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Nigeria: Old Wine in New Wineskins as APC Turns to Renegade PDP Stalwarts to Salvage 2023 General Elections Dreams

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (left) at the Convention..jpg

President Muhammadu Buhari has recruited and hired senior members of Nigeria’s opposition party to lead the ruling party’s effort to stay at the helm of the country come 2023 when General Elections are to be held.

This follows the decision to hand most of the senior positions at the Secretariat of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is the main opposition party.

At the 2022 National Convention of Nigeria’s ruling party which was held recently in Abuja, Abdullahi Adamu, the former Governor of Nasarawa State, emerged as the preferred chairperson to lead the APC.

Adamu will now lead the ruling party in finding Nigeria’s new leadership during the 2023 general elections. Adamu emerged as the winner to become chairperson after he was endorsed by President Buhari, APC governors, and some other party leaders. 

Timescape Magazine understands that the list that included Adamu and other leaders was endorsed after days of politicking and maneuvering. APC also paid money to some of the aspirants that dropped out of the race to allow an easy win for the new team.  

Interestingly, most of the new leaders of the ruling party are former bigwigs in the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has vowed to wrestle power from the APC at next year’s poll. 

Adamu who will oversee choosing those who get nominated on the APC ticket was a founding member of the PDP, two-time PDP governor of Nasarawa State, Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of PDP, and PDP Senator in 2011.

The new National Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu at the 2022 National Convention of the party in Abuja on 26 March 2022.

He decamped to APC in 2014 and now in 2022, he is APC National Chairman. New members of the PDP who trooped into APC have also taken over the party at the Convention, leaving the other blocs, CPC, ACN, and ANPP, that formed the party, in the blues.

Members of the opposition PDP who crossed to snatch positions in the ruling party include National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, National Women Leader, Betta Edu, Barr Ahmed El-Marzuk, National Legal Adviser, Uguru Matthew Ofoka National Treasurer, Senator Abubakar Maikafi, National Auditor, Barrister F.N. Nwosu, National Welfare Secretary, Deputy National Chairman Southeast, Emmanuel Enukwu, Muazu Bawa Rjau, National Vice Chairman North-Central, 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State (left), new National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu (middle), and Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State (2nd right) at the National Convention in Abuja

Mustapha Salihu, National Vice Chairman, Northeast, Barrister Festus Fuanter, and Nze Chidi Duru, Deputy National Organizing Secretary.

There are, however, fears among some Nigerians who believe this movement of PDP members to APC will cost the country because the opposition has basically merged with the government of President Buhari.

“Now tell me what the difference between PDP and APC is. If anyone was still thinking that they are different, is there still any difference. Where are the so-called founding members of the APC?” asked Agba Jalingo, a public affairs analyst, who described the outcome of the APC National Convention with a biblical reference of ‘old wine in new wineskins.’

In his reaction, Marvin Nimebiye a citizen concerned about the goings-on in the country corroborated Jalingo’s view.

Ocheja Wada another concerned citizen noted that it is ironic that the APC in its campaign during the 2023 general election will be claiming that PDP ruined Nigeria for 16 years when it was in power before Buhari came in 2015. 

“How could this claim be justified now that most PDP members who ruled during the 16 years are in the top echelon of APC?”

With several members of the PDP joining the APC there are fears that the same people who have been ruling Nigeria for more than two decades could oversee the country for a lot longer.

There is, however, a wave of younger Nigerians working to push both the APC and PDP out of leadership. Anho Larry King, one of those interested in ending the political hegemony of the APC and PDP says the two parties are one and the same and should be voted out of power so that new leadership can emerge.

“After messing the PDP up, they went to APC to claim saints. Nigerian people, you must open your eyes, vote these two parties out in 2023,” says Anho who tweeted his reaction.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has been on a charm offensive to popularize the APC leadership that decamped from the PDP. According to President Buhari, the politicians are repentant and should not be castigated by Nigerians.

A significant number of those new entrants into the APC had previously been battling corruption charges brought forward by the Nigerian government under President Buhari. The charges against these individuals have since been dropped.

In a post-convention assessment, President Buhari borrowed richly from the religious holy books, saying the former PDP members are repented, sinners.

One of the APC presidential aspirants, Rochas Okorocha at the convention ground in Abuja.

He said: “That some of the APC’s new leadership were once in the opposition was the new line to take to the media, somehow suggesting that those who have left one party should not hold positions in another. Yet, do the Scriptures not teach us of the virtue of sinners who repent and change their ways?”

President Buhari argues that the criticism should be targeted at the PDP which has lost most of its important leaders and not the APC.

For most Nigerians looking to vote in the 2023 general elections, however, the problem now is that the country’s two main political parties are almost merged, which makes choosing among them difficult.

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