By Jude Opara
The relative peace recorded in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be heading to the rocks following recent developments which point to the fact that the storm may be gathering again for yet another round of crisis.
Recall that the party was in June this year drawn into a crisis which came to a head after the former National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole superintended over the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki from contesting the party’s primary for the September 19 Edo State governorship election.
Obaseki was then forced to decamp to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who gave him the platform to contest the election which he eventually won. The National Executive Committee (NEC) had in an emergency meeting set up a Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
The Buni committee was given six months to reconcile all feuding members of the party and also to plan and conduct an extra-ordinary national convention where a new set of National Working Committee (NWC) members would be elected to take over from the one hitherto led by Oshiomhole. Buni and his team went to task and within a short time, they have been able to reconcile some chapters where members were at daggers drawn.
They also conducted the primary election for the Ondo State governorship election where the incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu emerged as the party’s flag bearer. The Caretaker Committee also campaigned and supported Akeredolu to win the election which took place on October 10.
However, while the Buni Committee was busy planning how to in their own words reposition the party, some elements in the party earlier this week rattled them when a group under the aegis of the Concerned APC Members on Monday told a news conference that they were giving the Buni Committee a 14-day ultimatum to begin the process of convening the extra-ordinary convention in December. The group claimed that they were no longer comfortable with the seeming silence of the Caretaker Committee on the core mandate given to it right from inception.
Leader of the group, Abdullahi Dauda accused the Buni led committee of scheming to extend its tenure by another year and warned that if the APC leadership fails to comply, it would face mass action by members of the party from across the country.
“The committee led by Mai Mala Buni was inaugurated to carry out two critical challenges faced by our great party, one was for it to reconcile aggrieved members and second, was to conduct a National Convention by December 2020.
” But information reaching us reveals that they are already scheming to extend their tenure for another one year. The Buni led Committee has shown in its actions that tenure elongation is its priority and being stakeholders in the Party , we see the urgent need to speak out loudly on time to save our party from another round of self inflicted crisis. It is as our responsibility to speak up for posterity sake.” Dauda had claimed.
The Concerned APC Members equally accused the Caretaker Committee of plotting to embark on membership registration, a mandate it argued was not part of the responsibility given to them by the NEC. They advised Buni to return to his official duties in Yobe State and allow a duly elected NWC to carry out the registration of members.
“Furthermore, we are aware that the committee is planning registration of members which is not part of the resolution of the last NEC. We call on the committee to let legally elected and constituted NWC to come and conduct the new membership registration for the party and jettison this idea. The question remains? “Why is the Caretaker Committee planning to extend its tenure? To what end? Governor Buni is elected to govern the good people of Yobe state not to jettison his constitutional responsibility and be arranging a sit-tight regime in the party. A word is enough for the wise!”
Many analysts believe that the Dauda group are related to aggrieved members of the party loyal to the linage of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the former National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Interestingly, to buttress that fact, the group in their statement also accused Buni of engaging in anti-party activities in the Edo State governorship election by allegedly calling on members of the Caretaker Committee not to go to Edo to campaign for the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“We have it on good authority that Governor Buni personally called Caretaker Committee members not to go for campaigns in Edo. This act of betrayal to a party that has done so much for him is condemnable. “Ondo would have been another disappointment but for the unity of purpose by leadership of the South West zone to avoid another embarrassing outing. We cannot hold our peace anymore; our collective silence is an indictment.”
However, Buni did not ignore that threat and barely 48nhours after the outburst of the Dauda group, he ferried the Chairmen of the party in all the 36 states and Abuja to the national secretariat of the party where he arguably lobbied them to pass a vote of confidence on him.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Chairman of chairmen and the Chairman of the Bornu state chapter of the party, Alhaji Ali Dalori said they were happy with the activities of the Caretaker Committee including the now controversial membership registration.
“The Chairman on behalf of the APC Caretaker Committee briefed the State 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. The Party is getting more united, with more people joining and last weekend success in Ondo State is a reflection of its successes.
“Equally, the plans for the new membership registration, in accordance with section 9.4 of our Party’s 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.
Dalori also took a swipe at the Concerned APC Members for daring to give the Caretaker Committee an ultimatum to begin the process of having a national convention by December, 2020.
“Our attention has been drawn to social media stories allegedly giving ultimatum to the APC Caretaker Committee by a group, calling themselves “Concerned All Progressives Congress Members”. This is an unknown group in the APC and wonder if they are actually “concerned”, as their name suggests. The APC Chairman unanimously condemns any attempt to distract efforts of the APC Caretaker Committee from the commendable work they have been doing.
“The APC has recognizable process though which members can lodge any legitimate grievance(s). Shadowy groups with questionable agenda cannot claim any concern for the Party” Dalori stated.
To make it more authentic, Dalori had also moved a motion for the vote of confidence and the Chairman of Benue chapter, Comrade Abba Yaro seconded and there was no dissenting view.
Interestingly, before the arrival of the chairmen, another well known supporter of the caretaker Committee and the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu had already issued a statement condemning the ultimatum given by the Concerned APC Members.
Okechukwu who is also a foundation member of the party argued that instead of talking of a national convention, that Dauda and his likes should rather support the Buni led Caretaker Committee in his reconciliation efforts.
“I am not the spokesman of our great party, am just an ordinary foundation-slip-card carrying member of the APC. However, am in league with the opinion that this is not the time for ultimatum. It is first reconciliation and subsequently election 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 Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to diligently fix and reposition our great party before any convention,” Okechukwu stated.
The DG of VON who is also a well known critic of the Tinubu/Oshiomhole linage further gave a hint that he was in support of a possible tenure extension for the Caretaker Committee. He equally took a jab at the former National Chairman for allegedly creating much of the crisis that is bedeviling the party.
“A cursory glance at the damage done to the soul of our great party, beginning from our victory in 2015; to regrettably the culture of impunity which bedeviled our 2018 primaries to say the least is unprecedented. Accordingly, the Buni’s Committee requires deep introspection to gather the pieces, reconcile the various warlords and tendencies. If it takes six or twelve months, one may not mind so as to achieve substantial cohesion before the crucial 2023 general elections.”
Okechukwu also blamed Oshiomhole and Tinubu for the defeat of the party in Edo State insisting that if they had done the needful at that time, there may have been no need for a Caretaker Committee led by Buni.
“Maybe they forgot how the Committee mobilized Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) to embark on trouble shooting across the country, culminating on the historic visit to our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. A visit meant to allow Governor Godwin Obaseki to run on APC’s platform. If Asiwaju had prevailed on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, our great party could have been the greatest beneficiary. For them now to blame the MMB’s Committee for our loss is more or less charitable.”
As a careful observer of happenings in the APC, it is obvious that if nothing is done swiftly, to halt the drift, the ruling party may be heading into another round of crisis.