In the All Progressives Congress (APC), it is not easy to determine where the power base lies. The party has an elected President who is supposed to be the leader of the party. In the United States of America where we borrowed our constitution, once an elected President assumes office, nobody hears about the Chairman of either the Republican or the Democratic Party. It is the President that is in charge.
But in APC, the party also has a National Leader, whose functions are not clearly defined, but who, nevertheless, wields enormous influence in the party. The National Leader can ask the party not to field Mr. A or Mr. B in an election, whether or not the fellow had won the primaries, or had performed well in his first outing.
The APC equally has a National Chairman, who more or less is like an errand boy to either the President or the National Leader. They will always use him to disqualify any candidate they did not like his face, or they would not want to contest an election.
If you ask Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdullaziz Yari of Zamfara State, among others, they will tell you more about this, how their respective godsons that actually won the gubernatorial primaries in their respective states were edged out by the powers that be, either in Lagos or in Abuja.
The case of Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos appears to be even more pathetic. While Ambode was acknowledged to have performed creditably in infrastructural development, he was however said to be tightfisted by refusing to service the godfather. As result, he was told barefacedly not to seek reelection. He complied. Even at that, they still would want to pull him down before he completes the one tenure allowed him.
But in the case of Okorocha, Amosun, and even Yuri, they were adamant, unyielding. They refused to budge or to be cowed. While they chose to remain in APC to pursue their individual political ambitions, they decided to push their godsons forward to different political parties to contest gubernatorial elections there. In other words, it is their one leg in APC and their other leg in other political parties. Some people said it is anti party, but they would not listen.
For President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a reelection, this has put him in a serious difficulty, in a dilemma, in a very tight corner. What would he do to these “recalcitrant” governors, who though claim to be members of his political party, but yet are rooting for their godsons in other political parties? Will he ignore them, and possibly sanction them, and continue with his political campaigns? He was simply confused.
But these governors are very powerful and cannot be easily tied down. They control the grassroots. They have many followers.Therefore they cannot be easily ignored, or worse of all, sanctioned, else they do a lot of damages, put sand into somebody’s garri. So our President decided to lie low, to play along.
At the Aso Rock Villa, the seat of government, the other day, we saw the APC gubernatorial candidate for Ogun State visit the President. He welcomed him and gave him his blessing. A little while later, we equally saw Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, led his godson who is contesting the same gubernatorial position in the state, but in another political party, came to Aso Rock. The President equally welcomed them and gave the fellow his blessing. Some people started hissing, what did the President do? Playing a double game!
Just last Tuesday at APC Presidential campaign rally in Owerri, Imo State, a little drama played out. President Muhammadu Buhari had led other dignitaries to the campaign rally. Governor Rochas Okorocha who is an APC senatorial candidate was there, along with his son-in-law, who is contesting for the governorship of the state, but in a different political party. There was equally Hope Uzodinma, APC gubernatorial candidate for the state.
Every other speaker at the rally including the loquacious Adams Oshiomole, except of course, Rochas Okorocha, drummed support for all the APC candidates seeking election.
When it was time for President Buhari to speak, he was in a fix. He did not know what to do. He was confused. If he were to canvass support for the APC gubernatorial candidate, Okorocha would turn against him, he thought. On the other hand, were he to tell the people to vote for Okorocha’s son-in-law, not only that it would be unethical, it would amount to committing a political suicide.
Then, what would our President do? He decided to play safe. He did not want to hurt anybody. He told the people of Imo state to vote for whoever they want!
Many of those in the audience were dumbfounded. They were shocked. They were flabbergasted. They felt disappointed. Why would the President sacrifice principle on the altar of exigency? So, President Buhari is only interested in delivering himself?, a lot of them had asked.
President Buhari was in Owerri to campaign for votes for his political party, the APC. But he was not bold enough to tell the people to vote for the candidates of his own political party, but told them to vote for whoever they preferred, according to their conscience.
While some of the diehard supporters of Hope Uzodinma were said to be disappointed, Okorocha and his group went home smiling.