In the ruling All Progressives Congress, the centre appears shaky, writes Chuks Okocha
It was foretold that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not hold the planned national convention in December this year. Only political neophyte would believe that Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State would keep to the December national convention date.
The planned national convention is the soul of the party to determine the political permutations of 2023. To hold the national convention as planned in December 2020 is to weed out several interest groups that are central to the 2023 political calculations.
For instance, it was gathered that the emergence of the new national chairman and other officers of the party would decide where the presidential candidate and the running mate would come from. The December convention would have wittingly decided the fate of many political stakeholders angling for the presidential ticket of the party.
A stakeholder, who is equally a Senator told THISDAY that if the party went ahead to conduct the national convention in December, and the National Chairman of the party is from the Southeast, it would have been a death sentence to the presidential aspiration of some interests, who are willing to join the party.
Clearly speaking, the senator said the planned defection of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, into the APC would been stopped with the national chairman coming from the south. It was gathered, therefore, that the national convention was tactically put off till 2021 to accommodate some other interests from the Southeast. Also, another governor from the Southeast may soon declare for the APC.
The question, therefor, is: what becomes the fate of these governors, who are itching to join the APC with the anticipation that the presidency of the party would be zoned to the Southeast? Once there is a new registration of new members across the 119,000 wards, then, there must be the emergence of new wards executives and this will follow down to the local governments level and the states.
So, under the circumstance, the putting off the national is aimed at addressing some of the issues that will address where the presidential candidates will emerge. It is also, a plot for the soul of the party.
This is because the President Muhammadu Buhari political camp, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) are in battle for the soul of the party. In the ensuing battle, the tendency that the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) might join forces with the CPC to overcome the ACN led by Tinubu is high.
For instance, the likes of Orji Uzor Kalu, Ogbonnaya Onu and Roachas Okorocha might pitch tent with Buhari’s CPC, leaving behind the ACN alone. It is even believed that when the push comes to shove, the Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi might also pitch tent with Buhari against Tinubu.
But as the permutations continue, the ACN might resist the CPC, presenting another presidential candidate since Buhari’s camp might have taken effective charge. For fairness and the continued survival and relevance of the APC, it is expected that the Southwest would battle for the presidential ticket.
In this emerging scenario, the national chairman of the APC may come from the north. Whichever side produces the presidential ticket, then, the other side will come up with the National chairman. This is between North and South
The Southwest is not sleeping in all these political calculations, because there are known members in the zone with unbridled presidential ambition. Will they sacrifice it to the Southeast? But time will tell on how this battle of the Titans will pan out.
However, with the registration of new members, it is expected that new entrants would demand a change in the various states structures and this could warrant state congresses to accommodate their interests.
Moreover, by the time and dates of the national convention, some states chapters of the party would be due for new headship. The idea is to retrieve the party completely from the strong hold of ACN, which Tinubu represents.
According to some stakeholders in APC, “You cannot be planning to reform the party, when most of the various states’ chairmen have their loyalty to some camps”. It is expected that the removing the clogs from the old camps is not allowed to affect the new order that is being envisaged. Or, put simply, you don’t put old wine in a new bottle.
Though the Buni leadership is hinging the need to shift the convention, so as to ensure reconciliations and unity within the party.
As the Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu once said, there are several crises in the party that are yet to be addressed. “I personally can’t factor the true reason behind Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda’s concern about APC members’ preference for a December, 2020 National Convention election to genuine reconciliation of gravely fractured party before convention?
“Truly, methinks we should all support the M.M.Buni (MMB) 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 deep and unprecedented.
“Accordingly, the MMB’s 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 election. The Committee represents most tendencies,” he said.
Yet, the matter remains how the APC caretaker committee would weather the storm that might follow the postponement? It is a done deal that there would be no convention for the APC this December as President Buhari has bought into the idea. However, there would be a National Executive Committee (NEC).
A member of the caretaker committee said Buni and his members might have succumb to pressure and now plan the party’s NEC before the end of December in order to seek extension of their tenure to enable them finish their task, especially, the membership registration exercise.
Different sources told THISDAY that the Buni-led group within the party would be strongly resisted at the NEC meeting over their plot. The source said there were considerations before some interest groups in the party on how to tackle the CTC led by the Yobe governor.
According to the source, who pleaded anonymity, because of fear of victory, the options include, “It is either we push for total dissolution of the national caretaker committee or one-month timetable will be designed – within which a national convention will be organised for us to elect new members of the National Working Committee of the party.
“Buni and his cronies have proved to us that they have a different agenda outside the assignment that was given to the committee a few months ago. Many of our leaders and members no longer have confidence in Buni-led committee,” the member of the committee said.
The source added that Buni was until recently acting like a sole administrator of APC until it became clear to him that he could not go far with such a tendency. Also, another source within the party, suspected to be loyal to Tinubu, and some APC governors, said the committee had outlived its usefulness and should go after its tenure by December.
He said they might canvass for this option and the setting up of a convention committee at the NEC meeting in December. The spokesperson for Concerned APC Members, a pressure group in the party, Mr. Abdullahi Dauda, told THISDAY that the duration given for the committee was six months while the two major assignment given to them were to reconcile aggrieved members and organise a convention by December.
“There is nobody, again, I repeat it, nobody has the power or mandate to extend their tenure. Even the mandate given to them was a violation of Article 17(4) of our party’s constitution. There is no way Mai Mala Buni should be the chairman, because he is already the Governor of Yobe State. But we respect Mr. President, who appointed the 13-man committee,” Dauda stated.
Also, former local government chairmen on the platform of the APC have asked the party members to resist the tenure elongation bid of the committee. The group, under the aegis of the National Association of the former Elected Local Government Chairmen, made the request recently at a news conference in Sokoto.
Led by its National President, Alhaji Ibrahim Haske, the group said it was forced at this time to express the fears of members about what he described as the unfortunate state of affairs of the party.
“We have no doubt that you would all agree with us that the ruling APC currently tethers on the precipice of disintegration if urgent care and caution are not taken. The bitter truth and reality in APC now is while President Muhammadu Buhari is busy working for change, fifth columnists are busy working for their selfish ends. They do not care whether the APC disintegrates or not as long as their gluttonous nests are feathered,” he said.
The group explained that when the caretaker committee assumed office on June 25, party members accepted the strange arrangement as a result of respect for the president, adding that, “But unfortunately to our amazement, it began to play the script of the so-called cabal in the party, instead of uniting various entities in the party, the committee is doing the opposite.”
As things are at the moment, only the NEC meeting of the APC will salvage the soul of the party. The NEC meeting could be rowdy, as all contending forces in the party would attend to protect their interests. Besides, the venue of the NEC meeting would determine attendance.