The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to be enmeshed with fresh crisis as some members have started demanding for the National Convention of the party. However, The Caretaker Committee led by Mai Mala Buni, Yobe State Governor is of the opinion that reconciliation in the party and registration of new members should be paramount to party members and not convention. These shades of opinions are likely to bring fresh crisis in the party as some leaders have started passing vote of confidence on the Caretaker Committee. In this write up, JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM looks at some of the different positions of members and group
For political observers and participants the All Progressives Congress (APC) is at the verge of witnessing another crisis of leadership at its national level.
The party, as it is today is being administered by a Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee led by the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
The Caretaker Committee, which some party members had declared illegal from inception, was inaugurated on June 25 as a means to end the tenure of the crisis-ridden National Working Committee (NWC) led by the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole’s NWC-four-tenure barely stayed two years as they took over from the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on June 26, 2018.
The Chairmanship of Oshiomhole did not come without crisis and differences as some party members had wished the tenure of Odigie-Oyegun was extended for one year. It was a heated argument and politicking among members that the President, Muhammadu Buhari had rescinded on the earlier decision taken in National Executive Committee (NEC).
The Committee had agreed to extend Oyegun’s tenure in a NEC resolution made in the presence of the President. But few weeks after, the President rescinded on that decision through the argument and advice from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
There were two blocks of party members at NEC then. One block was led by the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which was against the extension of the tenure of Oyegun and insisted that he should be replaced with Oshiomhole.
Another group was made up of some governors, who felt that Oyegun should be allowed to stay and conduct the primaries of the party and the 2019 general election. However, the Tinubu group won, as they had the ear of the President and a national convention was conducted and a new NWC-led by Oshiomhole was ushered in.
The reign of Oshiomhole was one that many party members would not forget in haste, as it had experienced court orders and counter orders. It became a history on June 25 amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
Some party members had convinced the President for a virtual NEC meeting that brought an end to the reign. Characteristically, while some people won in that fight, some lost and those that won brought in Buni a sitting governor of Yobe State as the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee. The mandate and tenure of the Caretaker Committee were expressly specified by the NEC chaired by the past Acting National Chairman, Hon. Victor Giadom.
The NEC had charged the Committee to reconcile members of the party in Edo and Ondo states because of the governorship primaries held in those states. Also they were asked to organise a National Convention within six months. The two were the meats of the terms of reference for the Committee.
However, not quit long, some party members started muting the idea to extend the tenure of the Caretaker Committee. It was also alleged that the Committee had met with the APC Governors and solicited for tenure extension. A source had said the committee members told the PGF to convince the President to extend their tenure.
To buttress the idea of tenure extension, some party members have argued that the Committee has venture into areas not specified in the terms of reference.
Those areas according to them, are the biometric registration of members and reconciliation in all the aggrieved states. The Caretaker Chairman recently said in a statement that they have reconciled crisis in the party in 11 states. Buni could not specify the states that the party’s crises have been resolved.
In his statement he said: “You will all recall the ugly and unfortunate incidences that bedeviled our party, which threatened its existence and resulted in the dissolution of the National Working Committee and, the emergence of the Caretaker/ Extraordinary National Convention Committee which I am opportuned to chair.
“I am glad to state that, the committee upon assumption of office engaged in genuine reconciliation to rebuild people’s confidence, trust and hope in the party. Let me say with all sense of appreciation and fulfillment that the committee had in the last three months reconciled life-threatening challenges for the party in 11 states across the country.
“Today, we proudly parade political heavyweights like the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; former PDP National chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade;
several members of the National Assembly; Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation; Mr. Danladi Kifasi; Sen. Isa Hamma Misau; Alhaji Salisu Takai and several others while many others have also indicated interests to join the party.”
But the governorship aspirant in Zamfara State APC in 2019, Senator Kabir Marafa is one person that would vehemently disagree with Buni. Marafa believes that the Buni-led APC Caretaker Committee would not amount to anything positive. Speaking recently, Marafa said he was not interested if the Committee’s tenure was extended or not, as the chairman was part of the problems in the party as the National Secretary before he was elected governor.
Buni had served as APC National Secretary closed to six years before he was elected governor of Yobe State last year. A group, Concerned APC members recently also expressed their displeasures over the way Buni and his committee members had administered the party the few months they have stayed. The group, which issued a 14-days ultimatum to Buni and his committee to adjust said they would carry out mass protest against them. Their concern
is that the Caretaker Committee left the job of conducting a National Convention and ventured into national reconciliation and registration of members.
The Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Dauda Abdullahi said: “The concerned members of the party have watched with amazement for several months over the inability of the APC Caretaker Committee to provide direction for the party and set up timetable for December elective convention.
“We are less than two months away from the December deadline and no meaningful plan is in place for the much awaited convention. But information reaching us reveals that they are already scheming to extend their tenure for another one year.
“We are aware that the composition of the committee is illegal and alien to our party’s constitution abnitio and we are aware some members are in court already as regards that anomaly, but due to our respect for Mr. President, we allowed the process as a child of necessity and supported it but the present action and body language of the committee necessitated our press conference today.
“We are giving the Caretaker committee a 14-day ultimatum to roll out plan of action/ timetable for the party’s December elective convention or face mass demonstration of party members nationwide,” it said.
The group stressed that the Buni-led Committee has shown in its actions that tenure elongation was its priority, adding that as stakeholders in the party, there was urgent need to speak out loudly on time to save the party from another round of self-inflicted crisis.
This additional responsibility taken by the Committee has not gone well with some other party members, as a chieftain of the party, who preferred anonymity, said: “They want to embark on membership registration when there is no reward system in place for existing members.” The chieftain views the Committee mission as sit-tight agenda.
He said: “My people say if you stay too long in the toilet, you will see a ghost. I hear they have squandered the N6billion left behind by Oshiomhole.
Now they are talking about biometric registration of members just to buy time. Not a dime has trickled down to the lower organs of the party since they came on board.
“Besides, no sensible person will register for a party whose popularity is at its lowest ebb. The current nationwide protests are a clear pointer to the party’s unpopularity. The leadership of the party must be totally insensitive to consider such a suicidal venture at this time. “COVID-19 era is not the right time to embark on membership registration, for obvious reasons.” But some party members have expressed different opinions throwing their weight behind Buni and his committee.
The Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu believes that the Committee is on the right part to reposition the party, therefore should be giving more time.
Okechukwu, defending the Committee on the ultimatum issued against it said, “reconciliation is more germane now than the convention. “I personally can’t factor the true reason behind Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda’s concerned APC members preference for a December, 2020 National Convention to genuine reconciliation of gravely fractured party before convention?
“Truly, methinks we should all support the Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to diligently fix and reposition our great party before any convention.
“Buni’s Committee requires deep introspection to gather the pieces, reconcile the various warlords and tendencies. If it takes six or 12 months, one may not mind so as to achieve substantial cohesion before the crucial 2023 general elections.”
Also, the Forum of APC State Chairmen in a meeting with the Caretaker Committee passed a vote of confidence on the chairman and the committee.
The Forum Chairman, Hon. Ali Bukar Dalori in his speech backing Buni and his committee in all their propositions, said: “Buni, on behalf of the Caretaker Committee briefed the States Chairmen on the progress so far made on their assignment, from inception, to date. We are pleased and proud of what they have achieved so far and have assured the Committee of the support of the entire APC membership across the country.
“Of specific note is that the party is getting more united, with more people joining and the last weekend success in Ondo State is a reflection of its successes. Equally, the plans for new membership registration, in accordance with section 9.4 of our Party Constitution, which provides that a register of members shall be compiled and maintained at the Ward level has met with the approval of Party Members across the country.
“The APC Chairmen unanimously condemn any attempt to distract efforts of the Caretaker Committee from the commendable work they have been doing.” Dalori, who is the chairman of Borno State APC moved a motion of vote of confidence in the Committee and he was supported by the entire 36 state chairmen.
His Vice in the Forum, Prophet Jones Erue, Delta State APC chairman said, “What is wrong for a good thing to be sustained or supported? Call it rumour or real, we are in support of the committee and in support of the unity of our party. Anything that will bring unity to our party we are in support of it 100 per cent.”