The decision of President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to set up a Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the Party following the controversies that trailed the tenure of the former national leadership of the Party ,has turned out to be the tonic which the APC requires to forge ahead for a better future .
To demonstrate leadership, President Buhari persuaded all aggrieved members of the APC to withdraw all cases instituted by them in Courts for whatever reason(s) they might have. The National Caretaker Committee was given the mandate to manage the Party for six months and thereafter organize a National Convention where new members of the National Working Committee will be elected democratically.
Immediately after it was inaugurated, the Caretaker Committee, chaired by the Yobe State Governor, Malam Mai Mala Buni swung into action and rolled out a Blue Print with effective strategies for reconciliation across board within the Party. The National Secretary of the Party in the Caretaker Committee, Senator John Udoedeghe who has a record of effectiveness and efficiency in all previous national assignments, has joined hands with Governor Buni in the challenging task of bringing all the tendencies in the Party together for cohesion and national Unity. The Caretaker Committee parades great democrats and patriotic Party men and women who have what it takes to restore peace to the ruling Party and reduce restiveness and acrimony among members.
As a former national Secretary of APC, Governor Buni appreciates where the shoe pinches in the Party and therefore has the capacity to understand the internal misgivings of all groups within the APC. On the other hand, Senator Udoedeghe was a Senator, a Minister and a Governorship Candidate who knows his onions when it comes to the intricacies of the Politics of Nigeria. He is not a pushover and therefore cannot be intimidated by anyone. He is also a man of means who cannot be swayed by filthy lucre. The combination of Senator Udoedeghe , Governor Buni, Senator Ken Nnamani and the other great figures in the Committee puts APC on a strong pedestal to maintain its premier position in Nigeria’s power equation.
Today, peace is gradually returning to the APC as a result of the all-inclusive approach which the Caretaker Committee has adopted in running the affairs of the Party since it came on board. One commendable and effective strategy which the members of the Committee have adopted, is to insulate themselves from all factions and the internal Politics of State Chapters in order to come up with impartial decisions that Will ensure unity and give all members a sense of belonging in the scheme of things. The intimidation of one class of leaders or claims to superiority of a group over other groups has now become a thing of the past. No member will be subjected to holding the end of the stick perpetually as long as these men are in the saddle.
In all fora, Senator Udoedeghe has empasised the need to bring all Party members together in order to reposition the APC for the challenges ahead. As the National Secretary, he has maintained an open door Policy to make Party Organs accessible to all Nigerians. He has also maintained that democracy will succeed in Nigeria if the APC which is the ruling Party succeeds. Governor Buni has also employed goodwill to motive members and even staff at the national secretariat in Abuja.
A strategy which has also paid off is the decision of the Caretaker Committee to visit Party leaders and hold an interface with them on the developments wlthin the Party. The visit to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a mark of respect to him as one of the national leaders of the Party who have made enormous contributions to the growth and development of the APC. Also, the decision to hold an interface with former Osun State Governor and leader of the Party, Chief Bisi Akande, was meant to drink from his fountain of wisdom in the bid to rebuild the Party and give it a new lease of life.
There is no doubt that the Caretaker Committee is succeeding in the tasks placed on its shoulders. The composition of Reconciliation Committees made up of Nigerians with integrity will calm frayed nerves and bring everyone on board for the challenges ahead. This approach is a grievance-redress Mechanism which will ensure that the Party settles rifts among members internally without them resorting to litigations or going public.
On Edo, the Caretaker Committee has put up a National Campaign Council with members who are experienced in election management and campaign. There is no doubt that the minor setback in Edo will be forgotten once the APC wins the Governorship election on 19th September.
On Ondo, another Reconciliation Committee has also been established to address all contentious issues that are capable of tearing the Party apart.
To ensure that all hands are on deck, the Caretaker Committee is constantly engaging all the stakeholders for advice and participation in Party activities. This is meant to correct past mistakes and do away with a situation where all those who made sacrifices to build the Party were never carried along in the affairs of the Party.
What the APC needs is an all-inclusive approach to party administration that would bring all the various segments and tendencies in the Party together. The Caretaker Committee is also ensuring that the leaders of the Party across tribes, regions and religions put aside all differences in the interest of the Party and the Nation. Once the APC is cohesive, Nigeria will also be cohesive and stable democratically.
In Ondo, the Caretaker Committee ensured that all the Governorship aspirants were cleared for the Primaries to ensure a level playing field. The era in which disqualification was selectively used as a weapon of marginalization is over as the Caretaker Committee is putting measures in place to give fair treatment to all members.
Another appreciable approach which the Caretaker Committee has employed, is the decision to sustain all the good things which the past leaders did in the National interest. Though they have been called to chart a new direction for the Party, they also realise that not all the decisions taken in the past were bad. Therefore, continuity is required in some areas.
A major challenge confronting the Committee, is how to sustain the new-found peace and unity that will put the Party in shape for the 2023 general elections as the opposition assembles its weapons for attack.
The APC is the only Party in Nigeria that can be compared with the defunct National Party of Nigeria(NPN) led by late Chief Adisa Akinloye.
In post-Covid 19 Pandemic Nigeria, political leadership will be a very serious business. Political Parties must restructure themselves and put effective mechanisms in place for the emergence of the right type of leaders that can give the Country the type of leadership that can handle the challenges of the future. What will keep parties together, are internal democracy, existence of grievance-redress mechanisms and strong party machinery that can offer effective and impartial administration. The Caretaker Committee is aware of all these challenges and will certainly confront them. The new APC that is bound to emerge, would be one that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Political Parties of the First and Second Republics such as the Northern Peoples Congress(NPC), the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group (AG). The future beckons for APC.
Dr. Okoroma, a public analyst wrote from Abuja.