FORMATION OF APC & THE DANGERS OF DOING TO AMAECHI WHAT THE PDP DID AND REGRETTED; And critical overview of the inputs and impact of Amaechi in the party’s electoral fortunes –
A PAPER PRESENTED BY CHIEF EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE AN APC CHIEFTAIN ON 6TH DECEMBER, 2020 ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF AMAECHI VANGUARD, OBIO AKPOR CHAPTER, RIVERS STATE
Let me start this presentation by commending and appreciating the leadership of Amaechi Vanguard Nationwide particularly, Engr. Caleb Johnson the Coordinator of Obio-Akpor Chapter for deeming it fit to invite me to speak on such great and auspicious event of the inauguration of the Obio-Akpor chapter of the greatest political movement in NIGERIA today the Amaechi Vanguard.
For the type and calibre of great people seated in this hall today to have accepted at this critical time not only to join and work for the political aspiration and future of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi when most people empowered by him are leaving his political family in droves is a sign that great things await this country no matter the odds.
These shortcomings for some of the shortsighted members of Amaechi’s political family to have left not withstanding, by the time we go though this presentation we all will be convinced that following the political family of Amaechi at this period is the right decision by any patriotic Nigerian who surely desires a better future for our great county.
Before I proceed, I must state that I am honoured that this event is taking place in the domain of my good friend and brother the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike whom I am convinced will soon be joining the Amaechi train knowing very well that that is the future of this country.
I truly sympathise with those who are jumping ship for funny reasons of Amaechi not picking up their calls and shamelessly stating what they have benefitted from Amaechi politically and still feel that at this age, Amaechi must be involved with offsetting their breakfast, lunch and dinner bills. To me, this group of spent Politician’s are not only jokers but have lost the touch of reality. If I may ask, how many millions of Nigerians that have benefitted from Amaechi will he Amaechi continue to feed even when he pleaded with these remnants of Senator Magnus Abe of the dangers that await them should we lose the Brick House but instead they connived with their Principal, Senator Magnus Abe to put us in this mess and come around to blame Amaechi for their political woes.
According to their projection and prayers, there will be no APC in Rivers State come 2023 but they will be shamed because come 2023 APC will not only exist but will take over the Brick House their devious plot notwithstanding. The only thing left to the genuine and intending members of the party is to ensure that they participate in the forthcoming revalidation and registration of party members that will start off on 12th December, 2020 and let us see how these funny people will stop the existence of APC in Rivers State.
This is why members of Amaechi Vanguard and other sister Associations that have resolved to engage themselves in the propagation and promotion of the ideals and vision of Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for a greater, united, virile and most prosperous Nigeria need to be commended and congratulated for their courage and foresight as we jointly unite not only to salvage the political family of Amaechi but that of Nigeria no matter the odds.
On the future of the politics of Nigeria, I must reiterate that the zoning principle based on the spirit of equity, fairness and goodness must be sustained and encouraged. Here, Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and other great leaders of this country who have continued to voice their support that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria need to be commended and congratulated as anything short of this is invitation to anarchy.
For those canvassing and plotting to use our brother, friend and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ,Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for him to contest the 2023 election so that the Sourthern section of Nigeria can only be entitled to one Term and for power to be shifted to the North after his single term if he wins the 2023 election should bury such thought as this plot is already dead on arrival.
THE BUSINESS OF THE DAY
It is only those who did not know or who may have forgotten the circumstances that brought Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi into the APC and the certainty he brought regarding the victory of the party over the then ruling party that may continue to open toy with the idea of destroying him.
When a group of Nigerian youths (AMAECHI VANGUARD) who want to make an impact in the politics of Nigeria came together recently and pleaded with me to assist them by throwing more light about the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) knowing the part some of us played in her formation, not minding many issues before me including health challenge, I decided to pen this treatise. It is aimed at throwing light not only on the factors that led and necessitated the formation of this great political movement but the inputs and impact played by the erstwhile Governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. His inputs towards the formation and sustainability of the party cannot be downplayed by any serious-minded fellow.
In this treatise, I am expected also to examine the factors that forced Amaechi out of PDP and how his conviction that if General Muhammadu Buhari secures the party’s Presidential ticket to contest the 2015 general election, that the PDP would be roundly defeated.
POLITICAL EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
Right from the 1960s, both the ruling and opposition parties are always at loggerheads. The opposition parties are treated with great contempt by the ruling parties and vice versa. Members of opposition parties that join forces with the ruling parties are labeled as traitors and can even be demonized. Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), formed by Herbert Macaulay in 1923 became the first political party to emerge in Nigeria during British colonial rule. Since 1960, Nigeria has evolved in its political development.
Between 1960 and 1966, there was a parliamentary system of government in place. Nigeria’s first republic (1960-1966) was cut short when the military staged a coup on January 15, 1966 accusing the leaders of corruption. Between 1966 and 1979, successive military regimes steered the nation’s ship. Thus, in 1979, General Olusegun Obasanjo (retd), relinquished power to a democratically elected President in the person of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Nigeria’s second republic (1979-1983), ended abruptly when the military junta led by General Muhammudu Buhari (retd) took over the reins of power on December 31, 1983. His successor, General Ibrahim Babangida (retd), initiated the aborted third republic that collapsed due to the annulment of the June 12, 1993, elections believed to have been won by business mogul, MKO Abiola. The country was engulfed in serious political instability that forced Babangida out of power on August 27, 1993.
Babangida set up an Interim National Government (ING) led by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The ING barely lasted for 82 days before General Abacha seized back power and ruled till his sudden death on June 8, 1998. His successor, General Abdulsalami Abubarkar (retd), ushered in the fourth republic in 1999 with the election of Olusegun Obasanjo as President of Nigeria. Since 1999, Nigeria has been enjoying uninterrupted democracy.
THE HISTORY OF OPPOSITION POLITICS IN NIGERIA
The first party to assume the role of an opposition party was the Action Group (AG) led by Obafemi Awolowo in the first republic. The political intrigues during that era weakened the AG that held sway in the South West. Eventually, the politics of intolerance, suspicion and bitterness among the major political parties prompted the military to intervene in Nigerian politics on January 15, 1966. The successor political party to the defunct AG, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) served as the main opposition party in the second republic. The second republic collapsed largely due to the alleged mismanagement of the economy, widespread corruption and massive electoral fraud witnessed during the 1983 general elections. Two major political parties emerged as the opposition parties when Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999. The Alliance for Democracy (AD) was the strongest party in South West, while the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) had strong presence in Northern Nigeria. Over the years, ANPP continued to witness internal crisis that really weakened its performance as a political party especially as an opposition to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to the emergence of All Progressive Congress (APC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) served as the most recognizable opposition party in Nigeria. Generally, Nigeria’s political parties have been plagued by suspensions and expulsions of party members, cross carpeting particularly prior to elections and deep divisions and factions that have manifested sometimes in violent conflicts. Again, intra-party violent conflicts have been particularly heightened during election periods because of the imposition of favoured and dubious consensus and the swapping of nominated candidates by party chieftains. The absence of equalitarian platforms and the subversion of the will of ordinary party members and delegates in party primaries, have grieved several party leaders and members and underlined numerous defections and cross-carpeting.
HISTORY OF MILITARY INTERVENTION IN THE POLITICS OF NIGERIA
The clash of the titans (Awolowo and Samuel Ladoke Akintola) over the control of Western region and the inability of the NPC-led government to provide good governance prompted some young military officers spearheaded by Major Chukwuemeka Nzeogwu to instigate a coup d’e tat that ended the first republic on January 15, 1966. The military institution produced a new set of the political class as the country was ruled by various military regimes namely: General Aguiyi Ironsi (1966); General Gowon (1967-1975); General Murtala Muhammed (1975-1976); General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979); General Muhammudu Buhari (1984-1985); General Ibrahim Babaginda (1985-1993); General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998-1999).
HISTORY OF FORMATION AND MERGING OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN NIGERIA
I will like to examine at this juncture the past efforts in formation and regrouping of political parties in the second, third and fourth Republics to enable us appreciate why the formation of APC was not only unique but impactful in the annals of political movements in Nigeria.
Right from the first Republic of Nigeria and to the emergence of APC in 2013 series but futile attempts have been made to merge various political parties in order to unseat the political party in power but none of such efforts in the past had yielded any positive impact.
In this regard, the following experiences come to play.
First serious attempt to midwife a union of political parties was made during the second Republic when the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) in conjunction with a coalition of several smaller groups: the National Union Council for Understanding (NUCU) led by Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, Club 19, the Committee for National Unity, and the Progressive Front came into existence.
This first attempt of forming a union of political parties failed during the convention of the NPP which was held in November 1978 where the southern members refused to make Waziri both the Chairman and the Presidential candidate which prompted Waziri to quit the party and created the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP).
At a hastily assembled second convention, Dr. Nnmandi Azikiwe, the most popular Igbo politician and former leader of the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), was chosen as the NPP presidential candidate.
Another serious attempt at formation of an alliance amongst political parties in Nigeria was mooted after the 1979 elections when NPP formed an alliance with the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) of Shehu Shagari that had majority votes but couldn’t have the desired majority in the National Assembly to govern the nation without having a hitch. This was the alliance that brought the Igbos closer to governance in Nigeria after the collapse of the first Republic as they were provided cabinet jobs and diplomatic appointments. This union came to an abrupt end when President Shagari in 1981disssolved the union to enable only the NPN members to govern the nation without any member of other political parties participating in governance of the country. This was a result of increasing demands by Azikiwe for his party.
All political parties in the second Republic were dissolved in 1983 when the military, led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari took over the civilian government in 1984. It also suspended sections of the 1979 Constitution, namely those guaranteeing such democratic features as free elections and political parties and such fundamental individual rights as due process and habeas corpus.
THE MAKING OF THE FAILED THIRD REPUBLIC
On 27 August 1985, military officers overthrew the 20 month-old government of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and installed Major-General Ibrahim Babangida as president.
The ban on party politics was lifted in 1989. General Bagandida announced that only two government-created parties would be authorized: the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). This Republic with all democratically elected leaders (from the Local Government, State Governments and National Assembly) came to an end when the presidential election believed to have been won by Chief M.K.O Abiola of SDP was annulled by the Military junta at the helm of Affairs.
ATTEMPTS OF FAILED ALLIANCE DURING THE FOURTH REPUBLIC
The major political parties’ alliance in the fourth Republic was the coming together of the All People’s Party (APP) led by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) led by Chief Olu Falae. Chief Falae was selected to fly the flag of the Alliance to confront the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 general elections. This attempt to unseat PDP also failed.
THE EMERGENCE OF APC IN THE POLITICS OF NIGERIA AND UPSTAGING OF A RULING POLITICAL PARTY (PDP)
The fact remains that prior to the 2015 General Elections, opposition parties had never upstaged any ruling party. The alliance of prominent political parties such as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) into a formidable opposition called All Progressives Change (APC) marked a new era in Nigeria’s democracy. The 2015 presidential poll was the fifth in succession since the military establishment relinquished power. This review will examine the factors that necessitated the emergence of APC as a formidable opposition party.
The Emergence of the All Progressives Congress
For 16 years, the behemoth, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled the political system of Nigeria almost unopposed due to highly monetized politics, individualistic tendencies of politicians, incoherent party ideologies, and party defection, among several other factors. On February 6, 2013, the APC was born when Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties; the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), merged to form the APC (The Nation, May 29, 2015 has the full story of this development). The rise of APC was very significant because several attempts in the past to form a mega party in the country had been unsuccessful. APC became more strengthened after five serving PDP governors defected to the newly formed party. These were Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State. Similarly, 49 legislators defected to join the original 137 legislators in the APC. This new twist gave APC the cutting edge in the House of Representatives long before the election. On January 29, 2014, 11 senators led by former Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki. joined the new party
Other political heavyweights such as ex- Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal (now Sokoto State Governor) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, joined APC. On March 28, 2015, the presidential candidate of APC, Gen. Muhammudu Buhari (retd) defeated the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP with almost 2.6 million votes. Currently, APC boasts of 22 executive governors, 64 senators and 225 members of the House of Representatives (including both the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives).
APC is clearly the most dominant party in Nigeria since the conclusion of the 2015 general polls. Using the elite theory, APC won the polls because both the political elite in the north and southwestern Nigeria worked assiduously to iron out their perceived religious and cultural differences in order to build a formidable opposition party. The political elite in the north believed that the region was edged out of enjoying political power after the demise of late President Yaradua and the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 as the elected President. Jonathan’s re-election bid was perceived by northern political elites to be an attempt by a section of the country to cripple the Hausa/Fulani control of power on Nigerian politics. Similarly, the Bolaji Ahmed Tinubu -led Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) perceived President Jonathan’s body language, political appointments and policies to be anti-Yoruba. Besides, the party stalwarts in ACN believed it was high time the Yoruba nation joined mainstream political groove of Nigeria. The vice presidential slot given to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, an accomplished lawyer and scholar from Ogun State was a clear indication that southwest meant real business. The propaganda used by the northern and southwestern elite was well received by the people from those regions who boast of the largest percentage of population spread. The emergence of Buhari as APC’s presidential flagbearer, who commands a cult like followership in the north, and his track records as an anti-corruption crusader and military tactician helped in polishing his image both locally and internationally.
WHY WAS APC FORMED
According to ex-Foreign Minister Tom Ikimi in a joint statement read to reporters by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), it was stated thus, “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we…. have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress,” The merger involves the ACN, led by Nigeria’s former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), headed by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) led by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA led by Chief Owelle Okorocha
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the details of the emergence of the APC and he stated that: “At one point, we in the four former opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came to the painful realisation that there was no way we could defeat the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as separate entities without coming together as a united force. So, having agreed to come together, we decided to set up committees to look into how we can best merge to form a formidable opposition party. After that, each of the four parties developed the terms of reference for the committees on the modalities of the negotiations for the merger.
“We, however, made it clear that none of the committees has the power to take any final decision on the merger. Their work was mainly to discuss with their party members and report the outcome of the discussion to the leadership of their parties. The understanding was that the final decision regarding how to go about the merger would be made by the executives of each of the merging parties. We wanted to make the process as democratic as possible.”
“We eventually succeeded in coming together. It was a major sacrifice made by the leadership of the respective political parties. And the significance of this event was underscored by the fact that the future of Nigeria was tied to it. “I always wonder what would have been the political, economic and security consequences to the country without the merger of the old opposition parties and seizing political power from the ruling PDP democratically.
“I wonder how many people have taken the time to reflect on this development and make projections as to what could have happened if the opposition had failed to come together to take away power from PDP.”
“Fortunately, we have been able to reverse this downward slide in such a short period of time, even under more challenging circumstances from 20I5 to date”,
HOW AMAECHI WAS FORCED OUT OF PDP
This political phenomenon and enigma, described in some quarters as the Lion of Niger Delta Politics, is a study in modern political engineering. Two-time Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly under the PDP, two-term chairman of Speakers’ Forum of Nigeria under the PDP; two-term governor of Rivers State under Peoples Democratic Party, of which he spent two years out of the eight as an APC governor and two-term chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. If you talk of a truly thoroughbred PDP personality in Nigeria, then Amaechi should be the fellow. The reason why he joined the opposition to wrestle power from his party is a study in political movement. He thus played the role of the connecting rod between two important components of an engine, the PDP and APC.
Before delving into the role Amaechi played in making the dream of APC to unseat the most powerful political party then in Nigeria, PDP, the coming of the erstwhile Governor of Rivers State becomes imperative. Let me state that the obvious desperation of the PDP leadership to completely destroy Amaechi led to his departure, alongside six other PDP governors, to form the New PDP, with five of them later joining the mega opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress.
Explaining why he joined APC, Governor Amaechi said: “Unfortunately, recent events within the PDP have given me reason to reconsider our collective interest as people of the South-South and, indeed as Rivers people. At various times, as the one whom you gave your mandate, I had cause to complain about the marginalization of our state and our people, despite our huge contribution to the national coffers and our unflinching commitment and support for the ruling PDP. While the political and economic importance of Rivers State cannot be contested, we continue to hold the shorter end of the stick.
“A few instances may suffice: Our demand that the Federal Government return oil wells belonging to Rivers State to us has gone unheeded and been treated with levity under this administration. Rather, our oil wells have been ceded to Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states. Even after we got a judgment that the oil wells were wrongly ceded to Akwa Ibom State and should be returned to us; only dry wells that were no longer producing oil were returned.
“In the specific case of the Soku oil wells, despite a decision reached that the monies should remain in an escrow account till all matters concerning it are resolved, the Federal government continues to pay neighbouring Bayelsa State the revenues meant for Rivers State in a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is indeed noteworthy that we have made several representations formally and informally on this matter.
“A second instance is the total absence of federal presence in Rivers State. The ‘National Good Governance Tour’ provided a good opportunity for the Federal Government to showcase its presence in Rivers State. The tour, if nothing else, proved that there was not much to show in a state that is the cash cow of the federation. The East-West Road remains abandoned, work has been deliberately slow on the Port Harcourt International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country, while all airports started along with it have long been completed and commissioned. The Bonny-Bomu Road that leads to the only functional liquefied natural gas project remains uncompleted. In the midst of all these, our administration went ahead to fix federal roads to the tune of N103 billion. Several representations and letters after, not one kobo has been repaid. The Federal Government is actively discouraging investments in Rivers State.”
Amaechi in another fora stated, “They have become so desperate that they have gone to hire Joseph Mbu to serve as the political wing of the PDP in Rivers State. I pray to God to save Rivers State so that those thieves will not come to power and steal your money. We want to confront the Nigerian Police. When you hear impunity, it is because you allow it. There is no revolution without blood. From now till election, we should mobilize and confront the Nigerian police. If they say they are ready for debate, tell them I am ready. They should go to the National Assembly and summon me.”
Other instances that made the departure of Amaechi from PDP imperative are the following:
1. Posting and encouraging the excesses of the tyrannical Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu during these inglorious days in the state.
2. Supporting every imaginable act of impunity in the state, including the plot by five State Assembly members to impeach the speaker in a House of 31 members, with the hope of impeaching Amaechi thereafter. This led to the closure of the courts but they turned round to blame the victim, Amaechi.
3. Seizing and grounding the planes of the state for no just cause. Shutting down of a robust security arcjitecture that was to save the region and oil facilities;
4. Harassing and intimidating the duly elected governor of Rivers State for no just cause, and even supporting the splitting of the Governors Forum into two, to ensure that Governor Amaechi, who was duly elected by his colleagues, does not have an easy reign as the chairman of the forum.
Throwing more light on the perceived sins of Gov Amaechi during this period one of his closest allies, former Commissioner of Works and then the Chairman of the Petroleum Downstream Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside, recently in an interview stated, “Some persons also claim that he Amaechi is too forthright and I don’t know what crime that is called. However, the biggest unsaid problem is the perception by certain persons in the presidency that Governor Amaechi has ambition to aspire to higher office. The attempt to criminalize ambition, if any, is the root cause of the perceived problem in NGF. The second strand is speaking truth to power as can be seen in Governor Amaechi’s comments on sovereign wealth fund, excess crude account, Rivers-Bayelsa oil well issue, fuel subsidy, East-West Road, Adamawa PDP amongst others”.
THE WOOING OF AMAECHI BY THE APC LEADERS
Considering the fact that all the past attempts for opposition political parties to challenge talkless of ousting a sitting political party the need of securing a rallying force capable of leading the struggle to have an opposition political party to unseat a party in power the need of having the Lion of Niger Delta becomes imperative.
To achieve this onerous task, APC leaders stormed Port Harcourt to officially woo Amaechi on November 5, 2013 to join their party ahead of the 2015 general election. They did this because they saw that the PDP did not want him anymore by their action.
Bisi Akande who was the interim National Chairman of APC clearly said they had come to ‘woo’ Amaechi because of his antecedents in the Nigerian political spectrum and also for his developmental strides in all areas of the economy. On his part, former Lagos State Governor and the leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, commended Amaechi for being a ‘progressive’. He said; “We did not come here to campaign. We are here to see, to seek and to invite. I know Port Harcourt, I know Rivers State and I know Rotimi Amaechi; he has performed extremely well and we know this country cannot develop on the axis of intimidation, harassment, and lies. We know this man is focused. “A man who stands to be cheated is not a man, he is a pig. I invite all of you to please ask Governor Amaechi to lead you to APC. We will join hands to move this country forward. The progressives have come”.
For the former Head of state, General Buhari, the APC has been keeping an eye on Amaechi for a while and “We believe he is an ‘asset’ the party will like to own. The leadership of APC decided to target some governors who we think should make changes in the political scene of this country. We are here to come and seek understanding and support of your leader, Governor Rotimi Amaechi”.
Owelle Rochas Okorocha then Imo state Governor and Chairman of the APC governors boasted that in 2015, “victory has been signed and sealed for the APC.“ We have come to invite you, our brother, into this movement. APC is not a political party, per se, it is a movement, a movement of change. We are people, carefully, selected by God. We’ll assure you as our colleagues that governors in APC are accorded their due respect. I want to assure you that you are coming to a place you rightfully belong.”
Amaechi told the APC delegation that he would consult with major stakeholders, including President Goodluck Jonathan and other PDP and South-South leaders before making a decision.
“To our guests, (APC), we have heard you but we are a group of seven Governors.
“I will get up and consult our leaders. I will also consult you (Rivers people). The day we shall take a decision whether for or against, it shall be at the stadium. If we are staying with the PDP, the President will address us and if we are going, Tinubu and Buhari will address us”, he said.
It is said that during the intervening days, many inventions were made to save the crisis and resolve the matter. Important national leaders including Retired General Yakubu Gowon tried to stop the departure of Amaechi knowing it was the only way to stop the exodus. But, the more such efforts were made, the harder those who did not want Amaechi in the party again worked to push him out.
NEW PDP JOINS APC
Five governors and ex-presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, formed a PDP splinter group in August. The PDP now has fewer governors supporting it than the opposition.
According to a joint statement read out by Kawu Baraje, the New PDP National Chairman, “After exhaustive deliberations, the two parties (APC & nPDP) agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation,”
In September, President Jonathan sacked nine cabinet ministers amid serious divisions in the governing party. This came a month after the PDP splinter group was formed – the seven state governors and former Vice-President Abubakar were angered after their allies were disqualified from party elections.
PAST FAILED ATTEMPTS BY GENERAL BUHARI TO SEEK THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT IN NIGERIA
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, was born on December 17, 1942. He was at various times Military Administrator of the defunct North Eastern State (now Borno and Yobe states) from July 1975 to February 1976; Federal Commissioner of Petroleum and Natural Resources from March 1976 – June 1978; and Head of the Federal Military Government from 1984-85. He later became Chairman of a major interventionist initiative, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). A respected elder statesman and one of the few celebrated saints in Nigeria and the only Nigerian who has contested for president of Nigeria three consecutive times, Buhari won on the fourth attempt. His first shot at the number one position was in 2003 against President Olusegun Obasanjo during his second term; and in 2007, he ran against Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua (now late) and in 2011, he contested against Dr Goodluck Jonathan – all of the Peoples Democratic Party. He lost all the three elections. And on his fourth attempt in 2015 – on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of major opposition parties – he defeated an incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
To emerge as the APC presidential candidate, Buhari scored 3,430 votes to beat Kwankwaso the former Kano State governor and now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a distant second with 974 votes. Surprisingly, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar came third with 954 votes, while Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor, polled 624 votes to come fourth while the publisher, Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, came fifth with 10 votes.
THE MAKING OF BUHARI”S PRESIDENCY
The PDP had won every national election since the end of military rule in 1999 but this came to an abrupt end when Amaechi joined the opposition political party and this marked the making of the Buhari’s Presidency.
The fact remains that when it comes to believing in the abilities of President Buhari, I am yet to see anyone who can rival Amaechi. His belief in Buhari and strong belief in his ability to take Nigeria out of the woods is like an obsession.
“I can still vividly remember how Amaechi predicted Buhari’s emergence as president during the early days of APC and long before the issue of who would fly the party’s flag came up. When on 9th September, 2013 my appointment as the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party was announced to Nigerians, the only brief I received was the 30-minute encounter I had with Governor Amaechi. During that encounter, he kept repeating that whenever Gen Buhari (rtd) accepted to fly the flag of the emergent mega opposition political party in the country, the unseating of President Jonathan and PDP would become a reality. I was deeply impressed by his strong belief in Gen Buhari. It was based on this that I went boldly into the field and with the cooperation of the G7 Governors and other leaders of the New PDP, we were able to dismantle what was the famous and largest political party in Africa, PDP,’ said Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze.
Amaechi pursued Buhari’s emergence as APC presidential candidate with evangelical zeal, after the New PDP joined APC. “This obsession explains why Amaechi did all within his power to ensure that Buhari emerged as the flag-bearer of APC during the Lagos Convention and, as the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, worked even harder to ensure that Buhari emerge victorious during the March 28, 2015 presidential election.
The fact remains also that if not for the emergence of Buhari as President, PDP Cheiftains would have arrested and jailed Amechi for championing the attempt to oust PDP from governance at the centre.
The investment and acceptance of Amaechi to lead the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation both for the 2015 and the 2019 general elections shows the sterling qualities this great man is made up with. John Maxwell and General Montgomery therefore must have had Amaechi in mind when they stated respectively that, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” and “My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”. These quotes by these great men simply attest to the ability of Amaechi to conceive the way and mobilise Nigerians to send packing a party that prides itself as the largest and biggest political movement in Africa.
Based on the above, it is important for APC leaders to review their actions and know what Amaechi brought to the table and what trying to destroy him in the party could also mean. Elders need few worlds to know the truth.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant and APC Chieftain based in Port Harcourt and can be reached either through email@example.com or 08038199163