The tussle for the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has continued to deepen cracks and frictions in the party. The APC has been polarized into factions struggling for the hegemony of the party structures which determines who gets what ticket, when and how for elections on its platform.
Apparently, the hegemony struggle spilled over to the skirmishes over the move for the removal of the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by some governors in the party. The emerging skirmishes coincided with the horse trading and simulation by potential presidential aspirations for new micro alliances and new coalition in the parry.
Thus, APC leaders carry new burden of regulating the negotiations, bargaining and horse trading in the jostle for its presidential ticket; and also contend with increasing polarization into contradictory factions, coalitions and blocs struggling for the hegemony of the party structure in the buildup to 2023.
Accordingly, potential aspirants have deployed their political machines into preliminary mobilization, political simulation, maneouvres and overtures for the formation of new alliances; while some of the alliances are also seeking ways to dismantle the party leadership in the suspicion of impulse of partisan pressures on the leaders to subvert internal democracy in the decisions of who gets what party ticket or coordinating the primary election without prejudices for the 2023 elections.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that no aspirant should use his office or name to mobilise for support. The president also cautioned that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police to ensure that they do not rig the 2023 general elections in favour of any political party.
Potential aspirants for APC Presidential ticket
Party leaders linked to the struggle for APC 2023 presidential ticket include the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Though, none has formally declared for the 2023 presidential race.
The configuration of the social relations among stakeholders in APC shows that the struggle for the party’s presidential ticket is subtly translating into warfare and factional conflagration. This is reinforced by the formation of alliances establishing four power blocs.
Symptoms of conflagration and seeming intolerance manifested at the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, National Secretariat, Abuja, on Friday, November 22, 2019. The venue was converted into a theater of war which provided the laboratory of violence to experiment the fireworks of the potential aspirants and their blocs contending for APC 2023 presidential ticket.
Outburst of Violent at APC Secretariat
Some APC stakeholders lamented that prelude to the NEC meeting at the National Secretariat, there was violent outburst in the early hours of the day between Oshiomhole’s supporters and supporters of his opponents who engaged the other with dangerous weapons, identified to include stones, cutlasses, and sticks in a free-for-all fight. Security operatives were said to be invited for intervention to contain the violence before the NEC meeting held later in the day.
The show of capacity for violence at the APC NEC meeting was heralded by the seeming intractable conflicts in various states, leading to the pressure from APC governors on Oshiomhole to convene the NEC meeting or resign.
How Oshiomhole survived plot for his removal
The APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, luckily survived the plot by some governors to remove him at the party’s NEC meeting. There were indications that some APC governors had planned to escalate the conflagrations in the party at the NEC meeting in Abuja, with a plan to impeach Oshiomhole, but did not get the support of President Buhari to whom there has been cornucopia complaints of leadership failure against the national chairman. The protection of the President empowered Oshiomhole to frustrate the plot to remove him from office.
National Daily gathered that the APC State Chairman in Zamfara, Lawal Liman, had indicated to speak at the NEC meeting but being suspected of plot to move a motion for the impeachment of the national chairman; Oshiomhole, pre-empting the plot, suddenly called for a motion of adjournment, thus, ending the meeting abruptly without ratification of the resolutions by NEC. The NEC meeting, therefore, ended inconclusive.
President Buhari had left the meeting before the adjournment.
Oshiomhole is widely held to be loyal to Tinubu, and is, therefore, suspected to be under pressure to compromise his neutrality and work for his principal in the APC primary election to nominate the party’s 2023 presidential candidate.
Competing alliances/blocs in APC
The coalition challenging the national chairman was identified to include Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, who has been having protracted conflict with Oshiomhole; Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who still has an axe to grind with Tinubu in the 2020 Ondo State governorship election when he will be seeking re-election for second term; Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF). This bloc was identified to be working in alliance with Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, who is linked to the vice-presidential ticket with Fayemi.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai was identified to be leading another coalition that includes Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, etc. in the struggle to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
The Tinubu bloc was identified to include Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State and Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, in addition to several State chairmen, a retinue of National Assembly members, NEC members, NWC and non-NWC members.
Another bloc identified to include Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, Governor Mai-Mala Buni of Yobe State and Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, was said to be neutral and constitutes the “non-aligned governors” who may provide balance of power to break any deadlock.
Buhari assurance of neutrality
President Buhari, perceiving the threats of intractable conflicts in the buildup to 2023 and other isolated state elections, in addition to the hangover of unresolved conflicts from the 2019 general elections, declared that he has not anointed or endorsed anybody to succeed him. The President, while insisting on adhering to the constitution by not seeking third term, promised he would support the process that would lead to the emergence of a credible candidate in APC for the 2023 presidential election.
President Buhari also appealed to APC stakeholders to work collectively for cohesion of the party to ensure that APC does not “collapse” after his tenure or even before the end of his second term.