The decision of state governors elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the party structure for the purposes of determining who flies the party’s presidential flag in 2023 has become a source of fresh concerns for the Governor Mai Mala Buni’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
The Buni CECPC came out recently to explain why it was not in a hurry to organise the national convention for which the committee was mandated to conduct within six months. The committee met last Tuesday at the APC National Secretariat, where it reviewed the implementation of its three months’ action plan.
In a statement by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, CECPC while reeling out some achievements it recorded in the area of reconciliation maintained, “there is the need to ensure that the ongoing national reconciliation is sustained, successful and made to yield results.”
However, no matter how hard the committee tries to runaway from the facts, the general suspicion among APC stakeholders is that there is a hidden agenda, which the governors are pursuing, especially through the tenure elongation plot of the Buni committee.
Multiple sources within the party confided in The Guardian that the original idea of removing Adams Oshiomhole was to pave the way for the reconciling the party and keep it in ship shape to be able to win elections, particularly given the sordid experiences in Zamfara, Rivers and Bayelsa States during the 2019 general elections.
While accusing the state governors of manipulating President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve their political schemes of ensuring that one of them becomes the party’s standard bearer in the 2023 poll, the sources disclosed that the CECPC was merely playing for time to make the party helpless in choosing a substantive National Working Committee (NWC) before the build up to the 2023 elections.
“Where would the next national chairman of APC come from? If the governors want to make former Zamfara State governor, Abdullaziz Yari the next national chairman, how would the South/South be compensated for truncating their four-year mandate on the position?
“These are some of the issues the governors did not envisage, but they would come back to hurt the party in the nearest future. It is no longer a secret that the NWC was dissolved to ensure that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s men do not have control of the party structure. The governors know what they are hiding and why the convention would never hold until last quarters of 2021,” one of the sources from Northeast stated.
But, apparently dismissing fears in certain quarters that there was a hidden agenda, the CECPC, yesterday, in Abuja offered an insight as to why it is not in a hurry to conduct the national convention before the end of this year.
Although the CECPC’s spokesperson, Nabena, was not forthcoming on the raging issue of alleged tenure extension plot by the Buni committee, he said the committee’s focus centers around “achieving and sustaining the peace and reconciliation core mandate.”
He recalled that the CECPC was constituted and inaugurated by the 8th resumed meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) in June this year with the core directive to achieve peace-building, true reconciliation and to give a sense of belonging to every member of the party.x
“It is important that the APC conducts its planned national convention to produce its national leadership as a united house. Otherwise the main aim of constituting the CECPC following the dissolution of the immediate past NWC will be defeated,” Nabena stated.
IT seems that in a bid to work towards a predetermined outcome the APC is copying some tactics from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rulebook, which was applied when former President Olusegun Obasanjo fell out with his deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
If the allegation by some party chieftains that the Oshiomhole-led NWC was dismantled to displace loyalist of Tinubu from the commanding heights of the party is anything to go by, then the planned membership revalidation scheme could be a cheap replay of the Obasanjo versus Atiku squabble in PDP.
However, Nabena contended that the planned nationwide registration, update, revalidation of the party’s membership register was aimed at cementing APCs political and numerical status as Nigeria’s largest political party. He added that in a bid to show transparency, the CECPC resolved to inaugurate a tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC Consultative Committee.
The committee, according to the spokesman, will “meet with all leaders, known party groups and interests in order to accommodate all interests as part of measures put in place the achieve the goal.”
“CECPC is already working with President Buhari-led APC administration to urgently address the reward system for dedicated and loyal party members, particularly on appointment of deserving party members into several boards, agencies and parastatals of government,” he explained.x
While noting that the consultative party leadership style was instituted by Governor Buni’s leadership of the CECPC, Nabena disclosed that the committee has brought back many prominent Party members and leaders including, former PDP national chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Dr. Alex Otti among others.
DESPITE subdued grumblings within the APC structure, the CECPC said it has continued to deliver on the mandate handed down to it by APC NEC, saying that it has so far recorded many successes under Mai Mala Buni. Some of these achievements according to the spokesman include, “resuscitating the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms.”
Through the IDR, the CECPC said it set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, Ekiti among other states chapters troubled by disputes, adding that the committees are already meeting with the key stakeholders in the various states and achieving substantial reconciliation.
CECPC stated: “The success stories of the ongoing reconciliation efforts abound. Cases in point are Cross River State, where the CECPC reconciled the two factions and appointed a Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Matthew Mbu (Jnr.) as acting state chairman.
“In Ondo State, all the Governorship aspirants were brought together, campaigned and worked for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).x
“In Akwa Ibom State, the CECPC brought together all the contending interests under one roof and achieved true reconciliation. Today, in Akwa Ibom, leaders such as Senator Godswill Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, Mr. Umana O. Umana, Senator Ita Enang, Mr. Bassey Dan Abia (Snr) among others, are working together and in collective pursuit of Party interests.
“At the national level and on the auspices of the CECPC, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, have resolved to work together in the party’s interest and to strengthen APC, particularly in the South/South geo-political zone.
Confidence, contrary vote
It was gathered that elected National Executive Committee (Non- National Working Committee) members at a recent meeting, passed a vote of confidence on the Governor Buni-led APC CECPC, just as 36 state APC chairmen had also earlier passed similar confidence vote on the committee.
Putting a hole on the CECPC’s claims, Senator Kabiru Marafa accused the committee of lying over the lingering crisis rocking the Zamfara State chapter, stressing that Buni was not saying the truth by saying that the Zamfara APC crisis has been resolved.
Marafa expressed fears that the party could be heading towards a fresh quagmire and warned the Buni-led caretaker committee not to destroy APC. Marafa disclosed that contrary to claims of reconciliation, the two APC factions in Zamfara are still intact and doing things their separate ways in Gusau and across the 14 local government areas of the state.
Marafa, who leads the faction opposed to Yari, regretted that CECPC’s statement “has deflated the trust and confidence reposed in it, by misleading the public with the claim that it has resolved the crises in the states mentioned.”x