The power tussle between Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and suspended national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) snowballed into a leadership crisis that threatened the party’s foundation. It began to brew last year when Governor Obaseki refused to inaugurate some members of the House of Assembly loyal to Oshiomhole.
Both gladiators threw caution to the wind and began to fight dirty on the pages of the newspapers. Several efforts made, including moves by President Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile the governor and his ‘godfather’, failed. The Ahmed Lawan and Bisi Akande committee set up to resolve the crisis also hit a brick wall.
The crisis reached a crescendo when the screening committee for the Edo State gubernatorial election disqualified Obaseki on the ground that there were discrepancies in his certificate.
Expectedly, when it became clear that Oshiomhole at the centre had upper hand over him, Obaseki dumped the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pursue his second term bid. But just as the governor was throwing in the towel, fortune played a sad tune for Oshiomhole. The Court of Appeal in Abuja affirmed his suspension from the party.
Oshiomhole’s ouster set the pace for a deeper crisis which led to the emergence of three acting national chairman of the APC within 24 hours.
However, signs that the President would wade into the crisis came on Sunday when the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, visited the presidential villa. He told State House correspondents that the leaders of the APC would not allow the crisis in the party degenerate further.
Subsequently, the governors of Kebbi, Jigawa and Pleateau states on Monday met with the president on the lingering crisis in the party. The Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, who is also the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, told journalists that they presented their position on the party crisis to the president.
He said, “The reason for our visit is to discuss with him as our party leader, as the leader that millions of Nigerians trust, to discuss party issues and the position of the Progressive Governors to support all steps to unify and bring about peaceful resolution in our party, the All Progressives Congress.
“Mr President listened attentively and discussed with us as a father, as a party leader and he gave us all the assurance we needed to know that resolution of contentious issues will soon be arrived at.”
Surprisingly, the president on Wednesday endorsed a National Executive Committee meeting called by the Victor Gaidom-led NWC. On Thursday all eyes were at the presidential villa to see the direction the meeting would go.
Miffed by the lingering crisis in his party, President Buhari read the riot act to members of the APC, warning sternly that henceforth there would be dire consequences for those who choose to disregard the party’s directives. To begin with, the president directed members of the party to withdraw all pending litigations and present themselves for internal conciliation.
Speaking during an emergency meeting of the APC NEC meeting held on a virtual platform at the presidential villa to find lasting solution to the leadership crisis rocking the party, President Buhari cautioned APC members that the gains of the party could be reversed as conflicts overshadow the primary objective of service to the people.
He urged members of the party to refocus on the larger picture and place more emphasis on uniting the party.
President Buhari proved that he was indeed the leader of his party. As soon as he entered into the laboratory of the disputation, there was a great calm in the party. The crisis that posed as if it would soon tear the APC apart was gone few hours after the president intervened.
The emergency NEC meeting adopted all the recommendations by the president and appointed Yobe State governor, Mallam Mai Buni, as caretaker national chairman of the APC, while Senator John Akpanudoede was designated caretaker national secretary.
As part of measures to end the party crisis, NEC which is the second high decision making body of the party after the National Convention dissolved the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
In its stead, the APC constituted a national caretaker/extra-ordinary convention committee chaired by Governor Buni who was immediately sworn in by the attorney general of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
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