A growing number of politicians are making moves for a realignment of political power in Nigeria towards a new political party, THISDAY has learnt. This is amid crisis in the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and conflicting interests in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was gathered that discussions among politicians from the two leading parties towards the floating of a new party started in earnest some months ago, and it was fast gathering momentum. Insiders said the new political move had the support of some serving governors from both the APC and PDP, key principal officers of the National Assembly, and some aggrieved political leaders across the six geo-political zones. A former senate president, Ken Nnamani, is being prevailed upon to act as the arrow-head of the emerging party, it is gathered.
Nnamani announced his resignation from PDP on February 6, saying, the party had abandoned “the path of its noble vision and values”. He was elected Senate President in 2003. In his statement titled, “PDP, the Burden and My Conscience,” Nnamani said he was fed up with the state of things in the party. But said he was quitting “without any iota of bitterness.”
He stated, “I do not believe I should continue to be a member of the PDP as it is defined today. This is certainly not the party I joined years ago to help change my country. I do not also believe that the PDP, as it is managed today, will provide an opportunity for me to continue to play the politics of principles and values, which I set for myself as a young man on leaving graduate school and working for a large multinational in the United States in the 70s and 80s.”
Nnamani did not announce an intention to join any political party, but he promised to remain politically active.
A former Senate Chief Whip, who chose not to be named, confirmed the emerging political moves. He said, “Go and talk to many political elites across the country today, you will hear and confirm huge frustration among them. Nobody seems to be happy with what is happening in the APC and the PDP. And some of us have come to a conclusion that there is urgent need to have a new and credible platform to save this country.
“You will be shocked to know that the agitation for a new political platform is more pronounced in the North, in spite of the fact that we currently have a sitting president from the North. It shows how frustrated people are in the country today.”
Another enthusiast of the emerging political grouping, who is a prominent leader of APC, also told THISDAY in confidence, “The hope that things will change for the better, with President Muhammadu Buhari in power, is being dashed by the day. As I speak with you today, the soul of the APC is gone. Go to the national secretariat of the party, they will tell you.”
It was learnt that some desperate efforts recently by concerned leaders of APC to iron out things among themselves were frustrated by the political hawks around Buhari, who are already strategising for 2019.
“What you are likely to have in the coming months is a congregation of old PDP members in the APC pulling out to form a formidable political party with some progressive-minded members of the present PDP,” the APC leader said last night in Abuja.
The special caucus meeting held last week by APC was said to be part of the measures to halt the tide of disenchantment, which promises to seriously threaten the ruling party. Very little was achieved by the meeting following the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was unavoidably absent. But another meeting is being contemplated for this week, where aggrieved APC members would be expected to table their grievances before the party and the government.
Many APC members are said to be calling for the removal of the national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, citing poor leadership. It is suspected that the replacement for Odigie-Oyegun would come from the North as part of a grand plan to put the president in a position of comfort as far as party administration is concerned. But that is expected to meet with resistance, as party leaders from other parts of the country are likely to oppose the idea. Generally, many leaders of the party are said to be unhappy with the current status of the party and the government, having been shut out of the decision-making process, despite their commitment to the success of the party.
One of the problems believed to be delaying the manifestation of the idea of a new party, according to the promoters, is the question of the personality around which the party will be built. They want a personality that would sell, like Buhari did, for the APC.
Indications of how the politicians are readjusting towards the eventual formation of a new party are clearer in PDP. The party has lurched from one crisis to the next since it lost the general election to APC last year. The high turnover of PDP national chairmen since the election is symptomatic of the crisis within.
Adamu Muazu resigned under pressure as PDP national chairman on May 20 last year, accused of leading the former ruling party to a devastating defeat at the polls. He was replaced by Haliru Bello, who was appointed acting national chairman on May 25 last year and was sacked on February 10 this year. Bello was succeeded by the PDP deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus, who worked in acting capacity until February 16, when he handed over to the newly-appointed national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff. Sheriff’s appointment has been enmeshed in controversy.
Though, PDP says it has resolved its leadership crisis following an agreement to let Sheriff run the affairs of the party for three months, until the national convention, when a new national leadership of the party would be elected. There are fears that PDP may come out of the national convention more divided than it went in. This is due to the very huge likelihood of a clash between the PDP governors, who were the main force behind Sheriff’s emergence as national chairman, and other groups and interests in the party that had opposed his choice.
In recent times, some prominent PDP members have resigned from the party without joining other parties, in what is seen as a strategic move to help nurture the expected new political platform. Besides Nnamani, Samuel Ogbemudia and Dalhatu Sarki Tafida have recently left PDP, but did not defect to other parties.
In APC, the National Assembly has been the main theatre of war. Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara won their positions last June against the wish of the party, in connivance with PDP legislators. Sources say Saraki’s current trial by the Code of Conduct Bureau may prepare the ground for the consolidation of the moves towards a new party. Both Saraki and Dogara belong to a bloc within the party, the New PDP, which believed they needed to be compensated for their contributions to the victory of APC.