APC and challenge of reconciliation

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The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is setting up a reconciliation committee to resolve the conflicts in the party. Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN highlights the crisis in some state chapters and suggests the way forward.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is trying to put its house in order.

The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), at its last week’s meeting asked President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a national reconciliation committee that would resolve the grievances and conflicts among the APC members nationwide.

Professor Albert Okunade said in a peace process, the first requirement is that a peace maker do not have credibility problem. A reconciliation committee that is not neutral or not acceptable to warring factions can not achieve anything, he said.

Okunade, a Professor of African History, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan said: “You can’t have problems in your state and say you want to be a peace maker in another state. President Buhari should look for members of the party that do not have credibility problem. But, how many party members do we have in each state that can be trusted as sincere peace makers. People surrounding the President have credibility problem. That is why the assignment is very difficult.

“When you look at the APC primaries for 2019 general elections, most of the candidates emerged in controversial manner. No effort has been made to address the crisis. I don’t know how President Buhari is going to restore peace in APC. But, I wish him all the best”.

Former National Vice President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA),  Monday Ubani said for President Buhari to succeed in the arduous task of reconciliation, he should look for those that are genuinely committed to finding lasting solutions.

Ubani said the problem of APC started when the national secretariat didn’t allow free and fair primaries to hold in choosing candidates for elective offices. When you don’t allow the people’s mandate to prevail, then there would be internal squabbles. They should not allow party’s chairman to intervene in the internal affairs of the state chapters, especially in choosing candidates. It was imposition and god fatherism that stalled PDP that APC has now embraced.

“There are some people that aggrieved party members are not ready to listen to because they are biased . If you appoint such people as members of reconciliation committee, nothing will come out of the peace process. President Buhari should look for neutral and credible people to serve in the committee”, Ubani stated.

A highly placed official of the party said the decision to assign the president with the responsibility of constituting a reconciliation committee was informed by the previous attempts made by various peace committees to no avail. He regretted that nine months after the general elections  won by the APC, the NWC has failed to address the conflicts that led to the loss of strategic states to the opposition. He recalled that as a result of the unresolved intra-party crisis, the ruling party lost Oyo, Imo, Bauchi, Zamfara and Adamawa states.

He said the party’s decision to allow President Buhari to constitute a national reconciliation committee would restore peace in the party because aggrieved party members would have confidence in the president’s committee in resolving the crisis.


Analysts blame the NWC for failing to take the initiative to address the grievances that shrunk the party’s fortune in the last general elections. The crisis was so deep that aggrieved APC chieftains worked against the party and paved way for the victory of the opposition.


 

According to them, the primary responsibility of the NWC is to address grievances of party members and resolve conflicts, with a view to fostering unity and oneness.

 

Adamawa

There are two factions of APC in Adamawa. A group belongs to former Adamawa State Governor, Muhammadu Jubrilla Bindow, while the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Lawal Babachir, is the arrow head of the opposition group. In Babachir’s camp are the aggrieved governorship aspirants, Alhaji Mahmoud Halilu Ahmed, younger brother to President Buhari’s wife and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

The Babachir group alleged that the former governor pushed them into primaries, which he knew would not take place, and connived with the national leadership to waste aspirants’ money after they purchased forms and incurred campaign expenses.

Before the governorship election, Babachir had insisted that Bindow’s days in Adamawa Government House were numbered and that there was no political magic that could change the minds of the pople to re-elect him. He said: “The Adamawa APC crisis started when Bindow came into power, when majority of the legacy party members in APC did not get reasonable appointments. Majority of the appointments were given to members of nPDP  where he came from.

But, the Director-General of Bindow Campaign Organisation, Chief Felix Tangwami, countered Babachir’s group. He  said that “primaries were conducted and Bindow’s team won landslide and others lost. I want to tell you that if the governorship primary was conducted 20 times, Bindow would have won 20 times because he has political structures more than those who contested against him.

After the primary, Bindow made attempts to reconcile with aggrieved aspirants, but he was snubbed. Some of them said they would remain in APC to ensure that Bindow did not return. They accused him of betrayal and vowed to pay him back in his coin

 

Zamfara

The wrangling within the APC paved way for the PDP to take over Government House on a platter of gold. The face- off between former Governor Abdulaziz Yari and former Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, began as a little disagreement over the governorship and legislative candidates for the elections. Following the controversial primaries organised by Yari’s faction, which were supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Muktar Idris was declared winner. He also won the election held on February 16, 2019.

But, Marafa, who had lost his governorship aspiration during the controversial primary, formed a faction. While the faction loyal to former Yari claimed it held congresses and had candidates, the Marafa group insisted no primary held.

Although the party headquarters said no primaries were held, consensus candidates were adopted within the stipulated time. Marafa and his supporters filed a suit against the APC. A High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State capital, ruled that APC actually conducted primaries in the state and should be allowed to present candidates for the contest. But, Abuja High Court ruled otherwise. The Court f Appeal, Abuja Division, set aside the judgment of the Abuja High Court in favour of Yari’s group.

However Marafa headed for the Supreme Court seek justice. The apex court ruled against the elections of all the candidates of APC in Zamfara State. The court ruled that the party did not conduct valid primaries in the build-up to the elections. The court also ordered that the candidate with the second highest number of votes be declared winner of the election. Thus, INEC confirmed Bello Matawalle of the PDP as the governor. It also confirmed other PDP candidates for the national and state Assembly seats.

Majority of Marafa’s supports have defected to PDP. Marafa himself had pledged support for the PDP administration in the state. During a courtesy visit to Governor Matawalle in Government House, Marafa said what he was after is good governance in Zamfara irrespective of the party in power in the state.

 

Bauchi

The battle of supremacy between former Governor Mohammed Abubakar and the ‘Abuja politicians’, led by the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, destroyed APC in Bauchhi State. There was disconnect between the former governor and elite in the state, especially in Bauchi Local Government. The local government alone constitute almost one quarter of the total votes of Bauchi State. It has 417, 404 votes. Once a candidate has problem with Bauchi Local Government, he can not win in the state.

Former Senior Special Assistant on Media to the former governor, Comrade Sabo Muhammed said  APC lost because the former administration did not perform well in Bauchi Local Government. “So, once you have problem with Bauchi Local Government certainly you have to lose elections. APC performed wonderfully well in the last general elections in the state. The governor won 15 out of 20 local governments of the state, and we have all the three senators , we have 22 members of the State House of Assembly and nine out of 12 members. The party lost because it didn’t perform well in Bauchi Local Government. That is what contributed to my failure as candidate of the APC to represent the people of Bauchi and Tafawa Balewa Local Government Areas. I lost to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) which is very amazing.”

Besides, there were many party stakeholders, who were still embittered over the process that threw up the former governor as APC governorship candidate in 2019. Former ministers Dr. Ali Pate and Dr. Ibrahim Lame, who contested governorship primary with the ex-governor, passed a vote of no confidence on the Election Committee from the party’s headquarters. They also alleged that the former governor, in connivance with the state executive, compromised the process and that security agencies were used to intimidate members of the partywith opposing views.

The aggrieved aspirants, who alleged that they were shorchanged, also indulged in anti-party activities because they held the view that the former governor failed to reconcile with them.

 

Edo

The APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki are engaged in a bitter battle of supremacy for the soul of the party. What started like a minor dispute has escalated beyond perception. The crisis has split the party into Oshiomhole group and Obaseki camp. The warring groups have suspended notable figures in the party, including the governor and his predecessor.

The inauguration of the State House of Assembly exposed the running battle between the two gladiators. Only nine of 22 members showed up for the inauguration. The other 13 that are loyal to Oshiomhole stayed away. They argued that the inauguration was held in the night. All entreaties that the governor should issue a new proclamation for a new inauguration were rebuffed by the governor.

Analysts observed that there was deep seated animosity between the gladiators. They said Oshiomhole was against the governor’s quest for a second term. The national chairman had repeatedly advised the governor to concentrate on delivering on his mandate in the belief that his work would speak for him during the electioneering. An APC chieftain confided that at the point when Oshimhole insisted on supporting Obaseki against all odds, it was agreed that the governor would focus on governance, while Oshiomhole will grapple with politics.

However, Obaseki has denied the claim that Oshiomhole single handedly installed him as governor. Rather, he said that he assisted the APC national chairman to raise funds for his governorship campaign in 2006. He denied allegations of ingratitude towards Oshimhole, saying that only God can claim responsibility for his emergence as governor when he said “I became governor by God’s grace, with the support of many other people.

It is hoped that peace would be restored in Edo APC very soon, given the personal concern of President Buhari over the ugly development.

 

Imo

The crisis in Imo State chapter was ignited by the leadership style of the former Governor Rochas Okorocha, who ran the party as a personal estate. He took unilateral decisions without consulting party leaders.

Okoracha’s cup was full when he boasted that his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu would succeed him. Other leaders of the party kicked. The party was factionalised. The national secretariat dissolved the state executive of the party headed by Mr Daniel Nwafor and appointed Marcellinus Nlemigbo as chairman.

When it dawned on Okorocha that his son-in-law would not get the ticket, he asked his supporters to join the Action Alliance (AA) that offered Uche automatic ticket. But, Okorocha stayed put in APC to contest senatorial election, which he won. However, he was suspended by the NWC for anti-party activities.  When President Buhari went to Owerri to present the APC flag to the party’s candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma,  Okorocha, who was in attendance made it clear that his faction would only support President Buhari’s re-election, saying that others who want to snatch the party from him cannot succeed.

The APC went into the election divided and lost the contest. Okorocha’s son also lost. Analysts said if Okorocha and his supporters had remained in APC, the party would have retained power in Imo. Reconciliation with Okorocha, who undermined the electoral victory of the party, would be intractable.

 

Ogun

The case of Ogun is similar to Imo. Former Governor Ibikunle Amosun was bent on installing his protégée, Adekunle Akinlade, as his successor. There was a running battle over the soul of APC in the state between Amosu and former Governor Olusegun Osoba. Amosun did not recognise Osoba group.

In the build-up to the elections, Amosun had allocated elective offices to his supporters . He forwarded the list to the national secretariat, which was rejected. With the party executive in his pocket, he conducted primaries that produced another set of candidates. But, the NWC overruled him and sent electoral committee to conduct fresh primary, which were boycotted by Amosun group.

The primaries conducted by the Abuja Election committee produced Prince Dapo Abiodun as governorship candidate. Amosun resorted to Plan B. He asked his supporters to join Allied Peoples Movement (APM) that gave Akinlade the ticket. Like Okorocha, Amosun contested for the Senate on the platform of APC. He won.

Amosun campaigned for APM in Ogun State. Though he was suspended by the NWC, his divided loyalty still persists.

 

Oyo

The Oyo APC lost both the presidential and governorship elections. The party went into election divided. There was a group loyal to former Governor Abiola jimobi and a rival group under the aegis of Oyo APC Unity Forum headed by former Communication Minister Adebayo Shittu.

The Unity Forum accused Ajimobi of high-handedness and dictatorial tendencies. They gave conditions that would make them work and vote for APC. The party had parallel congresses and two state executives. But, the NWC recognised the executive that emerged from the Ajimobi’s group. Members of the Unity Forum cried foul and dumped APC for the newly registered African Democratic Congress (ADC). There was little or no effort by the Ajimobi group to reconcile with the aggrieved members. Shittu had wanted to succeed Ajimobi in office as governor. But, he was disqualified by the APC for failing to participate in one year mandatory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). He did not follow his supporters to ADC. But, he campaigned against the APC candidate.

 


 There were more than 20 governorship aspirants in the Ajimobi camp. Though some of them were persuaded to step down, those that insisted on the primaries were forced to throw in the towel to pave way for Adebayo Adelabu as ‘consensus candidate’.


 

 

The APC crisis provided an opportunity for the opposition parties in the state to form an alliance to take power from the APC.

Nine months after, Ajimobi and Shittu are still embroiled in hostilities. Shittu has vowed not to take part in reconciliation initiated by Ajimobi.

 

Ondo

All is not well with the Ondo State chapter of APC. The dust over the governorship primary that produced Rotimi Akeredolu is yet to settle. Aspirants like Dr Olusegun Abraham, Senator Ajayi Boroffice and Chief Olusola Oke (SAN) are not in speaking terms with the governor. Party elders in the state have distanced themselves from Akeredolu’s administration.

They accused Akeredolu of anti-paty activities during the last general election. The governor was accused of sponsoring candidates of Action Alliance (AA). The intra-party crisis affected the performance of APC in the general elections. The APC lost presidential election, two senatorial seats and many House of Representatives in the state.

A member of APC Board of Trustees (BoT) and former deputy governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, insists that, for peace to prevail, the APC executive council in the state should be dissolved.

The APC national headquarters should intervene in the Ondo crisis, if the party must retain power in the Sun Shine State next year.

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