Less than a week to the presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has yet to convince five of its elected governors to support and canvass for votes for its flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The Nyesom Wike-led group of aggrieved PDP governors had renounced their membership of the party’s presidential campaign council in September 2022, demanding the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to pave way for a southern successor to achieve a ‘regional balance’. The G5 governors, as they have been christened, opposed Atiku’s candidature because just like the party’s national chairman, he is also a northerner.
The insistence of the G5 governors that Ayu must resign his position as the national chairman and the latter’s refusal to accede to the governors’ demand has torn the party apart as the governors distanced themselves from Atiku’s campaign. And, undeterred, the presidential candidate is carrying on with his campaign, hopeful that on Saturday, 25 February 2023, he would grasp the executive power he has coveted since 1993.
Interestingly, the intensity with which the governors attack the Ayu-led National Working Committee and the party’s presidential flag bearer in the past few weeks appears to be waning. One would expect them to not let down their guards but the reverse is the case. Their ranks have not only fractured due to their inability to agree on which particular presidential candidate to support but also because the possibility of a collective endorsement of a southern presidential candidate has been dispelled.
According to a report by This Day, the G5 governors have split on their choices of presidential candidates. Samuel Ortom of Benue State has declared support for Labour Party’s Peter Obi while Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has re-tuned to the candidate of his party, Atiku. The Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde and his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, have remained undecided and Nyesom Wike of Rivers state appears to be leaning towards Tinubu.
The PDP is not the only party dealing with rebellion, the ruling All Progressives Congress is currently in a state of turmoil over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) currency redesign and swap policy. Members of the party, led by the state governors, have surprisingly intensified their attack on President Muhammadu Buhari over the currency redesign policy of the CBN, geared toward the elimination of moneybag politics, among other things.
As the 10 February deadline for the expiration of the old naira notes drew near, the governors, under the aegis of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), were quick to approach their principal, requesting that both the old and new notes be allowed to co-exist as scarcity of the new notes had marred the currency swap exercise. Although the president listened to them, he asked for seven days to act but a few days later, three APC governors filed a suit at the Supreme Court to challenge the federal government. More state governors of the party subsequently joined the suit.
However, while the apex court granted an interim injunction to restrain the federal government from implementing the 10 February deadline, the president, last Thursday, overruled the Supreme Court’s decision by declaring that the old N500 and N1000 were no longer legal tender while approving the continued use of the old N200 as legal tender till April 10.
President Buhari’s stance on the issue erupted in a protest among the APC governors. Nearly all the progressive governors, in defiance of Buhari whom they have supported through thick and thin in the past seven years, have kicked against the CBN policy, declaring the old naira notes a legal tender in their various states, ordering the arrest of those who reject the old notes. The governors and other bigwigs of the party have continued to pillory the president for backing the full implementation of the policy a few days before the general election, alleging that the policy had been engineered to cost the APC the presidential election.
Unlike most political analysts, I am not of the school of thought that the political offensive the G5 governors launched against Atiku and the sudden outbreak of the mutiny in the APC would not affect the chances of the respective party’s presidential candidates at the polls. The Igbo adage ‘gidi gidi bụ ugwu eze’ meaning unity is strength encapsulates the importance of unity as both a necessary and sufficient condition for the parties’ meaningful electoral success in the upcoming election.
Furthermore, if the gospel message ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’ is true, which it is, it, therefore, follows that given the crisis in the PDP and APC, the parties are demarketing themselves. Hence, while the ruling party is not prepared for continuity after President Buhari, the main opposition party is not prepared to wrest power from the APC this weekend.