With 21 days to the kick-off of campaigns ahead of the 2023 presidential election, all appears not well with Nigeria’s two dominant political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
There are growing concerns among observers that if the internal wrangling is not resolved on time, it is capable of impacting negatively on the parties’ chances in the 2023 elections.
The crises in the three parties, though, in different shapes and forms, had in recent weeks led to the defection of key leaders.
In the PDP, since May 30, when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged as the presidential candidate of the party, he is yet to set up his campaign organisation and structure across the country.
In the primary, Atiku defeated several aspirants, including his closest rival, Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State.
But since his emergence, different blocs in the party, especially southern leaders, have repeatedly protested and insisted that it was the turn of the region to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
While efforts are being made to heal the wounds that resulted from the primaries, the crisis appears to be escalating over what could be described as caustic comments by some leaders.
A similar situation exists in the ruling party, where the decision of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to go for same-faith ticket has not gone down well with key Christian leaders of the party across the country.
In recent weeks, some key APC leaders in Northern Nigeria have withdrawn their support for Tinubu’s presidential bid over the issue. Some have also dumped the party to show the extent of their grievance.
Among those who defected recently is Tonye Princewill, former governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State, who said he left the APC because it would be very difficult to sell the same-faith ticket to the electorate.
Yakubu Dogara, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has kicked against the Muslim-Muslim-presidential ticket of the APC.
Dogara said recently that it was hogwash to assert that no Christian is competent to be Tinubu’s running mate.
The former speaker said the ticket would create disunity in the party and the country at large. He described Tinubu’s decision as a fatal error of judgment.
“I do not want to speak to the argument that there is no Christian competent enough to be vice-president because as we all know, that is hogwash,” he said.
It was also gathered that some of those who contested the presidential ticket with Tinubu are still nursing a deep feeling of loss, resulting in their decision not to work for the party’s victory.
An indication of a frosty relationship emerged recently when a number of the former aspirants shunned a meeting called by Tinubu to meet with them for possible rapprochement.
“Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has travelled. Senate President Ahmad Lawan did not formally respond to the invitation, likewise former transportation minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi,” a source was quoted as saying.
ADC has also been engulfed in crisis, leading to the suspension last week of its presidential candidate, Dumebi Kachikwu.
The suspension was contained in a statement released on Saturday by Bamidele Ajadi, deputy national chairman of the party.
Ajadi accused Kachikwu of making defamatory statements that contravened the values of the ADC, accusing him of anti-party activities.
Political analysts say the internal crises in the three parties were a manifestation of the implication of poor party conflict management.
They said the challenge with the nation’s political parties and system was the fallout of the prevalence of greed, corruption and impunity, which are currently playing out across the parties in the form of one crisis or the other.
“If there is no sincerity of purpose and intentions, it will only take a while before there is implosion. Truth be told, how did the presidential candidates of APC, PDP, and even ADC emerge? You cannot fetch insect-infested firewood and be surprised when lizards become your visitors,” Ayo Kusamotu, political analyst and legal practitioner, said.
Tade Ademola, a public affairs commentator and politician, said the current situation was not new, adding that the parties would resolve the issues before campaign starts.
“Political parties will soon put their houses in order; it is one of the unavoidable infractions expected in political parties. In as much the parties are keen at winning elections; they will soon put their houses in order and work for the interest of their parties,” Ademola said.
Kunle Okunade, a political analyst, said the attitude of the political class in making power allocation winner-takes-all and circumventing democratic ethos are contributions to the conflict going on in the parties.
“But this is dangerous to the victory of the political parties at the general election as party gladiators would definitely work to cancel each other’s political interest,” Okunade said. “The infighting may augur well for the system as voters would be exposed to the intrigues and thereby making great choices at the poll.”