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‘Great Expectations’ As Oshiomhole Steps In As APC National Chairman



OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU writes on the challenges inherited by the new National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the need for him to hit the ground running resolving all the challenges ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Following the successful conclusion of its National Convention last week, the newly elected National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, during the week took over the mantle of leadership of the party from the immediate past National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

But after the euphoria of his emergence, the Comrade Chairman, who seemed to have enjoyed the overwhelming support of President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC National Leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and majority of the APC governors and major stakeholders of the APC, is however expected to hit the ground running, as he not only inherited a myriad of challenges, but he is also faced with how to reconcile all the warring groups and individuals in the APC.

Perhaps, one of the things one cannot take away from the APC is that the ruling party, from among the over 65 registered political parties in Nigeria, has earned the notoriety of battling with epic internal problems, which is tearing the party apart from within.

From the inception of its victory and taking over power in 2015, the APC has been bedeviled with so many crises, which is not just about reconciling aggrieved members of the party, or telling them to ignore the past and look forward to the future, but capable of shaking the party to its very foundation.

The first major sign of internal conflict was the shenanigans that attended the election of the leadership of the National Assembly, a development the party has yet to get over. The internal wrangling for the soul of the party in the tussle for the principal officers of the National Assembly cost the party, which had an overwhelming majority in both chambers of the legislature, the office of the Deputy Senate President.

The major fallout of the internal power-play was the frosty relationship between the Presidency and the National Assembly, such that things seem to have fallen apart between the two arms of government and the centre has since then refused to hold.

Therefore, the coming of Oshiomhole is expected to find a lasting solution to the frosty relationship between the executive and the legislature for a harmonious working synergy.

Failure to do this will probably signal a bigger crisis in the party, especially against the backdrop that Oshiomhole’s emergence did not enjoy the support of all and sundry in the party.

A party stakeholder, who craved anonymity told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the diverse crises bedeviling the ruling party have become a source of concern, adding that President Buhari had allowed minor issues in the APC to fester, and have now escalated.

He added that the foundation of the present trouble in the ruling party actually took root from when different people, with different political leanings from the defunct legacy parties, the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC; Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and a portion of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, fused into one formidable, but strange force.

Perhaps, it was in recognition of this fundamental issue that lead to President Buhari looking in the direction of Tinubu in February to help mend fences and reconcile all aggrieved members of the party.

Another stakeholder said, “Asking Tinubu, widely seen as an interested party to champion the reconciliation move is like abdication of responsibility on the part of President Buhari.”

He was of the opinion that the contentious issues creating friction in the APC far outweigh the capacity of the former governor of Lagos State.

Another major crisis in the party was the existence of parallel state executive committees in many states across the country, one of the many sins which many believed cost the immediate National Chairman, Odigie-Oyegun his second term ambition in office as National Chairman.

It is also of paramount importance for the new National Chairman to take urgent steps to ensure that all factions and contending groups in the ruling party must sheath their swords and work together as one.

Recall that leading to the just concluded national Convention, almost all the states of the federation came up with parallel state executive committees, SECs and unless the new National Chairman takes concrete steps to bring all the warring parties to a round table and amicably resolve all contending issues. Failure in this regard will spell doom for the party, especially ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Apart from the parallel SECs across the states, the new Comrade Chairman must also resolve all the feuds among godfathers and godsons in the party as well as the varying contending interests fighting to tear the APC apart.

For example, in Kano State, the fight to finish between former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwanso and his successor and deputy while in office and incumbent governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who has threatened that Kwankwanso will be replaced as senator come 2019, should speedily be resolved to the warring parties’ satisfaction.

He must also bring peace to bear in the simmering feud between the governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, and the three senators representing the state at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Ali Wakili, Isa Hamma Misau and Nazifi Gamawa.

Dogara and the senators accused the Bauchi governor of reneging on all the promises he made to the electorate. As the Chris Ngige-led congress committee could not resolve the crisis, it behooves on the new National Chairman to take the bulls by the horn.

In Oyo State, the Comrade Chairman also needs to put on his thinking cap and strategise on how to resolve the crisis between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who is angling to succeed Ajimobi as governor come 2019, while the governor had another successor in mind.

It is the same story in Kogi, Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara and Imo states. In Kogi State, the feud is between aggrieved excos of the state chapter of the party who are at loggerheads with Governor Yahaya Bello, who they accused of side-lining them since he assumed power about two years ago. The governor was also accused of creating a parallel faction, which the immediate past National Chairman actually endorsed and inaugurated.

It is not easy for Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina, who is finding it difficult to come to terms with the threats from a splinter APC group, the APC-Akida peopled by the likes of MT Liman, Sadiq Yar’adua, Sada Ilu, Usman Bugaje, among others.

Kaduna State seems polarised to three different factions, as there is a straight fight to fionish between the camps of Governor Nasir El-Rufal and Senator Shehu Sani on the one hand and the governor and former chairman of the APC in the state, Hakeem Baba Ahmed on the other hand, leading to the formation of Kaduna APC-Akida, while Senator Hunkuyi, whose house being used by another faction of APC in the state was demolished.

In Zamfara, it was a straight fight to finish between Senator Kabiru Marafa and Governor Abdul’aziz Yari; while in Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha, who has been at loggerheads with APC stakeholders in the state seems hell bent on imposing his son-in-law on the state as his successor.

All of these internal wrangling across the state chapters of the APC, if not properly and speedily handled could spell doom for the party ahead of the 2019 general elections. It therefore would be in the best interest of the party for the Comrade Chairman to find lasting and amicable solutions to them.

Another thorny issue that would need the immediate attention of the news helmsman of the APC is the absence of a Board of Trustees, BoT, which is supposed to be its conscience, for the party.

Political analysts have said that approaching the 2019 elections without a functional and effective BoT of the party could be suicidal. Recall that the BoT, which is expected to have as its members foundation members of the party, always plays vital role in advising elected party officials on how to uphold the creed of their offices and also call erring officers and members to order whenever they are carried away by influence.

Shortly after the elections in 2015 and shortly after the inauguration of the Buhari administration, insinuations were rife that Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar over the chairmanship of the APC BoT, although Tinubu debunked such insinuations.

Article 13.2 (X) of the APC Constitution (October 2014 as amended) had clearly stipulated the powers of the BoT.

It has been suggested in certain quarters however that President Buhari should take over the leadership of the APC and work towards making Tinubu the chairman of the APC BoT.

The Comrade Chairman would also have to dig deep into his repertoire to resolve the lingering imbroglio between the party and one of its major components, the nPDP, which had in the last few weeks threatened to pull out of the merger.

Recall that the nPDP, which defected from the PDP to the APC ahead of the 2015 general election has been said to be largely responsible for the success of the APC at the polls.

However, the nPDP has recently voiced out its frustrations, claiming that it had not been compensated adequately for its contributions to the success of the party.

He would also need to find a meeting point acceptable to all in this fiasco, as the nPDP pulling out of the APC may also spell doom for the ruling party ahead of 2019.

These and many other teething challenges confronting the ruling party have actually cut out the job of the new APC National Chairman and how he is able to maneuver the land mines and put the party in its place of pride would further catapult the candor of the former labour leader.

Therefore, he needs the support of every member of the party across the states and across all contending groups for the Comrade Chairman to succeed in his new political journey.