Laide Raheem, Abeokuta Tragedy struck on Monday in Agodo community, Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State, when a suspected lunatic hacked to death two pupils of Saint John’s Anglican Primary School in the town. The suspect, identified as Lekan Adebisi, Daily Sun learnt, stormed the school at quarter past eleven in the morning…
From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
What exactly does the newly registered Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) stand for? APDA is one of the five political parties registered recently by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The promoters of the new political party say it is out to give Nigeria and Nigerians a new lease of life. According to them, APDA, apart from being the first truly progressive political party in the country, is the only political party committed to giving the youths, women and the physically challenged a say in the governance of the country.
Speaking at the formal unveiling of the party in Abuja recently, the interim National chairman of the party, Kabiru Shittu says it was formed to give Nigerians fresh opportunities in the politics of the country.
Shittu said the party would be committed to internal democracy, where party candidates will be elected through direct primaries. He added that 25 percent of elective positions in the party would be reserved exclusively for the youths, while the women and physically challenged would get 30 and five percent respectively.
According to Shittu “APDA is an actualization of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians to determine their national destiny; it is also in recognition of the general hopelessness brought upon the people by mal-administration and the urgent necessity to give Nigerians fresh opportunities and new platforms to re-direct their electoral mandate to a dependable, committed and capable generation of leaders ahead of the 2019 general elections.”
One of the promoters of the party and former National chairman of Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu concurs. He said:”With the established political parties lacking any ideological anchor to unite well-meaning Nigerians, we concluded we needed a new platform to give room to new ideas, new alignments, new energy and most of all, new pragmatic approaches to confronting national and political challenges.
“So many of the established political parties appear to be fixated with recycling the same old leaders, repeating the same old rhetoric and reabsorbing the same old moribund way of doing things.”
Truly, the party has come up with some novelties in the political sphere. These include the enshrining of zoning and rotation of various offices in the country in its constitution, the affirmative action for women, youths and the physically challenged in terms of elective offices.
But beyond these niceties, there are questions as to who are actually the big masquerades behind the new political party. This is because those behind it will to a large extent determine if it will actually turn out to be a masses oriented party, which it purports to be or not.
Speculations have been rife that the leadership of APDA is holding brief for some politicians in other political parties, particularly some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) loyal to the party’s National Caretaker Committee and politicians from other parties, who want to use it as a ladder to achieve their ambitions in the 2019 polls.
Apart from PDP members, others said to have a hand in the new party are disenchanted members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In fact, long before the registration of the party, APDA was speculated to be a fall back option for PDP chieftains loyal to the National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The caretaker committee had a running battle with the ousted National chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff over who is the authentic leader of the opposition party. Those in the know, claim that Makarfi’s supporters plan to dump the main opposition party for APDA in the event that Supreme Court judgment on the PDP leadership crisis does not favour them.
A source within the Sheriff group of the PDP told Daily Sun that moves to register the new party started shortly before the botched stakeholders’ meeting held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, which was convened by former President Good luck Jonathan.
But the caretaker has repeatedly dismissed the speculations as untrue. In one of such denials, the spokesman of the committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun shortly before the Supreme Court verdict that pronounced Makarfi as the authentic leader of the party, dismissed media report that they have a hand in the new party.
“It is totally false. We don’t have anything to do with it. There is nothing like that,” Adeyeye had stated.
Similarly, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Senator Walid Jibrin has also denied the involvement of the party in APDA or any other party.
According to Jibrin “I want to make it very clear that PDP has never formed any alternative party. If it has to agree on something like that all organs and fora of the party viz: BoT, National caucus, PDP Governors Forum, National Assembly caucus , PDP state chairmen forum, Former Ministers Forum, Former Governors Forum, various youth fora , elders forum nationwide, women’s forums etc will be fully consulted before such sensitive decision is taken.”
However, indications that some members of the major opposition party may actually have a hand in the new political party emerged when Chief Raymond Dokpesi and some other PDP chieftains attended the unveiling of APDA in Abuja.
In a move akin to letting the cat out of the bag, one of the stalwarts of the new party in moment of ecstasy at the occasion described Dokpesi, as the “man that calls the shots” in APDA. What is not very clear is if Dokpesi is acting for himself or on behalf of some interest groups in the PDP.
However, in a damage control measure, Nwanyanwu while speaking at the ceremony said neither Dokpesi nor any other person was calling the shots. He said the formation of the new party was necessitated by the need to give Nigerians, a truly progressive party.
According to him: “ APDA as a Social Democratic Movement has a single purpose and mission of ensuring that every Nigerian no matter their creed, culture, leaning and social grouping would have equal and unfettered access to all accruing dividends of citizenship.”
Although the PDP caretaker committee has continually denied having anything to do with APDA, it is, however, surprising that the major opposition party till date has not said anything about the participation of some of its members in the activities of new party.
When confronted with the many allegations that there are a lot of unseen hands in the affairs of party, Shittu was evasive. However, he stated that the new party would welcome any politician from the ruling party or the major opposition party, who shares its ideology into its fold.
“The issue we have on ground now is that as a party, we have opened our net wide and we are ready to absorb anybody that shares the same ideology with us, whoever we know, even if it is the present President, that shares our ideology and we know that they will implement our manifesto, we are ready to welcome that person, “Shittu stated.
The position of the APDA leader that the party would welcome just anybody into its fold negates the principles which is said to have informed the formation of the party.
Nwanyanwu while rationalising the formation of APDA had stated recently that the older political parties are more or less an assemblage of strange bed -fellows only interested in conquest of powers and sharing the spoils of office.
“Most existing Nigerian political parties are fixated and set in these old ways thus becoming a cul-de-sac of strange bedfellows with even more estranged ideologies. The only point of convergence being the conquest of power and the sharing of the bounties of such conquest; it is for this reason that Nigerians witnessed high mobility of politicians including those elected into elective offices migrate from the political platforms they used in acquiring power to other political parties without any scruples in consideration for principles and morals,” the former LP chairman, stated.
The question therefore is, if APDA is willing to welcome anybody that “shares” its ideology, where then it is the new lease of life, the party has promised to bring to the politics of the nation?
Analysts say opening its doors wide for every Tom, Dick and Harry who “shares its ideology”, would mean that in no time, APDA will be a party of strange bed fellows like the older political parties, in which case it would just be a case of old wine in a new bottle.
From all indications, the truth about the true objective of APDA and those behind it is no doubt hazy at the moment. However, the truth about the new political party cannot be hidden for too long, especially against the background of the recent verdict of the Supreme Court, which has finally settled the leadership crisis of the PDP. In no distant time, all doubt about the involvement or otherwise of some interest groups in the opposition party will be cleared.