Barely six years and eight months after the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party has become a tinder box on the verge of imploding – over a leadership crisis that threatens its future. In this piece, YUSUF ALLI, MANAGING EDITOR, NORTHERN OPERATION, reports on the inside story of the battle for the soul of the ruling party.
The ides of March has visited the All Progressives Congress (APC) like a thief in the night. Nigeria’s first major opposition coalition to form a government is gradually slipping into abyss unless it is saved at the last minute.
The ruling party which boasted of a repeat of the 16-year record of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in power may have to contend with an eight-year lifespan unless the laboratory test suggests otherwise.
For the fifth time in five months, party leaders are at each other’s jugular over the fate of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is barely two years old in office having been elected through a voice vote on 23 June 2018.
The attempts to oust him were made as follows at: the November 21, 2019 National Caucus session; the November 22, 2019 National Executive Committee(NEC) meeting; the emergency session of Progressives Governors Forum in Abuja on November 22 ; and an audience with the President last year by APC governors with an ‘Oshiomhole Must Go’ agenda.
The party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha were said to have saved the party from sinking into a deeper crisis at the APC Caucus meeting on November 21. It was learnt that when Tinubu moved a motion to raise a National Reconciliation Committee, Oshiomhole was naive to the extent of calling for a counter-motion.
But with Governor Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) raising about 22 defects in the party’s Audit Report to nail Oshiomhole, those who wanted the party intact (like Boss Mustapha) quickly waded in.
The last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on November 22, 2019 was actually schemed to seal Oshiomhole’s fate but the plotters were beaten to it by pro-Oshiomhole APC leaders who took control of proceedings at the session.
It was the same SGF who rescued the party at the NEC meeting on November 22 when he deployed wisdom to douse the tense situation by telling members that President Muhammadu Buhari had a tight schedule – leading to the abrupt adjournment of the meeting.
Now, APC leaders have retreated into their trenches to get Oshiomhole out.
IN THE BEGINNING
The politics of the emergence of Oshiomhole on June 23, 2018 was designed in a manner that he would not enjoy a breathing space. There were 42 positions but eight offices became contentious including the National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman(North); Deputy National Chairman(South); National Organizing Secretary, National Publicity Secretary; National Women Leader and National Youth Leader.
It took intricate negotiation and many concessions for those who backed the APC National Chairman to have their way. The PDP elements in the party like ex-Senate President, Bukola Saraki had wanted a former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to continue in office.
But the founders of the party and loyalists of Buhari had had enough of Oyegun following intelligence reports on the party’s leadership alleged support for the rebellious Saraki, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara among others.
It was not long before Saraki, Dogara and others defected from APC to PDP. The tendencies or blocs in APC which fostered a manageable consensus on Oshiomhole are still prevalent. Those who departed left some of their strategic associates and a trail with which they can still influence certain developments.
A few members of the National Working Committee (NWC) have remained loyal to their benefactors now in PDP. They have also been spying on the situation in APC, including poll strategies, such that the NWC members were isolated from campaign and election strategy sessions during the 2019 poll.
The circumstances behind his choice informed the dilemma of Oshiomhole in trying to please all the cells in the party, which is now at a high cost to his political career. Yet, many leaders who are up in arms see Oshiomhole as a stooge of a power bloc in the party.
OSHIOMHOLE AND THE 2019 POLL PRIMARIES
Both pro and anti-Oshiomhole groups are uncomfortable with the leadership style of the APC national chairman and have a long list of his alleged his sins. Among these are dictatorial tendency; warring tendency; branding himself as the CEO of APC; not working in tandem with the governors who he claimed are not stakeholders and crippling of the National Secretariat – especially legal, publicity and organizing departments.
Other sins are trying to re-write history on Odigie-Oyegun by not giving him credit for anything; holding NWC meetings at his residence on Aso Drive in Maitama instead of the National Secretariat of the party; building cult loyalty within the NWC; alleged maltreatment of NWC members(at least not as equal); poor accountability and auditing; and lack of consultation.
They also accuse Oshiomhole of alleged violation of the constitution on convening of NEC meeting on quarterly basis; assigning of legal briefs without following procedures; management of campaign funds and arbitrary award of contracts; no post-mortem sessions on 2019 poll; arbitrary suspension of APC governors and others and many intra-party disputes pending in some states unresolved.
A member of the NWC, who spoke in confidence, said: “Were it not for the respect I have for my political godfather, I have no business being in the same executive with Oshiomhole. He has no respect for all of us and he does not like due process.
When I also consider the overall interest of this party which we toiled to build and selfish motives of those after him, I will rather sink and swim with him. I believe those against him should give him a chance to reform himself or wait for the next National Convention of the party to ease him out. Throwing away the baby with the bathwater is not good for APC.”
Another NWC member said: “For instance during the week, when the NWC met to ratify the appointment of Arc. Waziri Bulama as the Acting National Secretary of the party, the National Vice Chairman (North-East) of the party, Mustapha Salihu was banging the table to oppose the choice. An angry Oshiomhole told him that he has the right to walk him out. We were all shocked he could not ignore such a ranting ant.
“It is difficult for you to accuse Oshiomhole of corrupt practices but his leadership style is still as if he is a sitting governor. Some of us also do feel that he talks too much. But these are amenable personal problems. I will support him to change his attitude.”
More than anything, Oshiomhole ran into crisis over the alleged mishandling of the conduct of primaries in some states like Zamfara, Imo, Ogun and Bayelsa and the suspension of serving and ex-governors like Rotimi Akeredolu; Ibikunle Amosun, Rochas Okorocha, and alleged maltreatment of ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari.
A source in the party said: “All these aggrieved leaders felt the APC national chairman humiliated them and he was not tactical in being mutually consultative on issues beyond him. They claimed that if not for the respect they have for Buhari, they would have sabotaged the elections in their states.
“Oshiomhole was accused of not being remorseful on the heavy losses in Zamfara and Bayelsa states. For instance, he bent the rules to bow to the whims and caprices of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva in accepting Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo as the APC Deputy Governorship candidate in Bayelsa State. The party was warned but he did not want to offend Sylva. We lost some states due to Oshiomhole’s inability to resolve issues.”
The nightmares over primaries in some states during the 2019 poll made Governors Godwin Obaseki and Rotimi Akeredolu to join the anti-Oshiomhole train to send him packing ahead of the party’s primaries for their second term tickets.
THE 2023 FACTOR
With the difficulty in controlling Oshiomhole and the party machinery, governors and APC leaders eyeing the presidential ticket or scheming to be Vice President have decided to defy Buhari’s plea that it is too early for politicking.
Without knowing that Oshiomhole does not take instructions from anyone, some of the governors had concluded that Oshiomhole will do the bidding of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and offer him the 2023 presidential ticket of the party on a platter of gold. This fear of the unknown has fueled the gang up by some governors.
The first hint emerged at their session with Buhari on December 5, 2019. It was gathered that Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum’s disclosures at the meeting at Aso Villa shocked the president.
A top source said: “The anti-Oshiomhole governors had sought audience with Buhari without telling their colleagues of their intention. They were out to rein him in at all cost on December 5.
“They made sure that the pro-Oshiomhole governors got the notice “very late” which will make it impossible for them to attend.
“In fact, some APC governors were not informed in line with their agenda.”
“But following a tip off by a highly-placed source, Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); and Zulum (Borno) were able to attend the session with Buhari.”
“The first shock the governors got from Buhari was when he asked them why they wanted to see him. The anti-Oshiomhole governors had told their colleagues that Buhari wanted to meet with them.
“Surprisingly, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and others informed the President that the session was about developments in the party and why they had decided to ask Oshiomhole to resign.
“Following this disclosure, Zulum blurted out: ‘Mr. President, we were told you wanted to compare notes with us, we were not aware that some of us requested for this audience. We have never met anywhere where we agreed to ask Oshiomhole to resign.”
The source also quoted the Borno governor as saying: “Mr. President, you see all these governors seeking the removal of Oshiomhole are doing so because they are aspiring to be President in 2023. This is why they are calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Must we destroy the party because of presidential ambition? I think we should be careful.
“I believe our National Chairman is a fair and equitable leader. I have never met him, yet he allowed due process in the party which made me to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC in Borno State. He knew me during the presidential campaign in our state. He has never asked me for a favour.”
It was gathered that a pin drop silence greeted Zulum’s submissions which were backed up by Oyetola, Abiodun and Sanwo-Olu leading to the President stepping out.
“The anti-Oshiomhole governors were glued to their seats as Buhari left,” the source added.
Our investigations reveal that a surprised Zulum received “follow up” telephone calls from some of the governors against Oshiomhole,
He reportedly told one of them: “I know what I am doing, I am not running anybody’s errand. I am not only a PhD holder, I am a professor. Having attained professorial level, I am knowledgeable enough to know the right thing.”
Oshiomhole also alluded to 2023 permutations as being behind his travails. He said the forces had been meeting to disgrace him out of office.
He said: “I’m proud to say that I have done my best not only when I was a governor, I have done my best as chairman of this party, I have worked not only along members of the party and with support of the good people of Nigeria for the president to be re-elected, for us to have majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly, I also worked hard to deliver my unit, my ward, I worked hard to deliver my local government, I worked hard to deliver my federal constituency three of them in my senatorial zone, I also worked hard to deliver my senatorial district.
“Those fighting me just feel that if they cannot give me orders, then they must do everything to embarrass my person, but I believe that he who God stands with no man born of a woman can bring him down.
“I can’t say more than that. Those who are parading themselves, holding meetings at night, my prayer to my God is that let them meet at night, what they do at night will be destroyed in the day time.
“It is just unfortunate that if you have out of 100, 90 people are happy with you, who will call and say well done, those 10 who are not happy are the ones that will call news conference to denounce you, they are the ones who will hold midnight meetings in a minister’s house to say how do we bring him down.
“They are the ones who will plot how we get rid of him because they want to be president in 2023 even when their hold on their state at the moment is doubtful if they were to go for referendum in terms of their approval rating.”
HOW THE GOVERNORS STAND
Despite his shortcomings, some governors, in deference to the President and in the interest of the bigger picture of the APC have opted to stick to Oshiomhole. But some APC governors said only Oshiomhole’s ouster can save the party. Those against Oshiomhole said they had secured a tacit endorsement from President Muhammadu Buhari to “follow due process in whatever they do.”
Expectedly, the governors differ. As at press time last night, the governors against Oshiomhole are Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau); Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); and Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).
Those who are pro-Oshiomhole include Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno); Hope Uzodinma (Imo) Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).
Four governors, Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa) Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe) were said to have maintained a fluid position because they are yet to be swayed by arguments for and against Oshiomhole.
Others wielding influence against Oshiomhole are ex-Governors Ibikunle Amosun, Rochas Okorocha, Abdulaziz Yari and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
For Obaseki, who was Oshiomhole’s best man at his wedding a few years ago, fighting his godfather to a standstill is the only option available having played dirty in the last three months. He provided the springboard for the alleged suspension of the APC national chairman by his Ward in Etsako Local Government Area of Edo State.
He cajoled a handful of the ward executives in Oshiomhole’s ward to suspend him. In anger, party members in the ward met and passed vote of confidence on Oshiomhole but Obaseki disregarded the vote of confidence.
The curious notice of suspension was hijacked by the hawks in Abuja and some governors to initiate a suit through the National Vice Chairman (North-East), Mustapha Salihu against Oshiomhole and the APC. They were able to secure an order from Justice Danlami Senchi of the FCT High Court in Jabi to suspend Oshiomhole. What matters most to Obaseki is a second term ticket which, he believes, is unrealistic with Oshiomhole in charge.
This, observers believe, is a misreading of the political situation in Edo state. They believe that except there is genuine reconciliation, Obaseki as APC candidate will fail woefully. If the PDP picks a popular candidate from Edo South, which is Obaseki’s district, with a divided APC, it will be a walk over for PDP.
Knowing full well that those loyal to Oshiomhole are many in the state, Obaseki is about to tinker with the party’s register in the name of registering new members. His target is 500,000 members. The objective is to exclude many loyalists of Oshiomhole from the register and make them ineligible to take part in the governorship primaries. His permutation is that with Oshiomhole out as national chairman, he will have a smooth sail. APC is in dire straits in Edo.
In spite of the fact that the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has openly recommended presidential power shift to the South-West in 2023, political analysts see his suggestion as a smokescreen because he can capitalize on any slip to foster his presidential ambition. And el-Rufai does not hide his disdain for the APC national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is said to be a major backer of Oshiomhole. The immediate calculation of el-Rufai is to get rid of Oshiomhole and curtail any advantage Tinubu may derive for having his man in charge of the APC.
Seeing himself as primus inter pares, El-Rufai has been neck deep in the plot against Oshiomhole after the APC national chairman had unsuspectingly confided much in him. A reliable source said: “Pretending to have met Oshiomhole as a long-standing friend, el-Rufai asked the APC chairman to resign to avoid being disgraced at the last NEC meeting.
“Oshiomhole, however, snapped by asking him the basis of his resignation having led the party to secure a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and put in place good leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives to assist the President to achieve his agenda. He also said the party has won more states in recent election.
“The National chairman of APC put el-Rufai to task in a manner that he wobbled out of his end. Oshiomhole was emphatic in telling el-Rufai that he will not resign.”
“He (Oshiomhole) said: ‘There is nothing to this office, I am a leader who knows when to quit if I have committed infractions. I know the standard all over the world, I am not an exception’. This is what he told el-Rufai. “It was however learnt that el-Rufai, who has earned the confidence of Oshiomhole, is the pivot on which the plot rested. El-Rufai was said to have sold a dummy to other governors that he is “the only one who can read the body language of the President.” He was said to have told his colleagues that “the body language of the President is that Oshiomhole must go.”
Investigations revealed that Oshiomhole had to take on el-Rufai because he had reposed “much trust” in the Kaduna State governor only to hear that he has been one of the key plotters against him.
To Akeredolu, Oshiomhole must pay the price for suspending him for alleged anti-party activities in April last year. The NWC had accused Akeredolu of anti-party activities which “greatly affected the fortunes of its candidates in the recently conducted presidential and National Assembly elections in the state in 2019.” The governor is suspicious that the same APC national chairman could wreak his second term ambition and he has wasted no time in joining forces to cut him to size.
A top aide of Akeredolu said: “We have seen the signs that Oshiomhole is already fanning the embers of disunity in the party by romancing with those opposed to the governor’s second term. We cannot watch while a party chairman takes a partisan position in a state when he should be the father of all.”
On his part, Fayemi has three grouses with Oshiomhole including alleged incompetence which he said has led to the paralysis at the National Secretariat; ceding of the office of Deputy National Chairman (South), allegedly zoned to Ekiti State, to Oyo State without consultations; and likely inability of Oshiomhole to ensure fairness and equity during the presidential primaries in 2023.
Despite denial of nursing presidential ambition during the week, Fayemi enjoys the confidence of the influential cabal in Abuja. He may end up jostling for the presidential ticket or the office of vice president depending on where the pendulum swings.”
But his rejection of his intimate friend, ex-Governor Abiola Ajimobi as the party’s new Deputy National Chairman (South) was a major political upset in the week.
As the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Fayemi has a platform to build goodwill across all states in the country. Findings confirmed that he is already taking advantage of the forum to spread his tentacles.
On the appointment of Ajimobi, the position was zoned to Southwest, not to Ekiti, according to APC leaders in the Southwest. Niyi Adebayo occupied the office and upon his appointment as minister, he resigned. Southwest APC leaders met and chose Ajimobi but Fayemi kicked.
He said Ekiti must produce Adebayo’s replacement. Other APC governors backed Ajimobi’s choice but Fayemi is leading the revolt against the decision.
As far as the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong is concerned, he is fighting a proxy war against Oshiomhole. Having been backed and influenced by his godfather, Rotimi Amaechi, he does not differ politically with him. It was the governor who organized a retreat where the plot against Oshiomhole was hatched in Jos. He is taking on Amaechi’s battle because he cannot betray his benefactor.
BAGUDU AND BADARU
As for Governors Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), they are being driven by ambition to become the next President after their second term in office. Bagudu, who was recently linked to the over $2.2 billion allegedly looted by a former military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha and his family, is of strong opinion that he does not have moral baggage which can inhibit him from being president of Nigeria.
The Jigawa State does not offer anything tangible to justify his aspiration for the presidency.
They both believe that power must remain in the north and that a serving governor should succeed Buhari. With El-Rufai, they convinced Fayemi to join them.
On the part of Amaechi, his issues border on Oshiomhole’s alleged tardiness in managing APC crisis in Rivers State which led to the exclusion of the party from 2019 poll.
He was also said to be upset by the state of affairs of the party including the refusal of Oshiomhole to confirm his godson, Victor Giadom as the substantive National Secretary of the party. Instead of confirming Giadom, Oshiomhole chose to abide by the desire of the North-East leaders to allow Borno State to take the slot which was hitherto occupied by the current Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
Those who have chosen to back the embattled APC national have advanced perspectives which provided insights into the character sketch of Oshiomhole. Governor Zulum is appreciative of the fact that Oshiomhole gave him a chance to allow him to emerge on merit as APC governorship candidate without either meeting him or offering any bribe. He said the first time he met Oshiomhole was at the presidential campaign ground in Maiduguri. For Ganduje, apart from being grateful to Oshiomhole for appointing his in-law ( Ajimobi) as the new Deputy National Chairman ( South) of the party, the governor of Kano State was said to have deeply appreciated how he stood by him during poll rerun.
As one of the most experienced governors in the country, Masari who was once the Speaker of the House of Representatives, could discern the intrigues at hand. It was learnt that rather than being part of the anti-Oshiomhole group and distract the President, he decided to back Oshiomhole. It was gathered that one unique issue which guided Masari was that he was involved in the merger talks by three key parts which led to the emergence of APC. A source added: “Masari cannot be part of the destruction of the house he built.”
Regarding Governor Hope Uzodinma, a member of the NWC simply said: “It is a case of one good turn deserves another. The Imo State governor is an ardent supporter of Oshiomhole for standing by him while his struggle lasted.
On his part, Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) was the immediate past National Secretary of the party, who knew a lot about the party’s management and the politics. Regarding Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), their pro-Oshiomhole’s position was predictable given their pre-primaries, primaries and election exposures. The party, under the national chairman, stood by these governors. It is pay-back time.
Yahaya Bello is a member of one of the powerful cells in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. In what appeared a reconciliatory spirit, he made up with some politicians before his recent re-election. He has broken records as the first governor to declare his stand openly on Oshiomhole. It was a major plus for Oshiomhole.
Bello who spoke through the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, on Saturday said he will never do anything that will disrupt the peace of the party.
The statement said: “Governor Yahaya Bello will never do anything that will disrupt the peace of APC.
“His interest has always been the peace and stability of the party.
“He is a true party man whose interest is the continued political relevance even beyond 2023.”
THOSE WHO WILL DETERMINE OSHIOMHOLE’S FATE
If the constitution of APC is strictly adhered to, many segments of the party are legally vested with the authority to determine whether or not Oshiomhole should be removed. It is only under a kangaroo setting that a removal can hold while the court is left to decide the legality or otherwise of such a seal.
Although the governors hold the ace on the control of the party machinery at the state level, their grip is not absolute because they have to secure the buy-in of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other NEC members as provided by Section 12.3 of the APC Constitution.
But since the governors have the war chest, they can easily earn the vote of no confidence for Oshiomhole. Pro-Oshiomhole leaders are also not taking things for granted, they have engaged in intense lobbying. The battle for the soul of APC will be intriguing in the next few days because none of the warring groups can ride NEC members roughshod.
Section 12.3 says: “There shall a National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party consisting of: i. National Chairmen ii. Deputy National Chairman (North) iii. Deputy National Chairman (South) iv. National Secretary v. Deputy National Secretary vi. Six National Vice Chairmen, one from each geo-political zone of the Country (to be also known as Zonal Chairmen) vii. National Legal Adviser viii. Deputy National Legal Adviser ix. National Treasurer x. Deputy National Treasurer xi. National Financial Secretary xii. Deputy National Financial Secretary xiii. National Organising Secretary xiv. Deputy National Organising Secretary xv. National Publicity Secretary xvi. Deputy National Publicity Secretary xvii. National Welfare Secretary xviii. Deputy National Welfare Secretary xix. National Auditor xx. Deputy National Auditor xxi. National Women Leader xxii. Deputy National Women Leader xxiii. National Youth Leader xxiv. Deputy National Youth Leader xxv. Special (Physically Challenged) Leader xxvi. Zonal Secretary xxvii. Zonal Youth Leader xxviii. Zonal Organizing Secretary xxix. Zonal Women Leader xxx. States’ Chairmen of the Party xxxi.
The President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who are members of the Party xxxii. President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate who are members of the Party xxxiii. Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who are members of the Party xxxiv. Governors of the States of the Federation who are members of the Party xxxv. Majority or Minority Leader, Party Whip and their Deputies in the Senate and House of Representatives who are Members of the Party xxxvi.
Two serving Senators from each geo-political zone of the country, who are members of the Party, to be nominated by the Senators from such zone xxxvii. Three members of the House of Representatives from each geo-political zone of the country who are members of the Party to be nominated by members from such zone.
“Six Ex-Officio members, of whom, one each shall be elected by the National Convention from each of the six geo-political zones of the Country xxxix. Serving Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BOT).
WHY NEC MAY NOT HOLD
While the leaders of APC were holding nocturnal meetings to find solutions to the looming crisis, the hitherto acting National Secretary, Victor Giadom(who is Amaechi’s loyalist), issued a notice of an emergency meeting National Executive Committee (NEC) slated for Tuesday. The notice was, however, by all intents and purposes, a violation of Section 25(B) of APC Constitution.
The terse statement said: “In line with Article 25 (B) (II) of the Constitution of our great Party, members of the APC National Executive Committee are invited to attend an emergency meeting which is scheduled to hold as follows: Tuesday March 17, 2020 at the National Executive Committee Hall, National Secretariat, All Progressives Congress. All members of the National Executive Committee are expected to be seated before the arrival of the President.”
It was unclear on whose authority he acted to issue the notice because the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) had on Wednesday approved the appointment of Arc. Waziri Bulama as the new Acting National Secretary of the party.
By the pronouncement of the NWC, Giadom has technically ceased to be the Acting National Secretary. Also, by the provision of Section 14.3 of APC Constitution, the National Secretary of the party shall “cause to be issued as directed, notices of meetings of the National Convention, the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the Party.” The same constitution makes provisions for a 14-day notice for NEC meeting and a seven-day notice for any emergency meeting
Section 25 (B) of the party’s constitution empowers only the National Chairman of APC to summon the NEC meeting.
The section reads: “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than fourteen (14) days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution the National Working Committee may summon an emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven (7) days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.
“Decisions at the meeting of the National Executive Committee shall be by simple majority of members present and voting.
“The quorum for the meetings of the National Executive Committee shall be one third of its membership. The provision regulating meetings of the National Executive Committee shall apply mutatis mutandis to Zonal Committee, State Executive Committee, Senatorial District Executive Committee, Local Government Area/Area Council Executive Committee and Ward Executive Committee.”
IS BUHARI’S BODY LANGUAGE THE ISSUE?
The continued audience the President has been giving pro and anti-Oshiomhole’s warlords appears to have been taken advantage of by both sides. Unlike when he was a military Head of State, Buhari has imbibed democratic culture of listening to all sides with each going about with the impression that the President has stamped their plans.
Members of the President’s Kitchen cabinet have however maintained that all the forces had been painting different pictures to the public. A source in government said: “The President has been cautioning all the actors in closet but it is sad that they often go back to create problem.” Records also indicate that on November 22, 2019, the President warned party leaders against the collapse of APC. He said: “The aim is that history is will not be fair to us if outrightly the APC collapses at the end of this term. History will be fair to us if APC remains strong and not only holds the center, but also makes gains.”
The President also took a step further by implementing one of the resolutions of APC National Caucus meeting to set up a reconciliation committee. After protest, the President reviewed his initial list and raised a 12-man National Reconciliation Committee headed by the first Interim Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande.
The mandate of the committee is as follows: “The committee is empowered to address grievances of party members across the country and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering oneness, strengthen the party for better governance and ensure unity of purpose within the party”.
The committee was barely three weeks old when a bigger crisis erupted which may widen the scope of the problems at hand.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS LEFT FOR APC?
To avert a perpetual crisis in APC, the President may have to personally wade in the crisis by reconciling the national chairman of the party and all those with grievances against him, especially governors who felt relegated to the background.
Apart from being NEC members, there can be further constitution review to allow the governors more say in party affairs. Already, the governors are planning to install one of their former colleagues, Yari as the next national chairman of APC.
The President and others cannot continue to pretend that all is well between Oshiomhole and Obaseki in Edo APC. The party must resolve the crisis of confidence among stakeholders in the state especially the problem in Edo House of Assembly.
Also, most stakeholders, including NWC members, have demanded a proper running of APC like a party with all the organs allow functioning as enshrined in the party’s constitution. All states with crises like Ogun, Rivers, Zamfara, Imo, and others should be accorded priority in the reconciliation efforts.
More importantly, the President and the leaders of the party should find solutions to the spate of litigations over Oshiomhole or else APC will be thrown into a perpetual anarchy which may spell doom for its fortunes in 2023. Alternatively, some leaders may defect to another party after leaving APC in tatters.
The party may have to devise new guidelines for the conduct of its primaries in a rancour-free manner. The party’s plans for 2023 poll must win the confidence of all aspirants and it won’t be out of place to restrict ambitious APC members till late 2021 or early 2022 to begin politicking.
Yusuf Alli writes for The Nation