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APC: When not to be clever by half


The All Progressives Congress (APC), last week, extended the tenure of its National Working committee (NWC), as well as that of state executives by one year, contrary to expectations that, as a party that canvasses change, it would set new standards away from crooked patterns it inherited. Going by the party’s constitution, the tenure of the elected national and state executives would lapse by June, by which time current officers may represent themselves for fresh election. But that may not be the case. The party has gratuitously saved the day for John Odigie-Oyegun and his co-travellers.

It was the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello who announced the largesse after a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party. By the way, Bello has become a regular face at events in Abuja, where he is more useful for sundry hatchet jobs, than in Kogi, where civil servants would have needed him more. However, signs that the tenure extension message he delivered may not be well received showed up quite early.

Governor of Zamfara State, who is the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, suggested that such extension could be effective only after an amendment of the party’s constitution, which only a National Convention of the party could engineer. And the whole world knows that the APC has avoided staging a convention all this while because it does not want to confront issues that stare it in the face. It has now purportedly replaced what should have been decided at a convention with a NEC resolution.

Now, a scenario is brewing, which I pray should not be the portion of the APC. Should one political hothead decide to join matters with the party, matters could go very awry in an election year.

As Governor Yari argued: “The process of amending the constitution is also expressly provided in Article 30 sub section 2, which state; Notice of any proposed amendment by any member or organ of the party shall be given to the National Secretariat at least 14 days before the date of the National Convention. The notice shall be in writing, shall contain a clear statement of the proposed amendment and reasons for it.” Interesting!

The governor added that what was done in the name of tenure extension was only an expression of a desire. The full manifestation ought to have been tested at a convention. But some persons in APC wanted to be clever by half. Assuming that Yari or some aggrieved party members summon courage to teach the APC some lessons in due process, the party will bleed fast on its way to dismemberment.

Why will a party that promised change and due process be the one subverting its constitution and claiming to be doing it better than the defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

And what did the prime beneficiary of tenure extension say? A jubilant Odigie-Oyegun described the outcome of the NEC meeting as “beautiful and pleasant ”and accused the media of exaggerating issues within the party. He said: “I want to ask the media where did they dig them out of because we just had a pleasant meeting and all what I have been reading in the media none of it happened. All the prophecies of doom, none of it even came near for mention?

The man was apparently referring to predictions that he was to be sacked for lackluster performance and papering over layers of matters that a more pragmatic leadership could have resolved more easily. But in his intuitive moment, he would rather blame the media. As if it was the media that instructed President Buhari to appoint Asiwaju Tinubu as chief reconciler. The President knows that there are issues the party leadership has failed to resolve and that they need to be resolved fast. And that has nothing to do with imaginary prophets of doom. Now, Oyegun should pray that a Modu Sheriff does not emerge in the ranks of his party, to challenge the questionable extension handed to him and state executives.

Kogi was the laboratory where intrigues were first tested in the party. Against commonsense, and rule of the game, a strange political maneuvering happened that turned the course of an election, which has now been upheld by the Supreme Court. That the court approved it did not soften the feeling that undue interference was concocted or agreed to at the highest level of the party. After Kogi, there were other instances of deliberate interferences designed to devalue some members of the party. Some were either ignored or sidelined in the running of a government of which they contributed immensely to enthroning, or there were efforts to render them useless in 2019.

After Kogi, it became a situation of self-help for everybody. If the big sponsors of APC could be so rudely and callously discounted, then it was time for hyenas to scavenge for remnants. You either visit Abuja regularly to do eye service and prove to them at Aso Rock that you are loyal, or you stay in your state to plot wickedness. Many governors have plotted wickedness in order to be in the good books of Abuja. They do not mind destroying the platforms that brought them into office. These are the things we see in Kano, Kaduna, Kogi. The more the national leadership is unable to address these treacheries as they germinate, the more devious they become. And that is what the tenure elongation gifted to Oyegun and company amounts to. It means that other tendencies within the party that are not on same page with governors are technically ruled out of serious participation for tickets in 2019. In this dispensation, governors are leaders of parties in states. If a governor and the state leadership of the party are on same page, you cannot do well in the primaries where candidates are elected. The delegates will be manipulated to do the bidding of governors. That was what we saw the PDP do for 16 years, which APC promised to change. And we are still waiting to see change.

Now you begin to wonder what exactly the Tinubu one-man committee to reconcile the party was meant to achieve. Had the party meant well for itself and the country, it should have allowed the ongoing reconciliation effort of Jagaban to turn in its report at least before the tenure of the NWC expires in June. That could have given some value to whatever is brought to the table after traversing the trouble spots in the party. Now, the exercise will be of little value since the governors and their protégés in the state chapters (apart from Yari, perhaps) have been handed the medal of victory. Those who have been unfortunate to become opposition within have to lick their wounds, bury their heads in shame and return beggarly to their governors who have now taken total ownership of the state chapters, or run boldly and quickly to other platforms where their tickets for 2019 will be more assured.

When he became a little sober, Odigie-Oyegun tried to explain why himself and members of the NWC got the extension. He said: I think the reason for not wanting to hold some of these elective congresses this year is very clear. We have a lot of work to do during this one year and each one has the potential of causing a crisis. That has always been once there is an election; it always creates its own issues or the party felt some of these challenges could be deferred for one year for the serious task before us, which is the national election.”

Very dubious and self-serving rationalisation! When Tinubu maneuvered the way for him to be elected as party chairman in 2014, was that not in an election year? Were issues not created, when Modu Sheriff left the party in anger? Was that convention deferred because the party didn’t want to confront issues?

Please sir, confront issues because issues are to be confronted. If you defer them, you will be denying others opportunity to ventilate and you will be denying the party the opportunity to be different.

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