APC Writhing In Internal Contradictions
All is not well with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The problems of the party have moved from headache to abdominal pains. Contrary to insinuations in the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that the emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff forced the APC to hold a meeting of its leaders almost nine months after the mounting of saddle as ruling party in the country.
But although the meeting, which was presided over by the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, was conveyed as one meant to discuss the unfavourable court judgments; it was actually convened to confront the many misgivings in the party.
The meeting, which held on February 24, 2016 was said to have afforded the chieftain of the party opportunity to ventilate their bottled up feelings about the goings on in APC. Sources disclosed that apart from the blames heaped on the national chairman of the party, most of those present lamented the way the party was being run, adding that in the end it was agreed that the meeting should be reconvened when the president returns from his overseas trip.
“What played out was similar to what we witnessed last April when we met at the Rivers State Governor’s lodge in Abuja to decide on the zoning of top offices for the National Assembly,” the source remarked, stressing that distribution of political offices and appointments was turning out as a major threat to the cohesion of APC.
The source disclosed that going by what obtained during the G19 meeting, the party may not have a chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT), for a long time. Recalling how Northeast and Southwest scrambled for the position of Speaker of House of Representatives, the source said the only difference was that while Buhari attended as president-elect alongside the vice president-elect and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the meeting in the presidential villa did not have the president in attendance.
As the source narrated what transpired at the APC leaders’ meeting, the impression was that attempts to isolate the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, from policies and programmes of the party were also part of the cause of misgivings. In the plot to shortchange Atiku, it was gathered that some party stalwarts entered into discussion with former president of senate, Senator Ken Nnamani, with the aim of making him the chairman of BoT in the guise of striking a zonal balance.
But while the attempt to supplant the former Vice President and push Nnamani forward for the BoT chair was on the table, leaders from Southwest rejected overtures from the northern stakeholders to field the former Senate president as a compromise candidate for the post of BoT Chairman. They were said to have countered that it was impossible to have a new entrant serve as the conscience of the party.
However, barring any last minute changes, the former president of senate would declare his intention to join the APC, even as members of the party in Southeast are also kicking against preferential treatment to new entrants.
A dependable source within the party’s BoT confided in The Guardian that contrary to popular belief that a chairman of BoT would soon be selected, leaders of APC have agreed that the issue (of BoT chairman) should be shelved, so as not to open the party to “serious frictions and infighting.”
The source, a former state governor, disclosed that even though by his pedigree and ranking as former vice president of the country, Atiku was eminently qualified to occupy the position, “some of those who began the merger talks that led to the formation of APC do not want him.”
He explained that the popular belief in the party is that the former vice president “has a fixed mindset to contest the 2019 presidential election”, pointing out that that perception is behind the calculated and overt attempts to exclude him in most crucial decisions of the party.
While remarking that a great percent of influential members of the party do not like the treatment being meted to Atiku, the source noted that the culture of sycophancy and mischievous reticence among the leaders have subtly divided the party into three broad tendencies.
“There are those who claim to be loyal to the president more than the party; there are those who keep quiet not because they approve of the goings on in the party, but just not to be seen to oppose a second term for the president; while there are great many that believe that the party should be supreme,” he surmised.
The APC chieftain added that an aspect of the challenges facing the selection of chairman of APC BoT is that while those who supported open primary election to select the party’s presidential flag bearer are calling for consensus, many members of the BoT favour an election to select the chairman.
“Based on these disparate positions, whoever tells you that APC would soon get a chairman of BoT is engaging in self delusion,” he stated, remarking that the president’s decision to play aloof was not helping matters.
In a telephone chat, the APC Acting National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, said that based on the situation of things in the party, APC needs to come up with a strong BoT chairman, stressing that the party cannot elect a BoT chairman that cannot pull the party together.
“There are so many things that are going wrong with the party as you can see and rightly said, some of us believe we want to take our time to get a credible, respected, somebody with capacity and integrity; to become chairman of BoT that can control, hold and pull the party together. And like I said, that is why the issue of BoT is slowing down for now. But very soon that will come to pass.”
The Guardian gathered that a follow up meeting to the one presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with President Muhammadu Buhari may turnout explosive as some party chieftain among the G19 have concluded plans to use the meeting “to ask the president to climb down from his high horse and begin to respect the party and desists from acting like an imperial president.”
APC is also currently bogged by agitations for equitable spread in appointments even as sources said that during the planned meeting with the president, he would be asked to conclude actions on the appointment of members and chairmen of federal boards of agencies and parastatals as well as ambassadorial postings.
Challenge of Edo, Ondo Governorship
THE forthcoming governorship elections for Edo and Ondo states are another area the strength of APC would be further tested. In Edo there is a seating APC governor who may likely foist his preferences, which could challenge the process of nominating the governorship flag bearer. Part of the winning strategies of APC is its claim of adopting internal democratic principles in settling its elective contests.
But in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the party was caught in the midst of prevarications and imposition of candidates. For Edo and Ondo, therefore all eyes are on the party to see whether it could prosecute credible, free and transparent primaries in the two states.
The acting national publicity secretary told The Guardian that “if the party fails to do what is right, it would continue to lose our positions in any state that we stand election.” Recalling the poor outing in Bayelsa, his home state, Frank added: “We should be prepared as a party to allow the popular candidate to emerge, we must be prepared to conduct transparent and credible primaries at all times so that we would not repeat the mistake of Bayelsa. During the time of Bayelsa governorship, I made it very clear that the candidate we had at that time was not saleable and I stand by that word till tomorrow.”
Comrade Frank remarked that the party should have allowed free and fair primaries in Bayelsa, but regretted that “we didn’t because the candidate that emerged was imposed. At the end of the day the people of Bayelsa voted their choice.” So if we make the same mistake in Ondo state, then we lose out again.”
He maintained that so far as delegates are allowed to make their choice, the popular candidate will always emerge. “As a party, the mistakes we made in Kogi and Bayelsa, we are not prepared to repeat the mistakes again either in Edo or Ondo states. I pray that the leadership would make sure that we conduct free and fair primaries in those states. Allow everybody to contest and the election must be free, fair and credible so that the people’s choice would be supreme,” he declared.
But the challenge is likely going to be more in Edo where there is a sitting governor. How would the party tackle the challenge of confronting the governor’s plans to select a successor? The precedent set in Edo will no doubt go a long way to shape APC’s attitude to its avowals of change and fight against political sins of impunity and imposition.
Frank said the challenge also is that the governor brings out somebody that can continue with the good job he has done. “It is left for the delegates to vote for development and continuity of what they feel the governor has done. Whosoever the governor brings does not matter but he has to be a candidate that must be acceptable to all party members in the state. There should be a free primary for them to go and test their popularity,” he added.
If words making the rounds that the Edo governor is on the line to replace Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as APC national chairman, is anything to go by, how the party’s governorship candidate in the state would be selected would give a hint as to how he would run the party when he mounts the saddle as national chairman.
It is becoming clearer by the day that like PDP before it, APC is already heaving under the weight of victory. It is hoped that the current are well managed so that it will move to the next level.
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