Last Tuesday’s inauguration of the reconstituted National Reconciliation Committee of the governing All Progressives Congress will rank as one of the important moments of the governing party in recent times. Buffeted by crises across its state chapters, the ceremony seemed to be the start of what would eventually restore sanity to the crisis-ridden APC state chapters. Perhaps to underscore the importance the rank and file attached to the event, the Wuse 2, Abuja headquarters of the party was filled to the brim. Party stalwarts and staff members of the secretariat waited for long hours for the inauguration on a day nature conspired to delay the movement of some of the committee members from their domains to Abuja. Poor weather affected visibility. Consequently, most flights could not commence as scheduled. One of those cut up by the weather problems is the Chairman of the reconciliation committee, Chief Bisi Akande. His flight from Ibadan to Abuja was postponed many times and eventually cancelled owing to the weather problem. But because of his commitment to the party and commitment to attend the inauguration, he had to travel by road to Lagos to catch another flight, eventually arriving in Abuja around 10 pm for the event.
As Interim Chairman of the party, Baba Akande midwifed the APC, nurturing the coalition of progressives from the North and South of the country into a political machine that it is and organising the convention that produced then General Muhammadu Buhari as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2015 election. Chief Akande had to be tapped again to come and resolve the crisis within the APC. Among other states plagued by intra-party crisis are Oyo, Ondo, Rivers, Zamfara and Edo, which if not amicably resolved could dim the fortunes of APC going forward. At 81, former Osun State governor, Chief Akande’s leadership, administrative and conflict-resolution skills, mental alertness and physical energy are incredible. He parades unusual integrity badly needed for this kind of assignment. Importantly, Baba also has overwhelming faith in the ability and capacity of the party and its stalwarts to continue to deliver for the country. It was because of these excellent qualities- honesty, integrity and the awesome respect he commands across the country- that Baba Akande was given the assignment.
These fine qualities, however, are not in short supply in the 12-man reconciliation committee. Specifically, the panel parades two governors- one, a second-term governor who APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole called a ranking governor, that is Niger State’s Abubakar Sani Bello; the other, a first-term governor, from the State of Osun, Alhaji Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola. There are also two former governors- Alhaji Kashim Shettima from Borno and Umaru Tanko Al-Makura from Nasarawa- both of whom are Senators at present. Oshiomhole dubbed them ‘Governors-Emeritus’. In the committee are Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase; Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; former candidate of APC in the last governorship election in Cross River, Senator John Enoh (Secretary), as well as Senator Khairat Abdulrasaq Gwadabe from Kwara and Hon. Binta Garba Marshi from Kaduna among others.
Because of the high quality of the panel put together at the behest of the party’s National Executive Committee and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and because its integrity could not be impugned in any way, many have openly embraced the panel. Notably, Edo State Government, which has been engaged in a war of attrition with Chairman Oshiomhole and which had earlier rejected the first reconciliation committee, quickly welcomed the panel, saying it was ready to work with it. Edo is one state the committee would have a yeoman’s job to do given the level of degeneration of party cohesion.
Inaugurating the committee, the party’s national chairman charged it with resolving the conflicts and disagreements within the party wherever they find them so that APC could enjoy internal cohesion. The acceptance of the members to serve in the panel, according to Oshiomhole, has renewed the confidence of the leadership that party members are desirous of ensuring peace and tranquility. He said the committee was free to draw up its programmes and activities and co-opt anyone to work with it as it deem fit. Harping on the inevitability of conflict within any given social set up, Oshiomhole said: “It is traditional for progressive parties to have internal contestations, arguments and disagreements. There is nothing wrong with that. If you have a party where there are no disagreements, then, there must be something wrong.”
Baba Akande, however, put this in a proper context. According to him, it was because APC parades no angels, who are messengers of the Supreme Being, and is also not an association of imbeciles, bereft of the capacity to question or protest decisions considered unfavourable, that conflicts and protestations abound within the party. Because of this, he said there were mechanisms within the party for conflict-mediation and resolution. The former Osun governor said he nursed no fear about the assignment because there are quality people with demonstrable strong capacities who would help him do an excellent job.
Now, what is the general expectation from the Akande-panel? It is that the committee would end up with reconciliation outcomes that will put the party on a solid footing and give its strong acceptability in the troubled states towards the next poll. To engender this end, the panel and all aggrieved parties must be on the same page on the reconciliation moves. There must be mutual trust and understanding as well as common interest in the sustenance and survival of APC as election-winning and democratic dividends-delivery political machinery. Aggrieved parties must be ready for compromises. They must all keep an open mind to allow a degree of consensus to develop.
––Rahman, Media Adviser to APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was formerly Editor of THISDAY on Sunday newspaper.