The All Progressives Congress (APC) penultimate week took another trip in search of peace with the reconstitution of the National Reconciliation Committee. In this piece, ANDREW ESSIEN, interrogates some of the issues affecting the party which needs urgent intervention.
There is no gain saying that in recent times, just as the APC has had several electoral success, the myriad of challenges plaguing the party arising from various interest groups and factions has threatened its delicate balance tilting it to a boiling point.
No doubt, some school of thought argue that the crisis being experienced are largely inherited from the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party but others insist that the current National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s style of party administration is pushing the party to a melting point.
One of the lingering issues that has dogged the leadership of the party and still is a tension spot is the introduction of the Direct Primary System by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC). This was the beginning of many more internal wrangling that greatly polarized the party even as pundits had wondered on the party’s ability to rise from the ashes of the crisis that beset it, galvanize all its ‘formations’ and ‘arsenals’ in time to prosecute future elections.
Arguments for and against this process have continued to rage. In trying to make a case out of their decision, the party’s leadership argued that the introduction of the direct primaries was not only meant to deepen the internal democracy of the party, eliminate, if possible, the penchant for trading votes for money and the imposition of candidates on the party, but to bring an acceptable and to a large extent, credible candidate for the party even as it goes to the all-important 2019 general elections.
The national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole while explaining the rationale behind the move stressed that the NWC “decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in line with the provisions of’’ the APC ‘’constitution which allow for either direct or indirect primary’’, they ‘’have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun State will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.
‘’What that means is that every card-carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This for us, is the most democratic way to conduct elections and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country want and we are quite happy to oblige.
“The whole idea of that is that the more we allow our party members to participate in the process of nominating candidates, we will remove the issue of corruption or monetising the processes of nominating aging candidates, in addition to the fact that party members will have a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise”, assured the former Edo State Governor.
In layman terms, every registered member of the APC may not just be an “observer” but a participant and delegate who will not just be involved in general elections but also in all primary elections, to choose their prospective elective representatives.
From this point, the national chairman has recently come under increasing attacks over his handling or otherwise of party issues, especially since the primaries that produced party flagbearers at different levels of government.
Accusations and counter accusations fill the media space over what did or did not transpire within the period, even as party faithful try to make sense of what is the true situation of things.
His deputy, deputy chairman (North) of the APC, Lawal Shuaibu, threw the first stone by calling for the chairman’s resignation. In a letter to the chairman dated May 27, 2019, the top official declared the chairman’s leadership a “failure”.
The former senator from Zamfara State in a five-page open letter, insisted that the party chair was squarely responsible for the party’s loss in his home state, among other alleged gross misconduct even as alleged that Comrade Oshiomhole caused the APC loose seats. He also listed other dwindling fortunes of the party, which he said “is on the path of extinction”, to buttress his claims.
He stated, “It is expected that for every decision credited to the party, it should be the result of a meeting where resolutions are passed by the working committee.
He said: “It is also expected that policies by the party are always alI-inclusive and never one-sided and to cap it up, no unilateral decisions should be made to represent the opinion of the National Working Committee, the National Executive Committee or even the least, the National Caucus. The national chairman cannot assume the powers of the National Working Committee.
“The last congresses in states, unfortunately, represented a complete lack of knowledge, let alone of experience on how due process in political electoral process is adhered to.
Again, current political atmosphere in Edo State is also heating up the party as many political onlookers are interested as to how Comrade Oshiomhole, will handle the daily-degenerating relationship with his one-time political associate and current governor of his home state.
Expectations were that the current administration would be a family affair as the first four political officers in the executive arm were seen as Oshiomhole’s political children; the governor was the Chairman, Economic Team of Oshiomhole’s eight years administration; the deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, rose to become the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly before going to represent Etsako Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, where he was called back to become the deputy governor; Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, first-served as Secretary, Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation and then Chief of Staff to Oshiomhole in his first term and Commissioner for Works in his second term; the Chief of Staff to Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele, came to the Oshiomhole government as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) attached to the Economic Team headed by Obseki.
The shocking reality is that for the past one year, the crisis has defied solution as the party is sharply divided into supporters of the governor, and those of the National Chairman. Supporters of the governor accuse Oshiomhole of playing a godfather role and wanting to control the governor.
But the crisis must be brought to an end one way or the other to ensure the APC participates in the election.
However, egos have been bruised and it is believed that there would be casualties at the end of the day.
At another level, From the South to the North, from the West across the East, the APC at both national and state levels have been battling with so many issues with political analysts fearing that these crisis, if not checked timely, may significantly weaken the overall fighting power of the party when the time comes.
From faraway Bayelsa to the distant Kano, across to Gombe then Kaduna, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe and the list goes on, the APC chapters in these states erupted in one form of crisis or the other. The leadership at the center, added to the issues it was dealing with, had to intervene in all these troubled spots, even as it surprisingly went on to win elections conducted in some of these “troubled spots”.
To unravel the many tension spots within the party, in mid-December of 2019, the NWC initially revealed that “After due consultation, the All Progressives Congress (APC) appointed a high-level ten-member National Reconciliation Committee chaired by the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan.
“This is in line with the November 22, 2019 resolution of the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
“Other members of the committee are: First (Interim) APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande (Vice Chairman); Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase; Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura; Sen. Kashim Shettima; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Alh. Nasiru Aliko Koki; Sen. Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak; Sen. Binta Garba and Sen. John Enoh (Secretary).
“The Committee is empowered to address grievances of party members and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering unity and oneness within the party.”
No sooner had the committee members named, opposition to its constituents also gathered momentum. In fact, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, in his reaction faulted the development, accused the Senate president and the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, of playing a prominent role in the crisis rocking the party in the state.
Obaseki rejected the former arrangement and vowed not to heed to it until the party substituted those he complained about.
“We believe the committee does not only fall short of the most basic of integrity tests, but is also a disservice to genuine efforts to bring a lasting solution to the crisis rocking different chapters of the APC across the country,” the Edo official said.
“To the specifics, Senator Lawan and Ahmed Wase in the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively, presided over the plenary sessions where the motions to take over the Edo State House of Assembly were deliberated. They are also parties in the court case, in which the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt ruled that the National Assembly cannot take over the functions of the Edo State Assembly,” the governor through his spokesperson, Crusoe Osagie, had said.
For reasons best known to it, the party’s leadership decided to make a U-turn, reconstituting the committee with Chief Bisi Akande, who was to serve as the vice chairman of the ‘rejected’ reconciliatory team, appointed as chairman to replace the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan in the reconstituted team.
In a statement signed by the APC’s spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu, on Monday, he noted that “President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have reviewed the membership of the party’s National Reconciliation Committee.”
Interestingly, the deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase still made the list of the reconstituted members despite the protest from Obaseki’s faction.
Other members include the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello; the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Tanko Al-Makura (a senator); Kashim Shettima; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Aliko Koki; Khairat Abdulrazak-Gwadabe; Binta Garba and John Enoh (secretary).
APC spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu also said the reconstituted “committee is empowered to address grievances of party members across the country and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering oneness, strengthen the party for better governance and ensure unity of purpose within the party.”
In the final analysis, the party must be ready to toe the peace path and vigorously pursue same, if it wants to stand a chance ahead of 2023 general elections. Tough decisions must be taken, compromises made and decisions received in good faith.
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