From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
After the initial hullabaloo over the extension of the tenure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), the ruling party appears now to be on a smooth ride apparently as a result of the administrative mechanisms deployed by its national leadership.
It may certainly not yet be Uhuru but the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee has recorded some giant strides especially in the areas of refocusing the party with the proposed membership registration and revalidation, review of the party’s constitution and resolving some intractable crises rocking the party at both national and state levels to douse the tension and rancorous situation within the APC.
The CECPC equally delved into resolving the ownership tussle surrounding the building housing the party’s national secretariat, party’s financial obligations, particularly a number of litigation fees, which prompted it to make the decision from the outset to offset the arrears.
Although there are still some persistent pockets of frictions and fracas especially among the chieftains of the party at various states, the APC national leadership has been able to scale the party to a commendable level of stability and recognition.
In the year 2020, just like every other sector and activities belaboured by the year-long restrictions globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the APC apparently had its share of the uncertanties.
Aside the pause on party activities for some months, the APC witnessed internal rancor in its fold that almost threatened the kernel of the party in the year just ended; warranting the prompt interventions of the national leadership and the National Executive Committee (NEC).
The fact that the party survived the onslaught, emerged yet stronger, and went on to win a number of critical elections across the country in the later course of the year is a testament to that it is still a party to beat in the country.
The Buni-led committee came on board over six months ago as an interim administration to steer the affairs of the party, including putting machinery in place for the all-important party congresses to elect the substantive executive.
As a child of necessity and circumstance, Governor Buni had accepted the mantle of leading the CECPC and serving the APC in response to the desire and directive of the NEC in such a critical period in the life of the party.
He, on assumption of office, set out desirable action plans for the party and so far, CECPC has recorded scores of implemented agenda within the limitation of the time frame accorded it.
Although resentment trailed the extension of the tenure of CECPC during the December virtual meeting of the party’s NEC in Abuja, the decision unarguably provided the party’s national leadership yet another ample opportunity to further complete, as much as feasible, its set agenda.
When the CECPC came on board six months ago, the leadership set its agenda for driving its actions accordingly after understudying the deplorable state of the party. Topmost on the agenda include the need to resolve all pending and emerging internal crises within the party at all levels and to create a harmonious working atmosphere for the party’s coming general convention.
Subsequently, aware of the need to withdraw and terminate all ongoing litigations against the party as well as among members on party issues and the need to expand the party membership base through revalidation, registration of new members and update of the party membership register, the leadership had embarked on the journey with dexterity and candour.
Also conscious of the need for review of the party’s constitution to address identifiable gaps and equally saddled with the task of preparing and leading the party’s campaign in a number of critical elections for positions at the state and national levels, the CECPC had commenced preparation to achieve the target.
Perhaps, one area the leadership deserves resounding commendation is in conflict resolution. The leadership did not only set up several high-profile reconciliation teams across chapters that were battered by internal crises but also recorded a good number of resolutions that have improved the party’s fortune and cohesion ever since.
In recognition that conflicts and conflict resolution in a large family like the ruling party would always be a continuous exercise, the party leadership laid a solid structure for continuous recognition of crises where they exist and their resolution as much as it is possible
Interestingly, the party’s effort at resolving internal conflicts at various chapters has equally paid off with members’ desire to comply with the resolution to withdraw and terminate many ongoing litigations that involve the party. Yes, it did also record few dissidents, despite all reasonable appeals, as to this decision but it has been appropriately dealt with by NEC at the recommendation of CECPC
The party’s national leadership has already sensitised Nigerians widely especially party members and prospective members on the need for registration and to update the register to improve on its membership and support base nationwide.
Again, the Caretaker Committee has equally constituted a panel to oversee the review of the party Constitution and consider the recommendations of contributors, particularly on contemporary issues that need to be adequately captured. The process is still ongoing.
In the course of the year, since the beginning of the tenure of CECPC, it has led the party into major elections comprising governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections. In those elections, the party did once again prove that it is a political force to reckon with in the country with significant wins across board.
A win in the Ondo State governorship election despite the mass gang up against the party, the senatorial seats won across Lagos, Plateau and other states as well as the good number of State Houses of Assembly were an eloquent testimony of the CECPC’s achievements for the year under review.
Although the outcome of the Edo governorship election was not favourable to the party, the leadership has already set up a committee to advise it on what led to its defeat and what actions need to be taken to prevent future recurrence.
Also counted among the success stories of the Caretaker Committee, in the course of the year, is that the CECPC has been able to resolve the ownership tussle surrounding the building that houses the party’s national secretariat, and necessary efforts to take full control of the building is already in progress.
The last but certainly not the least perhaps is the settling of the outstanding litigation fees. It is one of the targets from the outset that CECPC has been able to deliver to a very large extent in the last six months.
The herculean tasks ahead
Yes, as much as CECPC might proudly announce that it has done well by all standards in more than six months, there is certainly more to be done and which they should be set to do and complete before the end of its tenure.
Recognising the need for continued conflict resolution and deciding to vigorously pursue reconciliation on all fronts to emerge as a stronger party ahead of the congresses and the 2023 general elections, the CECPC should be aware of the humongous responsibilities before it.
The conduct of comprehensive congresses at all levels through a fair and transparent process of electing the national leadership and various organs that will culminate in the party’s National Convention remains a heavy cross that the CECPC must carry.
Another herculean task before the CECPC is internal democratic principle and creating a member-centred party structure that will guarantee full participation of all members, and ensuring privileges to strengthen members’ trust, beliefs and engagements in all party activities.
What perhaps may hang on the neck of the party’s leadership like the sword of Damocles is the controversy surrounding the zoning arrangement in the party to decide the geopolitical zone to produce the president for the 2023 elections.
With the conflicting posture on whether the party chieftains should honour the gentleman agreement or stand by the constitutional provisions to throw the contest open, time is now for the party to resolve the delicate issue to avert any impending electoral and political doom.
Another albatross before the party leadership is its ability and capability to organise rancour-free congresses to peacefully elect the party’s leadership at various levels.
The dust from many quarters on the controversial issue of restructuring especially the accusation by the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the ruling party has failed to address the main issues.
Again, having got the approval for the party membership registration, CECPC must equally put solid arrangements in place to undertake the exercise efficiently and effectively in a record time.
Harvest of success
In preparation, the National Chairman of the CECPC had inaugurated a high-powered committee chaired by the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, to oversee the party’s sensitization and mobilization committee for the exercise.
Already exuding high confidence level, the Kogi governor had while extolling the virtues of the ruling party, urged Nigerians to join the APC without much hesitation, as according to him, it still remains one to beat in every election in the country.
“APC is the only party today that has given youths the opportunity to serve at the highest level and APC is the only party that could guarantee youths inclusiveness in governance,” Governor Bello extolled.
Inaugurating the party’s sensitization and mobilization committee for the membership registration exercise, the CECPC boss noted: “In addition to the reconciliation exercise which has continued to yield tremendous results for the party, we are also embarking on this critical measure to breathe a new life into the party. The sensitization and mobilization committee has a crucial and critical role to play in the membership registration and revalidation exercise.
“You are expected to mount a rigorous sensitization programme to effectively mobilise every member of the party especially women and youth to either revalidate their membership or register afresh.
“You should leave no stone unturned to ensure effective mobilization for every member to take advantage of this opportunity to register. The committee is hereby advised to liaise with all stakeholders in all the states to carry everyone on board for an all-inclusive programme,” he charged.
In his response, Bello, the committee chairman, had noted: “Wonderfully, Mr. President has opened the door through the Chairman of the party and the managers of the party. Window of opportunity has been created for all those who left the party before, those who are desirous of joining the party and those who are desirous of decamping from other political parties to APC.
“I want to assure that we shall move to the field immediately. We are going to swing into action. We are going to liaise with every stakeholder within the party and across party lines. We are going to generate serious awareness. We are going to educate Nigerian people about our great party.”
However, it still remains to be seen how the ruling party will survive without President Buhari’s influence at the end of the current administration.