Unongo Paul (A former Minister of Steel) At 81 years of age, I am not a novice in Nigerian politics. I have spent over six decades participating actively in politics. So, I know much about the trend of Nigerian politics. We can look at what is happening in the All Progressives Congress in different ways. At my level, I believe it is good for democratic practice in Nigeria.
Whenever there is a controversy, Nigerians are scared, especially when the political party that is involved is the ruling party. People are scared that the crisis could destabilise the party. Are we supposed to have a party of sycophants that does not get destabilised? The problem of Nigeria’s political party structure from evolution is lack of internal democracy.
In relation to this, there is a phenomenon where a few people attempt to capture the structure of a political party and impose their will on the party.
Also, when two critical members of a political party in the persons of Bola Tinubu and John Odigie-Oyegun open up to the public, the assumption is that they must have discussed the issues at the highest level of the party over and over without reaching an agreement. The disagreement could be over the need to follow the party’s ideology.
Should the APC, the leftist party, suffer from the ills that the Peoples Democratic Party appears to have suffered from? Should the leader of the party who suffered a lot to build the party sit down and watch the party being destroyed? I think Tinubu might have weighed the fact that he is a national leader of the party; he might have made failed attempts to resolve the issues internally before coming to the public. People might have said, “Don’t disgrace the party.” But we should understand that a political party is not a religious organisation. It is an ideological creation of man to manage political affairs. And if the APC has deviated from its ideology, somebody has to draw our attention to that. Nigerians should not see this as a destabilisation but a struggle to restore internal democracy.
Femi Okurounmu (A former senator/chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on 2014 National Conference) I have always said that the APC is not a political party. It is a congregation of political gamblers, people who came together with the intention to capture power for their selfish interests. That is why you would notice that the party is threatened each time the ambition of an individual leader of the party is threatened.
The union is not a stable one as all the members are seeking different goals. There is no group agenda. Bola Tinubu’s agenda is personal; John Odigie-Oyegun’s agenda for the party is personal. The same thing applies to the other leaders of the party. National agenda is minimal on the party’s programme.
I am not surprised that they have started fighting one another. I am not surprised that Tinubu is attacking Odigie-Oyegun. That should be expected from a party that is populated by people who feel it is their turn to loot the country.
It is in the interest of Nigeria for the party to disintegrate. It is also in the interest of Nigeria for the Peoples Democratic Party to disintegrate as well. This would lead to the emergence of new political parties that are focused on redeeming Nigeria. The two leading political parties are groups of looters. They do not have the interest of Nigerians at heart. They are only concerned about the interest of their leaders. Nigeria would experience the beginning of progress the day the two parties fall apart.
Ann-kio Briggs (Human rights activists) The people who make up the All Progressives Congress are not strangers to Nigerian politics. They are part of the people who have been manipulating the political system since 1960. They are among those who have destroyed this country. They came to do what they have always done — deceive, confuse, lie and loot.
Unfortunately, to their own surprise, Nigerians who should have known better believed their lies. Where are we today? We are on the verge of collapse as a nation. We are on the verge of a break-up. The APC has no place for Nigeria. Its only plan is for its leaders. Unfortunately for them, this is the very cause of their internal conflicts. They have no idea what to do with the country. Hence, they have resorted to internal wrangling.
Timi Frank (Acting National publicity Secretary, All progressives Congress) I was the first person that called for the resignation of John Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman of the party. That was when the problem at the National Assembly started. I, particularly, condemned the infamous mock election conducted to pick the leaders of the National Assembly. I called for the resignation of Odigie-Oyegun, but nobody took my complaint seriously.
I also called for his resignation after the Bayelsa State governorship primary. But nobody listened to me. After the primary, I granted a press conference, warning that the APC would lose Bayelsa with Timipre Sylva as its candidate. I complained that the primary that produced Sylva was fraudulent. Indeed, we lost. A similar scenario is playing out in Ondo State today. I wished the party’s leaders listened to my recommendations after the Bayelsa primary.
When Alhaji Lai Mohammed was appointed minister, I was supposed to be made the substantive National Publicity Secretary. But Odigie-Oyegun denied me the right. I cried out but nobody listened to me. I said Odigie-Oyegun was not competent to continue as the national chairman of the party, but nobody listened to me.
Today, the national leaders have realised the enormity of my complaint. What I can tell Nigerians is that if nothing is done to remove Odigie-Oyegun, more harm would be done to the party. Long before now, I raised the alarm over the internal crisis in the party but Odigie-Oyegun countered by position. Now, we cannot hide the crisis. There is a crisis in Kano State. There is a crisis in kaduna State. There is a crisis in Edo State. There is a crisis in Kogi State. And the crises are deepening. Odigie-Oyegun has not demonstrated that he has the capacity to address any of the crises.
Mayor Eze (Ex-member, House of Reps) The All Progressives Congress is a coat of many colours. When you talk about party politics, you are referring to ideologies, foundations and regular meetings. At the national level, how many times has the APC met? Even at state level, do they meet?
Does the APC understand party politics? What statement has it issued on the recession facing the country? What is its position on how it would be tackled?
We do not have a provision for independent candidature in Nigeria; every elected public officer comes from a political party. That shows the power of a political party. At the last general election, it was the political party and not the individual that was voted to every political office. So, a party must have an overwhelming influence on its members.
Today, the President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Reps are members of the APC. Why are they fighting one another? You do not secure power just for the purpose of grabbing power. The challenge with the APC is ideological.
The Peoples Democratic Party would always sit down to discuss challenges no matter how bad the situation was. There might not be a solution at a single meeting. But after a series of meetings, they would begin to evolve a roadmap towards solving the crisis. But does the APC meet? This is the root of its crisis.
Jubril Ogundimu (Human rights activists) The conflict in the All Progressives Congress is beyond the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu. The South-West is vital to Nigerian politics; it is the deciding factor. That is very clear.
What I believe is that some northern politicians are making attempts to reduce the influence of Tinubu in the South-West. That is the reason why Tinubu himself must be very careful.
The conflict is not about the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun. Tinubu and Odigie-Oyegun belong to the same ideological bloc. So, they could not have had irresolvable misunderstandings. I believe some people are using the party’s national chairman against Tinubu. And more people who are loyal to Tinubu would be hijacked as the conflict unfolds.
Already, it is obvious that Tinubu is losing his grip on the South-West. The 2015 Lagos governorship election is a reference point — the APC won marginally. These are clear indications that people are working very hard to reduce the ex-governor’s influence. It is a battle for the soul of the Yoruba land.