OrderPaperToday – Since the ‘third force’ New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) came to prominence three months ago through the instrumentality of the Rabiu Kwanwanso-led National Movement, the country’s major political parties are said to be watching closely the steps of the ‘new bride.’
Given recent developments, there is a likelihood that the Northern chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) may lose the majority of their members to the NNPP if primary elections are not carefully and transparently handled.
It is no more news that the big wigs in Kano politics; from former governor Ibrahim Shekarau to federal and state assembly lawmakers as well as some aides of the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; it’s been a flurry of defections into the party.
Prominent among those who have defected from the APC to the NNPP is the Chief of Staff to the Kano Governor, Ali Makoda; the lawmaker representing Tofa/Dawakin Tofa/Rimin Gado, Tijjani Jobe, as well as the member representing Dambatta/Makoda Federal Constituency, Badamasi Ayuba.
A former Speaker of the Kano House of Assembly who is now a member of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Rurum, is also reported to have decamped to the NNPP; alongside a former adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Kawu Sumaila.
Other prominent defectors are a former member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumini Jibril who represented Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State, as well as another lawmaker representing Tsanyawa/Kunchi Federal Constituency.
Founder of the party, Boniface Aniebonam, described the development in Kano as divine intervention, saying the NNPP ”is gradually becoming a movement…”
“We are the beautiful bride in the North as it is, and we hope to expand to all parts of Nigeria as the best option for Nigerians,” Aniebonam said.
It is also indisputable that some Nigerians are tired of the PDP and the APC and want a change from the current situation of things as their perspective about the newly registered NNPP will be prayers answered.
Likelihood of coalition
As the race to the primaries that would determine the eventual members of the 10th National Assembly, political watchers appear to be staking bets already. Should we dismiss it as too early? No one can really tell.
Firstly, for any political party to gain the muscle it needs to produce the presiding and principal officers (majority caucus) in the National Assembly, it must have the numerical strength going by parliamentary principles and convention.
Alternatively, in the event that one party is unable to gain a clear-cut majority, a coalition could be the solution for the top parties by numbers. In the case of Nigeria, the possibility of a coalition in the 10th National Assembly might just be something to keep tabs on as the country prepares for the 2023 National Assembly polls.
A coalition is a temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.
Throwback to Nigeria’s First Republic
In the 1959 General Election, to determine which parties would lead in the immediate post-colonial period, the major parties won a number of seats in their regions, but none emerged powerful enough to constitute a national government.
The Ahmadu Bello-led Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) thus entered into a coalition with the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. the former having been greatly favored by the departing colonial authority.
The coalition provided a measure of North-South consensus that would not have been the case if the NCNC and Action Group (AG) had formed a coalition. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the NCNC became the Governor-General (1960) and later President after the country became a republic in 1963.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC was named Prime Minister, and Obafemi Awolowo (AG) had to settle for Leader of the Opposition.
The regional premiers were Ahmadu Bello (Northern Region, NPC), Samuel Akintola (Western Region, AG), Michael Okpara (Eastern Region, NCNC), and Dennis Osadebey (Midwestern Region, NCNC).
Although this was under a parliamentary system of government, there appear to be certain parallels that can be drawn from history.
It is important to note that the NNPP is consistently gaining prominence in the North with Kano state emerging as a major stronghold of the party. Analysts say it is only a matter of time before other states in the North and other parts of the country join the bandwagon.
Also worthy of note is the fact that given the current political configuration of the country, the North has majority of seats in both chambers of the National Assembly and as such their numerical strength becomes a determining factor.
As rightly pointed out by former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, who during an interview on Channels Television, the APC and the PDP need to put their houses together or be prepared to lose their members to the NNPP.
He stated that if any of the major parties zone its presidential ticket to the South, they should forget about producing Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
“Let me tell you that whether in APC or PDP, the problem we have now is Kwankwaso. Our problem is not APC or PDP. Because Kwankwaso is already a presidential candidate we are in problem.
We are forcing every party – that is what I saw – to pull out. Because of Kwankwaso, if you give me the ticket from the South East, I will lose and it would not be good for us.
Kwankwaso left PDP and went to NNPP and if PDP or APC zone its presidential ticket to a candidate in Southern Nigeria, then Kwankwaso is a president in waiting. I can assure you that knowing the mentality on the ground, unless we are telling ourselves lies.
I cannot lie to myself; I’m a student of realism. So Kwankwaso is the problem because if PDP goes to the North and the APC goes to the South, it’s as well telling myself to pack my luggage and go. I’ll not have a job in the National Assembly or the federal government of Nigeria.
That’s the truth. Whether you want to believe it or not, Kwankwaso has changed the dynamics.”
Similarly, NNPP’s National Chairman, Prof. Rufai Alkali, at a forum charged the National Working Committee (NWC) to work assiduously towards emerging victorious in next year’s general elections.
Alkali said, “You must all know that these responsibilities bestowed on us are a trust we must all hold dearly, and we must work very closely together to fulfill the manifest destiny of our great party and the nation.
I need not remind you all that this party has re-bounced back into the reckoning and into Nigeria’s political space at the most decisive and challenging period of our nation’s history.
I say decisive because Nigerians for too long have been waiting for a political party to salvage the Nation, to rescue our people from the visionless and directionless political elites that have abandoned the fundamental principles and grown norms of democratic governance.
It appears to us most of the political elites have forgotten the past and do not look at the future beyond their noses,” he noted.
With the rising profile of the NNPP, it is increasingly becoming hard for anyone to predict which party will dominate the polity.
However, many believe that the calibre of candidates produced by the respective parties during their primaries will be the litmus test for the PDP and APC ahead of next year’s general election in the state.
Will the NNPP manage this momentum and make an in-road?