The simmering crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) worsened Wednesday as the ruling party split, with a faction that called itself Reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) emerging under the leadership of Alhaji Buba Galadima, an estranged ally of President Muhammadu Buhari.
THISDAY reported exclusively on Tuesday that aggrieved members of the APC under the leadership of former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, had decided to pull out and form the rAPC, a decision the newspaper said would be announced by Friday.
Announcing the formation of the faction at a crowded press conference Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, Galadima said the group had activated its parallel structures from the national to the ward levels, stating that the new leaders at those levels would soon be made public.
The news conference was attended by many APC leaders, including the former National Chairman of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Alhaji Kawu Baraje, who emphasised that the group remained bona fide members of the APC, explaining that the import of their action was that the party had split into two.
The development obviously would enable aggrieved members of the APC in the federal and state legislatures to switch allegiance on the grounds that the party had split into factions.
While the ruling party was too dumbfounded to speak Wednesday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it was a welcome development, expressing its support for any move that would oust Buhari.
“We have report of a group, which have purportedly described themselves as a faction of our party,” the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, told THISDAY, adding: “We will be able to give our reaction as soon as we get the full details and have the opportunity to review it.”
The PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the news of the emergence of rAPC was expected and offered support for the faction.
“Every Nigerian, every political party or group that is interested in ousting the incompetent President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration are welcomed on board the PDP,” he said, adding: “We have rebranded and we have brought a new narrative that Nigerians will be happy about.”
THISDAY gathered from a reliable PDP source Wednesday that Kwankwaso had started meeting with the leadership of the state chapter of the PDP in Kano State as well as the North-west zone on how to absorb his supporters back into the party.
Speaking at the news conference in Abuja, Galadima said: ‘’Nigeria faces an existential threat arising from three years of near destruction of this country and the exacerbation of our ethnic, religious and divisive cleavages. We will in concert with others offer real change to Nigeria. Not fake change.
‘’It is clear that our party needs a leadership that will live by its founding ideals. We have, therefore, decided to legitimately lead those members to work to rebuild our nation more firmly on genuine democratic principles, to enshrine good governance and restore the faith of Nigerians in the possibility of the existence of a prosperous, secure and peaceful nation.’’
Calling on all Nigerians not to despair as a rescue plan was in the works and will be unfolded soon, he said the APC government had been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced.
He said the political party that was a vehicle for enthroning the Buhari government was rendered powerless by manipulations and complete lack of due process in its operations.
Galadima added: ‘’You will recall that in the build-up to the 2015 general election, some political parties and groups came together, and formed a brand new political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). This merger was based on the strong belief that Nigeria had come of age, but was severely underperforming and unable to meet its potential for good governance.
‘’The Nigerian people entrusted power to the APC based on its promises and potential. We are sad to report that after more than three years of governance, our hopes have been betrayed, our expectations completely dashed. The APC has run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people.’’
Accusing the leadership of APC of imposing dictatorship, impunity, abuse of power, complete abdication of constitutional and statutory responsibilities, infidelity to the rule of law and constitutionalism, the outspoken former National Secretary of defunct CPC, said that the APC-led federal government had failed to ensure the security and welfare of the people and had elevated nepotism to unacceptable height.
He added that APC had failed to deliver on its key promises to the nation, saying that there is no evidence of any political will to reverse the decline of our party, while leaders who had created these circumstances continue to behave as if Nigerians owe the party votes as a matter of right.
Galadima explained further that the last straw that broke the party was the congresses and convention of the APC held recently, adding that the congresses were intensely disputed as it was conducted with impunity, total disregard for due process, disregard for the party constitution and naked display of power and practices that have no place in a party they all worked very hard to put in place.
According to him, ‘’There are countless cases in courts all over the country challenging the legality of congresses and even the national convention itself. It is very likely that the judicial decisions on these cases will result in massive chaos, confusion and uncertainties.
‘’The fate of a party in this state with a few months to the elections is best left to the imagination, but it is not a fate we believe our millions of members should be abandoned to. There were parallel congresses in 24 states namely: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.
‘’These congresses in wards, local government areas and states all over the federation produced different sets of delegates. We, therefore, had an unfortunate situation where the party has been seriously factionalised and divided in not just 24 states but the 36 states and Abuja FCT.’’
He argued that the so-called national convention of the APC was even worse and ridiculed with ‘’constitutional infirmities’’ that were so glaring and obvious that no fair-minded person can claim that a legitimate and lawful executive emerged from that process.
He accused the Chairman of the convention committee, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, of declaring 18 seats unopposed and uncontested, since only one valid candidate stood at the end of the grossly manipulated nomination exercise for each of the offices.
He added: ‘’He, therefore, proceeded to declare them duly elected in flagrant abuse and violence to the Constitution of the APC. Indeed, Article 20 of the APC Constitution is very clear and explicit. It envisages a situation where if at the close of nomination, only one person is nominated, the Convention must vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, for each candidate before he is declared duly elected.’’
He accused the convention committee of violating the party’s constitution, arguing that Article 20 (1) of the APC Constitution states: “Unless otherwise provided for: All party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective national convention or congress subject, where possible, to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.
‘’We all witnessed on live television and at the venue, Eagles Square Abuja, that the Convention Chairman, only put the Yes question to all the delegates, using words to the effect: Do you affirm? Do you agree? There was no opportunity whatsoever given to the delegates to say whether they are voting ‘No’ for any candidate as the ‘No’ question was never put to them.’’
Galadima added that it may well be that if the convention Chairman put the “No” Question, the voice vote for the “Noes”, may have been more, saying: ‘’We will never know, since it was never done, contrary to the express provisions of the APC Constitution; it is therefore unquestionably clear that the 18 officers of APC that were elected through this process could not have been duly elected.”
He reasoned that the ‘’constitutional vice infected’’ the offices of: Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman; Mai Mala Buni – National Secretary; Alhaji Ibrahim Masari – National Welfare Secretary and others.
Galadima, who until the event Wednesday was a member of APC Board of Trustees, said that even before the “illegal’’ national convention that alienated millions of the party’s members, there had been widespread disenchantment with the manner the party had been run, and the conduct and performance of President Buhari-led governments.
‘’The nPDP, a group that has made a major contribution to the emergence of the APC administration has made strenuous efforts to invite attention to inequities, injustice and poor management in our party without any success,’’ he further explained.
Galadima said the rAPC also had National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee and other organs of the party are properly constituted and functional.
While also speaking at the press conference, Baraje said there was no disagreement among members, saying all the leaders, including Kwankwaso, were part of the new group.
Some of the national officers of the rAPC include: Buba Galadima, National Chairman (Yobe State); Bala Muhd Gwagwarwa, National Deputy Chairman, North (Kano State); Chief Theo Nkire, National Deputy Chairman, South East (Abia State); Hon. Eko Olakunle, National Vice Chairman South West (Osun State); and Hon. Hussaini Dambo, National Vice Chairman North West (Kaduna State).
Others include: Mahmud Mohammed Abubakar – National Vice Chairman, North Central (Kogi State); Hon. Godwin Akaan, Deputy National Secretary (Benue State); Dr Fatai Atanda, National Secretary (Oyo State); Kazeem Afegbua, National Publicity Secretary (Edo State) and others.
Oshiomhole Assures Senate Caucus of Solution to APC Crisis
Incidentally, as the rAPC news conference was going on, the new National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, Wednesday assured the party’s caucus in the Senate of quick resolution of the crisis facing the party nationwide.
Oshiomhole, a two-time former governor of Edo State, who met with Senate APC Caucus alongside members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), in Senate Committtee Room 301, said his major concern was how to resolve all crisis bedevilling the party.
He specifically mentioned the crisis associated with the conduct of party primaries at ward, local government and state levels and promised that the party leadership would do its possible best to resolve them.
The APC chairman emphasised that in as much as the ruling party is rated as the biggest party in Nigeria and by extension in Africa, it is not interested in dysfunctional bigness or size.
He said what the party under his leadership wanted, was a united one with committed and loyal members.
He said: “This idea of wanting to be seen as the biggest party in Nigeria and Africa without required functionality as a united group with clear direction of destination is not our focus but a party populated by members who are committed and loyal to its desires of taking Nigeria to greater heights.
“Yes, it is good to be big or large in size as a party but becoming too big and dysfunctional is not good for us.”
He, however, distanced the party’s national executive from utterances made by some party chieftains that any aggrieved party member is free to leave the party.
“We do not subscribe to the position of people within the party saying anybody can go anywhere,” he said.
He explained to the APC senators that the purpose of the NWC visit was for heart-to-heart discussions towards finding solutions to whatever problems they have with the party at whatever levels.
According to him, regardless of the magnitude of the crisis that may be afflicting the party at whatever level, the three ingredients of commitment for justice, fairness and courage to stand by the truth the new leadership is operating with, the party would come out stronger from such crises.
Responding on behalf of APC senators, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the submissions made by Oshiomhole were very promising as regards moving the party forward.
“Party politics and democracy itself is inherent with conflicts based disagreement requiring the form of rapprochement you have brought,” he said.