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Buhari Vs National Working Committee: APC’s patronising confusion

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Apprehension is fueling tension and division in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Party stalwarts are divided on who, between President Muhammadu Buhari and the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, shares greater blame for the back and forth movements regarding the controversial tenure elongation carrot handed to the National Working Committee (NWC) and other structures of the party, including state, zonal, local council and ward executives.

When recently the party held its caucus meeting, it was much more of a fire fighting effort than progressive agenda setting, which the party’s national working committee tried to sell to the public.

The absence of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was all that was needed to establish the fact of disharmony in the ruling party.

But, although there was nothing to suggest that the absence of Tinubu prompted the about-face by President Muhammadu Buhari on the tenure extension matter, it was obvious that the President was not applying any ideas original to douse the steam caused by the unconstitutional contraption.

While opponents of elongation exulted in the presidential late vote, members of the National Working Committee (NWC), dismissed it as another replay of similar disjointed steps by the President during the misgivings about the selection of floor functionaries at the National Assembly in 2015.

It was, to a large extent, the vacillation of the President to state his stand on the matter that defrayed the unity of purpose and sense of urgency and direction of the administration shortly after succeeding the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Was the President misled or did he manifest obvious inability to comprehend political schemes or marshal the essential ingredients for governance?

Yet, in what appeared so much as faint reversal of battle positions, Tinubu and majority members of the National Assembly, with whom he waged an unrelenting battle of political wits at the inception of the administration, found themselves on the same page.

This time, the national chairman of the party and his colleagues at the National Working Committee (NWC) were at the receiving end the same way the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the NASS absorbed the darts of both Presidency insiders and party apparatchiks.

To Be Or Not
ON the score of the controversial tenure elongation, the question of whether it would stand or falter seems not to be final settled.

Oyegun and his colleagues in the NWC believe that the President’s stand amounts to a mere observation and personal preference, insisting that it would take another meeting of NEC to debate and “determine the way forward.”

Two members of the NWC, who spoke to The Guardian in confidence, expressed disbelief that the President would allow himself to be tossed to and fro on a matter that was decided by popular vote in his presence.

“We don’t think the final word has come out on the matter. The decision to extend the term of the present NWC down to the states and other levels was taken during a NEC meeting. In the light of the President’s recent statement, it is only a similar process that can overturn or affirm it,” one of the sources said.

He disclosed that reasons for the extension were very cogent, pointing out that it was not only to avert a negative backlash on the party’s unity, but also to ensure that the processes leading to the nomination of the party’s candidates for the forthcoming election don’t run into hitches caused by post convention bickering.

But his counterpart from the north disclosed that the President was dancing between two forces, including those supporting his intention to seek a second term and those working at cross purposes with the first group.

He said: “Politicians have laid ambush for Baba Buhari and from the look of things they would get him.

Even as a party we have come to a position where it is not easy to know what interest anybody is fronting. Remember that we have a big role to play even in the convention.

What if none of us resigns, but stay to ensure that some of those being thrown up do not succeeded us?”
Implications Of Buhari’s Revised Stand

Prominent among those who hailed President’s revised position are the opponents of the present NWC and some state governors calling themselves Buharists.

For instance, one of the gladiators in the crisis threatening the Kaduna State chapter of the party, Senator Shehu Sani, went poetic, sketching that “Hannibal of Carthage has sided with the Persian anti-extension forces led by Lord of the Admiralty, Asiwaju, to push back the Roman forces of extension led by King Oyegun. Roman is left embattled and in the ruins.”

The senator’s exultation notwithstanding, the battle is not as simple as he made it seem, though shrouded in the mimicry of the war between Rome and Carthage. If it comes to become, as it appears set to, the President’s statement would be a boon to the Tinubu camp, but the challenge remains.

Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, with whom Senator Sani is enmeshed in a never-ending wrangling, represent the bulwark of support for Oyegun. And knowing that El-Rufai has the support of some of his brother governors, if the President finds it easy to sacrifice Oyegun, how far could he go without the governors?

Against the backdrop of a possible extension of the Oyegun treatment to the Presidential primary, would Tinubu and his camp throw up a viable candidate to contest against the President or humour him with the right of first refusal culminating in automatic ticket?

Is there any possibility that Oyegun and his group could stonewall against the automatic ticket, citing lack of constitutional provision?

The planned removal of Oyegun has been a matter of prolonged contemplation. And, while the campaigns to get the former Edo State governor out of office continued, President Buhari’s shifty positions made it hard to say of a certainty whether Oyegun would go or stay back.

Even at the height of the infamous call on him to resign by Tinubu, the President did not betray any sign of support for Oyegun’s outer.

Yet, like a dyed in the wool soldier that he is, Buhari put the element of camouflage to great effect. For while standing with Oyegun in the closet, the President, on one of his two trips to Edo State at the build up to the 2016 governorship poll in the state, hinted at a possible vote for Oshiomhole in Abuja.

Likely Points Of New Infighting

MOREOVER, a lot has changed since 2015 such that the amalgamation, which happened in 2013, has received the further boost of defectors, particularly from former enemy territories Southeast/South-South. What becomes of the defectors, especially when contentions for 2023 are put on the table?

So, it becomes clear that 2023 would present as a new source of internal wrangling in APC. Should Oshiomhole or any other person from South/South be tagged for the post of national chairman, what token would the party handover to Southeast as demonstration of utmost good faith preparatory to 2023 and whose turn it would be at Aso Villa?

Based on the foregoing, it becomes clear that the ruling party is frightened by the prospects of mutiny and haunted by its old tricks.

There is no discounting the possibility that some injured or neglected powerful chieftains of the party may be waiting for the elongation crisis to explode before they take their pound of flesh.

Tinubu may be right after all that Buhari’s stand has saved the party the cost of serious legal turmoil. But how the party wriggles out from the quagmire would be seen in the days to come.

Planning and organising a national convention for June 30, is not a tea party.

Thereafter the party has just one month before the challenge of primary elections set in. The plate is real full for APC. It needs all the good thinking it can get.
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