How crisis is tearing PDP, APC apart
The leadership of both the All Progressives Congress (APPC) and the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are asphyxiated by crises sweeping across state chapters of their parties, report DAPO FALADE, BOLA BADMUS,
ISAAC SHOBAYO, YEKINI JIMOH, GRACE EGBO, OLAKUNLE MARUF AND YOMI AYELESO
THE intra party feud rocking the two main political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), cuts a semblance with the crisis that put the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the botched Third Republic. Both Chief Tom Ikimi and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe of the NRC and the SDP respectively, had to be at their wit ends over irreconcilable differences with a lot of powerful forces within their parties. Today Ikimi, a stalwart of the PDP, maintains a low profile in the party, just as Kingibe is less visible in the larger political scene, but with a considerable influence in the seat of power in Abuja.
For Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Uche Secondus, the current chairmen of the APC and the PDP, respectively, only few will envy them as they are contending with so many forces within their parties over a lot of issues. These include, among others, their leadership styles and circumstances of their emergence as national chairman; alleged allegiance to certain powerful caucuses and power blocs and lack of due process in running their parties. The crises have pitched a number of party stalwarts, including elders and governors, against each other. The accusations and counter-accusations have led to calls for the resignation of the national chairmen, especially in the APC by some aggrieved camps. The groundswell of opposition against both Oshiomhole and Secondus has culminated in the APC and the PDP embarking on a series of troubleshooting mission, with the latest being the proposal of reconciliation committees for the umpteenth time to cement the widening gulf among the majority of the stakeholders in the PDP and the APC. Different factions now run parallel state executives, despite the initial interventions from higher quarters to calm frayed nerves. The crises are most worrisome in Lagos, Ondo, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Plateau, Ogun, Adamawa, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Oyo, Enugu and Imo, to name just a few.
Crux of the matter in PDP
Lagos State chapter of the PDP is divided between members loyal to a former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George and those that have the support of both the zonal and national leadership of the party. It parades two chairmen, with each of them claiming to be in charge, based on the operational guidelines of the PDP.
Until November 2019, Dr Adegbola Dominic, was chairman before Deji Doherty, a former governorship aspirant of the party, emerged from a congress held precisely on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. The outcome is a subject of legal dispute, with both Dominic and Doherty trying to sort things out in the court. The exercise was carried out under the supervision of a three-man team, led by Senator Ben Obi, sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) of PDP.
The election was conducted despite a court injunction, restraining the party from filling the vacant positions, including that of chairman, which they insisted had become vacant following its expiration around that time.
Other vacant positions contested and filled during the exercise are: vice chairman (Central), state organising secretary, assistant state organising secretary, state legal adviser, assistant state legal adviser, assistant state secretary, assistant state publicity secretary and chairmen for Apapa and Badagry local government areas.
Sokoto State chapters of the two leading parties are managing their differences by not allowing the internal crisis ravaging the party to go beyond their control. Nigerian Tribune, however, observed that the crisis, if not well managed, might affect the fortunes of the parties in future elections, especially the January 25 rerun into Sokoto South/North House of Seat and other state House of Assembly recently annulled by the Appeal Court.
Being the ruling party in the state, the PDP might need to work out a power sharing formula to guarantee confidence within the party. A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the preponderance of the agitations on the issue of members’ welfare. He said: “We want His Excellency to do more on welfare to both members of the party and the entire citizens of the state. We acknowledge the fact that he is doing much on capital projects but he needs to put more effort on the welfares of the citizens.”
Unlike in the PDP where it was all about welfare, the state APC is gradually breaking into factions because of politics ahead another general election. Until recently, the APC was majorly in the hand of a former governor of the state and current chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, while the suspended national vice chairman of the party (North West), Inuwa Abdulkadir, also holds sway. A party source said the problem within the party was also because of an alleged high-handedness by the leadership.
In spite of the intervention of the PDP national secretariat in the crisis rocking the Plateau State chapter of the party, the major actors, Lt-Gen Jeremiah Useni (retd) and a former governor of the state, Senator Jonah Jang, have intensified efforts in their scheme for the soul of the party.
The group loyal to Senator Jang appointed Honourable Chris Hassan as acting chairman to replace Honourable Damishi Sango, who resigned because the northern zone, which produced Sango had the constitutional backing for a replacement from the zone. Shortly thereafter, the Amos Gombi group loyal to Useni had since suspended the state secretary of the party for allegedly facilitating a meeting that rectified the nomination of Hassan as acting chairman and consequently set up a committee to investigate some top party members involved in the nomination.
The crisis got to a peak when the Gombi group directed the assistant state secretary to step in as acting secretary, but the latter declined the offer thereby worsening the situation. So, the PDP has factionalised along the Useni and the Jang camps. A source close to the party claimed that the ugly development was due the state congress of the party slated for the first quarter of this year.
In the state chapter of the APC, there is a lull after the 2019 general election, with most members and stalwarts deserting the party secretariat. A source close APC in the state said some officials of the party at the lower wrung of the ladder accused the state chairman, Honourable Latep Dabang, of high highhandedness.
In Ekiti State, the crisis rocking the opposition PDP is majorly about leadership with the former governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose and senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, at the centre. The leadership tussle between them has split the party into two camps, including the State Working Committee (SWC) members. The SWC shifted its loyalty from the former governor shortly after he left office in 2018 and declared Senator Olujimi as the leader of the party. The crisis reached a crescendo when the party executives directed party members across the state to shun a meeting called by Fayose at his country home, declaring such meeting as illegal and against the constitution of the party.
Also, another issue in the state chapter of the PDP is the selling of the new secretariat of the party along Ajilosun area of the state capital. While Fayose declared that the secretariat was sold with the active involvement of the SWC, the Gboyega Oguntuwase – led SWC refuted the position of the former governor. Oguntuwase denied selling of the secretariat.
The only pronounced issue in the ruling APC in the state is the alleged irregularities that marred the selection of candidates for the last year’s local government election. Many loyal party members were aggrieved with the outcome of the exercise that produced the chairmen and councillors. The party chairman, Mr Paul Omotosho, however, explained that not everyone could be appointed by the government.
There is growing mutual suspicion among leaders of the PDP in the Osun State chapter of the PDP because of alleged moves by forces loyal to the governorship candidate of the party in the last governorship poll in the state, Senator Demola Adeleke, to hijack the entire PDP machinery in the state. A number of party stalwarts are said to be bitter over the action. Some of the elders are threatening to spill the bean, especially on the intrigues that culminated in a former member of the National Assembly freely giving the ticket to Senator Adeleke after a lot of pressure from the elders of the PDP.
Similarly, there is a supposed cold war between the incumbent state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, despite the initial denial of the rift by the gladiators, coupled with reports of a peace effort initiated by a former APC national chairman and governor of the state, Chief Bisi Akande.
The hide and seek among APC faithful appears not to have completely fizzled out in the Kwara State chapter of the APC. The initial suspense was because of disagreement over power sharing among the coalition that teamed up to defeat the PDP in the last general election, especially in the governorship poll. Though the release of the list of commissioners calmed some frayed nerves, there are still high expectations in a number of power centres within the coalition. In the PDP, a lot of the faithful are still trying to overcome the setback recorded by their party at the poll, with the leaders passing the buck. While some are waiting in the wings on their next line of action concerning their political career, others said they need some time to take a decisive step because of the slippery nature of the politics of Kwara State.
There cold war among some leaders of the Kogi State chapter of the PDP has not disappeared. This is due to the issues thrown up by the conduct of the party primaries for the governorship election in 2019. The situation affected the party during the election, as some of aggrieved PDP members defected to the APC before the poll.
On the other hand, the ruling party in the state, the APC seems to be united after the election. Although the party faced serious task before the election, they managed to win the election. The present Chief of Staff to the governor, Asuku Jamiu, recently embarked on a reconciliatory mission among all the stakeholders in the state. He has visited members of the PDP, APC and other political parties in the state, during which he urged everyone to work with the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello so that the state can move forward.
In the Ebonyi State chapter of the APC, politics of the godfather has led to factions and crippled the party in the state. The members of the factions who failed to support the party financially during the campaign for the 2019 elections were said to have worked against the APC. It was the member representing Ezza South/ Ikwo Federal Constituency, Honourable Chinedu Ogah, who fought alone and reclaimed his mandate at the Tribunal and Appeal court.
In the PDP, there is a raging silent battle in the party over succession plan after the tenure of the incumbent governor, David Umahi, between the Abuja front and the state group. The Abuja group is said to be championed by the senator representing Ebonyi Central, Senator Obinna Ogba, while the state group is anchored by Umahi. The matter has generated accusations and counter-accusations among party faithful.
Many people have attributed the recent loss of the party in Bayelsa State in the last governorship election in the state, the first time since the inception of the current democratic experiment in 1999, to the internal wrangling within the party in the state.
In spite of several denials by PDP officials, both at the state and at the national levels, there have been, since 2018, reports of a brewing leadership crisis in Bayela PDP, which pitched former President Goodluck Jonathan against the outgoing Governor Seriake Dickson. It became glaring that the party lost the governorship election to its main rival in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), due to the crisi.
Another major fallout of the Bayelsa election was the ongoing faceoff between Governor Dickson and his counterpart in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike. Despite the intervention by various leaders of the party in the feud between the two PDP governors, the battle remains as the duo has refused to shift grounds on their positions.
The altercation between Wike and Dickson reached a crescendo when the former allegedly threatened to depose a traditional ruler in Rivers State, the Amayanabo of Kalabari, King Theophilus Princewill, for playing host to Governor Dickson who visited the state without formally informing his host governor, Wike.
However, Dickson claimed that the position of Wike was political as he accused the Rivers governor of playing a pivotal role in the loss of the PDP in the November 16, 2019 governorship election, held in Bayelsa State. While Wike alleged that Dickson was already on his way out of the PDP, allegedly to join the APC, Dickson said Wike was making statement that were “childish, unguarded and unbecoming of a leader’ and admonished the governor to stop interfering in the politics of Bayelsa State.
A major sign that all was not well within the Edo State chapter of the party came to the surface when, last November, a pressure group within the party in the state, the Integrity Group, announced the suspension of some notable leaders an chieftains of the party from across the three senatorial districts of the state. Those suspended included former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi; former Chief of Staff to ex-President Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadohme; former Minister of Works, Mike Omolememen; Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Senator Yisa Braimoh; Senator Victor Oyofo and a former Leader in the House of Representatives, Tunde Akogun.
The group, in the suspension announced in a communiqué signed by a former chairman of the Nigerian Football Association, Jarret Tenebe and a former two-term chairman of Owan West Local Government Area, Dan Asekhema, adopted a former governor of the state, Chief Lucvky Igbinedion, as the leader of the Edo PDP.
Expressing their disquiet with happenings in the party in recent times, the group accused Oghiadohme of fraternising with Governor Godwin Obaseki of the APC, adding that Ikimi and the affected leaders have been allegedly holding clandestine meetings with the governor to ask him for the sum of N6 billion so that he can contest the next governorship election in the state on the ticket of the PDP.
The PDP in Kano State is also not crisis-free as it demonstrated the trait in September 2018 when the state chapter of the party rejected a reported dissolution of the state executive committee by the National Working Committee of the party.
Mr Sarki Labaran, a chieftain of the party, reportedly declared the stand of party stakeholders while addressing hundreds of supporters who converged on the state headquarters. He described as unfortunate the decision of the PDP NWC which he said was in spite of a court order restraining it from doing so.
To many people, the leadership crisis that besotted the Ogun State chapter of the PDP largely accounted for its loss in the last March governorship election. The crisis peaked with the refusal of the PDP national leadership to recognise Mr Dayo Adebayo as the state chairman of the party, despite the recognition accorded him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The crisis dovetailed to the rancor that greeted the party shortly before the governorship election as two persons, Senator Buruji Kashamu and Honourable Ladi Adebutu, presented themselves as the party’s candidates for the election. Though the duo later settled their differences, it was a step too late as the party eventually lost the election to Prince Dapo Abiodun of the APC who emerged as the governor.
It has been a battle of wits between a former governor of the state who is now the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe over the soul of the APC in the oil-rich Rivers State. The feud between the two erstwhile friends cost the party any chances of possibly taking over the control of the state from the ruling PDP as it could not field any candidate in the 2019 general election.
Absolving the INEC of any complicity in the crisis, Abe, who was the immediate past representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the Senate, said the party was to be blamed, adding that the crisis led to the downfall of the party in Rivers State.
He said the INEC should not be blamed for the exclusion of the Rivers APC from the ballot, adding: “The fact that our party was not on the ballot was actually a tragedy for Rivers State. But I believe that all things work together for good, given that fact, I would not like to speculates on what INEC is doing or what INEC has done because we are not on the ballot.
“But what I will say, what I have said and what I must say here is that Rivers people must be clear on one thing: INEC did not take off the APC from the ballot. It was APC members who went to court because of what was happening within the party and it was the court who gives the order for APC not to be on the ballot. So nobody can hold INEC responsible for the fact that we were not on the ballot.”
The Edo State chapter of the APC has been enmeshed in a crisis that is glaringly over the bid of a former surrogate to whittle down, if not remove outright, the influence of his erstwhile political godfather. To every discerning observer of the ongoing rumble in the Edo APC, it is a known fact that while Governor Godwin Obaseki seeks to ensure his continued relevance in the state, the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, may be fighting the last battle of his life to further cement his political hegemony in the state.
It has therefore been a battle of survival of the fittest between the two and among their supporters and followers within the state chapter of the party. The intervention of the national leadership of the party notwithstanding, the two factions remained on each other’s throat, even as one the factions, with the support of the party chairmen across all the local government areas in the state, are bent on the removal of Oshiomhole as the APC national chairman.
From all indications, the battle between the now estranged political godfather and godson is a test of popularity ahead the governorship election in the state.