President Muhammadu Buhari, some days ago, told his party (All Progressives Congress) members, via a television interview, that they risk losing leadership of the party because they are disunited.
Besides control of the presidency, APC is the governing party in 22 states, an increase by five states after the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) took over.
However, warning his party members, the president said: “We have a timeframe we have to work because the four-year tenure is constitutional. It cannot be interfered with by anybody. So, if the APC can’t agree, then, the opposition will naturally take over. What did the PDP do? They said the opposition could not come together, but when ACN, ANPP, CPC, APGA came together, before PDP realised it, they were off. They are still off. They can see it.”
The president’s concern was not lost on the Buni-led CECPC, which set up a National Reconciliation Committee headed by Senator Adamu Abdullahi, former Nasarawa State governor.
Buni said the caretaker committee constituted the committee to “reconcile emerging misunderstandings and differences which might arise from the outcome of the congresses.”
On terms of reference, Buni urged the Senator Adamu Committee to “conduct appropriate engagement between identified groups in each state where there are disputes with a view to bringing about genuine reconciliation and establishing lasting peace and unity in the party; consult with party Leaders and concerned members as the committee deems necessary with a view to achieving peace therein.”
He also urged the committee to “critically examine areas of conflict on the just concluded Ward and Local Government Congress and advance solutions in the circumstance.”
The Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee has since been criss-crossing the country. Other members of the committee are former House of Representatives Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara; third Republic governor of Jigawa State Saad Birnin Kudu; former Enugu Governor Sullivan Chime; former Benue Governor and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs George Akume; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State Oluranti Adebule; Chief of Staff to the Kebbi State Governor Suleiman Argungu; former Deputy Governor of Oyo State Moses Adeyemo Alake; Commissioner for Health in Cross River State Beta Edu.
Buni is also involved in the reconciliation drive. In Gombe, for instance, Buni is leading the reconciliation efforts to the Gombe State. He recently met with Governor Inuwa Yahaya, and Senator Danjuma Goje, a former governor of the state. Buni and Adamu are leaving nothing to chance to see Yahaya and Goje work together as one in the interest of the party. Yahaya and Goje disagreed over the control of the party structure following the congresses of the party.
The Adamu committee has moved from Lagos to Ogun to Kwara and other states. In Kwara, the Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee set the template where the chairman said the committee would listen to and reconcile all the sides in the crisis within the state chapter of the APC.
Speaking after a meeting with Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Adamu said the committee would not accept any action or utterances that would deepen divisions.
He said: “We are in Ilorin today to listen to complaints and grumblings that were expressed through the petitions received by us, and we felt a sense of duty as a committee to listen to those who are complaining, the issues they have, and see how best we can find a way out. Some of these (complaints) may be imaginary. Some of them may just be perceptions. But we don’t want to pre-empt what they mean until we listen to them.”
AbdulRazaq said the party and the government were open to reconciliation and would support the committee in its mandate to unify the party.
The governor said: “It is not an easy task for all of you because in every state you go to you would have friends and associates in any of the divides of the party, and some would have assumed that you are not looking after their interest but we know that you will bring your experiences to bear on this.”
In Ogun, the committee met with the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, former Governor Chief Olusegun Osoba, ex-Governor Chief Gbenga Daniel, some former deputy governors, former and serving House of Representatives members and other stakeholders.
Speaking with journalists after a meeting with the Senator Amosun-led group, Adamu said they had listened to the petitioners and discussed the issues.
He assured all members of the party in the state that the committee would be fair and ensure that equity and justice would lead in solving the crisis facing the party in Ogun State.
Abiodun lauded the party for choosing the path of reconciliation to guard against polarising the party in Ogun.
He said: “This committee was carefully chosen to further strengthen the party. It is important to continue to have peace and harmony among us. Though there is bound to be conflict here and there, we must continue to find a way to cooperate, and I am happy to have you with us today. We will cooperate to ensure peace in our state.”
In Osun, the party is reconciling groups led by ex-Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his successor, Governor Gboyega Oyetola. Speaking in Osogbo when the committee visited to meet aggrieved members, Adamu said the committee would be attending to petitions and complaints from aggrieved members of the party before coming up with its findings.
“Our intention here is to maximise the opportunity of getting evaluation of relevant materials after which we will go to Abuja and sit as a committee and develop what we have in the report, which we will share with the authority of the party at the national level that appointed us,” Adamu said.
Oyetola while assuring the committee of his administration’s support, added “On our part, we are willing to give you all necessary support to make this a success. I hope you will enjoy the hospitality of our State. By any standard, we have not disappointed the party. Within the little we have, we have justified the confidence reposed in us.”
In Lagos, Adamu said the committee did not receive any petition to justify there was disunity, adding that the visit was to strengthen the existing unity of the ruling party in the state.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu urged the committee to deploy wisdom and patience to resolve differences and strengthen the party’s unity. He said the terms of reference of the committee speak to the real essence of party politics and hoped the outcomes of the interventions would be fruitful. A group, Lagos4Lagos Movement, led by Dr Olajide Adediran, could not petition the committee because it moved to PDP late last year.
The committee is also trying to ensure unity in the party in Ekiti State, where election is due soon. Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is the chairman of the Governors’ Forum, is serving out his second term and contending interests are threatening the party’s peace.
As the 2023 polls get closer and the task before the committee increases, the results of the reconciliation moves will become clearer.
Although it is still receiving petitions, that its work will help give the greenlight on the holding of the national convention is not in doubt.
Certainly, given the pedigree of its members and leadership, much is expected.