Unless good counsel prevails, the crisis within the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC) will soon boil over. It is a disagreement that preceded the March 2022 National Convention of the party.
Some members of the NWC, led by Deputy National Chairman (North), Dr. Salihu Lukman, have never hidden their disdain for the leadership style of Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Adamu, a former Nasarawa State governor, came in as a compromise, and consensus candidate for the position of national chairman, when all indicators were pointing towards his successor, Senator Tank Al-Makura.
Those who conscripted Adamu into the race for the chairmanship claimed that being a fellow class ’99 state governor, he has the grit and gravitas to ensure his former Lagos State counterpart, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would not appropriate the party structure for his presidential ambition.
Others, however, disclosed that the main attraction for cutting Adamu’s third term in the Senate as representative of Nasarawa Northwest was to help deliver on the secret agenda of throwing up President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor from the North.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s emergence as APC national chairman, more than one year ago, was actually the culmination of intrigues and power play by disparate political interests that were desirous of possessing the soul of the governing party.
While the erstwhile members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which were led by Buhari into the merger, wanted to take a short at the commanding heights of the party, those from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) arm contended they deserve to round off their remaining years cut short by the premature sacking of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC.
In the ensuing contests between CPC, which Al-Makura represented, and the ACN, which the architect, Waziri Bulama, represented, the party zoned the position to North Central and rallied round Senator Abdullahi Adamu from the nPDP fold for the position of national chairman.
Adamu’s odd job
BARELY three months after his emergence as national chairman, Adamu presided over the party’s special convention and presidential primary. Recall that in the build-up to the APC presidential primary, the issue of zoning challenged the party’s cohesive spirit, even as the purchase of the nomination forms was thrown up to all comers from both Northern and Southern divides of the country.
After the push and pull that attended the propriety of having another northerner succeed Buhari, the party’s governors from the north resolved that the presidential ticket should go to a Southerner in the interest of equity, fairness and national stability.
However, two days to the special convention and presidential primary, the national chairman, Senator Adamu, flew a kite, announcing that President Buhari had settled for Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, as his consensus choice for the ticket.
There was bedlam, as the northern members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) stone-walled and released a signed statement detailing their stance on power shift to the South. That signalled a big blow to Adamu, who was seen as having failed in his major assignment.
To make matters worse, the former Lagos State governor, Tinubu, who a section of the famed Presidency cabal did not want, was nominated as the APC presidential standard bearer.
Despite the warp and woof that attended the emergence of Tinubu as APC presidential contender, those who were close to Turakin Keffi, Adamu, claimed that it was but a question of time before he was thrown out of the post of national chairman.
Just last week, the process to remove Adamu, like Adams Oshiomhole’s, seems to have begun. The Deputy National Chairman (North), Lukman, dragged the national chairman through court, claiming that Adamu committed serial breaches of the party’s Constitution.
Although the latest disagreement between Adamu and Lukman was not the first sign that things were not smooth within the APC NWC, the act of approaching the court showed that the matter has reached a point of no return until something gives.
Salihu, a former rival-turned ally of the outgoing Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, in a suit filed at an Abuja High Court, prayed the court to compel the national chairman to comply with laid down rules for managing the affairs of APC.
The plaintiff had earlier informed top notch of the party, including President Muhammadu Buhari, the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Governor Atiku Bagudu-led PGF of his intention to go to court following his disagreements with Adamu.
He stated that he was “left with no option, but to approach the court, when it became obvious that Adamu was bent on perpetuating the alleged illegality upon the expiration of a seven-days ultimatum, which expired last Wednesday.”
It would be recalled that Lukman had also written a public letter prior to the APC special primary to warn against Adamu’s style of not carrying other members of the NWC along in its decision making process, threatening that that attitude was capable of crippling the party.
Ever since that open letter, the Kaduna State-born politician had remained a most vitriolic critic of the APC national chairman. Sources within the party confided in The Guardian that ‘Lukman’s irritations’ have the blessing of the President-elect, Tinubu.
But justifying his legal action against Adamu’s style of leadership, Lukam, who is the former Director General of PGF, stated: “I have therefore proceeded to institute a legal action, seeking to compel Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator lyiola Omisore, being respectively APC national chairman and national secretary, to compel them to comply with the requirements of running the affairs of the party as enshrined in the provisions of the APC Constitution.
“As things are, I am painfully left with no option. It is quite disheartening that under the leadership of Adamu, we are failing to abide by the provisions of our party’s Constitution and the party is being managed based on discretionary decisions of Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore.
“Basic requirements for accountability as enshrined in the party’s constitution are being violated. This is very unfortunate. Certainly, this is not the vision that produced the APC. If for anything, our inability to comply with provisions of our party’s constitution under the leadership of Adamu represents betrayal of trust and the confidence reposed in us as members of the National Working Committee individually and collectively.”
Lukman further informed President Buhari that “given the high confidence you had in Adamu, which made you to nominate him to emerge as the national chairman of our party, the least one would expect is that he will conduct himself strictly based on requirements as provided in the APC constitution.”
Sources also disclosed that the legal option is being pursued to ensure its determination before May 29, date of the inauguration of Tinubu, as president so as to remove any trace of suspicion that Adamu is being haunted by his odd job of trying to sell Lawan on the party as presidential candidate.
Consequently, in a vain effort to mask the real intentions and create the impression that the sanitation of the NWC is being undertaken under President Buhari’ watch, Lukman had noted: “It is my strong view that APC is the most important political legacy you gave to Nigerians.
“It was your leadership, and partnership with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other party leaders that produced the success story of the merger negotiations of 2012/2013 and the defeat of PDP in 2015.
“Having participated in the advocacy for the merger that produced the APC and being a founding member of the party privileged to be a member of the current NWC, I find it very compelling to take this legal action to enforce accountability within the party.
“It is my hope that this court action will be concluded before May 29, 2023 and a NEC meeting of the party will be held before the end of Your Excellency’s tenure in office as President of Nigeria and as one leader who has given our party its current electoral life. “As members of the APC, we will remain grateful to you and Tinubu for the inspirational leadership you have given us all these years. The least we must all do as loyal party members and leaders is to ensure that provisions of our party constitution are respected.”
In an interview with The Guardian, a former National Secretary of the party and member of the National Executive Council (NEC), Bulama, explained that APC was founded to address every stain of democratic crisis.
Bulama stated: “This party was founded in 2013 against defects of democratic crisis under the PDP. So, those democratic deficits like lack of free and fair elections, lack of justice and fairness, violence accompanying elections, imposition and all these things that have now become a thing of the past.
“Nigerians believe that they can go to court if they are aggrieved and get justice, it is very important. Today, violence around elections and violence around campaigns has diminished and these are all achievements.”
He contended that APC succeeded in creating an environment where people now have trust in elections and trust in the judiciary, re-greeting however that by the time the Oshiomhole-led NWC of which he was a member, wanted to institutionalise party supremacy, it was swept out of office.
On claims that the internal disagreements and dissension with APC had led to the polarisation of the country, Bulama remarked: “Well, that depends on, if you believe that APC divided the nation, if you believe APC is a failure, then one can attempt to answer these questions.
“But I am answering from the position that APC has contributed to Nigeria’s political stability by promoting strong institutions of state, by promoting accountability and transparency.”
Whether the ongoing inquisition and internal management audit in the APC NWC would lead to another cycle of suspensions, dissolution or a call for the convening of a mid-term convention would be seen in the days to come. But, clearly, the faultlines have appeared early enough to indicate imminent implosion.