The exodus from Nigeria's ruling APC of one-time allies of President Buhari is reminiscent of the moves that led to his predecessor's defeat. Buhari's APC is now "the other faction," the lawmakers who split insist.
Buba Galadima, who helped found the All Progressives Congress (APC) that brought Muhammadu Buhari to office in 2015, is now the national chairman of the faction named Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC).
"The APC has run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people," Galadima told reporters in Abuja when announcing the split on Monday.
In a brief statement on Thursday, the APC said there was no faction within the party. "As a matter of fact, we doubt that these individuals parading as leaders of the so-called faction are actual members of our party," it said.
Galadima, in an interview with DW, said the R-APC represented the mainstream in Nigeria and Buhari's APC was actually "the other faction" on the political scene.
"We have the support of the people. It is where we go that the people will go. That makes us legitimate leaders," he said.
APC policies are 'anti-people'
The current APC leaders were not legitimately elected, Galadima said. "They became leaders out of a flawed process which would not stand a legal test."
"We will make the government work under the rule of law, which is currently not in place at all," he said, adding that Nigeria's economy was "in tatters," with the value of the naira falling against the dollar and a sharp rise in the cost of fuel.
"These are anti-people policies, which definitely ought to be reversed because the people, who are our backbone, must enjoy the dividends of our democracy. Anybody in Nigeria is under our protection. We are the government."
Galadima steered clear of naming Buhari in critizing the performance of the government. DW asked him whether the members of his faction could have consulted with Burahi to mend the fracture within the APC rather than split the party.
"As a politician and president of the country, Buhari was quoted as having said that he doesnt want to see anybody. That we don't matter," Galadima said. "We are not in a monarchy, we are not in a military dicatorship, we are not in fascism."
Parallels with 2015 poll
APC infighting has been spilling out into the open for months, as Nigerians prepare to elect a new parliament and president in February. Buhari, a former military general, plans to seek a second term.
Political analysts say his chances are in jeopardy. Aside from criticism of his management of the economy, he is also accused of nepotism and blamed for failing to improve the security situation in the country.
Buhari and the president of the senate, Bukola Saraki, and speaker of the lower house of parliament,Yakubu Dogara, have frequently locked horns since the governnent was inaugurated.
Saraki and Dogara were among a string of politicians from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who defected to the APC ahead of the May 2015 election that brought Buhari to office.
A lawyer and a human rights activist have been pressing the National Assembly and the courts to initiate impeachment proceedings against Buhari. They alleged that Buhari violated the constitution when he contested the poll in 2015, saying he was not qualified to do so as he had presented a forged certificate to electoral authorities.
That election saw Buhari defeat Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, who had fallen foul of the public and his allies over his management of the West African country and its resources.
As the APC splits and Olusegun Obansanjo (Nigeria's president from 1999 to 2007 and junta leader from 1976-1979) galvanizes smaller parties to contest the forthcoming election as a coalition, this reminds many how Jonathan was defeatesd.
Benita van Eyssen contributed to this report.