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Reconciling APC: How Tinubu won’t be judge in his own case


Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

For the All Progressives Congress (APC), the saying that the hunter has become the hunted holds true. Five years ago, the then fledgling party frightened daylight out of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party. At that time, APC was hitting PDP at its perceived two weak points, namely cluelessness in governance and impunity within party structure. Three years down the line, the current ruling party has turned full circle and with PDP in opposition, there is reversal both in role and perception.

Things have fallen apart greatly for APC such that the leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, has been forced to look back. The President has begun to show concern for the uneven state of affairs of the special purpose vehicle coupled together for the 2015 confrontation.The sudden interest in APC wellness cannot be divorced from the President’s interest in a second term in office. It is left to be seen how far the three years neglect and disinterest could be redressed.

How It All Began
SHORTLY after the party won the presidency without the distraction of an election petition, the President-elect shrank from anything to do with politics, especially partisanship. Although a lot of people tried to explain Buhari’s aloofness after his inauguration as President with his historical claim that he belongs to none, but belongs to all, it became obvious that he was not interested in sharing political power with any body, particularly the former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was seen as the prime mover of the amalgamation of legacy parties into APC.

Most importantly, players like the present Minister of State for Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, ensured that Tinubu was not allowed to become the power behind the throne.

In the circumstances, old Buharists, especially former faithful in the erstwhile Congress for Progress Change (CPC), took it upon themselves to reignite their past solidarity in the bid to fill the void create by PMB’s aloofness.

But challenged by their number, the CPC Buharists could not defray the negative fallouts from the President’s style. Add to that the fact that appointments were slow in coming and in disdain for those who worked hard for the party’s victory at the poll, most members took to grumbling and behind the scene complaints.

Furthermore, the party found it hard to fill vacant places in the National Working Committee created by the appointment of certain officials to the federal cabinet. Attempt by the suspended deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Timi Frank, to act in the absence of the party’s spin-doctor, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, opened the disparate tendencies in APC.

Troubled by the absence of a spokesman, the north central zone of the party threw up Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, whose nomination was not ratified by a convention, even as other positions were left in abeyance. Plots to have the disgraced former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. David Babachir Lawal to regain his post as deputy national chairman, (Northeast) fizzled out following strident calls for his trial for the grass cutting scandal.

But while President Buhari minded his business of leading the country as a sole administrator, a lot of things were going awry, particularly the party that catapulted him to the Presidency after three previous failed trials.It started with appointing ministers from the Southwest, Tinubu’s forte, against the Jagaban’s advise. Later the Kogi apocalypse happened in spite of Tinubu. Then when Ondo miscalculation began, Tinubu lashed out, decrying the leadership style of the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, whom he blamed for the failings of the party.

Time was also when the same Tinubu that has become conciliator-in-chief was peeved at the remarks of Buhari’s subordinate minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, over what he considered insensitive remark by the junior minister on the tawdry fuel supply situation.

At the height of that exchange, although Kachikwu apologized for what was a jocular response to journalists that he was not a magician to change the fuel palaver overnight, the President’s inner men interpreted Tinubu’s sharp words to Kachikwu as an indirect volley against the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Buhari. Having found out that tendency, Asiwaju checked out of APC activities and occupied his political instincts abroad, especially in the West African sub region.

About Face
IT was against that chequered background that not a few persons raised eyebrows, including APC chieftain on the appointment of the same Tinubu by President to reconcile aggrieved members of the party. Tinubu’s terms of reference were well spelt out. In the statement announcing his selection, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, Tinubu was charged to consult and reconcile all tendencies in APC with a view to rebuilding confidence in the party.

As charity begins at home, Tinubu might start by reconciling himself with the party, reconcile himself with his allies, particularly Babatunde Fashola, Kayode Fayemi, Dr. Muis Banire, Dr. Olurunimbe Mamora and Babafemi Ojudu. How far the former Lagos governor will go in his assignment depends on how he reconciles with Chief Oyegun who had last year set up two committees to mend the rifts in Bauchi and Kogi States chapters of the party.

Could it be that the nomination of Tinubu for the tough job was borne out of mockery and mischief? Clearly an afterthought, the President failed to consider the fact that some states, like Ebonyi, are in court over the legitimacy of their state working committees.

But it would be interesting to see how Tinubu and his unnamed associates would navigate through the foundational troubles of APC. That may be why the national chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Alhaji Yabagi Sani, declared that the crisis within APC was in its foundation. Said declared: “Tinubu cannot be a judge in his own case. Besides, he is the bone of contention in all the crises in the APC.”

Also the national chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie noted that the attempt to prop up members of the former Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties that formed APC contributed in diffusing its cohesion.

He said: “The fact, which is set to unravel APC, is that the party became no more than the CPC. What happened was the gathering of strange bedfellows that came together to remove PDP and thereafter CPC took control. Any person who was not of CPC is a stranger. That is what Oyegun realised even to the discomfiture of Tinubu who sponsored his election.”

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