By Deji Abdulwahab
The ongoing intra-party crisis in the All Progressives Congress is worrisome to the party leadership and members even as bigwigs in the party seek for reconciliation among aggrieved members ahead 2023 elections.
In the build-up to the last general election, although the crisis was not as visible as it is presently, most of the causes of the crisis were somewhat identified but ignored prior to the last general elections, presenting an uneasy calm just for crisis-free elections.
In an attempt to address the causes of the crisis after the elections, the APC Governors’ Forum called on the party’s National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole to call for National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to resolve party’s challenges.
APC Director-General, Salihu Lukman noted that Oshiomhole should respect the provision of party constitution and convene a meeting to deliberate on the party’s challenges.
“Somehow, unfortunately, the NEC, which is the organ vested with the statutory responsibility of responding to all these challenges appear to be suspended.
“The last time it met was August 2018. In its place, the National Working Committee (NWC), which is an administrative organ with the responsibility of implementing decisions of NEC and other higher organs, seems to have usurped the powers of NEC.
“Sadly, even the NWC, as at today, is a shadow of itself, as it has lost many members either on accounts of appointment into government or controversial suspension,’’ he said.
He observed that the lingering internal crisis in the party has, in some cases, led to crucial decisions that could undermine the strength and structure of the party.
He recalled that in June 2019, the NWC allegedly suspended Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; and on accounts of the roles of former governors — Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun of Imo and Ogun respectively — they were similarly suspended.
According to him, whether all these actions are permissible by provisions of the APC’s constitution is highly contestable.
“Why should all these be allowed to happen? Why is it impossible to convene a NEC or even National Caucus meetings which are supposed to hold every quarter to resolve all these issues?
“Why should the NWC in Oshiomhole’s leadership continue to imagine that it can conduct affairs of the party without mandatory meetings of party organs?
“Our national leaders must rise to the challenge facing us as a party and take all necessary measures to convene superior organ meetings to begin to resolve all our challenges as a party,” he said.
However, the party saw reasons for the call and held its National Executive Council Meeting (NEC) in Abuja on Nov. 22, 2019.
Present at the meeting were President Muhammadu Buhari, former interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, Secretary to Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, among others.
In his opinion, Buhari urged the NEC members to be conversant with Nigerian constitution to avoid factors that made the party to lose election in some states.
Buhari also urged the members to ensure that they were respected in their constituencies, saying: “To me, the most important is that every member of NEC should reposition him or herself to make sure that he has dominated his constituency politically.
“The aim is that history will not be fair to us out rightly if the APC collapses at the end of this term.
“History will be fair to us, if the APC remain strong and not only holds the centre but make gains.
“People will reflect with nostalgia that once upon a time, the builders of APC made lots of sacrifices, worked very hard.
“The sacrifices are physical, material and moral to make sure that we maintain the leadership politically.
“This is what we should all aim at and ensure that our constituencies understand us and follow us to this great objective.’’
Buhari described what happened to the party in Imo, Bauchi State, Sokoto State, Zamfara as unfortunate, enjoining NEC members to discharge their responsibilities in line with the constitution.
“If for any other reason you divide the party at any constituency and it causes failure, then be prepared that history will not recognise you as a leader at any level at anytime,’’ he said.
However, Oshiomhole said: ”I have chosen to amplify where we lost but we also made some gains that are quite understanding.
“I think our victory in Kwara for me was most outstanding; we now generally refer to Kwara with pride as the “Otooge’’ revolution.
Calling for the settlement of intra-party crisis in APC, the Buhari Media Organisation Chairman Niyi Akinsiju said that his organisation had believed that the president’s intervention would put the matter to rest finally.
“We are confident that with the measures already put in place by Buhari, Nigeria is already well-positioned for development which will lead to job creation, economic growth and rapid socio-political development of the country.
“We want to reassure Nigerians that Buhari remains focused in improving the lives of Nigerians by embarking on programmes and projects that will positively impact on Nigerians,” Akinsiju said.
Implementing the recommendations of the party’s NEC meeting, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) had on Dec. 16, 2019, therefore, lifted the suspension that it had placed on Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
Others whose suspensions were lifted were Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, Sen. Rochas Okorocha, Mr Osita Okechukwu and Mr Usani Usani.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu said that their suspensions were lifted in line with the party’s deliberate policy of fairness and actions targeted at ensuring harmony within the party across the country.
The party’s spokesman urged those concerned to also take steps to reconcile with groups and party membersto ensure a lasting solution to any conflict that may exist in their respective states.