One of the biggest political challenges that President Muhammadu Buhari is facing is the opposition within his party- the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially at the National Assembly. How Buhari tackles the ‘rebellion’ will determine how smooth he will run his government, the fortunes of his party- the APC, especially in future elections, and how members of the APC will view the supremacy of the party.
Being the President of the nation, Buhari enjoys the support of his party leadership most importantly, that of the party leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other senior party stalwarts, thus Buhari has upper hands against the opposition within the APC. Having opposition within a political party is natural and healthy for a democracy, however what is happening in the APC is unique- the ‘rebels’ have their calculations linked to future elections and are in close romance with the ousted external opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Buhari has some very strong and reliable weapons to tackle this opposition within his party; first, he must make sure that procedures and laid down processes are followed to the letter in every aspect of government business including in the legislature- especially when it comes public fund expenditure. Secondly, Buhari’s posture of ‘no more business as usual’ should be unfailingly adhered to. These two are strong weapons because a lot of individuals in the National Assembly who are aligning themselves to the ‘opposition within’ are doing so hoping that when the ‘kill’ is ready, they will enjoy the ‘spoil’.
Most crises in the National Assembly have been connected to struggles by the actors to be part of those who will enjoy political spoils. The ‘rebellion’ against the APC leadership by some of its members in the National Assembly cannot also be far from that. A closer look at the APC legislators in the National Assembly whom the public see as major forces behind the rebellion reveal old termers in red and green chambers, who fully understand and have tasted the ‘honey’ that comes with being close to the leadership of the National Assembly. When things are allowed to work as they ought to and the expected ‘spoils’ no longer come, Nigerians will be relieved and most of the actors will sheath their swords.
Some people are suggesting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC should send for the ‘like mind actors’ and dig into their past. Definitely something can be found out against most of them; however there will be backlash and accusations of political witch-hunting and misuse of security agencies. In fact, using the EFCC to resolve political issues is a wrong and condemnable. Buhari should rather firmly stand on his vow to allow process and procedures to follow laid down rules. Toxic politicians in the National Assembly and even in the executive will come back to their senses when this is done.
Fourth, Buhari should take the path of reconciliation and employ the spirit of give and take: This is would be the best for all the parties- the APC, its leadership and Buhari would be appeased, while the APC caucus of the National Assembly will be crisis free. But would the gladiators, especially in the Senate submit to party supremacy, which they preached to the masses during election? There are reports that Senate President Bukola Saraki is seeking the blessings of the Emir of Ilorin to intervene between him and Buhari. This means Saraki is now more worried, having seen the Dogora group in the House of Representatives bow to party supremacy. Having seen the writings on the walls and the growing public anger, the group acceded to the party’s decision and announced Femi Gbajabiamila as the house leader. Bukola can also thread the same path.
Some observers are saying Saraki’s strong romance with the PDP, the commitment he has to his like-minded colleagues and the politics of 2019 make this a difficult path for him. One may understand Saraki worries, he traded off the position of the deputy senate president to the minority PDP, and many see that as desperation to be senate president and also a betrayal of his party leadership- no party leadership can condole such act.
Looking at Buhari’s position on the crisis, one can say Buhari has no issues with any of the actors, the President is rather asking them to follow and accept the supremacy of the party which was sold to the masses during the 2015 elections. Anybody the All Progressive Congress (APC) presented was voted for, and most of the actors were beneficiaries of the APC sack.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08036070980.