NIGERIA: The Way Out Of The Ruling Party’s Conundrum


As the All Progressives Congress prepares to hold its primary, Tony Amadi writes that Saliu Mustapha is going strong for the position of National Chairman

In some 60 days or thereabout, Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress, (APC) should have found a way out of its well-articulated conundrum and free itself of the growing malaise of incompetent leadership at the heart of its party affairs. The problem used to be dumped at the doors of Osho Baba, but it has been long since Adams Oshomhole was shunted out of the party hierarchy and thrown into the wilderness where there was a lot of gnashing of teeth and apparent regrets. People should have realized that the only problem with Adams was his half-baked Hitlerian tactics which party men couldn’t understand because of its laden crudity.

Members of the ruling party prefer Mr. President’s excellent deployment of body language dynamics and its effective articulation that is best understood by the senate leadership who know when to run into their shelters when the President coughs or sneezes. Their handling of his letter over the electoral bill non assent was a typical example of how to react to presidential body language. The senior lawmakers had gathered enough signatories to upset the Aso Rock superman when they realized that they were headed to political oblivion if they dared disrupt presidential wellbeing.

The Senate President’s spin doctors had to produce an appropriate senate response before the hastily assembled closed session of senators to discuss the outcome of the response to the body blow of the President’s denial of assent to the electoral bill was decided. The seventy something signatories was jettisoned with alacrity and those who were beating their chest that they will override presidential veto were hiding their heads in shame because like Mrs. Margret Thatcher, this President is not for turning. Not even presidential spokesmen can be affected if they misrepresent the President, simply because the fear of the president by most lawmakers has reached tremendous heights because the president’s men can do no wrong.

All the current President’s men can do as they like because under the present headship of Senator and double doctor Ahmed Lawan, the National Assembly can be side stepped on any matter of national importance because they act as the executive’s rubber stamp. I remember with nostalgia, the times of Senator Chuba Okadigbo, Anyim Pius Anyim, Adolphus Wabara, Ken Nnamani and Abubakar Saraki who can damn tough talking presidents and get away with it. President Olusegun Obasanjo was vetoed by the National Assembly and had a rough ride with the National Assembly whenever he dared the lawmakers and Saraki, despite all the attempts to jail him over Code of Conduct issues, he stood his ground and mounted legal challenges when need be to prove that separation of powers was not a tea party.

The APC is now in the middle of holding its primary since it came to power in 2015 and this is causing consternation in the party as implosion starred them in the face. One of their biggest blunders was to appoint a whole state governor to act as party chairman in the aftermath of Adam Oshomhole’s forced departure as party chairman, leaving his Yobe state in the hands of deputies and permanent secretaries while he sauntered around the presidential mansion in Abuja, denying his people good governance in the process.

Now that the die is cast and the party must produce a new governing council to repair the damage of the past and possibly counter the advanced strides of the main opposition PDP, there is no more room for profligacy and the APC must get a proper National Working Committee, a sound National Executive Committee and a body of trusted elders in a Board of Trustees, BOT, and ultimately get ready to retain governance at the national level and produce an acceptable president, something that look like an impossible dream, judging from their poor handling of executive authority since 2015.
So far, the front runners in the National Chairmanship race of the ruling party are products of the old guard that you can dismiss their integrity levels with a wave of the hand. It is doubtful if the President can endorse any of the trio of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Senator Umaru al Makura and Abubakar Yari, all former governors of Borno, Nasarawa and Zamfara state respectively to the national chairmanship seat. If Mr. President has forgotten any of his promises prior to the 2015 elections, it is certainly the pledge to rid the country of corruption. One thing you can say of President Muhammadu Buhari is that he loathes corrupt leaders and would rather not seat around people whose corruption perception index is too low for his comfort.

There is also a cabinet member and a former PDP governor of Benue State, George Akume whose idea is to mend the broken pieces of the APC jigsaw if he comes into the managerial cadre as national chairman. Akume is according to his billboards all over Abuja, the man to mend the broken fences of the APC. It will interest voters at the convention that someone highly placed in the party knows that the fences of the party are virtually broken but fortunately or unfortunately for Akume, his former mentor and close friend Iyorchia Ayu has become the national chairman of the PDP and has gone on record to say that he would bring his friend back to the PDP rather than allow him to languish in the fringes of the ruling party leadership hierarchy.

Senator Sheriff says that he is the man the job needs to salvage its fortunes in the country’s party politics and Senator Almakura believes he is the man to sustain and secure the party from the vagaries of insecurity and instill democratic norms. My belief is that none of these successful politicians can add value to the well-being of the party particularly now, that the future dangles helplessly because of the general perception that it has not lived up to its promises to raise the standard of life of Nigerians that led to its election victory eight years ago.

But there are younger men who can make the grade and whose claim to national prominence is acceptable and can make a great difference when “the come, comes to become” with apologies to Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, former political juggernaut and Minister of Aviation in Tafawa Balewa’s cabinet of the fifties and sixties. A few of these youths are already in the race, notably Malam Mustapha Salihu, the Turaki of Ilorin who at 50 was turbaned last October with unusual fanfare by the Emir of Ilorin Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari.

The Turaki of Ilorin is probably what the doctor ordered to mend the bartered All Progressive Congress fences currently needing some political cleansing, repositioning, if not white-washing on the eve of the departure of President Muhammadu Buhari and give the party a fair chance of giving the opposition PDP currently basking in the euphoria of their successful convention and the Ayu Chairmanship a good run for their money as the 2023 acid test faces the two major political parties. I first met the youthful politician when Charles Aniagolu of the Arise News put us on a panel to discuss the fortunes of the PDP and APC where he gave a good account of himself before the 2015 elections. We became quite close since then and I have followed up his fortunes in the political scene from then.

I am convinced that he can turn his party around, rejuvenate it and excel in the direction of its fortunes in an election year that is so close at hand. His political credential is notable from the Progressive Action Congress where he served out his political sophomore days as National Publicity Secretary, to his key role as Deputy Chairman of Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC at a young age. By the time the All Progressive Congress amalgamated from a group of parties that became the ruling party, Mustapha Salihu, the Turaki Ilorin had become a major political force himself and notably one of the Buhari disciples from ANPP, CPC and now APC.

Students of the ‘Buhari Body Language Institute’ are the only ones that could attempt to answer the question if Malam Mustapha Salihu, theTuraki Ilorin is already anointed as the next Chairman of the APC, but we all know that the President would distance himself from such assumptions. From my corner though, as a student of Nigerian politics, I will not be afraid to place my bet on this dynamic young man who is a ruthlessly charming, charismatic and fascinatingly humble politician to give APC a shot in the arm as their next chairman after their convention early this year and rescue the party from its present conundrum.