As APC moves to integrate South East, South South in national politics in 2027

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  • We‘ll produce six South South Governors in 2027 – Akpabio, Ganduje
  • One party system not visible – Abdulbaki

BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA

President Bola Tinubu’s administration is barely six months and 12 days in office having been inaugurated on May 29 after winning the 2023 general election on the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Tinubu defeated his closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party to the second and third positions respectively.

However, the President’s party is not resting on its oars in a bid to lock out all the political parties in the land so as to make opposition a mere formality in the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria.

Going by the number of votes garnered by each of the three frontline political parties in the 2023 general elections, one could be right to say that they were neck to neck.

The trio won 12 states each. The only difference was the figures which of course is the determinant factor in who should be declared winner and that was where President Tinubu and his party had it while the rest lost it.

Despite being in control of only four of the 19 states in northern Nigeria, the PDP pulled a major upset in the 25 February presidential election, winning more states than the ruling APC flag bearer, Bola Tinubu, in the region.

Tinubu scored 8,794,726 votes to be declared the winner, ahead of Atiku Abubakar of the PDP who scored 6,984,520, Peter Obi of the Labour Party who scored 6,101,533 and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party who scored 1,496,687 votes.

But the ruling APC is not prepared to allow such closeness that threatened the formation of government with streams of litigation that delayed governance till it was finally nailed at the Supreme Court.

President of the Nigerian Senate, Godswill Akpabio, a fortnight ago said the South South geopolitical zone produced the highest number of votes to elect President Bola Tinubu among the three zones in Southern Nigeria, and as such was confident that the zone would produce APC governors across the zone.

Akpabio, who stated this when APC leaders in the zone paid him a courtesy visit, however, vowed that the region would return Tinubu for a second term, even as he urged Nigerians to exercise patience with the current administration, and not lose hope.

“The only way we can pay back the national leader of our party, the only way we can show the president for standing by us in the South South to produce a Senate President after 45 years is for us to make sure that in 2027, we will give him and the entire APC resounding victory in the six states of the South South region”

He said the APC would ensure that the South-South states are governed by the governors elected under its platform by the time the 2027 elections are held.

“Akwa Ibom was able to deliver almost 800,000 votes. The votes from Akwa Ibom alone for the APC in the presidential election were more than the total votes from the five states of the South East.

“When David Lyon contested in Bayelsa State, he won resoundingly but he was not sworn in, that happened a day before swearing-in and even this last one that Timipre Sylva contested, we also did very well and we are now in court. So, I cannot comment on that.

“That shows you the strength of the APC in the region and even when the People’s Democratic Party is the ruling party in Rivers State, we were able to win Rivers State. Data cannot lie.

“I want to say that with that giant step now that we have a senate President, I don’t see any reason why the entirety of the South South region will not become APC.

“The only way we can pay back the national leader of our party, the only way we can show the president for standing by us in the South South to produce a Senate President after 45 years is for us to make sure that in 2027, we will give him and the entire APC resounding victory in the six states of the South South region.

“We are steadily moving on, Cross Rivers State is 100 per cent APC. Here and there some people will emerge either in the Senate or the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly but in the governorship and government of the state is totally APC.

“Akwa Ibom has the Senate President, so for you to have members of the House of Representatives, it shows that things are about to happen.

“For you to have won the presidential election in Rivers State where the Zonal chairman comes from means things are beginning to happen and even winning in 2019 the Bayelsa State except for technical issues in the court shows clearly that APC has come to stay in the entire South South.

“In Edo State, the APC governor took Government House into another party and so an election is coming next year, as we expect the chairman to double his effort with all of us included in the campaign and ensure we get back what belongs to us.

“On our part, we are working across party lines to support President Tinubu, all the senators of the South South are determined to give him support so that he can succeed irrespective of party affiliation and that is a good sign.”

The declaration of Senator Akpabio came on the heels of persistent declarations by the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje since assumption of office that the ruling APC will spread its dragnets to both the South East and South South zones to make them APC zones before 2027.

Ganduje at several fora, has said that his National Working Committee will use Imo and Ebonyi States as a launching pad to capture the South East zone.

He once assured a Minister and his entourage from the zone that the party under his leadership will continue to work hard till it is accepted in all nooks and crannies of the country, particularly the South East and South South where its presence and acceptance seems shaky.

However, the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, is the Chairman of both the Progressives Governors Forum and the South East Governors Forum, platforms where politics of carpet crossing is played at the highest level.

A politician and businessman, lkenga Adighibemma, described the “capture South East and South South zones at all cost” programme of APC as a very dangerous trend that if not checked will return the country to a dictatorial regime.

“Whatever that is giving the APC such a plan remains against the country’s unity in diversity. It is the same plot they hatched to produce a Muslim/Muslim ticket and now, they are planning on muting the other political parties by coercing their members to join APC. There’s a serious danger of dictatorship looming over our heads but some of us as politicians are not seeing it because politics of what we will benefit has blindfolded us. Our constitution has given us room for a multi-party system, this systematic one party system the APC wants to force on Nigerians has ulterior motives, but let’s watch and see how it unfolds.

“We have been students of international politics and we all know how in some countries, some group of people formed political party for a hidden agenda and used it to capture power and till date, the citizens have been cowed to the extent that they only swallow whatever rot the authority decides, even when they don’t buy into it because raising a voice against it is signing one’s death warrant. This has nothing to do with religion and tribe, though they will play vital roles, it’s all about a clique who wants to turn our commonwealth to their personal and private estate. They’re from all the tribes and religions in our country. The Nigerian populace must not succumb to these antics. It’s very deadly and counterproductive to our growing democracy.”

Adighibemma wondered why the APC is not focusing on giving Nigerians good governance by ensuring that dividends of democracy reach every citizen.

“It’s like good governance and dividends of democracy are mirage in this party. We were almost dead in the eight years of former President Buhari’s administration and as President Tinubu took over, people believed it was time for breathing a sigh of relief, but that was a wrong belief. The hardship is biting harder yet the party’s chieftains are neck deep in taking over all the states of the federation. If all the 36 states governors are APC will it turn around the hardship to a healthy economy? My thinking is that these APC chieftains are seriously distracting the President. Making him to believe that all the governors must belong to the APC for him to win the 2027 general election is the greatest deceit. Imagine the Senate President and his focus. It’s terrible,” he said.

As a strong move to actualize the “capture” project, the NWC of the APC dissolved the Rivers State Executives of the Party at all levels late last month.

Briefing journalists after the meeting of the NWC at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, announced the NWC’s decision to appoint a seven-member Caretaker Committee to steer the party’s affairs in the state for the next six months.

A handful of those appointed for the purpose have been disclaimed by the members of the party in the state who claimed that the said appointees worked against the party’s progress and successful participation in the last election.

But Morka who read out the party’s decision signed by the National Chairman, Ganduje and Deputy National Secretary, Festus Fuanter, disclosed that the Caretaker Committee is mandated to conduct a comprehensive and fresh electronic party registration of all members in the state.

He also said that the Caretaker Committee subject to the directives of the NWC was entrusted with preparing for the conduct of congresses to facilitate the emergence of new executive committees for the party at various levels, extending from the ward to the state levels.

“There’s serious danger of dictatorship looming over our heads but some of us as politicians are not seeing it because politics of what we will benefit has blindfolded us. Our constitution has given us room for a multi-party system, this systematic one party system the APC wants to force on Nigerians has ulterior motives, but let’s watch and see how it unfolds”

Kano born elder statesman and third Republic politician, Abu Abdulbaki, discharged the plan with a wave of the hand saying that Nigeria as a country is more plural than politicians think.

“How can anyone think of such a thing? Even in the days of military regime, it was very difficult to force Nigerians to have a single belief be it political, religious, tribal and others. In our various homes, we don’t control everyone’s opinion and I am talking as a father, public and civil servant and politician. You know I am retired from all these now. But all I am saying is that one party system cannot work in Nigeria. The best they can get is to increase their membership and followership across the country but to say they are planning to produce the 36 governors from one party is a wild goose chase.”

Nevertheless, the standard bearer of the PDP in the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar has constantly accused the APC of plotting to stifle democracy by its ‘snatch, grab and run’ agenda of opposition parties’ mandates.

His statement claimed that sadly and suddenly, a trend whereby the range of opposition engagement continues to be narrowed by the ruling party in Nigeria has been seen.

“Either through the electoral process where opposition parties are rigged out with brazen impunity, or during the post-election court processes where the judiciary is conspicuously doing the biddings of the ruling APC, it has become increasingly apparent that the democracy in Nigeria is in a state of ill-health,” Atiku said.

The former Vice President stated that it gets more curious that all the states where the courts have made controversial declarations are states being controlled by the opposition political parties.

“From Nasarawa, Kano, Zamfara and now to Plateau State, where we are witnessing a situation in which what the ruling party missed out on Election Day is being delivered to them through the courts,” he added.

The statement further claimed that it is even more worrisome by a confirmation of the threat echoed by an APC lawmaker in a viral video that the ruling party will compromise the judicial process to ensure its ultimate victory in the courts in some cases at the Supreme Court.

“It, therefore, means that the times we are in are indeed ominous, and the journey ahead in rescuing our democracy from these buccaneering power grabbers is a long one.

“Recently, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) withdrew a N135bn lawsuit it had instituted against an opposition senator from Anambra State less than 24 hours after he defected to the ruling party,” Atiku stressed.

These claims were described by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Morka as a cry of a confused, drowning politician who has nothing more to offer to the people of Nigeria saying it is nonsense, rubbish to think that APC hijacked INEC and the judiciary.