In the race to 1983 presidential election, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of UPN and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of NPP made frantic efforts to present a consensus candidate through an alliance that crumbled at the eleventh hour. It was indeed the best time for Chief Awolowo to ascend the leadership of Nigeria and replicate at the federal level the master piece of development in all facets that Yorubas experienced in Western Region during his tenure as Premier. The political class were of strong conviction that Dr. Azikiwe ought to have shifted ground by conceding presidential ticket to the late sage considering the fact that UPN then was in absolute control of LOOBO states and a number of local governments in the north central and even in the north east with NPP only having dominant presence in the three states in the East. The project was not going to be. Two key factors shattered the dream; ego and political intrigues. The rest is history.
Providence was it again in the race to 2015 presidency. It presented another opportunity, perhaps to compensate for the past wrongdoing, but, this time around onto the laps of personalities with different dreams, visions, mentality, attitudes towards life and of course, exposure. What the providence presented could only be perceived by discerning and great minds. There was a government in place but generally alleged to have failed monumentally with regards to economic, political, socio- cultural and even, in terms of defending the territorial integrity of our nation. The head of that government, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was widely alleged to be very weak, indecisive, non-coordinated, inexperience and essentially alleged to be presiding over a government riddled with high power corruption. Consequently, major stakeholders, civil democratic society organizations as well as international community rose in unison that the recklessness must be halted and the only panacea is to exit the government. Bola Tinubu knew that, the then political parties; AC, CPC, APGA etc. absolutely couldn’t achieve anything on their own if they were to pursue the project of seeing off PDP government from Aso Rock.
During this moment of confusion, there was also General Buhari who had made three attempts to assume the presidency of the country without success. He had already cut the picture of a frustrated soul and he wasn’t prepare to dissipate energy and efforts on another bid. He felt it was no longer worthwhile to pursue the presidential ambition more so, when he couldn’t penetrate other geopolitical zones apart from the North West, in all the three attempts as well as the challenge of age which was already catching up with him. Bola Tinubu’s AC were in the same boat. Their party had also lost previous elections as AD and AC but, they remained undaunted. They were of the firm believe that water could come out of the rock. However, Jagaban was of the strong conviction that the then political parties; AC, CPC, APGA etc. absolutely couldn’t achieve anything on their own if they were to pursue the project of seeing off PDP government from Aso Rock. He swiftly put up his thinking cap and prepare his team to move across the nation to interact, engage and convince other progressive minds of the need to come together under one umbrella, if the expectations of generality of Nigerians to see off the PDP is to come to realization. This effort paid off with the formation of APC through the coming together of all progressive parties in the country under the same umbrella in Feb 02, 2013 with resolution signed by Chief Tom Ikimi on behalf of ACN, Senator Annie Okonkwo for APGA, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau on behalf of ANPP and Mallam Garba Shehu for CPC. INEC formally recognized the APC as a political party with all the rights on July 31, 2013. Asiwaju Tinubu brokered this process of formation and registration of the party with the sole objective of ensuring a prosperous and productive nation that would bring forth the fullest blossoming of its riches, resources and ingenuity of its diverse people and not for a personal ambition to ascend to the presidency of the country. Interestingly, he’s as qualified as President Buhari to run for presidency even in 2015 on account of his very rich antecedent as executive governor of Lagos state for eight (8) years with a resounding achievements that cuts across political, economic and socio-cultural landscapes. Asiwaju also impressively distinguished himself severally on the floor of senate as Senator, representing Lagos West Senatorial Districts. He was actually Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation for the period that his tenure endures and very many landmark achievements were recorded by senate then in the budgeting and budgetary control at the federal level.
Back to the party. The convention at Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos to pick the presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 general election was expected to endure for a day, it didn’t end until the third day on account of high power horse trading and political intrigues. It was reported that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the then governor of Kano state, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso were the dominant candidates who generality of delegates at the convention were hell bent in endorsing. Some hours before rounding up the exercise, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar gained the momentum and he was coasting to victory before Asiwaju Tinubu strategically and strangely moved around to drum it into the earring of the delegates of the blunder they were about to commit by endorsing any other candidate apart from General Buhari. The delegates listened to the voice of reason and today, the rest history.
After General Buhari had been endorsed as presidential candidate, Nigerians, civil liberty society organizations, press and international community opened up another of chapter of battle that always consume APC and its presidential candidate. They accused General Buhari of been a religious fundamentalist, an ethnic jingoist and non-contemporary personality as he was accused to be too old to face the current realities in the national & international politics, economy and socio-cultural. Asiwaju realized this challenge and swiftly raised a team both locally and internationally to repel any attacks by Nigerians and the opposition party in this respect. The team moved from one part of the country to another, from one Newspaper to another, one TV station to another and as well as one country to another in fighting the battle.
The battle to ensure General Buhari assumes presidency made APC high powered delegation led by Asiwaju Tinubu to visit Chattel House in London to cultivate the global community on the need to support the aspiration of the party and to exit Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP led government and pave the way for the emergence of General Buhari as the president. The party trip to historic center seemed to be the last straw that broke the PDP back as notable democratic countries like US, Great Britain, Germany, France and even, Asian countries resolved from the venue of the interaction to see off the PDP government. It’s also on record that APC with the political ingenuity of Asiwaju Tinubu deployed orthodox and unorthodox means to vacate all court injunctions across the land orchestrated to frustrate the presentation of General Buhari as APC flagbearer.
Eventually, General Buhari contested the election and won, but, what has been his relationship with the party leaders and Asiwaju Tinubu? The relationship has gone sower! Immediately after his emergence, Mallams Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari as well as Sheu Garba emerged from nowhere to encircle and barricade him from having interaction with anyone else including Asiwaju Tinubu who deployed his resources, efforts, national and international connection as well as sacrificed his personal ambition to ensure President Buhari emerged. The trio started the annihilation of the party with the advice to the president that he MUST not listen to Asiwaju and APC leaders as far as composition of national assembly leadership is concerned. The nation is still battling with that decision till date as national assembly have become a cog in the wheel of moving the nation forward. It’s also on record that president completely jettisoned the inputs of party leaders in the composition of Federal Executive Council as well as other key federal appointments that follow.Tragically also, the president has ignored all entreaties from Asiwaju and other leaders of the party of the need to have a strong, purposeful, focus, decisive and respected personalities to superintend the affairs of the party. Rather, the president prefers a comatose, dead and directionless party that would only serve as executive rubber stamp to the extent that the party have been attracting opprobrium and condemnation from within the party and opposition parties alike. While the president has substantially benefited from democratic experiment, he treats the system with so much disdain and impunity. Garba Sheu, Mallams Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura should be advised that democratic government is an all-inclusive, people centered and massive government that it’s only laughable to see the trio making futile efforts to corner it and run it in their closet.
In a short while from now, 2018-the defining year for 2019 general elections, beckons. My candid advice is that the party should as well forget the presidency if the present development is anything to go by. Things have obviously fallen apart and it’s doubtful if the center could still hold. If the president is adamant in running for second term, he could only be guaranteed of North West bloc votes. Obviously, South West bloc votes is totally out of his control and neither South East nor South South will cast their lots for him because of the way and manners he has treated everybody. In any case, the both zones are PDP fortress. Technically, North East votes would not come his ways because of dominance presence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Hajia Alhassan, Ibrahim Dakwambo and other leaders in the zone and of course, North Central votes would completely be fragmented in the 2019 general election. If president runs, he’s expected to record abysmal performance in this zone on account of his aloofness and the way he has rendered himself incommunicado. This is the tragic position of the party.
In my view, it’s doubtful if any fence could be mended within now and electioneering period. It’s also doubtful if the sufficiently frustrated, disillusioned and jettisoned APC top shots who put their life on line to ensure victory would ever have the same commitment, zeal, vigor and loyalty again. If our North West brothers and the president who have been having wonderful and swell time with our common patrimony in the last two years felt that barricading other members of the party from the national treasury and other largess is appropriate, let them as well fight the re-election battle alone. You can eat your cake and have it!