The Senator representing Yobe-East, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, has given a damning verdict on the performance of his party, the All Progressives Congress, over the last three years.
Ibrahim who was a three-time governor of Yobe State said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC was in many ways not better than the Peoples Democratic Party it defeated in 2015.
The APC senator spoke at a dinner to mark his 70th birthday and book launch at Barcelona Hotel in Abuja on Saturday.
Ibrahim said he, like most Nigerians, had a dream that the nation would be changed for the better when the APC took over in 2015, but that more than three years down the line, those hopes had been dashed.
He warned that unlike in 2015 when it had a smooth ride to power, the APC would have to do more to convince the people of the North-East to consider voting for it because a lot had changed.
The senator, who is a founding member of the APC, said, “Without mincing words, as an elder statesman, I must say that my dreams and hopes have been dashed.
“We have certainly not done what I dreamed we would do and in many ways, we are no better than the PDP that we sought to displace.
“As we move towards the elections, I have to give a dire warning to the APC. Things are no longer the way they were in 2015 when we rode to power on a cloud of euphoria believing that things will change.
Simply put, things have not changed and many things are worse and the people are bitter. We should not assume that we can win even with massive rigging.”
The senator, who is not seeking re-election following a political arrangement which saw him ceding his seat to Governor Ibrahim Geidam, said a lot of work was required if the APC was to return to power in 2019.
Ibrahim said, “The economy has gone down because of our actions and we are blaming the past too much rather than solving the present problems. I am going to give a dire warning.
“Let the North-East not be taken for granted that we must support the APC. Our interest in the North-East has always been progressive and I will personally be watching for improvement in the APC.
“Improvements that will guarantee us victory (should) include respecting the rule of law and releasing political prisoners. If we are fighting corruption, let us fight every corrupt person and not select people in what may be seen as a one-sided witch-hunt.”
He added, “I shall sit back and continue encouraging my party to do the right thing. But if we don’t, I still reserve the capacity to ask my people to go our separate ways and do what must be done for good governance to reign in Nigeria.”
Ibrahim stressed that he had no reason to lie at his age. The senator described himself as a socialist progressive amidst politicians in the zone who were mostly capitalist conservatives.
Another APC senator who spoke on condition of anonymity because he claimed he did “not want to jeopardise ongoing peace efforts”, said the party was toying with its chances in 2019 with its poor handling of the fallout of the primaries.
The lawmaker said, “The party has not lived up to our expectations, the least one expects of a political party like the APC which promised change is for it to respect the principle of internal democracy. A political party should respect the wishes of the majority of its members not an individual.”
Similarly, a member of the House of Representatives, Mr Kehinde Odeneye, has also expressed his bitterness over the turn of events in the APC.
Odeneye, who spoke on Sunday, warned that the party might be kicked out of office in 2019 if genuine efforts were not made to address the frustration of many loyalists.
Odeneye, who represents the Ijebu Ode/Odogbolu/Ijebu North-East Federal Constituency of Ogun State, told The PUNCH that National Assembly members were the most hit by certain developments in the party, lately, particularly their inability to get return tickets for 2019.
Odeneye alleged that many members worked for the success of the party on the promise that they would be compensated, only to have their hopes dashed.
He spoke more, “It’s very unfortunate where we have found ourselves today. If we are not able to resolve the issues, they may affect our chances in 2019.
“A lot of people are aggrieved, most especially National Assembly members, who stood by the party. There was promise of compensation but that has not been the case. The National Assembly members are the grass-roots people working for the party.”
The lawmaker hinted that President Muhammadu Buhari too was disturbed and had summoned another emergency stakeholders’ meeting for Tuesday (tomorrow) to address some of the issues.
Odeneye added, “I understand Mr President is going to meet with the stakeholders on Tuesday to step in and discuss with everybody and see how to resolve all of these issues.
“My prayer is for him to have God’s enablement to assuage the grievances of people; else winning in 2019 will require a lot of work.
“The way things are, we have to be very careful. Our issues are so much that even PDP now has fewer problems, compared to the APC. Ours are so much as in virtually all the states, there is one issue or the other.”
He noted that the APC came into power and failed to manage its success properly.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to manage our success. The same thing that happened to the PDP in 2013, 2014, is exactly what is happening to the APC. There is no equity and justice and fairness.
“The way the PDP is going, our own is even getting worse. There will be serious problems, there will be serious problems for us,” he said.
Also a House of Reps member from Imo State, Mr Nnana Igbokwe, also criticised the APC for applying “policies not known to law” in picking candidates for 2019.
Igbokwe who cited the crises in Imo, Zamfara, Rivers and Ogun State, noted that the APC “deliberately” breached the Electoral Act, the 1999 Constitution, the electoral guideline and its own constitution in deciding who would become a candidate.
He said, “In Imo State, are we saying that a man, who introduced this party should not have say in its affairs?
“Governor Rochas Okorocha brought APC to the South-East at a time they were calling it Hausa party.
“He went round the states to sell this party. Today, look at what is happening. Where on earth do you substitute someone, who participated and won the primary, with the name of another person?”
Igbowe stated that he was afraid for the APC in 2019 if it continued to hold to some of the decisions it had taken lately.
“Some of these decisions will be thrown out by the Judiciary. We had better be careful because I fear for us, I fear for 2019”, he added.
Igbokwe advised the APC to “retrace” its steps and correct some of wrong decisions it had taken in the choice of candidates.
Buhari takes over peace process
As the APC crisis deepens, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken over the process of restoring the confidence of aggrieved members of the party.
A top-ranking member of the party’s National Working Committee confirmed the development to one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the issue.
The source said, “The President has chosen a different approach this time; he is meeting with the aggrieved persons directly so that he can deal with the situation.
“As you know, some of our party people go to tell him things and only the aggrieved can say what level of injustice they suffered. He even met with a delegation of aggrieved party members from Bauchi yesterday. ”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed this development in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Sunday.
Shehu spoke amidst media reports that Buhari had set up a five-man committee to look into the post-primaries crises and advise him accordingly.
Media reports had it that the committee had since submitted its report to the President and that he (the President) would be meeting some critical stakeholders on Tuesday.
Although he did not give details of Buhari’s intervention, Shehu said the President was “deeply and directly involved” in the efforts aimed at ensuring peace in the party.
The presidential spokesman added that Buhari’s involvement was evident in some of his recent activities.
He said, “The President is aware of the urgency of the situation (the APC post-primaries crises) and he is dealing with the matter headlong.
“He is directly and deeply involved in how to resolve the issue as can be seen from his activities lately.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, expressed confidence that with President Muhammaduu Buhari as its standard bearer, the party would retain power in 2019.
He said the task before the APC was made easier by the candidates being paraded by the opposition PDP.
Nabena spoke in Abuja, on Sunday. He said the last minute declaration of support for former Vice President Atiku by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo would do nothing to stop Buhari’s victory because neither Obasanjo nor Atiku could match Buhari’s integrity.
He said “Throughout their second tenure in office, (2003-2007) and until a fortnight ago, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had described Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as a corrupt, disloyal and unpatriotic leader who was not fit and proper to handle the mantle of Nigerian leadership.
“Only recently, Obasanjo vowed that God would not forgive him if he supported the presidential aspiration of Atiku as ‘it would amount to handing Nigeria over to sharks and looters.’”
“It is this tendency towards indecision, insincerity, double talk and deception that has made Nigeria ridiculed in the eyes of the international community. A statesman is known for his principles and his statements are based on the strength of his convictions.”
This came at a time, the Senator Representing the Zamfara Central in the Senate is seeking the immediate expulsion of the state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, from the party.
Marafa, who is seeking the APC’s governorship ticket to contest the 2019 elections, blamed the governor for the crisis which led to the Independent National Electoral Commission barring the APC from presenting candidates for the election in Zamfara.
The senator said expelling Yari was necessary “to stop the governor and his cohorts from their plot to pull down the APC and frustrate the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
He said, “The governor should be expelled for (alleged) gross indiscipline and violation of our party constitution. The measure becomes necessary to maintain party discipline and deter others that may be tempted to take similar actions to achieve their selfish objectives.”
Marafa listed 10 alleged offences committed by Yari to include “Frustrating the efforts of NWC to conduct direct primaries for Zamfara State; directing state officials to conclude an election that was cancelled by a panel that has legal authority to do so; announcing the result of an illegal election conducted by his faction in violation of subsisting court order.
“Blocking APC’s chances of fielding candidates by conducting and announcing (results of) an illegal election on 7th October 2018; causing disunity and disaffection among the APC family in Zamfara State; neglecting totally his primary responsibility of providing leadership in the face of wanton killings, raping and kidnappings of innocent people that he is being paid to protect, thereby portraying APC in bad light both locally and internationally.”
Another offence allegedly committed by Yari, according to Marafa, is “spending of Zamfara taxpayers’ money on the sponsorship of protests to remove the law-abiding National Chairman of our great party, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”