that Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor was working with certain individuals in the presidency to throw a spanner in Tinubu’s presidential bid.

Perhaps, a sign of deeper division in the party emerged on Monday when three state governments- Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara- sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court over the hardship occasioned by the scarcity of the redesigned naira notes.

The three states are Northern Nigeria where President Buhari hails from.

Pundits say that the current disagreement, especially the manner the naira redesign has been implemented by the CBN, was a clear indication that all was not well with the party.

“I think it is clear that some people have a different agenda or are trying to sabotage the work of others.

“How would you explain a ruling party taking decision that set themselves again the masses few days to the general election? Dayo Tundun, a policy analyst, said

Tundun wondered why the naira redesign policy was not implemented when Buhari was seeking re-election in 2019, adding that the party may be leading to implosion.

“Are you saying you want to lose? Why didn’t Buhari implement this policy in 2019 when he was seeking re-election? There is division among APC leaders about the policy; it may lead to big division which we are seeing already,” he said.

Tope Musowo, political analyst, said the internal wrangling would continue now that the implosion has become imminent.

“No matter how pretentious they are about it, it has become clear to everyone that the party is not together and it remains to be seen how they would go to the polls in a divided house and still coast to victory,” he said.

Some observers have also said that Buhari’s failure may have contributed to the aloofness of many party members, who though are still carrying their tags as members, have made up their minds to vote against the party and its presidential candidate.

They also said that Buhari’s waning popularity in the North, where he used to be worshipped by natives, may have also affected the party. “The huge votes that Buhari used to command in the North may no longer be so as many musicians, opinion molders, farmers, among others are angry with Buhari. His reluctance to go all out with Tinubu on campaign is a tactic to withdraw from the angry mob as he runs the risk of finding how unpopular he has become among the same people that used to adore him,” a chieftain of the party told BusinessDay on condition of anonymity.

In what seemed a deeper disaffection in the ruling party, some members had last weekend addressed a press conference in Abuja, to support El-Rufai’s allegation that some powerful persons within the government and the seat of power may be working against Tinubu’s electoral victory.

The members under the aegis of Concerned APC stakeholders condemned the lackadaisical attitude of the party leadership, state governors and government appointees, including ministers to Tinubu’s campaign in terms of funding.

According to the stakeholders, these top party members and party officials have abandoned Tinubu in their bid to frustrate the APC presidential candidate, even as they have introduced unpopular and anti-people policies just to pitch the people against the governing party and its candidates.

The Convener of the Concerned APC Stakeholders, Dominic Alancha, said: “We want to use this opportunity to align with some of our leaders who had spoken of certain sabotage of this administration, of this President and of this party.”

Alancha further said that even when the president directly ordered some cabinet members, including his chief of staff, to accommodate young party members on a visit led by their leader, Ismaeel Ahmed, in 2021, they have done nothing, eliciting the anger of party faithful, especially the younger members of the party.