APC Reconciliation Committee: Too Little Too Late?

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to appoint the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu as head of the party’s reconciliation committee may have come too late to save the party from imploding, writes Shola Oyeyipo

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Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari has come to the realisation that his All Progressives Congress (APC) lacks cohesion.

By appointing former Lagos State governor and APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building committee of the ruling party, the president could no longer continue to feign ignorance of the disunity within the party. Moreso, to allow the multiple disagreements within the party to continue to fester is to gamble with his re-election.

It was a big relief for APC’s loyalists when on Tuesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu issued a two-pragraph statement.

The statement reads: “As part of on-going efforts to improve cohesion within the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari has designated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts.

“The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the Federation.”

Given the fact that APC is having issues in virtually all the states, Tinubu faces a daunting challenge carrying out this presidential assignment. His task is even going to be much tougher because in some states, Tinubu is either directly or remotely connected to the crises. Reconciling aggrieved members of the party many of whom were let down by a president who deliberately chose to ignore those who helped him to win power is even going to be much tougher.

Even Tinubu himself, will be questioning his choice as the head of the committee. After the election and following the president’s inauguration, he was treated as inconsequential. Many of his teeming supporters are still angry at Buhari for treating Tinubu who led the South-west to give Buhari the needed support to win the 2015 presidential election. In case they do not know, those wielding the powers of life and death in Buhari’s government today should be told that had it not been for Tinubu’s deft calculations, Buhari would not have won the APC’s presidential primaries and not to talk of becoming president.

Many of Tinubu’s followers are of the view that not only was their leader used and dumped, he was also humiliated.
In reality, Tinubu will have to start this assignment by first appealing to his followers to forgive Buhari. That is going to be tough. It is after making a successful appeasement to his followers that he can now reach out to others.

The events that led to the eventual emergence of Governor Yahya Bello of Kogi State and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State fully captured the initial attempt to ‘cut Tinubu to size,’ as it was referred to then.

The delegates’ list for the Ondo APC primary was allegedly doctored to favour Akeredolu by some persons in the party simply to stop Tinubu’s preferred aspirant, Segun Abrahams.

The Ondo situation took a different dimension when Mr. Olusola Oke defected to Alliance for Democracy in a move believed to have been instructed by Tinubu and some persons told the press that he (Tinubu) was under investigation for anti-party activities at that point.

His asking the party’s national chairman, Chief John Oyegun, to resign, was also an indication that he had lost grip of the party when he was deliberately and tactically sent far away from the party by some of his former loyalists in the Buhari government.

This is the more reason why some earliest commentators on the new responsibility given Tinubu were of the opinions that rather than make Tinubu head of a reconciliatory committee, the party ought to have openly reconciled with the party national leader.

But the likes of the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Shehu Sani are of the views that the president’s choice of Tinubu to lead the move to reconcile aggrieved party members is a wise decision.

According to him, the action is the last opportunity for peace in the ruling APC saying “Asiwaju’s APC reconciliation committee is the last penalty kick for peace and unity within the party.”

Even prior to now, the Peoples Democratic Party seemed to be aware of how Tinubu was treated by the power that be in APC. PDP chairman in Lagos, Moshood Salvador once said: “But, in APC, he (Tinubu) didn’t know that he was used and dumped. They kept him outside the party, not within the party, and I was so surprised to see him staying outside the party and feeling comfortable. How can you fight inside the party when you are outside?”

Not long after the announcement, PDP picked a hole in Buhari’s appointment of Tinubu as the chairman of the party’s reconciliation committee.

The PDP, in a reaction to the president’s decision, said the job given Tinubu was an indication that the Buhari-led government is incompetent

“What other proof is required than the announcement by the presidency of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as chairman, APC Reconciliation Committee?

“Nigerian president is not aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria is different from APC and such announcement should be made by the party, the APC and not the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the PDP said.
Others also reacted to the appointment of Tinubu as the head of the reconciliation committee.

While some lauded the appointment, the general consensus however was that the government of the day finally remembered Tinubu because of the forthcoming general election.

One of such people was one Dr. Dipo Awojide who succinctly said: “It’s election season. Tinubu is important again.”
Usman Ibrahim said: “I want to believe Buhari has something on Tinubu and willing to use it if he (Tinubu) does not play ball.

“It’s the only reason Tinubu will do anything Buhari asks after the betrayal, disrespect, level of nepotism and bad governance we have witnessed.”

Nnamdi Abana said: “ Tinubu will be a fool to co-operate with Buhari. I wonder if Buhari thinks Tinubu will listen to him after placing him on the bench for three years.”

Raphael Omonu also said: “Tinubu will disappoint me if he chooses to support Buhari’s second term. Buhari doesn’t have anything to offer anymore. He is gone.”

Gege Best said: “I think the lesson for the future is clear. It is not enough to build alliances to gain power. It is important to understand the characters with whom you have joined forces.

“Tinubu and co. claim to be political experts. Yet they didn’t see that Buhari would be a terrible president.”
There were yet those who were neutral in their opinions, among which was one Ofor Peter who said: “The choice is before Tinubu. Choose to be played once and learn or choose to be played and replayed.”

Desi Derata said: “Tinubu is caught between a rock and a hard place. Keep the little federal power in the APC contraption or lose it completely if PDP got power back. The choice speaks for itself. Well played Buhari.”
Ayobami Dondekojo said: “So, Tinubu’s new job is conflict resolution. We don’t talk about this enough (because we don’t want to seem like bigots, since we are revolutionary) but sometimes we have to discuss ethnicity in politics.”

Freke Idio added: “The president is a great player, he knows he has already lost election in Benue, Gombe, Taraba, Nasarawa States.

“With the South-south and South-east not APC friendly, the only hope is Tinubu in the South-west. 2019 will be a good ground to judge if the South-west truly loves Nigeria.”

Maxwell Ikechukwu said: “There are more serious significant issues but you dig out Tinubu’s new appointment and make it the focal point of your national discussion. You are so lazy.”

But that is not even the crux of the matter now, presently the problem is whether or not the president’s reconciliatory move is not coming too late.

This premonition is predicated on the fact that even if Tinubu is so magnanimous to let go of his embarrassment within the party and goes ahead to pacify aggrieved persons, is he capable of changing the verdict of majority of Nigerians, who are openly disenchanted with the president’s style of leadership and governance?

How the party’s national leader intends to reconcile his kinsmen from the South-west, those from the South-east and the South-south, who feel largely marginalised under the current national leadership will be interesting to watch.

Though Tinubu described the position taken by former President Olusegun Obasanjo advising Buhari not to seek reelection next year as politics and that the former leader ought to have conveyed his opinion privately, but not a few people have said the letter was a huge damage to the president’s reelection bid.

Tinubu said: ”I think Obasanjo was playing politics with his public letter. That’s all I see. He could have used other means; he met him (Buhari) in the AU (Africa Union) too.

“He has a way of discussing privately, but the letter is being responded to by the government. Obasanjo wrote it about the government. It is a very good awareness on his part and they are both (Obasanjo and Buhari) from the same background.”

With opposition against Buhari growing on daily basis, can the Tinubu-led reconciliation committee turn the tide of public opinion against the president? Isn’t this committee coming a bit too late? Time will tell.

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With opposition against Buhari growing on daily basis, can the Tinubu-led reconciliation committee turn the tide of public opinion against the president?