Edo 2020 governorship election was a contest between All Progressive Congress (APC) and itself. The outcome of the election has many lessons for the ruling APC. The lessons for the APC are for ‘today’ in regards to the current high-wired rivalry within the party and for ‘tomorrow’- the 2023 general elections and the politics of APC presidential primaries.
The before and after events of the Edo governorship election has clearly brought to the fore the hot-politicking among some bigwigs in the APC. Some party bigwigs are seem delighted that the party lost the election in Edo, just because Bola Ahmed Tinubu supported Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who ended up losing. Some stalwarts seem happy the party lost because the defeat means the final nail in the coffin of Adams Oshiomhole’s influence in the APC. Some APC bigwigs are happy the APC lost the election, just because it gives them a temporary ‘victory’ in the power struggle within the party vis-a-vis the permutations of the 2023 party presidential primaries.
Two inferences are possible from the defeat; the continuation of the implications of Adams Oshiomhole tenure as APC national chairman which some analysts say was characterized by misjudgments and failure to manage complex party affairs. The other inference is the indifference of President Muhammadu Buhari to asserting his authority in bringing any party crisis to an end. It was a huge shock to many political observers that the entire structure of the APC could not reconcile a sitting governor (Godwin Obaseki) and a sitting National Chairman of the party (Adams Oshiomole). Similar unresolved crises in the APC in Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa , Taraba, Rivers cost the party major offices including governorship seats.
Internal conflicts are normal in political parties especially in growing democracies like Nigeria’s. But when such conflicts become messy and personal; the ‘hands’ of a leader are needed to put a stop to it. Former President Obasanjo did that for the PDP, when he was in office. The All Progressive Congress (APC) was formed by different individuals with diverse interests and political backgrounds. Nonetheless, harmony amongst members is still possible.
As the permutations for 2023 gather momentum, the battle will be fierce – the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be on the offensive while the All Progressive Congress (APC) will be forced to be on the defensive. Nigerians will be able to put both parties on a scale and score them. PDP had spent 16 years in power while the APC would have spent 8. Both have tasted power.
The Ondo governorship elections on October 10 is an opportunity for the APC to reassess itself. The bulk lies with President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwajo Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the two men who ‘literarily’ formed the APC. Tinubu should gauge his ambition and the survival of the APC. President Muhammdu Buhari, as the leader of the APC, needs to look into every crisis in the party, address discontentment and entrench unity. The starting point should be the reward system, which is currently virtually ‘thin’ in the APC, and needs to be restructured. For example, Buhari has not done well in the area of political patronage especially for his ardent supporters notably in the north, they feel left behind, Buhari needs to retrospect.
We must admit that no political party in power can be crisis-free. The current squabble in the APC revolves mainly around the 2023 presidential elections. Some bigwigs just need ego-massage- a simple apology and presidential hand-shake, giving them a sense of relevance. Others need assurances of their political future while some individuals need government patronage- contracts or appointment. The APC must commence building a new platform of young men. One must commend the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy for being systematic in bringing development and incorporated young people in governance, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for rekindling the politics of broad-hand-shake in the APC, Gov. Kayiode Fayemi for being a vanguard for consultations and Gov Simon Lalong for peace building. These are good for the APC.
What happened in Edo shows that the power squabble and the 2023 permutations in the APC have become messier and the personal intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari is critically needed.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa state