Intra-party wars paint grim picture of next Nigeria government


Fierce Nigerian presidential race. It's filled with tension, kidnappings, threats, violence and violence.

from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria Bureau
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE internal revolts wrecking the main parties contesting the general polls in Nigeria indicate the world’s largest Black nation will be under an unstable government, whoever wins the upcoming election.

This next administration will take over from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who after eight years at the helm will deliver the baton stick to his successor, a country currently in an economic mess and social turmoil.

That would culminate in Buhari exiting office in the most unceremonious of ways, notably some governors of his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the moment openly defying him over a controversial policy his government has adopted in the final months of his tenure.

At the epicentre of the fallout on the eve of Saturday’s presidential poll is the decision to introduce the redesigned naira notes, the N200 ($0,43), N500 and N1 000, a move the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said was aimed at addressing inflation, currency counterfeiting, insecurity and other issues including vote buying.

This has deteriorated into economic turmoil. Cash shortages have ensued as the apex bank has injected into the financial system fewer new naira than the older notes it has collected from the public.

That has left millions unable to buy basics. Fuel shortages in Africa’s largest producer of crude oil are intermittent.

Following violent demonstrations, Buhari’s government has extended to April 10 the deadline to turn in some old banknotes to the CBN.

Only the old N200 can continue circulating but the old N500 and N2 000 can only be swapped at CBN, former military dictator Buhari ordered in violation to the Supreme Court ruling that all notes be retained as legal tender until it makes a ruling on some legal suits brought by critics.

The crisis has exploded into a public spat with Buhari at the receiving end of lashes by some of his governors and seniors of the APC who blame him for the emergency.

They believe this leaves the party vulnerable to a protest vote at the elections.

Last Friday, at the Supreme Court, ten state governments under the control of the ruling party challenged Buhari’s banning of the old N500 and N1 000 notes.

These are the Cross River, Ekiti, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Sokoto and Zamfara.

In these states, the old N500 and N1 000 notes remain legal tender in defiance of directives by Buhari.

These defiant states are roughly half the 21 states under the control of the APC, out of a total of 36 states in Nigeria. This highlights the depth of the fallout between Buhari and some governors.

Some governors have taken to public platforms to lambast their president and ordered their states to accept the notes in question.

A prevailing theme among the outspoken governors is that the naira policy was a ruse by some among the ruling a plot to scuttle the forthcoming general election after they lost out in the primary polls for the candidature of APC in the elections.

Ex-Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, emerged as the candidate. When he chose Delta governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate, it aggravated the frustration among some snubbed party bigwigs, it is alleged.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje (APC) of Kano has been quoted as having gone as far as saying Buhari was destroying APC, which brought him to power after his three previous attempts at the presidency, representing other parties, failed.

“Otherwise, how do you explain the essence of this naira redesign policy?” the premier quipped in a message sent to media in the northern state.

Ganduje has ordered the closure of businesses and banks that decline the old notes.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai (APC) of Kaduna also challenged Buhari’s directive and urged residents in the northern state to accept the notes.

“This (naira) policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the Gubernatorial and Presidential Primaries of the APC in June 2022,” he argued in a broadcast to citizens.

CBN has also been sucked into the internal fights.

Femi Fani-Kayode, a spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign Council of the APC, alleged a factional plot to frustrate Tinubu’s election.

“Those that hatched and plotted the conspiracy to stop BAT (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and that are attempting to set our nation ablaze and destroy our democracy have failed,” Kayode stated.

He hinted CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, would be prosecuted under the Tinubu administration, for the hardships caused by the naira policy.

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), the umbrella body of registered political parties in the country, alleged APC leaders were attacking Buhari for the cash crisis yet bent on stockpiling the new naira notes in desperation to buy votes.

“This is the real reason for the cash crunch in Nigeria,” CNPP Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, argued.

He refuted that the nationwide shortage of cash was a ploy to incite the citizens to vote against APC.

An APC loss, he said, would be because the party had been “continuously inflicting sufferings and pains on Nigerians since 2015.”

Nonetheless, Ezugwu added, “For us, President Muhammadu Buhari would be declared a 2023 hero of democracy, and his administration’s many failures forgiven, if he sees through a free, fair, and credible 2023 general elections.”
Buhari is ineligible after serving two terms.

Good governance advocate and public opinion commentator, Shehu Gazali Sadiq, waded into the fallout in the APC and its impact on the poll outcome.

He quoted Ganduje as saying Buhari “did not achieve anything as president for eight years under APC.”

“If the governor that gave APC 1,8 million votes in 2019 tells you that APC achieved nothing, why do you want to vote for APC?” Sadiq quipped.

Buhari amassed 15,191,847 votes, ahead of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who secured 11,262,978.

Before the infighting rocking the APC, intraparty conflict was synonymous with its main rival, PDP, which again is fielding ex-Deputy President, Abubakar, as its presidential candidate.

PDP lost power to APC in 2015 and is in bad shape ahead of the elections that start this weekend.

The emergence of Abubakar has led to conflict with some governors from the South, who argue it was the turn of a party politician from the region to contest the presidency.

Abubakar is a northerner, like Buhari.

An unwritten law is that the presidency has to rotate between the majorly Muslim North and the predominantly Christian South. Nigeria’s estimated population of 219 million is divided roughly in half between the two religions.

APC has complied with this gentleman’s agreement by fielding the ex-Lagos mayor Tinubu, a southerner.

Abubakar’s emergence as PDP flag bearer has culminated in a breakaway comprising five governors from the south, namely Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).

Known as the G5, they have withheld their support for Abubakar. Wike is seen as the ringleader.

Recently, PDP cancelled a rally scheduled for Rivers. The cancellation was for the safety of Abubakar and party supporters in the oil-rich state, nicknamed Rivers of Blood because of militancy.

A war of words intensified between the PDP rivals this week following the cancellation of the rally and Wike challenging in court, plans to expel him from PDP.

The PDP presidential campaign team said this was after the governor apparently dared the party to expel him.

“This (Wike) is a chicken hiding under the costume of a lion,” Abubakar’s campaign team retorted.

Former PDP governors, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Peter Obi, are the other main candidates for the presidency.

They lead the New Nigeria People’s Party and Labour Party respectively.

Some 18 candidates are contesting for the presidency.

Their fate lies in the hands of over 93,4 million Nigerians registered to vote.

In a video message, Buhari this week conceded to the hardship some policies of the government which he said were meant to bring overall improvement to the country.

He appealed for patience.

Buhari must hand over leadership to an elected president on May 29, when his term of office ends.

– CAJ News


scroll to top