For Buni-Led Committee, It’s About Reconciliation, Unity

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Adedayo Akinwale writes that Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress appears to be committed to achieving peace in the party despite recent allegations that it wants to perpetuate itself in office

When the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was constituted, it was well accepted and received by all the members of the party who had expressed worry about the the protracted leadership crisis that bedvilled the party.

The ruling party had during the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Presidential Villa on June 25, dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) following protracted leadership crisis and set up a committee to manage the affairs of the party in the interim.

The 13-member caretaker committee headed by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was given six months by the NEC presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari to complete its assignment.

Within the six months, the committee was mandated to organise a national convention for new leaders to emerge and also mandated it to reconcile aggrieved members ahead of the planned national convention of the party.

It was believed that in a short term, the brewing tension, factionalisation of the party, crisis and the ever growing court cases that have threatened the existence of the party would all be sorted out.

Convention Controversy

But, less down two months to the expiration of the tenure of the Caretaker Committee, a section of the media have been awash with reports of a tenure extension for the committee.

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Yekini Nabena, told THISDAY that the Caretaker Committee was working hard to ensure the party goes into the convention a united force, adding that the committee waa already putting together a convention time table and would make it available when it’s ready.

He said; “The good thing about the committee members is that they all have jobs, they are not like they are applicants. The time table for the convention is going to be public, when we call for NEC, everyone will know. We are putting the timetable together, once the timetable comes out, it will be a public document

“The committee is working so hard towards holding the convention. You know we had little set back with the two governorship elections we had in Edo and Ondo, and also with this small crisis that just came up with this #EndSARS .

“What the committee is trying to do, which is the most important thing is first of all, to make sure that there is unity, because we must not be divided to go into that convention. The committee is going to do the needful to make sure we are going into that convention with a united force.”

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the party and Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, believes that what the party needs for re-positioning is reconciliation and not national convention.

Okechukwu, who reacted in a statement recently to the 14- day ultimatum by Concerned APC members to the Committee to roll out a plan for December 2020 national convention, was of the opinion that reconciliation was more germane now than the convention.

He said, “I personally can’t factor the true reason behind Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda’s Concerned APC members’ preference for a December 2020 National Convention to a genuine reconciliation of a gravely fractured party before convention?

“Methinks we should all support the Buni- led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to diligently fix and reposition our great party before any convention.”

“A cursory glance at the damage done to the soul of our great party, beginning from our victory in 2015; to regrettably the culture of impunity which bedeviled our 2018 primaries, to say the least, is unprecedented. Accordingly, the Buni Committee requires deep introspection to gather the pieces, reconcile the various warlords and tendencies. If it takes six or twelve months, one may not mind so as to achieve substantial cohesion before the crucial 2023 general elections.”

New Membership Registration Drive

Rather than planning for the convention in line with the timeline given to the committee by NEC, the committee has decided to embark on revalidation and registration of party members.

The leadership of the party last week officially received materials for the party’s nationwide membership registration, update and revalidation exercise to be conducted across 36 states and the Federal capital Territory (FCT).

Buni, while receiving the consignment at the party headquarters in Abuja said the membership registration, update and revalidation exercise would be conducted across the country’s 119,973 Polling Units and 57, 000 Voting Points.

The move, however, infuriated the Concerned APC members and they threatened to approach the courts for interpretation of the party’s constitution especially the composition of the committee which it said was at variance with section 17 (4) of the party’s constitution.

The Committee believes that there is need to embark on the exercise before going for the convention of the party.

Caretaker Committee’s Scorecard

The Buni-led Committee has deployed a combination of reconciliation, consultation and inclusiveness in achieving unity and cohesion in the party within the past few months. In order to reposition the party to ensure good governance, Buni proposed the recently-inaugurated tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC consultative Committee which is ensuring synergy, good governance and accelerated implementation of the Next Level agenda.

The committee chairman has also been meeting with all leaders, known party groups and interests in order to accommodate all interests. This has resulted in renewed commitment on the part of party members.

The caretaker committee’s effort has not gone unnoticed as elected National Executive Committee members at a recent meeting with the party’s leadership, passed a vote of confidence on the Buni-led APC Committee. This came after an earlier vote of confidence passed on the committee by 36 State APC Chairmen, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The committee realises that one of the major causes of crisis within the party was poor reward system of dedicated members of the party. To this end, the committee is already working with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to urgently address the reward system for dedicated and loyal party members, particularly on appointment of deserving party members into several boards, agencies and parastatals of government.

The reconciliatory moves by the Buni-led Committee is already yielding results because it has brought back many prominent party members and leaders including, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Dr. Alex Otti among others.

Also, the committee has resuscitated the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms and has set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, Ekiti among other state chapters with reported disputes. The committees are already meeting with the key stakeholders in the various states and has achieved substantial reconciliation in many states.

Already, the committee has been able to reconcile the two warying factions in Cross River State and has appointed a State Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Matthew Mbu as acting State Chairman. In Ondo State, all the governorship aspirants were brought together, campaigned and worked for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).

In Akwa Ibom State, the committee brought together all the contending interests under one roof and achieved true reconciliation. Today, in Akwa Ibom, leaders such as Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, Mr. Umana O. Umana, Sen. Ita Enang, Barr. Bassey Dan Abia, among others are working together and in collective pursuit of party interests.

At the national level, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva have been reconciled by the committee and both resolved to work together and strengthen the party, particularly in the South-south geo-political zone.

The Buni-led committee met recently at the party’s National Secretariat and reviewed the implementation of the three-month action plan.

Implementation Status

The committee said It was important to take cognizance of the fact that prior to the internal party crisis which was unfortunately left to fester before it took over the affairs of the party and distracted public attention from appreciating the monumental strides that the Buhari-led APC government is making in delivering on APC’s three critical electoral promises – fighting corruption, security and revamping the economy.

Buni said ahead of the planned APC National Convention and indeed the 2023 general election, stakeholders should continue to support the Committee’s efforts to unite the party in order to make it formidable enough to consolidate on the APC’s national governing status and landmark achievements.

According to him, The APC must not go into a National Convention, and indeed a general election in crisis. “We should take it one step at a time and ensure that the ongoing national reconciliation process being undertaken by the committee is sustained, successful and continue to yield results.”

The committee said it is constantly briefing the President, Chairman, Progressives Governors Forum, Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives with a mid-term report which will enable the committee to take all-inclusive decisions.

Even though, the decision of the committee to embark on the new membership drive dud not go down well with some members of the party, the commitment of the committee to reconcile, unite and ensure the party remains strong ahead of the 2023 elections is not in doubt.

QUOTE
The committee realises that one of the major causes of crisis within the party was poor reward system of dedicated members of the party. To this end, the committee is already working with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to urgently address the reward system for dedicated and loyal party members, particularly on appointment of deserving party members into several boards, agencies and parastatals of government. The reconciliatory moves by the Buni-led Committee is already yielding results because it has brought back many prominent party members and leaders including, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Dr. Alex Otti among others.