• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Is APC going into 2019 general election a divided house?

As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) closes its book on Saturday, November 17, 2019 for the withdrawal or replacement of candidates for presidential and National Assembly elections, the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), is still assailed by internal wrangling over the outcome of its congresses held across the country.

Not only that many of its members are nursing resentment over the decision of the party leadership to shut out those who had indicated interest to contest the APC presidential primary with President Muhammadu Buhari by adopting a direct method of primary, a host of other members are currently at daggers-drawn with the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over the alleged impunity that resulted in the loss,by many aspirants, at the various levels of primaries.

Within this period, the APC has washed its dirty linen in the public, going as far as uttering unprintable things that are damaging to its very image. A lot of things that were not in the public domain were exhumed in the feat of anger.

The verbal salvos fired by Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the party, Ibikunle Amosun, governor of Ogun State and Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo State, were mind-boggling. Up till this moment, such utterances are still going on.

READ ALSO: APC moves to placate Okorocha, Amosun

The vituperation by Uche Nwosu, who had been anointed by Okorocha as his preferred successor but was denied the ticket eventually, has also been revealing. Nwosu has been firing from all cylinders. Addressing party members in Owerri a few days ago, the Chief of Staff insisted that he was still loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and that despite the provocation, he would not dump the APC.

But he was vehement that his mandate was stolen and that he would reclaim it. He demanded Oshiomhole’s sack with immediate effect, saying that the coming of the former Edo State governor as the party’s chairman may have been the worst thing to happen to the broom association.

Hope Uzodinma, who emerged the party’s gubernatorial candidate has also been receiving direct attacks. Okorocha sees the man as having a lot of incriminating things that could send him to jail, and that he was seeking the governorship to evade trial by enjoying immunity.

Uzodinma, who is currently a serving senator, has since accused Okorocha of being the sponsor of the rumour of his recent purported arrest by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property for alleged non-declaration of assets.

The internal crisis in the party has run deep and wide, raising concerns over the level of its readiness to retain power in 2019 .

In seven days, President Buhari had closed door meetings seven times with some aggrieved governors. The meetings were aimed at placating the governors who felt they were unfairly and unjustly treated by the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).

In the last two weeks, Oshiomhole has been a guest of the Directorate of State Service (DSS) over the allegation by some governors bordering on bribe-taking during the rancorous primaries. He was detained and grilled for hours.

Speaking on Arise Television the other day, the National Chairman of the APC claimed that the party was experiencing such quantum of internal crisis because it was bound to be so in a large political organisation.

“We have finished our primaries and we have submitted names to INEC and there are internal procedures for reconciliation and we are working on them,” he said.

According to him, “We are a large governing party and it will only be strange if we are having graveyard peace. People are allowed to grumble and grumbling is allowed. We should move on and find solutions.”

Recall that penultimate Friday, after submitting the names of governorship candidates of the party to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Oshiomhole hadberated Amosun and Okorocha for the wide allegations and accusations against him and the wrong signals their utterances had sent into public space.

Oshiomhole had also said that Amosun was acting like an “Emperor” in his state, while also accusing Okorocha of trying to build a “political dynasty”.

The former governor of Edo State also said that the National Working Committee (NWC) decided to adopt the result of the Ahmed Gulak Committee, which declared Uzodinma as the winner of the governorship primaries conducted on October 1.

“Amosun is an Emperor. He is asking for an unlawful thing. In the case of Imo State, NWC has met and we have upheld the result of the Gulak committee and we have prepared the name of Uzodinma to be submitted to the INEC.

“If Governor Rochas chose to relocate to the Villa and use the ground of Villa to try to intimidate me to create a dynasty I will even on one leg uphold truth in the best interest of APC members and indeed of APC people in Imo State.”

At the heat of the impasse, Amosun was said to have threatened to dump the party.

While the APC is dogged by self-inflicted injuries and clogged by internal wrangling, its main challenger in the election, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) appears cohesive and focused.

A political analyst, Tomiwa Akindele, said he least expected what is currently playing out in the ruling party.

“I was one of those who thought that the PDP had died and would never get its life back. I thought that the APC was going to have well organized congresses; but theirs can now pass off as one of the worst congresses in the history of this country. And things are increasingly getting bad in the party. For one, I thought that PDP’s implosion would start from the Port Harcourtconvention. But against all permutations, the party applied high-level wisdom in the conduct of its presidential primary.

“Don’t forget that before the convention, the news everywhere was that Aminu Tambuwal, current governor of Sokoto State, was favoured to emerge. A consensus option was also discussed but one or two of the aspirants advised that they all should be allowed to slug it out. That decision paid off. If any of the 12 aspirants had been picked as a consensus candidate, others would have said the process was manipulated and that would have destroyed the party, because some of the aspirants that may have not emerged through the consensus arrangement would have said if it were allowed to go into election they would win. At the end of the day, the emergence of one out of the lot seems to have rejuvenated the PDP and it appears to be going into the 2019 election very strongly,” Akindele observed.

Now, as the internal crisis in the APC deepens and continues to attract attention, political observers have wondered if the party did not know the negative implications of going into a general election as a house divided against itself.