APC: The Inconvenient Reality


Salihu Moh. Lukman

Salihu Moh. Lukman

The emergence of APC in 2013 raised the hopes of Nigerians that the party will provide a different model of party administration such that processes of candidates’ selection and party governance could allow for broader membership participation. Incidences of imposition of candidates and party leadership and allegations of large-scale corruption, which characterises PDP’s sixteen years tenure as a ruling party at federal level and in majority of the 36 states of the federation were also expected to end, or substantially reduced. The operative culture in PDP was that incidences of imposition of candidates made mockery of party primary. Largely because leaders of the PDP who are delegates during party primary were surrogates of aspiring candidates, manipulation of results of primary was the trademark for candidates selection. Similarly, allegations of vote buying during PDP primary was the order.

Without going into details, these were problems, which frustrated Nigerians and at the time of the emergence of APC in 2013, Nigerians wanted an alternative model of party administration. Not just an alternative model, Nigerians wanted a model that would eliminate or minimise incidences of imposition of candidates and party leaders as well as guaranteeing proficient and accountable party governance. Given the promise of CHANGE, combined with the popularity of former President Muhammadu Buhari, especially in the Northern parts of the country, Nigerians found in APC a new political adoration with the high optimism of birthing a new party different from what defines the PDP since 1999. The rest, as is often said, is now history – APC succeeded in replacing the PDP since 2015 and became the ruling party at federal level and in majority of the 36 states.

How have we as a ruling party performed? Have we been able to present a new model of party governance? Or did we collapse and therefore metamorphosed into another PDP in the name of APC? While as individuals we will have different explanations to the reality called APC today, the reality is that, as a party, it is yet to emerge as the model Nigerians expected when the it emerged in 2013. Incidences of imposition of candidates and allegations of vote buying unfortunately have gradually found strong expression in APC. With serving Governors alleged to be exercising what could be considered monopoly control of party structures at state levels, APC primary is reduced to window dressing activity, producing anointed candidates. Internal party contests are being muscled out of existence. Inducements to party leaders at all levels have graduated beyond rational comprehension.

Beyond all these, cost of party nomination forms in APC have become the most expensive in the political history of Nigeria. Recall that in 2014, ahead of the 2015 general elections, cost of APC Presidential and Gubernatorial nomination forms was respectively, N27.5 million and N5 million. In 2019, it was increased to N45 million and N22.5 million for Presidential and Gubernatorial nomination forms respectively. It rose to N100 million and N50 million in 2023 respectively. At this rate, by 2027, the cost of APC nomination form for Presidential election will not be less than N250 million. That of Gubernatorial election may not be less than N125 million.

While acknowledging that high cost of nomination forms for candidates for election assisted in mobilising large-scale financial resources for the party, it has also brought about allegations of large-scale corruption by APC leadership especially at national level. For instance, in 2023, APC realised more than N32 billion from sales of forms to aspiring candidates under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. Unfortunately, allegations of mismanagement of the funds accrued to the Party by Sen. Adamu, Sen. Iyiola Omisore and Barr. Ahmad El-Marzuq, National Chairman, National Secretary and National Legal Adviser characterised the two-year tenure of Sen. Adamu between March 2022 and July 2023, which led to their resignations.

Apart from allegations of mismanagement of financial resources, there were alleged cases of arbitrary and discretionary management of the party by Sen. Adamu, on account of which virtually all structures of the APC, notably, National Advisory Council, National Executive Committee and National Caucus, were frozen. The National Advisory Council, which by the provision of Article 13.2B(i) requires the National Secretary to ‘not later than one month after an elective convention, convene the meeting …at which its first leadership, including the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary and other officials that may be deemed necessary, shall be constituted, remained a proposition. The National Executive Committee, which by the provision of Article 25.2(i) of the APC Constitution is required to meet every quarter, met only once throughout the tenure of Sen. Adamu.

The reality is that between 2015 and today, APC function with most of its structures as provided in the party’s constitution not operational. Powers of these structures were usurped by leaders of the party, mainly the National Chairman and the President who should be the moral leader of the party mainly expected to act as the conscience of the Party. Between 2015 and 2023, during the tenure of former President Buhari, many party leaders and members were able to leverage the ‘moral authority’ of the former President to contest and seek redress of Constitutional infractions by leaders of the party. This is largely responsible for many of the internal leadership contestations in APC since 2019. Those contestations resulted in changes of leadership of the party at different times.

Sadly, experiences since the emergence of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the new moral leader of the APC produce a new reality whereby potential infractions may be created by initiatives directly coming from the President himself. A typical example is the case of altering the APC’s zoning formula by arbitrarily moving the position of the National Chairman from North-Central to North-West. Even when for instance the North-Central remained shut out of consideration from any of the key positions in the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, the position of National Chairman is being occupied by Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje from Kano State, North-West with North-Central completely merginalised both in the party and in the APC controlled Federal Government led by President Asiwaju Tinubu. Intriguingly, APC leaders are calm, not even leaders from North-Central seem to be disturbed by this new reality. What has really taken over President Asiwaju Tinubu?

Arguably, the situation in APC after ten years of existence as a party and eight years as a ruling party is gradually catching up with the low standards set by PDP during its sixteen years. It is quite alarming that a party envisioned to be progressive will be associated with such arbitrary conduct. All these could be explained with reference to ensuring that structures of the APC are allowed to operate as provided in the APC Constitution. If structures of the party are allowed to operate, decisions of party organs would be binding on all leaders including the National Chairman and the President. Why should leaders who claimed to be progressive be opposed to meetings of party organs? If APC leaders are not disposed to allowing party organs to meet based on which they subordinate themselves and therefore become accountable to party members, to what extend would Nigerians expect that elected leaders produced by the APC, including President Asiwaju Tinubu, would be accountable to Nigerians?

If care is not taken, at the rate we are indulging our leaders in APC, tolerating, and accommodating undemocratic conduct and, perhaps, illegality, we would end up betraying all the goodwill of Nigerians and with it also erode all the electoral viability of the APC. As things are, with President Asiwaju Tinubu successful to have his way to produce Dr. Ganduje and Sen. Ajibola Basiru as the successors to Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore, gradually they have returned the APC to business-as-usual whereby all structures of the APC remained frozen. Otherwise, what is the explanation that after almost three months since the emergence of Dr. Ganduje and Sen. Basiru as National Chairman and National Secretary respectively, the National Advisory Council is yet to be convened and there is no indication that the National Executive Committee and National Caucus will be meeting any time soon. If part of the wrongdoing of Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore is immobilising structures of the party for more than two years, are we about to start witnessing another era of immobilisation of party structures under Dr. Ganduje and Sen. Basiru?

Ordinarily, one would expect that given all the controversial circumstances surrounding the emergence of Dr. Ganduje, as the National Chairman who enjoys the confidence of President Asiwaju Tinubu, Dr. Ganduje will take every step to manage the party differently. In fact, given that he came in at a time when all the financial resources generated during the sales of nomination forms were squandered by the Sen. Adamu leadership, it should have served as incentives for Dr. Ganduje to activate structures of the APC and use them to initiate new strategies for financial resource mobilisation. For instance, it is a known fact that notwithstanding provision of Article 22A of the APC, which outlined subscription, fees and levies of members, even with a claimed membership of more than forty million, the APC is yet to fix any rate for membership subscription. What is then the value of having such a large membership?

Perhaps, the fact of valueless membership is responsible for low turnout of members to vote for the candidates of the APC during the 2023 elections, which is responsible for why President Asiwaju Tinubu was only able to win the election with votes less than a quarter of the size of the claimed membership of the APC. And having had nasty experiences in the hands of the Sen. Adamu leadership of the party who by all intent and purposes behaved more as covert supporters of opposition candidates, perhaps, it was the main reason why President Asiwaju Tinubu supported the demand for Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore to resign from the leadership of the APC. Does this mean that President Asiwaju Tinubu is not committed to restoring constitutional order and returning the APC to its founding vision of being a progressive party?

Merely asking such a question is heartbreaking. Given all the role President Asiwaju Tinubu played, first during the merger negotiations that produced the APC, to all the sacrifices made producing all the electoral victory of the party since 2015, and finally to the progressively patriotic leadership he provided to block attempts by conservative elements within the APC to impose a so-called consensus Presidential candidate for the APC in 2023, the least APC leaders and members expected is that broader democratic openings, which will guarantee transparent decision making processes in line with provisions of the APC constitution will be the defining attributes of the new leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu. As things are, five months into the tenure of President Asiwaju Tinubu, most APC leaders are as unclear about the direction of party or the government as ordinary Nigerians. For instance, what is the status of the leadership of Dr. Ganduje as the National Chairman of the APC? Is his tenure ending in March 2026? Or is he starting a new four-year tenure to end in August 2027? What happens to other members of the National Working Committee who were elected with Sen. Adamu? In short, when should we expect the next National Convention of the APC?

With the constitutional structures of the APC immobilised, Party leaders and members are left in the dark. In addition, will the North-Central continue to be marginalised throughout the tenure of President Asiwaju Tinubu? Why wouldn’t, for instance, Sen. Jibrin Barau, who is from Kano State where Dr. Ganduje come from, be asked to make the sacrifice by relinquishing his position as Deputy Senate President, in favour of a Senator from North-Central? Ideally, these are issues that could be debated internally if structures of the APC are allowed to operate. But because structures have been frozen with Dr. Ganduje conducting the affairs of the party based on business-as-usual practice, even when recommendations are made, they are simply ignored.

APC leaders must wake up and actively support President Asiwaju Tinubu to succeed. Success in this case is about restoring constitutional order and returning the APC to its founding vision of becoming a progressive party. It is simply unacceptable that APC will continue to exist as a party that is in contempt of its own rules. It is also unacceptable that President Asiwaju Tinubu will inspire us to fight against the culture of imposition, only for him to initiate actions that risk compromising him as a leader who tolerate, if not promote imposition within the APC. As loyal members and leaders of the APC, we need to demonstrate both competence and capacity to reproduce best practice initiatives of our leaders. Constitutional order cannot be restored in APC if members and leaders failed to wake up to the responsibility of contesting decisions that are wrong, taken by either President Asiwaju Tinubu or Dr. Ganduje. Once APC leaders and members become tolerant of every decision of President Asiwaju Tinubu and Dr. Ganduje, culture of arbitrariness will be so entrenched such that APC will collapse and become PDP 2.0.

As it is today, the only distinction between APC and PDP is that there is strong internal contestation in APC. At least, up to the end of the tenure of former President Buhari, it was possible to contest decisions of all party leaders, including the decisions of former President Buhari as the leader of the party between May 2015 and May 2023. With the way, party leaders and members seemed to be pushed into accepting decisions of President Asiwaju Tinubu with hardly any resistance even when incidences of unfairness against members and sections of the country are obvious, portent both personal risk for President Asiwaju Tinubu as well as obvious political consequences for the APC as a political party. It portends personal risk for President Asiwaju Tinubu because if not moderated he may overreach himself and end up producing the circumstances that would lead to his defeat in 2027. Political consequences for the APC largely because once we are out of power, all the privileges associated with being a ruling party will be lost.

Being a ruling party, many party leaders are contented with the privilege of being appointees of governments controlled by the APC. This is quite troubling because, we are hardly worried about the performances of governments controlled by the APC. Which is partly responsible for why the state of the nation is so alarming, the economy is on a downward spiral and instead of mobilising party structures to support the Asiwaju Tinubu led Federal Government, it is business-as-usual. Almost all APC leaders are calling on Nigerians to be patient without any logical explanation. No doubt, hard decisions are required to move Nigeria forward. However, as a party, APC leaders should be clear about all the plans being implemented by President Asiwaju Tinubu, which will produce the renewed hope we promised Nigerians during the 2023 campaigns.

In any case, how can we renew the hope of Nigerians if we can not respect our rules? Not respecting our rules simply means inability to renew the hope of APC members about guaranteeing that both President Asiwaju Tinubu and Dr. Ganduje would abide by the provisions of the APC constitution and return the APC to its founding vision of being a progressive party. Once we fail to renew the hope of APC members, the hope of Nigerians can only be imagined. Therefore, it must be unequivocally stated that getting President Asiwaju Tinubu to succeed is not about repeating the rhetoric of renewed hope. It is about being honestly object and selfless to be ready to contest every wrong decision or initiative taken by both President Asiwaju Tinubu, Dr. Ganduje and all APC leaders. As proudly loyal members of APC, we must not allow President Asiwaju Tinubu to collapse into becoming a typical Nigerian political leader whose only mission is to win election.

Nigerians invested so much confidence in APC, on account of which they have voted for the party and its candidates since 2015. APC members and leaders have made all the sacrifices required to attract the confidence of Nigerians. It will be a big political tragedy and disservice to Nigerians if APC is allowed to be destroyed by condoning undemocratic practices of imposition and unconstitutional conduct of running affairs of the APC without allowing the structures of the party to be functional as provided in the APC constitution. Democracy is about rule of law. Any party that is in contempt with its own rules cannot produce accountable, representative, and responsible leaders. For APC and President Asiwaju Tinubu to turn a new positive democratic leaf, restoring constitutional order and returning APC to its founding vision of being a progressive party is non-negotiable!


Salihu Moh. Lukman writes from Kaduna