Posted by From Donald Andoor and Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja on
Former National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Don Etiebet, yesterday gave an insight into the circumstances surrounding his resignation from the party......
Former National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Don Etiebet, yesterday gave an insight into the circumstances surrounding his resignation from the party and insisted that internal wrangling between opposing forces within the part was largely responsible for the failure of the party to win the presidential elections in 2003.
Etiebet resigned on Monday through a letter he sent to the National Secretariat of the party through his aide. He later confirmed his action on phone. His exit from the party followed the decamping of a number of the party chieftains, including the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Saminu Turaki. But the National Secretary of the party, Dr. Nya Asuquo has described the developments as positive for the party, saying it would make the party more focused instead of having opposing forces within the party working at cross purposes to the detriment of the party.
At an informal interaction with newsmen in Abuja, Etiebet went down memory lane and exposed the many intrigues; turbulence and backstabbing that characterized his three-year tenure on the saddle of leadership of the opposition political party. Etiebet, a one time presidential flag bearer of defunct National Convention Party of Nigeria (NCPN) and former Minister of Petroleum under the Gen Sanni Abacha regime, said it was sheer determination and zeal to succeed that kept him on the hot seat all these while but lamented that while he was doing his best to see the party through the murky terrain of Nigerian politics, those who should have encouraged him were only bent on castigating him at the slightest opportunity. According to him, his trouble in the party began at the party’s convention held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, early 2003 during which former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the party’s Presidential flag bearer and he (Etiebet) became the party’s National Chairman.
At that convention, he said, the power play amongst the contending forces showed that for some inexplicable reasons, the Buhari group did not want him to become the National Chairman of the party while another group led by Governor Attahiru Bafarawa which supported his candidature as Chairman were not favourably disposed to Buhari emerging as the presidential candidate of the party.
THISDAY learnt that even before the convention, there were already cracks in the party over the earlier claim of contending forces for the creation of the ANPP from the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) to the extent that some factions in the party had to seek legal redress over the re-naming of the party. The party was also divide between those who wanted to secure the party machinery for Buhari and the other group that was preparing the party as a political launch pad for another former ex-military ruler, President Ibrahim Babangida.
“If I had any problem in ANPP, it started from my election as the National Chairman of the party. I was caught in the cross fire between these two opposing forces. I found myself in between two powerful groups who wanted to control the party for their own selfish ends and none of them was ready to work with me. So they stopped funding the party.
The main reason why I resigned from the party is that since I handed over the reigns of the party since March 30, 2006, not one ANPP governor has called me or consulted me on any matter concerning the party.
I believe they don’t like me in the party even after I have consistently done my best to advance the cause of the party. They deliberately starved the party funds perhaps to frustrate my administration,” Etiebet said. On the vexed issue of the 2003 elections, which the ANPP claims to have won, Etiebet said that he fought hard to claim the victory of the party but blamed the party chieftains, especially the Governors of ANPP controlled states for the dismal performance of the party at the polls. He attributed most of his problems to this infighting and the underlying suspicion that some external political forces to frustrate the agenda of the All Nigeria Peoples Party planted him.
He recalled that on the eve of the April 19, 2003 presidential and gubernatorial elections, the party had nothing in its coffers to mobilize its supporters to carry out the logistics of election monitoring which he said could have made the widespread rigging that characterized the elections impossible.
“If there were proper planning and coordination of activities by the party, their was no way the ANPP would not have mobilized more votes from the three geopolitical zones of the South where INEC said we scored only 880,000 votes as opposed to the 12 million votes the ANPP polled in the three geopolitical zones in the North. Rigging took place in the South because the states did not have the necessary funds and there was nobody to monitor the votes. Even where we would have won, there was no body to coordinate and protect the votes,” Etiebet stated.
The former National Chairman said that while he could not remember having any problem with General Muhamadu Buhari, the ex-military ruler turned politician was most of the cold to him and never took his counsel even on sensitive matters that had great impact on the party. On his future plans and political programme, Etiebet was not categorical on what he plans to do. He said he would sit back and consult with his family and immediate political constituency (Akwa Ibom State) before deciding on what to do next. He did not rule out politics at any level but said that his businesses had suffered greatly over the last thirteen years during which he engaged in active politics. Meanwhile the National Secretary of the party, Dr Nya
Asuquo has said that the exit of Etiebet and some other chieftains of the party might well be a blessing to the party in the long run. Asuquo in a separate chat with newsmen in Abuja said the current movement of supposedly eminent persons out of ANPP couldn’t be treated in isolation because there has been similar movement of people into the ANPP as well. He described the cross movement as normal in a political environment where the party culture was just beginning to take root after many years of military dictatorship and suspension of democracy.
He said that the main political parties in the country, including the ANPP were formed in a hurry resulting in birds of unidentical plumage flocking together.”
These movements and exodus of persons from one party to the other must not be seen only from the negative perspective. We are now moving towards a period where we have parties with ideological bent.
The effect is that after this phase we will now have more stronger more focused and more ideologically based parties which is better for our politics and and our polity,”Asuquo said.
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