The perceived weakness of opposition political parties few months to next year’s election has been adduced as possible reasons for the nonchalant posture of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari.
What is more, the fanfare that heralded the adoption of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) convened by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to realise its dream of a new Nigeria few months ago is gradually waning.
The major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also continued to move from one crisis to another.
Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Dr. Abduljalil Tafawa-Balewa lead the Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), which recently adopted the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) as its political party ahead of the 2019 general elections but is also yet to gain the anticipated momentum.
Observers have likened the activities of NIM to those of human rights organisations, rather than of a political party aiming to contest and win election.
Apart from the PDP, ADC and ANN, it is hard to point at any other political party out of the 48 existing platforms that has the bite to challenge the ruling party in terms of strength, financial capacity and organizational ability.
However, while there are ongoing talks among 30 groups including Labour Party (LP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Democratic Peoples Congress (DPC), Action Alliance (AA), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Young Democratic Party (YDP), Democratic Alternative (DA) and National Conscience Party (NCP) for a merger, the development within the ADC, where a faction was said to have pulled out, may jeopardize the coalition.
Others involved in coalition arrangements are Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), Better Nigeria Peoples Party (BNPP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), United Democratic Party (UDP) and National Action Congress (NAC) among others.
How ADC split began
While the leadership of ADC gathered at the Sheraton Hotels Lagos on Tuesday for a programme it tagged: ‘Coalition for Electoral Integrity’, to educate the electorate on the need to protect and judiciously use their votes instead of selling same to politicians on election day for peanuts, a group within the party that claimed to be loyal to Obasanjo announced its withdrawal at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. It named itself New ADC.
In a letter signed by the protem chairman, Chief Precious Elekima, and addressed to the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the faction said the contention was the alliance formed by the ADC with PDP, the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-ADC) and 38 other political parties.
The group said it has already notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the formation of the association.
The n-ADC alleged that ADC has strayed from the initial agenda aimed to salvage the country from both PDP and APC.
It said since some of the national leaders of the party have chosen to go into alliance with PDP and the ruling APC, the n-ADC faithful who do not wish to be part of the bandwagon were forced to stand out.
Elekima also alleged that his people were not consulted when the Nwosu-led ADC decided to form a collation with other political parties.
But ADC national chairman, Chief Okey Nwosu, who was at the Tuesday event in Lagos dismissed Elekima as a dissident and non card-carrying members of ADC.
He stated there was no room for thugs in their fora.
Nwosu said the characters behind n-ADC were hired agents acting out a script from their paymasters for reasons best known to them.
Nwosu stressed that the party was prepared to lead Nigeria out of the socio-economic mess occasioned by the lack of direction on the part of the ruling government, “and we can’t be distracted.
How can you break away from a party that you don’t belong to?”
He also disclosed that the information available to him at the launch of the C4e-Integrity was that: “we have, through the first attempt, ever, by a political party to spearhead the struggle to right the wrongs in Nigeria’s troubled electoral system, won the hearts of many Nigerians as the party to beat in the current political scene.”
The insinuation that Obasanjo was behind the incidence may not be true as a reliable source within the party disclosed that the former president’s name was only brandished to give n-ADC credibility: “Baba was not in the country and he couldn’t have been part of the process to destroy what he built.
“The ruling party might have orchestrated the plan by infiltrating the ranks of ADC members.
In the first instance, APC appears to be uncomfortable with the ongoing coalition arrangements among opposition parties and is bent on doing everything to frustrate them.
“Most stakeholders in the APC have come to realise the fact that their party has lost goodwill and the skepticisms about President Muhammadu Buhari’s state of health.”
Donald Duke angle
It was not easy to ascertain the level of involvement of a former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, in the n-ADC crisis.
But speculations are rife that the major actors behind the n-ADC were those the former governor brought into Obasanjo’s CNM before it adopted the ADC platform.
Before the n-ADC declaration in Abuja on Tuesday, there were reports that Duke had been having some brawls with ADC leadership over his ambition to contest the presidential election in 2019, which does not go down well with the party.
It was also alleged that Obasanjo and Duke are not really on the same page over the former governor’s presidential ambition on the premise that whosoever will replace Buhari next year should come from the northern part of the country.
Duke must have realized the implications of the party forming an alliance with a big party like PDP where the likes of former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, incumbent Senate president Bukola Saraki and other influential northerners are currently planning to realise their presidential ambition.
This must have propelled his supporters in the ADC to pull out on Tuesday.
Although, neither Obasanjo nor Duke has made any public statement on the development, CNM had similar misunderstanding with the Agbakoba and Balewa-led NIM and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) not long ago.
It was alleged that Obasanjo’s initial decision to collapse CNM into SDP did not work due to some irreconcilable differences between him and the national chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae.
His talks with NIM also failed before finally sealing a deal with ADC.