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APC: Oyegun’s succession gamble as mirror of survival schemes

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The National Chairman, of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun


• Battle Shifting To State Congresses
• Omisore Seeks Broom Tricks

In the ongoing jostle for the election of a successor to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), the future of the party and its reputation as champion of internal democracy are on trial. It is apparent that the party is afraid of free contest, as interest groups scheme to garner adventitious advantages.

Here, in a nutshell, are some of the bones of contention: who raises the convention committee? Is it possible to constitute the convention committee without the input of the state governors?

Then, given the leadership roles of President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the political backbone of the President, would they be the final gatekeepers to ratify the convention list?

Underlying the sudden animation in APC is the fact that as the country gets closer to the election year 2019, money would be made available for the running of the party, as well as, the prosecution of the Presidential and other elections.

Therefore, in the frenzied search for the next party helmsman, nobody is interested in finding out why Oyegun was left to conduct the affairs of the party without adequate funding, or even the current position of the party as pertains to executives of its state chapters.By tomorrow when the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting holds, it would be clear what direction the party’s journey to the future will take.

Reversing the elongation vote will mean that the convention would hold.That also would open discussions on the issue of dates for the commencement of congresses, as well as, constitution of the convention planning committee. For now the bigwigs and their foot soldiers are involved in various antics to entrench their position for and against particular tendencies taking over the structure of APC.

Redefining The Foci Of Power
UNDERGIRDING the search for a new leadership, and by extension, a new beginning for the ruling party, is the desire of the prime movers to redefine the power foci of the party. The ongoing staccato movement in the party could be traced to the popular demand for a new lease of life in the management of APC. As such, that the forthcoming national convention is looking as a contest between Oyegun and Tinubu, could be because disambiguation of roles. To a large extent, the former Lagos State governor seems to find it hard to reckon that, unlike during the formative years of the party, there is an elected President and state governors in place.

And, while Tinubu is struggling to re-assert his pioneering pedigree, state governors, most of who have come into power, money and a measure of influence, seem determined to push up their authority.One of the governors expressed disappointment with the conduct of certain persons, who he said always want to create the impression that they are the superstars and others their underlings. But, despite the determination of some of the state governors to exert influence on the way the party is run or structured, the place of people like Tinubu in APC cannot be easily wished away.

From the recent goings on in the party leading to the decision for elective convention, there is nothing to suggest that the ruling party will use the occasion to achieve the much needed balance or inclusive leadership.

Pro-Oyegun Govs Vs Other Govs
It has emerged that four pro-Oyegun APC governors are not so enthusiastic about the plans by the reformists to change the current members of National Working Committee (NWC) led by the former Edo State governor.These four governors, who actually spearheaded the tenure elongation ruse, express fears that the party might slide into fresh avoidable leadership crisis if the will of the ‘revisionists’ is allowed to prevail.

The implication of this new development is that the division within the rank of the governors could provide the leeway for plots to undermine the convention and its eventual outcome.Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, is leading his Kogi, Plateau, and Ondo counterparts to stonewall the convention plans, in effort to see how to perpetrate the Oyegun leadership. Incidentally Yahaya Bello, Simon Lalong and Rotimi Akeredolu are among those that foot-dragged in endorsing the letter from the governors to President Buhari, demanding the compilation of an inclusive convention committee list.

Although some of the APC governors are out of town, sources within the Governors’ Forum disclosed that there are fears among the pro-Oyegun governors that some people who are not disposed to a second term for President Buhari, are working hard at the effort to possess the reins of the party to advance their political designs.The apprehensions of the pro-Oyegun governors notwithstanding, the other twenty governors demanded in the letter to Buhari that the national chairman, Oyegun, in concert with other members of the NWC and the governors be allowed to constitute the convention planning committee.

It is too early in the day to conclude that the convention would make Oyegun become history as national chairman, because the governors do not seem convinced that the time is ripe for a new helmsman in the party. The first term governors are working on a plan to canvass the re-election of Oyegun in the belief that with a general election months away, it would not make political sense to bring in a neophyte to lead the party.

Those orchaestrating the propaganda contend that a new national chairman would still be trying to acclamatize in office when the party primary elections to select flag bearers for the major poll would be due.

Buhari, To Run or No
AT the back of the struggle for ascendancy in the jostle for new APC leadership is the big question: Would President Buhari seek re-election? There is a creeping feeling within the party that the President does not want to seek re-election with the diffuse nature of the party or without the strong support from his Southwest allies.

Although some governors from the zone, particularly Ibikunle Amosun and Aketi have shown evidence of total support for the President, Buhari is said to be unenthusiastic about any political marshal plan in the Southwest that does not factor Tinubu’s halo of influence.There is also the speculation that Buhari wants to have Tinubu at the driving wheel of the party to ensure that in the event that he nominates a preferred candidate to contest the 2019 Presidency, the party would be strong enough to give a good account of itself and prevent the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from regaining the Presidency.

Free And Fair Phobia
THE emphasis on who makes the list of convention planning committee shows the level of mutual suspicion within the party. In obvious attempt to upstage the system, Tinubu was said to have surreptitiously raised a list, which he made available to the President for his acquiescence.
But when the governors at their meting became privy to the list, they declaimed it, insisting that it was not proper to compose such an all-important committee without input from them.

In Tinubu’s list were such political actors like, Senator Abu Ibrahim and Senator Lawal Shu’aibu (Northwest); Alhaji Kashim Imam and former SGF Babachir David Lawal (Northeast); Senator George Akume (North Central)

A cursory look at the list showed that Tinubu wanted to entrench the supremacy of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the emerging new APC. It has always been the plan of Tinubu and Buhari that their parties should predominate in the amalgamated parties at the expense of the nPDP defectors, who they lured into the merger to appropriate their financial muscle, as well as, weaken the then ruling party.

It would be recalled that the embattled national chairman, Oyegun, had earlier put together the Governor Simon Lalong technical committee to study the President’s stance on the tenure elongation NEC proposal and advise the party.It was also found by the reformists that Oyegun carefully selected pro-elongation persons, especially Lalong, el-Rufa’i, Akeredolu, Muiz Banire into the committee to foist a fait accompli on the party. 

All those schemes would either gain traction or be jettisoned tomorrow when the NEC meets to look into Governor Lalong’s 10-man technical committee report. Feelers from the committee indicated that the committee harped on a political arrangement, rather than holistic legal interpretation of the constitution on the tenure elongation issue.

The committee would make a case for the one-year extension to stand with a proviso that members of the current NWC that enjoyed the one-year grace would not partake in the elective convention to be held in June 2019.

Although the committee would be silent on the PDP example, it would recommend that the convention should ratify or reject the tenure elongation in the belief that even if the convention throws it out it would be impossible to hold an elective convention before the Presidential primaries, thereby providing the opportunity for a caretaker committee.

As at yesterday and last Friday, members of the pro-elongation camp had been meeting to perfect their strategies and arguments. Kaduna State governor, El-Rufa’I, who said he understands Buhari’s body language is said to be convinced that the one year life line to Oyegun and his committee would fly, against his belief that those against it are those working against Buhari’s second term.

Alternative Candidates
WHILE the tenure elongation push and convention issues continue to animate the ruling party, certain names are also being considered as potential replacements for Oyegun. While some party chieftain contend that a person from Edo State should succeed Oyegun so as not to alter the zoning format, others say that would amount to indirect indictment of Oyegun.

It was discovered that those calling for Oyegun’s successor to come from Edo are eyeing the immediate past governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. But party stalwarts from the South-south zone said the former labour leader would cause new frictions in the party, recalling how he created tension in Bayelsa during the governorship primary in 2015 that led to the party’s disastrous outing in the governorship.To maintain the zonal balance, the chieftains from South-south are pointing in the way of former Cross River governor, Clement Ebri, whom they said is both level headed and rich in integrity quotient. Ebri is also been considered to maintain the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) input in the party.

It was said that in the search for Oyegun’s successor from the ANPP axis, the name of current Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, came up. But, members of the Southeast leadership caucus of the party have been weighing the implication of having the zone produce Oyegun’s successor on their desire for a person from the zone to succeed President Buhari in 2023.

Sources close to the Science and Technology minister had disclosed that the minister would have preferred a situation where he runs for the governorship of Ebonyi State in readiness for the 2023 Presidential election. How the national chairmanship would affect this calculation would be the hard nut to crack for the minister if the party insists on his choice.

Omisore’s Broom Trick
IT was a gesture laden with puzzles and suggestions. Recently, supporters of former Osun State Deputy Governor, Senator Iyiola Omisore, went a step further from the example of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, by making a bonfire of PDP flags.Those who witnessed the destructive sight saw it as a possible indication that the former PDP governorship flag bearer in the 2014 Osun gubernatorial poll was on his way to the Broom Republic of APC.

However, the whole scheme could be a political gimmick to frighten PDP leaders away from the plan to make the governorship primary an all comers’ affair. But PDP, which gifted the Senator with its ticket in 2014 against popular sentiments, seems convinced that Omisore was on the path to political self-destruction.Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Diran Odeyemi, who was not amused by the shameful display, said the former deputy governor was about to make a very wrong move.

Odeyemi counseled the Senator to reorder his political priorities and remember that everyday was not a day of victory, stressing that even if things do not go for him this time around he should wait for another time.At the height of the bonfire theatrics, Senator Omisore said he was out to ensure that PDP’s affliction of impunity is put in check, explaining that his supporters were pained by the recent judicial pronouncement on the conduct of the party congresses in the state.

In a statement on the burning of flags and his speculated defection, Omisore urged his supporters to be law abiding, assuring them that he was out to ensure that peace and stability continue to reign in the state. Stressing that the masses of Osun are his strength, the Senator noted that there is still hope in the “ongoing case in court to correct all the anomalies in that last charade called congresses.”The Senator’s reaction came on the heels of the threat by Osun State chapter of PDP to begin disciplinary actions against him for “supervising the burning of the party’s flags in Osogbo.”


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