APC litigants: Between Oshiomhole’s threat and Buhari’s belated reprieve
As date announced by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for parties’ primaries drew close, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began to play hide-and-seek.
It was as if the two parties were watching each other as they continued to change dates of primaries, until the time lag was exhausted.
While the PDP employed indirect primary in electing its candidates, APC leadership asked the state chapters to choose between direct, indirect or consensus arrangement, which are in the party’s constitution.
Different states chose different methods and APC national leadership published the choice of every state.
Even though, there were discordant tunes among stakeholders on the method of primaries adopted by each state, the party leadership refused to budge.
It was on the basis of states’ choice of primaries that aspirants prepared for the primaries, hoping that the party’s leadership would live by its word by providing a level playing ground.
Alas, nothing like that was provided, rather, the party’s national leadership approbated and reprobated at the same time.
Many aspirants were disappointed with the conduct and outcome of the primaries, because the APC leadership changed the rules in the middle of the game, and created room for manipulation, confusion and corruption during the primaries.
This development generated bad blood among party faithful across the country. Some members, including the governors engaged the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole in war of words, accusing him of collecting bribe to favour some aspirants during the primaries.
In Imo State, the outgoing governor, Rochas Okorocha’s spirited effort to make his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, the party’s governorship candidate hit the rock as Senator Hope Uzodimma beat him in the game with the tactical support of Abuja.
The same thing happened in Ogun State, where Governor Ibikunle Amosun lost out in his plan to choose his likely successor, as he was outsmarted by Aremo Segun Osoba faction of party, whose preferred candidate, Dapo Abiodun was chosen as the party’s governorship candidate.
Amosun accused the APC leadership led by Oshiomhole of acting the script of a cabal led by former governor of Lagos and prominent leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
In Zamfara State, the struggle for control of the party structure between Governor Abdulaziz Yari faction and that of Senator Kabiru Marafa made the party not to have a governorship candidate for 2019.
In all these, accusing fingers were being pointed at the party leadership and the cabal in the presidency. Not happy the way and manner the leadership handled the exercise, some aggrieved members and aspirants approached the court to seek redress.
It was at this point that the National Working Committee (NWC) of All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Adams Oshiomhole, frowned at the actions of some party members he claimed have resorted to litigation as a way of addressing their grievances and disputation without exhausting the party’s dispute resolution mechanism.
A statement issued by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu on behalf of the party leadership read: “This growing trend is viewed by the party as a manifest indiscipline. The actions, it should be noted, is considered as anti-party as it goes against our party Constitution.
“For emphasis, according to Article 20, Subsection 10 of our Party’s Constitution, offences against the party include the following: “Filing an action in a court against the party or any of its officers on any matters, relating to the discharge of the duties of the party without first exhausting all avenues for redress provided for in this constitution.”
“The party intends to activate constitutional provisions to penalise such members as their action is capable of undermining the party and hurt the party’s interest.
“We hereby strongly advise such members to withdraw all court cases, while approaching the appropriate party organs with a view to resolving any outstanding disputes. In addition to this, aggrieved members are urged to take full advantage of the reconciliation committees the party has just put in place.”
Apart from the fact that APC’s leadership position and threats were severely criticised, many wondered how a party that claimed to be progressive could adopt such undemocratic and draconian approach in a democracy.
This is despite the fact that APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole was one of the greatest beneficiaries of judiciary Ainterventions, considering that he reclaimed his governorship mandate in Edo State in 2007 through court judgment.
Oshiomhole’s action was that of a typical Nigerian father that beats his child and tells him not to cry. Is it possible? If the party leadership knows that its actions and inactions during the primaries were in line with the party’s Constitution and the country’s laws, why the move to gag aggrieved members from seeking redress in court?
Even if APC leadership’s position was premised on the motion of party supremacy, such supremacy does not foreclose ventilation of grievances in court or does the leadership want them to carry arms or leave the party?
Although, the APC leadership’s threat did not deter aggrieved members from approaching court, President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention on the matter, though, belated faulted and rubbished the party’s position on fallouts of the primaries.
According to the President: “We can’t deliberately deny people of their rights. We agreed that party primaries should be conducted either through direct, indirect or consensus methods, and if anyone feels unjustly treated in the process, such a person can go to court. The court should always be the last resort for the dissatisfied. For the party to outlaw the court process is not acceptable to me.”
While Buhari’s stance was hailed by many, others saw it as a ploy to pacify aggrieved party members who have already approached the courts and have threatened to leave the party for being treated unjustly.
This is considering that Buhari’s outburst came few days after the APC leadership set up reconciliation committee to tackle the fallout of the party’s primaries across the country.
If the unfolding political events in Ogun and Imo States are anything to go by, what it means is that neither Oshiomhole’s threat nor Buhari’s belated pacification forced aggrieved members to sheathe their swords.
On Thursday, Adekunle Akinlade, the man Governor Amosun wanted to be his successor, but was schemed out in the primaries, announced his defection to Allied Peoples Movement (APM) just few days to INEC’s deadline for substitution of candidates.
There is no doubt that Akinlade’s defection may have the backing of Amosun, who has not hide his anger for being stopped from anointing the APC governorship candidate in Ogun State.
Also in Imo State, Governor Okorocha, who suffered the same fate like Amosun has hinted of his preferred candidate and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu’s plan to defect to another party.
With this, it is clear that APC still has a big task of reconciling members, before 2019 general elections.