With the 2019 general elections increasingly coming closer, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may be set on reconciling aggrieved members. ANDREW ESSIEN, writes on the task ahead of the recently constituted peace and reconciliation committees.
Penultimate Wednesday, the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) inaugurated and dispatched high-powered committees across the six geopolitical zones with the task of reconciling members back to the fold.
This, however did not come easy as the party leadership had earlier read riot act to its aggrieved members who had approached different courts in the country as regards various concerns and reservations they had about the primaries, praying the courts to give some form of redress.
To mention but a few, some of the prominent members of the party like the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Niger Delta Usain Uguru, Governor Rochas Okorocha’s son-law, Uche Nwosu, Senator Magnus Abbey, some aggrieved Senatorial and governorship aspirants and others had already approached various courts with various forms of complaints or the other.
Some others had completely stormed out of the party to actualise their political aspirations on other platforms because, as they claim, even if they use the party’s conflict resolution mechanism, powerful forces whose interests will be bruised are very certain to frustrate any peace move that may be made. The scenario in Kaduna APC readily comes to mind here.
Giving reasons as to why the stern warning was handed down, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the NWC frowned at the actions of some party members who had resorted to litigation as a way of addressing their perceived grievances and disputation without exhausting the party’s dispute resolution mechanism.
The growing trend, according to the party spokesman, is viewed as a manifestation of indiscipline, adding that the actions, is considered as anti-party as it goes against our party’s constitution.
“We therefore advise such members to take this warning very seriously as failure to comply with the party’s dispute resolution procedures would be met with the stipulated disciplinary actions.
“For emphasis, according to Article 20, Subsection 10 of our Party’s Constitution, offences against the Party include the following: “Filing an action in a Court of Law against the Party or any of its Officers on any matters relating to the discharge of the duties of the Party without first exhausting all avenues for redress provided for in this Constitution.”
“The Party intends to activate constitutional provisions to penalise such members as their action is capable of undermining the party and hurt the Party’s interest.
“We hereby strongly advise such members to withdraw all court cases, while approaching the appropriate party organs with a view to resolving any outstanding disputes. In addition to this, aggrieved members are urged to take full advantage of the reconciliation committees the party has just put in place.
“APC members should understand that as a progressive party that operates on the principle of change, it is not a matter of choice to keep to the rules.”
But 48 hours after it read riot act to aggrieved members, the party softened its stance by tasking and dispatching eminent members to broker peace with its members across the six geo-political zones of the country.
The National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole will eventually addiuce the reason for the current infighting within the party, to the electoral value of of the party if it is juxtaposed to when the party came of stream before the 2015 general elections. Opposing voices have however, picked holes in the Chairman’s claim while urging him to deal justly with everyone.
Speaking while inaugurating 6 committees, APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, admitted that the party had gone through crucial stages, he linked the various crisis to the “huge electoral value” of the party tickets as reasons for the internal wranglings within the party.
Oshiomhole however rated the party to have done “exceedingly” well in the last three and half years, adding that it was only men of conviction and vision who had before now, vied for the party’s ticket.
Oshiomhole said: “I want to thank you all for coming at short notice and appointments to serve in the six committees that we setup to help us as a party, find in-house solutions with a view to maintaining peace and ensuring internal harmony within the APC family.
“We have gone through a very crucial stage in the processes leading to the next presidential, National Assembly, governorship and House of Assembly elections. I think, from my own records, of the 36 states and the FCT, I believe we have done exceedingly well as it is impossible for the most gifted child to score 100 percent in every subject and the more questions you have to answer, the more chances are that you will miss some of them.
“Four years ago around this time, we were in opposition and therefore the value of our tickets, if we have a political market were our tickets are weighed, the value of our tickets was not anything near where they are today. only men and women of conviction and vision subscribed to contesting elections on our platform.
“I believe that to our collective credits, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, who happily is our candidate for the presidential election, ably assisted by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, we’ve all worked hard and are well led by Mr President who leads by example, and the power of example cannot be underestimated and we have’nt solved all the problems of Nigeria but those who have good memories will not have any problem comparing the previous 16 years of PDP rule to the three and half years of APC rule and our people clearly voted for change because they wanted to change the way in which the country is managed, government and governance is approached, check corruption , reconcile efforts and rewards.
“I believe that the house is bigger today than it was before because those who have reservations have since realised that the President means business and APC is delivering on the promises that we made. The fact of these accomplishment that has enlarged the house and brought in more quality political activists and leaders, huge electoral value across the state meant that the internal democratic process which we obliged by our Constitution, that process was necessarily more intense and had to become more competitive as more people showed interest in the affairs of our party.”
Highlighting what he felt was the issues that were at the heart of agitations at various quarters within the party, Oshiomhole stressed that: “The challenge of changing the reward system that was on ground was obviously not going to be easy. The House is bigger than it was four years ago because those who initially had reservations have since realised that the President meant business and the APC was delivering on the promises that we made.
“As they say, success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. The fact of these accomplishment which has enlarged the house and brought in , are political activists and political leaders who are people of huge electoral value across the states has meant that the internal democratic process which we were obliged under our constitution to go through was getting more intense and competitive with more people showing interest in the affairs of our party. But we are still learning the full import of multi party democracy and of a free and fair election. If it were possible to have angels in politics, and ten of them decide to contest for the office of a governor of a state, nine angels will lose nomination, not because they are less pure, but because only one person will be chosen. Whether that choice is through imposition, consensus, direct or indirect primary, it is obvious from the onset that nine will go without the ticket. This is something we ought to expect and that every democrat should readily appreciate.
“I am not surprised that inspite of the efforts that we have made, we still have some persons and groups in few states where some people feel uncomfortable with the outcome and they feel that the system was not just to them. For me, it is not sufficient to rely on the fact that colleagues and I on the NWC, as much as we tried to ensure that the rules were obeyed and ensure that the process was transparent and that we protected everyone, those who the system did not favour are not only questioning the outcome, but appeared quite disappointed with some very bitter and resorting to statements that might be unhelpful as we approach the elections. As Chairman, I have since learnt once you step out to be the Chairman of even a local Association, you opt to be the dustbin to which everybody empty everything. I have had my own fair share of people, who, out of anger chose to target me as a person. Unfortunately it coincide with what the opposition PDP have always wanted because bringing on board my past reputation is a challenge to the PDP that has no reputation. If they had any, it is a reputation of share the money and these are no longer in the realm of speculations because it has been subject of several litigations across the country.”
His plan on getting the party to the next level, he said: “In moving forward, it is not a question of whether we think that we have done everything perfect, but even if the outcome of a perfect exercise makes one person unhappy, as leaders privileged to have been entrusted with the management of our party and ensure there is peace and tranquility within our party, we must, inspite of our conviction that we have done our very best make every effort to identify those who are unhappy and use our in-house huge human resource to try and find in-house solution. From our tradition, I know that seeking peace and finding solution, the quality of people involved also matters.
“We believe that these committees which include our governors who inspite of their own reservations are at home and at peace with the party and are working hard to ensure that the party win their respective zones, we can call on them to come and help us in this process of peace building and reconciliation. The truth is that when somebody is unhappy, we have a responsibility to make them happy. We also realized that sometimes, women have special gift of persuasion and that is why we have enough women of substance in this committee to help carry out this reconciliation.”
The words by itself are apt but analysts wonder if the peace process will be far reaching enough to assuage persons whose egos have been badly bruised arising from the primaries. On daily basis, threats of anti-party, defections among others are steadily becoming the news as party faithful continue to grieve over issues they fill was orchestrated by leaders of the party against them whether real or imagined.
From the circumstances leading to the recent elective convention that brought in the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to the introduction of the Direct Primary System, the APC has greatly been polarized even as pundits wonder on its ability to rise from the ashes of the crisis that has beset it, galvanise all its ‘formations’ and ‘arsenals’ in time to prosecute the 2019 general elections.
Analysts are continuing to wonder what will happen after the elections even if it wins the much coveted presidency. As it stands, the party is sharply divided along interest lines . For what it is worth, the task of reconciling aggrieved members of the party, will be somewhat difficult, even as the crisis of confidence between gladiators of the party at the federal and state levels seems to be ballooning into a stronger momentum.
From Kaduna to Kano, from Imo to Zamfara, Ondo, Borno, Bayelsa, Oyo, Bauchi, Kogi, Gombe, Sokoto and Ogun states’ chapters of the party among others are all grappling with one form of internal bickering to the other.
A lecturer in the Department of Political Science of the University of Jos, Mr. Joseph Anuga, explained that the challenge anyone, who is given an assignment to reconcile aggrieved politicians is bound to face, includes but is not limited to “managing egos and ambitions.”
He added, “The political season has begun. Those occupying offices, who will want to remain in office, will struggle to remain while opponents, wishing to replace them, will also be at their best to achieve their political objectives.”
Governor of Borno state and Chairman of the Committee for the South West, Kashim Shettima, while responding on behalf of the committees said “It is normal in human nature that contestation will crop up and the maturity with which we handle such determines the quality of leadership in our system. We commend the leadership of the party.
“We are in control of 23 states of the Federation. I want to assure you that we shall try our best to reconcile our aggrieved members because the interest of the party supersedes our individual interest. We have to work to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari wins the up coming and that our governors emerge winners and the National Assembly. We shall not disappoint you.”
The committee must make spirited efforts in ensuring that cooler-heads prevail and create the enabling environment for stalwarts to close ranks even as new alliances are being forged. Already, the various opposition parties are making quick gains, strategising and preparing adequately for any eventuality.
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