Last week, a major political development that may define the 2019 general elections took place in Abuja, the nation’s capital. The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 38 political parties towards forming a coalition to fight the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections.
A major player in the coalition beside the PDP is the breakaway faction of the APC, the Reformed (R-APC). The 39 political parties, who go by the name Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) are aiming to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari did not get a second term in office next year.
The coalition hopes to achieve that aim by fielding a single presidential candidate for the 2019 election.
The APC was quick to dismiss the coalition by insisting that only Nigerians, not political parties, would determine its fate in the elections.
We recall that in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, which undid the PDP, a similar coalition came into being and gave birth to what is now known as the APC. Then, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), had fused into one to produce the APC.
But it was not the fusion that sunk the PDP. It was the defection of several bigwigs of the then PDP to the new alliance that did the damage. Those that sunk the PDP then included the now Senate President, Bukola Saraki; then Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; five governors of Rivers, Sokoto, Kwara, Adamawa and Kano states, Rotimi Amaechi, Aliyu Wamakko, Abdulfatai Ahmed, Muritala Nyako and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, respectively. They, with other PDP bigwigs left the then ruling party en masse and joined the APC.
That was the tilting point at the unmaking of the PDP with the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and what remained of his party, left with the shorter end of the stick.
We need not stress the fact that that was the beginning of the end for the PDP’s 16-year reign as the ruling party at the centre. The feat, of course, was achieved with the Muhammadu Buhari brand, which swept through the northern part of the country like a hurricane and the influence of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who ensured that the South-West was on board what turned out to be a revolution against the PDP. That was in 2014.
Four years after, the situation is about to be re-enacted. With the exception of Tinubu and Amaechi, other members of that coalition seem not to be at ease with the APC.
Just on Monday, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue declared that APC leaders have given red card. He is also on his way out of the party.
We note with dismay that the signs are not good for the APC, no matter how hard the party tries to put up a bold face on the latest development. We recall that the PDP put up a similar bold face in 2014 when the aggrieved elements left it for the APC.
But we note that the injury about to be inflicted on the APC by these recalcitrant members is symptomatic of the lack of ideologies that have been the hallmark of Nigerian politics. Otherwise, how can we explain where in four years, political leaders have moved from conservative to progressive platforms and are now swaying back to the same conservative platform again, all in a space of four years.
We do not ignore the fact that there is discontent all over the country. For a fact, most of those who joined the Buhari bandwagon have come to discover that it is not exactly as they expected. The president’s inaugural speech statement of “I belong to nobody, I belong to everybody”, appears not to have become manifest in his party. That is judging from the long list of disenchantment and discontent that has followed his administration in the past three years.
While different people have different reasons for trying to pull away from the APC, certain things stand out. One of such is the continued killing of Nigerians by killer herdsmen and bandits in large numbers. The inability of the Federal Government to arrest the situation has provided reasons to people with other reasons to accuse Buhari of not delivering. For sure, there is also discontent within the APC. Many of those who worked for the emergence of the party at the centre have been alienated. The congress and convention of the party have not helped the situation.
But the big question remains whether the PDP and its allies would be able to turn the table against the APC in 2019. With the disapproval of Buhari’s second term by many power brokers, we expect to see a lot of movement out of the APC in the next few weeks. We believe that it is left for the APC leaders to arrest the drift before it becomes very late. Otherwise, the APC would be gone in less than seven months.
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