By Unoigbokhai Adamu
The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), came out early this week to acknowledge what more than casual political observers knew just a few weeks after the last general election. That the party is in crisis and in dire need of interventions if it is to survive till the next elections in 2023.
For a party that was cobbled together by strange bedfellows in 2014, to fight a rudderless Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it has managed to remain united largely because of the spoils of office and the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also widely revered in the northern part of the country.
But the reality is beginning to set in of a post-Buhari era in the APC and the attempts by some of the party chieftains to come out of his shadow to implicitly signify their intention to vie for the party’s ticket in the presidential election is definitely going to test the fragile unity that currently exist.
On the one hand are state chairmen who are crying foul of being neglected and are becoming frustrated over the failure of the leadership of the party to reward loyal party members with appointment. This is coming on the heels of a similar warning by APC governors that the internal crisis within the party could destroy the party and political process.
It would be recalled that the state chairmen had on September 23 issued an ultimatum to the National Working Committee to address their perceived concerns. Among their concerns are failure to secure appointments for party loyalists and fill vacant leadership positions. The party leaders indeed alleged that they were being sidelined in a party they toiled day and night to secure victories for in the last general elections, while those who worked against the party were being rewarded.
It’s not clear yet how the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led leadership will handle these grievances because he has fewer options on the table, but going by the tone of frustration and anger expressed by the state chairmen, their agitation is not expected to end soon.
Yet another one is the crisis of trust between the elected members of the executive arm of government and the legislature, which Governor Aminu Masari said could destroy the party if not addressed. “The absence of coordination between the executive and the legislature has produced crisis of trust which if care is not taken can destroy our party and the political process”, Masari said in Abuja on Monday.
There have also been a crisis in APC controlled states, which if not well managed, might affect their electoral fortunes. In Edo for instance, the state governor and the National Chairman, have been at each other’s throat in the past few months; the Ogun branch is not happy that the loyalists of the former governor, Ibikunle Amosun, are the ones clinching federal appointments, when he in fact supported the Allied Peoples Movement governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade. In Katsina state, it was reported that some forces in Abuja are fighting the state governor; while the Ondo state chapter and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu are not united few months to the governorship election. The Rivers State chapter’s crisis that cost it the governorship election, continued unabated, with Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe not seeing eye to eye.
But the bigger challenge confronting the party is that of zoning. It’s no longer a secret that there are moves within the ranks to scuttle the party’s zoning arrangement, which would have seen its next presidential candidate coming from the southern part of the country. Some politicians in the north are said to be seriously pushing for zoning to be jettisoned for what they described as merit in the next election. Expectedly, their southern counterparts have stoutly come out to kick against it, insisting that the future of the party would be seriously jeopardized if the zoning arrangement enshrined in their manifesto is not adhered to.
For sure, the unity of the APC, which is becoming increasingly fragile, will depend on how the leadership handles the current schisms between its members. The weeks and months ahead will be critical for the survival of a party that many see as lacking a coherent ideology.