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(Opinion) Kogi: APC’s disparate warlords By Bola Bolawole

Chief John Odigie-Oyegun
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun
Prince Abubakar Audu
Prince Abubakar Audu
Too many cooks, they say, spoil the broth. In the case of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), too many warlords are weakening rather than strengthening the party. When the various political tendencies that midwife the APC came together to shred their disparate identities for a common goal, they did what was noble. In fact, it was a right step in the right direction that many had thought was beyond them. Judging by the country’s political history, it was the first time cooperating politicians would go beyond mere alliances to jettison their old identities and merge into one political entity. It was novel; it was revolutionary, so to say; and it was emphatic in the statement it sent to the polity. The shock waves it created unsettled in no small measure the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As for the citizenry, it kindled the hope of a serious effort to rescue the country from what was generally perceived as PDP misrule. Little wonder, then, that APC trounced PDP in the election that followed. But no sooner did the new Sheriffs take over the mantle of leadership than they began to show alarming signs of cracks within the ranks.
As we speak, the party is in tatters in the National Assembly. Efforts to sort out the mess created by the cut-throat struggle for power amongst the various power blocs within the APC have not fully succeeded. Rumblings and tumbling; rancorous and vicious power struggle continue among pro-this and pro-that groups such that the ruling party is embarrassingly weakened in an institution as important to its touted change agenda as the National Assembly. This is the second estate of the realm whose functions include the making of laws; passing of motions; amendment of the Constitution; oversight functions over the Executive; screening of Ministers\other important nominees of the President; and the ratification of treaties, declaration of emergencies, and of wars. Yet, APC was eminently placed to put the National Assembly firmly under wraps. As it stands today; it is hamstrung in both chambers and cannot dictate terms without the concurrence of the opposition. It was not so when PDP held sway. The jostling for advantage between the various power blocs that formed APC is the reason why its leaders deliberately weakened\sold it out to the opposition.
APC is not meshing. It is true that the various building blocks returned their individual registration certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission in exchange for the new APC label; in truth, however, they still cling tenaciously to their old labels and identities. In their hearts as well as in their permutations, they are still ACN, CPC, New PDP, and ANPP. This is in line with the politics of selfish interests that the political elite play. Where there is largesse to be shared, it is then that they introduce ethnicity, religion, and such other cleavages if these would advance their selfish interests. Where primordial interests hurt, they are silent on them. And once they have successfully climbed on the ladders of divisive tendencies to the top, they quickly conveniently abandon the ladder until another day when relevance is found for it again. The crises tearing APC apart is not about the change they promised during the electioneering period; it is not about good governance; neither is it about delivering the dividend of democracy to the people. It is all about the selfish interests of the individuals and groups fighting for positions of power and influence where they can corner resources for their selfish interests. Some of the positioning and re-positioning they are killing themselves over is about far-away 2019. Calculations for 2019 started even before Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in on the May 29th!
This is why it is important who controls the Senate and House of Representatives and who becomes a Minister. It is also important who occupies strategic positions and agencies of government considered as cash cows. It is important who becomes governor. In fact, starting with the shenanigans of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, state governors have become so critically important that it is doubtful if anyone can become president without their support. In the parties, the governors control the party machinery and no presidential candidate can win the party primaries without the support of majority of the governors. Apart from the fact that governors are usually the major financiers of their party’s election campaigns, illegally siphoning state resources, they are also expected to “deliver” their states during such elections. The failure of PDP in the last presidential election had been put down in the main to the defection of five of its governors to the opposition. Who becomes governor is therefore of utmost importance in the political calculation of political warlords.
This is the reason why Kogi state has become a battle field in the APC. We may as well expect more of such implosions within the ruling party in the months and years ahead since there are more state elections in the pipeline before 2019 proper. The APC national secretariat should have stayed aloof from the fray; that way, it would have been better able to proffer acceptable solutions to the logjam that followed the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, its candidate in the inconclusive election which had been slated by INEC to conclude next Saturday. The party ought to be seen as a truthful and believable mediator. It also should provide the enabling environment sorely needed by the party for its various competing power blocs to mesh. The party ought to be a veritable melting pot consciously and deliberately grinding the disparate groups and binding them together.
There could be a similarity between what is playing out in Kogi state and what happened in Lagos state during those military-imposed transition-to-civil-rule programmes: Two popular candidates of the wave-making SDP, Agbalajobi and Sarumi, and their supporters fought gruelling political battles. In the end, they paved the way for NRC’s dark horse, Sir Michael Otedola, to steal the show. Will history repeat itself in Kogi?

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