From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Events in the past few weeks in the All Progressives Congress (APC) seem to suggest that the fortune and future of the ruling party may be under threat. Menacing activities had come ricocheting in droves to shatter the hitherto peace of the graveyard within the party.
For many observers, the water boiled over last week when the police literally took over the party’s national secretariat to forestall any form of security breach from aggrieved protesters. There was an uneasy calm which pervaded the secretariat in anticipation of attacks from disgruntled party members still nursing the wound of the outcome of the conducted Ward, Local Government and State congresses.
And more surprisingly, there were those endless outbursts between certain aggrieved chieftains and the party’s national leadership. In fact, to most political watchers, it did not only rain, it equally poured to the point of almost drenching the APC within that short period of time.
Smarting from finishing a shocking distant third position, which demystified the party in the just concluded Anambra State governorship election in addition to other seen and unseen forces hauling projectiles at the party, the events had combined effectively to pull down the party and widen the cracks within.
Another major concern was the recent vicious attacks on the party’s national leadership which first came from a group, Concerned APC Stakeholders and also from the party’s Zamfara chieftain, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who took the chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, to the cleaners, describing him in unprintable names and hauling all manners of voluptuous abuses on him.
Although the national leadership had remained unruffled and unperturbed in the face of those gathering storm, the aggressors had however persistently pushed their agenda targeted at ensuring that the Caretaker Committee is not only disgraced and humiliated but also to end their reigns.
Protesting what they termed the monumental failure of the Caretaker Committee, the aggrieved members had demanded the immediate, outright resignation and urgent composition of another Committee to organise the party’s National Convention and usher in a brand new National Working Committee (NWC).
While chronicling what they called the sins of the national leadership, the Concerned APC Stakeholders had specifically noted that; “the Caretaker Committee which was constituted primarily to stabilize the party, organize the congresses and convention went about functioning as if it was the NWC, carrying out responsibilities it has no mandate for.
“Apart from embarking on a needless party membership revalidation/registration that didn’t come with anything new, the Caretaker Committee went about constituting endless committees to carry out the very responsibilities it was assigned to do.
“This is clearly indicative of its incompetence and the fact that it has even subsisted for this long is a greater testimony to its failure. If the committee’s many ‘round-about’ activities were effective, it would have since fulfilled its mandate and given the party a new leadership.
“The Caretaker Committee has conducted what is arguably the worst ward, local government and state congresses since the formation of the party in 2013. These congresses, rather than putting the party on strong footings has created further divisions and disenchantment among its members. Already, party stakeholders from Bauchi State protested at the party’s headquarters as a result of the fallout of the congresses.
“In the same vein, the attempt by the leadership of the party to reconcile stakeholders from Oyo State hit a brick wall right inside the party’s headquarters. Similar circumstances are also witnessed in Osun and virtually other states simply because the processes were built on very shaky foundations and the outcome designed to favour certain selected individuals in the party.
“Glaring reality lies ahead should the Buni-led Caretaker Committee be allowed to hold forth at this time the APC needs to close ranks, heal and return to the order that endeared it to Nigerians. Incidentally, the Abdullahi Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee that is meant to help achieve some of these tasks is yet to fully kick off.
“Apart from the fact that the committee is still struggling to find its feet in spite of the huge task ahead and the limited time at its disposal, it is left to be seen how much this piecemeal approach the Buni-led committee has adopted, just to be seen as doing the needful, will help to get us out of the woods,” the group noted.
They also threatened to bring down the roof, warning that: “what is certain, however, is that we shall not sit and watch a party we have contributed so much in building go down the drain as a result of the selfish actions of a few. On that basis and many others too numerous to mention, we are calling for the immediate resignation of the Buni-led Caretaker Committee for their glaring failures in managing the affairs of the party; failure of which the Committee should be immediately dissolved and a new committee whose task will be to immediately conduct the National Convention of the party be constituted.”
The bully from the stakeholders is certainly not as frustrating and hurting as the fallout of this month’s Anambra state governorship election. It was an election the party deployed everything to win, but lost disgracefully. Several reasons may have been adduced to validate the woeful loss at the poll, but all seem to be heaping blames on what they resolved as the failure of the national leadership to manage the outcome of the acrimonious party primaries conducted in June 26 where Senator Andy Uba emerged the party’s candidate.
From the Enugu state party’s chieftain, Osita Okechukwu, almost all the party’s stakeholders in Anambra State and to the same Concerned APC Stakeholders, it was almost the same feeling of leadership failure to manage the party primary crisis.
Okechukwu had argued that; “the lesson for the loss in the election is simple; imposition and impunity cost us an election we could have won, no matter how slim. The folly is that when our candidate won the party primary election with over 230,000 votes, my friend called me and was happy and jubilant. He said that with a vote-bank of over 200,000, there was nothing stopping the APC from victory. That was the hope raised to the highest then.”
For the Concerned Stakeholders; “another crystal clear evidence of the failure of the Caretaker Committee is the outcome of the Anambra election. While it is sad that the APC came a dismal third in an election it had every chance of winning, it would have been a magic if the party had performed better than it did, especially considering that the candidate of the party, Senator Andy Uba emerged through a process that was completely strange to the ideals of the APC.
“Little wonder that almost all the aspirants of the party in the primary election turned the other way after they had been denied the right to exercise their rights as full-fledged members in a free and fair contest. To make matters worse, the Caretaker Committee, rather than managing the fallout of that unfortunate primary elections, busied itself, pursuing opposition party members to join the APC.
“But even with almost all the opposition party members emptying into the APC, the party still had the worst outing in the election. Indeed, only politicians living in the yesteryears still believe that the influx of opposition party members to a party is all that was needed to win elections,” they quipped.
Apparently, the APC has certainly become a party confronted with a series of crises both at grassroots and national levels. In virtually all the states of the federation, the party is confronted with a hydra-headed credibility issue over which of the parallel executives at the wards, Local Governments and States to be accorded recognition and legitimacy.
More importantly, the party is also battling with the zoning arrangements for both the national leadership and elective positions, especially the presidential ticket for the 2023 election. The date for the conduct of the much-awaited party’s National Convention has remained a major factor of concern responsible for the cold war brewing within the party.
Baring the outcome of the proposed meeting by the APC Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), the incidents above will be a child’s play to the impending implosion from the crisis that will trail the controversy over zoning of the party’s national leaderships and elective positions.
Already, Southeast leaders of the party are up in arms after rejecting the proposed imposition of the national chairmanship position of the party, insisting on a presidential ticket or nothing.
To give insight into the impending implosion of the party over the zoning crisis, a Southeast chieftain of the party who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence reiterated the position of the leaders of the party in the zone, warning that they will not settle for anything less than the presidential ticket.
“Regardless of the outcome of the meeting by the governors on Sunday, the Southeast stakeholders are not likely to shift ground in rejecting the chairmanship position. We are equally good enough to be the president of this country not just the inconsequential position of the party’s national chairmanship they are imposing on us,” the chieftain quipped.
While re-emphasising the position of Southeast APC leaders in rejecting the chairmanship position, spokesperson of a group, Chief Chinedu Ogbonna, also issued a threat to any erring politician of Igbo extraction attempting to sabotage the decision by indicating interest in the party’s chairmanship position.
“Igbo leaders are reaching out to other regions for their support in producing the next President in 2023 in the interest of peace, equity and unity just as the Igbo have supported other regions in the past, therefore, Igbos should not be seen hurting their own course.
“We call on our politicians from the South East extraction to go all out and contest. Our people are blessed; we have enough presidential materials like former President of the Senate, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Governor Dave Umahi, Chris Ngige, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and many others.
“So, we are ready, our stand is that any politician from Igboland who put him/herself up for the position of National Chairman would be regarded as a traitor and enemy of the Igbo people and history won’t be kind on that fellow. It is simply treacherous,” the group warned in the statement.
To compound the woes of the party, Zamfara chieftain, Senator Marafa, had while responding to the threat to suspend him from the party charged the national leadership to revert to the rule of law or the party will face an imminent extinction.
In a statement he issued in Abuja last week, Marafa wrote: “Expelling me from the party will only aggravate the problem, it will herald the beginning of the agitation; rule of law must be respected. The committee is illegal and alien to the constitution of the party; we are building everything on nothing. Rather than the expulsion threat, the committee or the chairman should respond to issues I raised.”
“APC is a political party not a committee; committees are created to serve a specific function not to usurp the powers of the entire legal entity. The function of the Mai Mala-led committee is to plan a convention just as its name implies. He is the chairman of the APC convention planning committee, not APC itself.
Interestingly, despite the gathering cloud of uncertainties hovering around the party, it seems to be standing on a solid rock with the strong backing of the Progressive Governors apparently dictating the shots behind the camera.
Passing vote of confidence on Buni, the governors noted: “We wish to acknowledge and commend your leadership, vision and commitment to a united and prosperous Nigeria.
“As the Chairman, APC Caretaker Committee, we celebrate your inclusive leadership in this period of the life of our party, APC. You have been a consistent and selfless contributor to progressive initiatives towards developing our states and Nigeria.
“We also recognise your insightful and resolute inputs to the processes of managing governance in Yobe State. As Governor of Yobe State, through all the development initiatives being implemented by your APC-led government, you are a shining light of our politics!”, PGF noted recently.
Recall that having wrestled the party from the then Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC last year, the governors had totally taken charge of the party’s structures, consolidated their holds and provided the compass with which the party has continued to navigate the muddy waters.
Sounding unruffled about the situation, the party’s National Secretary, Sen John James Akpanudoedehe, had promised that the party will not join issues or fight dirty with any aggrieved member of the party.
“We are not abusive to any member of our party; we are too mature to go into personal response. Our interest is in the general public and then the party. We are not going to go back and forth with anybody. Any information that is given out, we are duty bound to respond by stating the fact as it is.
“I will not descend to the level where Marafa will talk and I reply. I am not going to do that. I have never been personal with anybody, he can abuse me, my duty is to explain to the public, my interest is to give balanced information for the public to see whether we are telling the truth or not.
“That is all, we are not going to enter into a personal tirade of words. Nobody can drag me or the party to the gutter; we are an institution. They are not dealing with an individual but an institution,” he said.
Head or tail, the events in the next few weeks, from all indications, will certainly provide the trajectory that may make or mar the fortune and future of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.