The internal squabbles rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to a climax yesterday as the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party dissolved the National Working Committee (NWC), an action that effectively brought to an end the tenure of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the ruling party. President Muhammadu Buhari announced the dissolution of the NWC at the end of the emergency NEC meeting of the party held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. In the place of the dissolved body, NEC set up a 13-member Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Committee to run the affairs of the party for the next six months.
It also appointed the Governor of Yobe State, Mallam Mai Buni and Senator John Akpanudoedehe as Chairman and Secretary of the committee respectively. Other members of the Caretaker Committee include: Governor Gboyega Oyetola (SW), Ken Nnamani (SE), Stella Okotete (Women representative), Governor Sani Bello (NC), Dr. James Lalu (representing the phys-ically challenged), Senator Abubakar Yusuf (Senate), Hon. Akinyemi Olaide (House of Reps), David Lyon (SS), Abba Ari (NW), Prof. Tahir Mamman (NE) and Ismail Ahmed (representing the youth).
The decision has been interpreted in certain circles as a palace coup by a clique of party leaders who are against the 2023 presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and one of the founding fathers of the party. New Telegraph also learnt that some presidential hopefuls mobilised for the change of guard. “With the present NWC in place, it may be difficult for some of us (governors) to get reelected in 2023 or produce our successors. Also, the composition of the sacked NWC was skewed against our future ambition.
It is an open secret that some of us have presidential ambitions in 2023. “Before Thursday’s NEC, Asiwaju Tinubu is positioned to pick the APC presidential ticket. So the only option was to push for the dissolution of the NWC for a balance party leadership,” a two-term governor told New Telegraph last night. Oshiomhole, who emerged National Chairman of the APC in June 2018, had a very turbulent tenure due to what critics have described as his autocratic style of leadership. The former labour unionist was at loggerheads with many counter forces within the party, especially those who believed he was a protégé of Tinubu and working towards the 2023 agenda. It is widely believed that all the crises that had plagued the ruling party for several months were orchestrated by rival cliques within the party in furtherance of their permutations to grab political power and Oshiomhole and some of his colleagues at the dissolved NWC, happened to have been pawns on the chess board. In a bid to secure a sustainable truce, the NEC has ordered the suspension of all litigations against the party by members just as it upheld the primary election which produced Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the APC flag bearer for the oncoming governorship election in Edo State.
President Buhari, while addressing the NEC meeting, stressed the need for members to put an end to all the crises rocking the party. He warned that the gains the APC had made in the last five years could be reversed if members allowed conflicts to overshadow the primary objective of service to the people. Apparently given a perspective to the reasons behind the drastic decisions, the President expressed worry over the shifting loyalty within the party and inconsistency in leadership, which had opened the governing party to mockery. His words: “The issues currently confronting our party at this time are such that should worry every party member. At the moment, our great party is faced with internal wrangling; there are on-going litigations amongst some party members and we cannot clearly ascertain the status of certain NWC members.
“There are also other associated disputes as to the legitimacy or otherwise of holders of certain national offices of the party. The party is also contending with judicial claims and counter-claims, orders and counter-orders and indeed judgments and counter-judgements that are predominantly at crosspurposes. “Confronted with these issues, it is obvious that the fortunes of the party are currently in jeopardy, administration of our party is becoming impossible and there is consequently an urgent need for intervention to immediately arrest further drifts and internal wrangling which may lead to total disintegration.
“What we see clearly emerging is that we are beginning to self-destruct. This, my dear party members, is not just regrettable, but utterly gut wrenching.” The President said that the APC must maintain cohesion by closing ranks in order to return to the “winning ways.” “We must be alive to the time and the task that is before us. As we all know, we are immediately confronted with the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States. Therefore, this is the time to get our acts together,” he admonished. Meanwhile, the newly appointed Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC, Governor Buni has debunked the speculations that the dissolution of the NWC by the NEC was meant to whittle down the influence of Asiwaju Tinubu in the party. Buni, who briefed newsmen after the NEC virtual meeting held in the Presidential Villa yesterday, said Tinubu was not only one of the founding fathers of the APC, but was also part of the current efforts to rescue the party. “We are all together to rescue this party from all these challenges. Nobody is happy with the situation under which the party is now operating because we are in court for various problems and crises. “So this decision was taken by NEC to address some of these issues. Nobody is being targeted and it is not against anybody. Asiwaju is one of the leaders of this party and a founding father of the party. “My plan is all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice, there won’t be peace. It is all about team play. I am a team player; I have a capable team that can work with me. If you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you. So I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth,” he said. Buni explained that there was no illegality in the process of convening the NEC meeting of yesterday as it was a continuation of the last notice that was issued for meeting that was adjourned due to circumstances beyond the control of the party. In the meantime, Buni and his new team have assumed duties at the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja. The new APC boss arrived at the National Secretariat in the company of Governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdulraham AbdulRasaq (Kwara) and Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun). In a chat with journalists, Buni said that having served as the national secretary of the party before now, he knew the party very well and assured every member of his commitment to do justice to everyone.