By Sufuyan Ojeifo
On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, some ex-leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who joined the coalition that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC), issued a seven-day ultimatum to the leadership of the APC to convene a meeting to address alleged marginalization and unfair treatment of their group in the appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).
The ultimatum bore a great weight in the context of the group’s referential antecedent that strengthened the basis of the ultimatum. It was a significant punch. To be sure, the defunct new PDP (nPDP), under the superintendence of former national secretary and one-time acting national chair of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, that issued the ultimatum, has a remarkable history behind it.
The group broke away from the PDP in 2014 due to some irreconcilable differences. Five governors on the party platform-Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara), Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako (Sokoto), and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano)- pulled out with their followers. Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, also left the party. The then incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, followed suit.
The list, which comprised some serving senators-Bukola Saraki, Abdullahi Adamu, Adamu Aliero, Danjuma Goje, et al and some members of the House of Representatives, including Yakubu Dogara, Abdulmumin Jibril, Dakuku Peterside, among others, was quite exhaustive. There was consensus among them. Their single-mindedness and unanimity of purpose gave impetus to their agenda.
The outcome of their voyage and its far-reaching implications for the Nigerian nation-state have become part of the novel historical narrative of the electoral defeat of an incumbent president and the dislodgement of a ruling party that had bestridden the nation’s political landscape for all of 16 years. The defunct nPDP played a major role in the untangling of the once-dreaded behemoth of self-appointed and vaunted demigods, oracles, godfathers, fixers and enforcers.
Allowing the group to egress was PDP’s greatest strategic political blunder that irredeemably damaged its electoral fortune in the presidential election. The defunct nPDP with such human and political capacity should rationally not have been taken for granted. In pursuit of an agenda, it has now been somewhat resurrected and has created a palpable tension in the APC consequent upon the submission of its protest letter to the leadership at the National Secretariat. Baraje, who is curiously a core loyalist of Saraki, led the delegation and addressed the press on the essence of their visit and the theme of their letter.
Significantly, it would appear that the timing of the letter and the ultimatum were choreographed to aggravate the anxiety and rancour in the party arising from the current party congresses. Baraje and his cohorts had, perhaps, calculated that the APC leadership might not have the luxury of time right now to address their grievances and that would provide a good alibi to abandon the party. They did not also consult with the large spectrum of members of the defunct nPDP in the APC to get their buy-in, a move that portrayed their action as being in bad faith.
It was, therefore, not difficult for some of the members who occupy strategic positions in the APC government to see through the chicanery of Baraje and his clique. To deflate the ego of the Baraje group and take the winds of its sail, a counter attack from the circle of members of the defunct nPDP was inevitable. Former governor of Nasarawa state and one-time Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Abdullahi Adamu (representing Nasarawa West in the Senate) stood up to Baraje’s offensive, all gloves off, yes, in bare-knuckle punches. The exertion was to vehemently defend Buhari and the APC.
In company with Chief Theodore Georgewill and Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, Adamu stormed the APC national secretariat on the eve of the expiration of the ultimatum by the Baraje-led group to submit a letter absolving the president and the party of culpability of any sort in the alleged marginalization in the appointments of party members into government offices. Adamu, who is currently chairman of the Committee on Agriculture in the Senate, is the North Central Coordinator of Buhari’s presidential campaign. He enjoys a cornucopia of respect in the zone as well as massive goodwill in the entire north.
One of the respected voices in the north, Adamu has, with good grace, thrown his hat in the ring in defence of Buhari’s re-election enterprise. An acclaimed political wizard in Nasarawa state, he is not bothered at all about his re-election to the Senate as he has strategically locked in the Nasarawa West senatorial seat. Very popular and loved by his people, the second term senator continues to deploy his legerdemain for electoral support. Having secured the home base, he is clear-headed about the bigger picture of the unfolding presidential clash.
His first strategic battle was against the reordered sequence of 2019 general elections. Acting in pari materiawith national and APC’s interests, he and some colleagues to whom he provides a sharply-focused leadership were able to dilate the Senate plan to override the president’s veto of the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment Bill 2018) in furtherance of their sympathetic support for the president’s electoral cause. The issue of overriding Buhari’s veto of the Bill is dead.
Indeed, the group’s arguments verge on the president’s achievements and not on primordial sentiments. It holds the view that Buhari has done well enough to deserve a consolidating second term in office. For instance, the group is enamoured by the national and international awareness and support that the president has attracted to the anti-corruption crusade, the degrading of the Boko Haram insurgents and the positive outlook that the economy is gaining with the shoring up of the nation’s foreign reserve from about $21 billion under the immediate past administration to about $47.8 billion presently.
There is also the argument by the Adamu group that the president has the constitutional right to seek a second term. With the full force of approbation of the Buhari effects in government in the last three years, Adamu has committed to enthusiastically take on real and perceived oppositions to Buhari’s re-election enterprise. Having assumed the leadership of the pro-Buhari group in the Senate, he has also stepped in the ring to engage Baraje and his band of external aggressors in the defunct nPDP.
Declaring the group as defunct and, therefore, non-existent, Adamu had cautioned that should the APC leadership call the Baraje-led group for a meeting, the leadership should also invite his group to the meeting as critical stakeholders. Interestingly, in the articulation of his group’s counter positions, Adamu admitted that members of the defunct nPDP to which he and his colleagues on the counter protest belonged, had been taken care of by Buhari and the APC in appointments.
To validate the claim, he had listed the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, five governors, about six senators occupying the chairmanship of juicy committees and a minister (Rotimi Amaechi) as some of the strategic positions held by members of the defunct nPDP. Adamu’s audacious leadership of the counter offensive has substantially defused tension and knocked the bottom off the presumption that Baraje’s threat enjoyed the kind of unanimity that propelled the group’s breakaway from the PDP in 2014.
Having successfully led a counter action to puncture yet another conspiracy against Buhari and the APC, Adamu and his followers are, no doubt, riding on the crest of approbation in the familiar and sympathetic conclaves of Buhari’s support groups in the legislature, the executive and the APC, whose diktats, as a governing party, will eventually be the lot of the opposition elements within if they do not jump ship.
Ojeifo sent in this piece from Abuja.