All eyes are on Governor Mai Mala Buni’s caretaker committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to mend the cracks created under the disbanded National Working Committee (NWC) chaired by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Long before the Buni committee was constituted, the APC was on the verge of disintegration as camps move to grab the soul of the party ahead of the 2023 poll.
The battle reached its crescendo when two top chieftains claimed to be the acting chairman of the party.
But fresh air blew into the party when President Muhammadu Buhari threw his weight behind the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting summoned by Victor Giadom in his capacity as acting chairman of the party.
President Buhari’s recommendation for the dissolution of the NWC and the constitution of the Buni committee created a new chapter in the history of the seven-year-old political party.
Various camps in the party, political analysts and university dons said the tasks before Buni’s panel are not only herculean but that its success or otherwise would determine the future of the party.
Buni was until his election as Yobe State governor in 2019 the national secretary of the APC.
To them, the immediate task before the caretaker committee is to douse the tension precipitated by the recent internal wrangling before delving into the remote crises in the states.
With the commencement of his reconciliation and consultation trips to Ila-Orangun, the country home of the former interim chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and the Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos residence of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the panel seems to be on the path to tackling the wrangling in the party.
Similar trips, according to pundits, should be undertaken to other aggrieved chieftains of the party to consult and collate their views on how best to address the party’s challenges.
‘APC committee should make everyone happy’
An APC chieftain, Hon. Moshood Salvador, in a chat with Daily Trust Sunday, said he expects the caretaker committee to reorganize the party so that everybody would be happy.
He said the committee should strive to organize a rancour-free convention in compliance with the laid down guidelines and procedures in the party’s constitution.
“I believe the committee will reorganize the party for everybody to be happy. Everything that is to be done is in the constitution,” he said.
Decision to ban NWC, the best – Analyst
On his part, Fariu Arebi, an analyst, said the recent decision to disband the NWC had doused tension in the party, adding that there is no victor and no vanquished.
According to him, the president also acted at the right time he was supposed to wade in, in a way that no aggrieved member of the party would accuse him of being biased.
With the tension doused, Arebi is of the opinion that every aggrieved party and interest in the party should go back to the drawing board and re-strategize ahead of the next convention.
“What is happening behind the scene is far more than what you are seeing. It is bigger than what we imagined.
“What you are seeing is positioning for 2023. We only have to keep watching.
“With what has been done now, people have to go back and re-strategize, that is for whoever has issues or ambition.
“No winner or loser, no victor or no vanquished. It is an open game now. There is going to be a convention and everybody will show interest.
“Everybody should just calm down and have the party reshaped before we look at 2023.
“But if we don’t do it well, I don’t know what would happen, it could be an endgame for the APC because there is much more than what we think,” Arebi said.
Arebi reiterated that President Buhari acted at the right time he acted.
‘Chapters have multiple factions’
A political scientist, Dr. Emmanuel Ojo, stated that the committee in discharging its responsibility should go back to the basics and investigate the crises at the state chapters of the party, noting that some chapters have multiple factions.
He said, “I think ordinarily the first assignment of the committee should be to investigate what happens to the party in each state.
“It is the aggregate of their findings that would help them in taking the second step and that second step should be reconciliation because you cannot go for reconciliation if you are unable to find out what really happened to the party in each state.
“How did the executives emerge in each state, were all interests taken care of?
“After that, you embark on reconciliation or else the efforts would come to naught if you are not working on correct information as a result of your findings.
“Those finding should be listening to either party, or multiple parties, there could be three factions in each state.
“You listen to them before you go for reconciliation because the 2023 election is not going to be a tea party in the sense that the more crisis persists in the party, the more the possibility of the party being torn apart.”
Recalling the 2015 scenario, he said: “The PDP thought it was a joke in 2015 when the likes of Bukola Saraki and co were leaving the party in droves.
“So if people are leaving the party in droves and there are more aggrieved persons in the party, it is very dangerous.
“So after reconciliation and thank God, Mr. President has given the caretaker committee the mandate to hold elections within six months, it is at the convention that a new exco would emerge.
“But it is not only at the national level that matters, each state is very important, the party should go for strong, loyal party members at the state level so that the party can remain stronger in winning future elections.”
Edo, Ondo are the targets – Bako
Lending his voice, a Kano-based political analyst, Dr. Abbati Bako, said the first assignment before the panel is to work towards the victory of the party in Edo and Ondo states.
The governorship elections in the two states have been slated for September and October respectively.
Engagement of warring camps, according to Bako, is also important to address the feud among party members.
In his opinion, liberal democracy has competing values, interests and ambitions and every politician is aware of that, and those three fundamental democratic political principles or elements are
the root causes of differences that lead to crisis in political parties world over.
In this regard, Bako said the main task of the committee is to use the positive impact of mediation and negotiations to unite camps within.
“If rules and principles of mediation and negotiations are properly followed, the committee may achieve success to solve the crisis in the APC.
“Sometimes the solution is within the air, all one needs to do is to grab it, period!
“Communication is the cornerstone to make the committee succeed.
“Otherwise, the PDP and the upcoming movement of the Ghali Umar Na’abbas and Falanas may take the advantage of the current APC crisis to absorb members of the party’s warring factions, which will give pragmatic politicians the opportunity to realize their dreams in forming a brand new party before 2023.
“If the Buni committee makes the same mistake that was made by the PDP between 2014 and 2015 during Jonathan’s era, a move that led to inevitable failure, or what happened in 2015 that led to the defeat of the PDP at the center and in some states, possibly history may repeat itself to defeat the APC at the polls in 2023,” he said.
‘Digital register to solve all problems’
Mr. Osita Okechukwu, a chieftain of the APC from Enugu State, advocated for a digital register to enhance better organization, better mobilisation and internal democracy in the ruling party.
Okechukwu, who is the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), called for the setting up of caretaker committees in states where there are intractable crises, saying that would create a level playing field for the reconciliation of various factions.
He said there is also an urgent need to redefine the ethos of the party in the best tradition of progressive ideological spectrum.
He said: “The caretaker committee as far as I am concerned without being immodest in on top of the situation, because the chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni is a foundation member and foundation substantive secretary of the APC. In addition, they have eminent excellencies – Ken Nnamani, Isiaka Oyetola, Bello, among others.
“In actual fact, one’s simple submission is that they should urgently package a digital register for our great party. This will enhance better organization, better mobilisation and internal democracy.
“Secondly, whilst they embark on serious reconciliation, they should set up caretaker committees in states where there are intractable crises.
“This will create a level playing field for the reconciliation of the various factions.”
‘Edo chapter reconciliation impossible’
However, a chieftain of the party in Edo State, Barrister Washington Osifo, wondered how the party would pursue reconciliation when the state chairman, Aslem Ojezua, is still in contact with Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Osifo, who said some of the issues in Edo were irreconcilable because of their nature, added that their camp would not close eyes and pretend that Ojezua would prefer Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the party’s candidate against Governor Obaseki.
APC’s survival depends on Buni, zoning arrangement –Prof. Dunmoye
According to Professor Rauf Ayoade Dunmoye of the Department of Political Science and International Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, the existence of the APC beyond the Buhari presidency largely depends on how Buni’s committee executes its mandate.
If Buni, Dunmoye said, is able to conduct the affairs of the party in a transparent, impartial and mature manner, the APC has the potential to survive beyond Buhari.
He said the ability of the Buni committee to cajole party members to withdraw all court cases is a strong determinant to the success of the committee. Doing this, he affirmed, would pave way for amicable resolution of all differences in-house.
Professor Dunmoye added: “Edo and Ondo elections are important, but uniting members before the two elections is more important for APC.
“Oshiomhole and his team are technically out.
So, Buni and co could make headway unlike the Akande committee that could not succeed because he was seen as being close to Tinubu, so, he was seen as already biased.
“This was why he couldn’t get the support of members.
“Now that the president has come out diplomatically and appealed to the party members, though it was a coup in a way, I think the committee will succeed if not by hundred percent, but they will be able to patch the cracks in the party before they come back to get set for 2023.”
On the fate of APC after Buhari, Dunmoye said political scientists make predictions only on certain scenarios and permutations.
“However, when one looks at what happened between late Olusola Saraki and his son, Bukola, prediction in Nigeria’s politics becomes difficult.
“Despite late Olusola’s stance on Bukola, he went ahead to become governor for eight years and later, senate president.
“Therefore, if the APC sticks to the zoning arrangement and ensures that all the zones are well represented, I think they will go beyond 2023.
“The way and manner people like Abiola, Obasanjo and Jonathan won elections and became presidents under a political atmosphere that was least expected, APC may survive beyond 2023,” Dunmoye said.
He added: “However, if the northern political leaders insist that they would keep the presidency that would create serious problems for the party.
“If the party zones its presidency to whichever zone in the south, they have the potential to outlive Buhari’s presidency and 2023.
Despite all the challenges and hurdles, Professor Dunmoye said he expects the Buni committee to reach out to all aggrieved people, describing their decision to reach out to Tinubu as a “wise” one.
“Many people would think that the decision taken by President Buhari was a coup against Tinubu and Oshiomhole and was taken to support El-Rufa’i or Fayemi’s 2023 ambition.
“If the committee is able to convince Tinubu, as he has already came out openly to say he was supporting the decision, it would be a plus for the party.
“Although you can never trust Nigerian politicians, if he (Tinubu) comes back as a committed member with his team, that would assist in the party’s survival.
“They have to as soon as possible plan and execute a free, fair and very democratic convention.
“They should make all their activities open and carry all the stakeholders along,” Dunmoye said.
While admitting the knotty nature of managing a political party like APC, he described the choice of Buni as: “A smart move because he was their secretary and I think he knows a lot of people.
“He should be able to reach out in an impartial manner.
“APC can as well use what I usually call the power of incumbency.
“They can use stick and carrot to lure members to conformity.
“They can emphasize more than they are doing now, the success of the president in many areas, otherwise people are getting fed up with the APC.”