President Muhammadu Buhari is not one of the presidents known for meddling in party affairs. He is also not known to have laid claim to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) since his election in 2015. Rather, Buhari has left APC politics to be played by the politicians around him.
But last week, Buhari directly intervened in the affairs of APC. He summoned governors of the party to a meeting in Abuja, where they discussed the fate of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. Although we do not know the real contents of the meeting, it was obvious that the chairman was let off the grip of some governors who were already baying for his blood.
The Buhari intervention signified the magnitude of the problem Oshiomhole has been in in the past few months. From his state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to some other ambitious governors, ministers and senators to his fellow National Working Committee (NWC) members, Oshiomhole had been at the receiving end of flaks from different angles.
It was so bad that his position became threatened following an Abuja High Court ruling a few weeks back, which stated that he should stop parading himself as chairman of the party. In a rather bizarre twist, a Federal High Court in Kano, a day later, nullified the Abuja court’s ruling, sowing more confusion into an already confused atmosphere.
Only on Monday last week, the Appeal Court ordered a stay of execution on the Abuja Court order, pending the determination of the suit.
That happened after the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had waded in, accusing those who wanted Oshiomhole out of his seat of plotting towards 2023. He described them as an ambitious lot.
Following the Appeal Court ruling and the interventions of Buhari and Tinubu, it was a mellowed Oshiomhole, who summoned an NWC meeting the following day and offered an olive branch to his party men. He stated that he was not perfect as nobody is.
Filled with remorse over the protracted crisis that had rocked the party for several months, Oshiomhole urged all leaders of the party to put the past behind them as he nursed no grievances against those who wanted him ousted as chairman of the party.
He also vowed that he would endeavour to streamline his leadership style with the consensus of opinions of his colleagues in the leadership hierarchy of the party.
It is instructive to note that the newly admitted Acting National Secretary, Waziri Buluma and the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuiabu, were absent at the meeting.
Oshiomhole said: “What binds us together in this party is a lot more than the sum total of all the challenges that anybody can speak of. We do not lay claim to a family that has members who will be so docile that they cannot argue among themselves or even sometimes who really want to fight. That is the hallmark of democracy….
“Everybody should re-examine his conscience, strengthen those bonds of friendship, bonds of solidarity and work as a family.”
We are not deceived to believe that the reprieve Oshiomhole got last week has eventually ended the crisis in the party. We do not believe that the reprieve has also stopped the ambitions of party men and women towards the 2023 general election. What is sure is that the evil day for APC has been postponed.
Indeed, some of those who have grouses with Oshiomhole have good reasons. Apart from his state governor, Obaseki, who has personal battle against his godfather and former occupier of the seat, there are other genuine reasons for party members to be angry with the chairman and, by extension, the NWC members. The party’s inability to handle its internal affairs in the last election cost it states such as Zamfara, Rivers, Bauchi and Adamawa, among others. Although, the party managed to get some other states such as Imo and Gombe, the loss of several states to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) still rankles.
Yet, there are various forces within the party that are not comfortable with the rumoured ambition of Tinubu, who brought Oshiomhole to the chairmanship. We also note that there are other internal issues, which are militating against the peace of the party.
We are however worried that APC is tilting towards the direction PDP went before the 2015 general elections, where it was torn apart by internal conflicts. The result was the loss of the 2015 elections to APC. PDP ruled for 16 years before it broke into pieces. APC has just secured eight years and the same crisis that destroyed PDP is appearing in the party.
That is why we believe very strongly that APC leaders should look inwards, mend fences and accept Oshiomhole’s olive branch. It is in the interest of the party to put its house in order. Otherwise, 2023 might just be too far for the party to become a former ruling party.