The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was recently enmeshed in a messy leadership crisis that pushed the party to the brink of an implosion. The crisis stemmed from the power tussle between the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and the former chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole. The show of strength reached its zenith when the party disqualified its serving governor, Obaseki, from contesting the primaries on the platform of the APC which eventually forced him to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pursue his gubernatorial ambition. At the peak of it all, the Appeal Court reaffirmed the suspension of Oshiomhole by his ward in Edo State, thereby worsening the already tensed situation in the ruling party.
Regrettably, the suspension of Oshiomhole led to a comedy of errors as the party produced three chairmen of the party within 24 hours. The three claimants to the acting chairmanship position were Deputy National Chairman, South, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi who died on Thursday, Deputy National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, and National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta.
Relying on Section 14(2)(iii) of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) the National Working Committee, NWC, had named Ajimobi as acting national chairman . Section 14(2) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates the duties of a Deputy National Chairman of the party, among which is to assist the National Chairman in the discharge of his duties.
Section 14(2)(iii) of the constitution also states that the “Deputy National Chairman shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone.” Barely an hour later, Deputy National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, announced his take-over of party affairs. He premised his action on the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
Also, 16 of the 21 members of the NWC had met and announced the National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, as acting national chairman. The NWC said it met to take the decision to ask Eta to act on behalf of Senator Ajimobi, who was reportedly indisposed.
However, in the midst of the drama, Gaidom called for a NEC meeting of the party which the Eta led NWC disowned. But to the surprise of many, President Muhammadu Buhari endorsed the NEC meeting called by Gaidom on the grounds that the law was on his side to act as the national chairman of the ruling party.
Expectedly, President Buhari doused the tension in the emergency NEC meeting by advising members of the party, to withdraw all pending litigations against one another, and settle for internal conciliation, warning that the mutating disagreements could lead to self-destruction with dire consequences. He also warned that the gains of the party could be reversed as conflicts overshadowed the primary objective of service to the people, urging members to refocus on the larger picture and place more emphasis on uniting the party.
Consequently, the NEC dissolved the NWC and in its a place, Yobe Governor, Mai-Mala Buni, was named Chairman caretaker/extra-ordinary convention committee. NEC also approved the immediate discontinuation of all pending litigations involving the party and its members and ratified the party primary election conducted in Edo State.
This Newspaper commends the intervention of the President to save the party from implosion. In our considered opinion, the president as the leader of the party owes the party, on which platform he rode to power in 2015, a duty to steer the ship to safety.
Indeed, we have no doubt that the crisis in the APC has everything to do with who controls the party machineries with 2023 general elections in mind. However, with the myriads of challenges facing the country ranging from the increasing activities of bandits in the North West and north central and impending recession, the last distractions the president needs are infighting and power play in his own political party.
What should preoccupy the mind of political leaders should be how to build critical sectors like health, economy, and education in a post COVID -19 era. We recall the gloomy report by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which projected that unemployment in Nigeria may rise to 39.4 million or 33.6 per cent in December.
It is, however, gratifying to note that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting has approved N2.3 trillion stimulus plan to support the Nigerian economy in the face of the disruptions and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the time to work with a single mind and avoid unnecessary distractions. We, therefore, call on the political leaders to let politicking take the back seat as conscious efforts are made to change the narrative of governance in the country. That line of thinking should be uppermost in the minds of our political leaders.
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