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Editorial News of Wednesday, 23 June 2021


APC Caretaker Committee: Knocks, kudos one year after

Governor Buni Governor Buni

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will this month end, clock one year in the saddle after its inauguration June last year at the State House by the then highest administrative organ of the party, the National Executive Committee (NEC).

In retrospect, the APC Caretaker Committee, a child of circumstance and necessity, was constituted, as a credible alternative, after a perfectly orchestrated move targeted at not only scheming out the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to stabilise the party’s sinking ship, but also to end the spate of crises engulfing the ruling party then.

The composition of the Caretaker Committee in many ways was a sigh of relief to the party that has haemorrhaged profusely from majorly the rift between the then National Chairman and the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki over the ticket of the party among other sundry crises of confidence that rocked the party.

Before the composition of the Caretaker Committee, the party had continued to bleed from the intense clashes both at national and state levels over which power blocs or factions to take charge of the party structure particularly ahead of the 2023 general elections over who gets the party’s presidential ticket.

Before the Caretaker Committee, there was actually a situation of anomie in the APC; there were endless protests at the party’s Abuja headquarters, threatening rifts from various chieftains, litany of litigations and all manner of shenanigans that polarised the party’s stakeholders. The situation had reigned supreme and almost destabilised the Oshiomhole-led national leadership.

Many political watchers believe that the inability of Comrade Oshiomhole to apply tact and diplomacy in handling and managing the numerous crises deepened and worsened the situation to the point of the party deteriorating and slipping out of control of the national leadership.

In fact, there were ominous signs of an impending doom and crises capable of collapsing the party irredeemably that were ignored. The situation had polarised the Progressive governors, factionalised the national leadership, NWC, and war drums from other major stakeholders in almost all the states became louder all in a desperate bid to wrest the party structure.

With all these and more reigning supreme within the party then, it was obvious that the centre would no longer hold. And little wonder the composition of the Caretaker Committee was not only seen as relief to the real APC members but was also received with standing ovations.

The Caretaker Committee was largely accepted to the extent that the sacked NWC even reluctantly shelved the threat to institute legal action to reclaim their mandate. The acceptance spoke volume that tension and crises at both the grassroots and national levels were de-escalated. The decision of the gladiators to give the committee some benefits of doubts actually heralded peace within the party to a large extent.

Although the storm tried to gather again when the tenure of the committee was renewed last year December, many political watchers seem to be in sync, hence, members and even the gladiators enjoyed peace even if it was of the graveyard in the party in the last year the Caretaker Committee came into existence.

Analysts agree that there have been pockets of complaints and skirmishes especially over the speculated plans by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee to perpetuate itself in power; however, the party has witnessed more sunshine than the previous rancorous storms since last year in the saddle.

Apart from the landmark achievements and visible giant strides the Committee recorded in the past one year, in the areas of conflict resolutions both at state and national levels, redirecting the sinking ship of the party, winning more opposition governors and political heavyweights, the commendable membership registration and revalidation, electoral victories, restoration of members and staff confidence and creation of tripartite committee headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the party has apparently had less crisis.

At the last count, political heavyweights ranging from the grassroots to the state governors with many still planning to join, have all majorly left their discomforting umbrella to seek succour under the building that the Caretaker Committee swept clean with their trademark brooms.

Notable names like former Speakers House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and Dimeji Bankole, former PDP National chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, several members of the National Assembly, Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of service of the federation, Danladi Kifasi, Sen. Isa Hamma Misau, Salisu Takai among many others have all joined APC.

The governors that have equally made triumphant entry from the PDP to the APC include Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Cross River, Prof Ben Ayade with their other counterparts like Zamfara, Bello Muhammad Matawalle and Akwa-Ibom, Emmanuel Udom, among those rumoured to have also indicated interests to join the ruling party.

The Caretaker Committee has also performed creditably well in reconciling gladiators especially from the states and zones hitherto at daggers drawn against one another. In this list include the Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and that of Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.

In cataloguing the successful journey within one year in retrospect, the national leadership had recently noted: “At party level, the APC Caretaker Committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni, is doubling its efforts to meet up with the tasks ahead in 2023. A democracy is as strong as the political parties it produces; and the CECPC is rebuilding the APC to strengthen our democracy. The APC commitment to lead the process of political change in Nigeria is unwavering.

“In line with the CECPC’s core mandate to engender unity in the party, promote true reconciliation and give a sense of belonging to every member of the party, the CECPC’s efforts at resolving internal misunderstanding have paid off with many formerly aggrieved members withdrawing and terminating all litigations involving the party in compliance with the APC NEC resolution.

“The CECPC embarked on a nationwide APC membership registration and revalidation to increase the party’s membership and support-base nationwide.

“The APC now has over 40 million registered members. Many Nigerians joined the party on account of the excellent performance of the President Buhari-led administration and state governments elected on the party platform.

“As a peacemaker and stabilizing voice, Governor Mai Mala Buni is constantly meeting party leaders, party groups and interests in order to accommodate all in the APC fold. The outcome of this effort resulted in the return of prominent party members and leaders including the former PDP National Chairman, Senator Gemade; former Reps Speaker, Dogara, Dr. Alex Otti among others, to the APC family. Only recently, the governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade renounced his membership of the opposition party and joined the APC.

“Ahead of the planned APC National Convention and indeed the 2023 general elections, stakeholders have continued to support the CECPC efforts to strengthen unity in the party and make it a more formidable nation-building machine. This will lead to the delivery of more dividends of democracy across the country under the APC-led governance,” the statement signed by the National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, eulogised the committee.

In assessing the mileage recorded by the committee, a party chieftain and Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, once noted: “When one casts a cursory glance at the damage done to the soul of our great party, from the beginning of our government in mid-2015 by the unforced error struggle for National Assembly leadership and to the culture of impunity which Comrade Oshiomhole unleashed on our party post his election as chairman on June 23, 2018, the need for the committee becomes imperative. Our stock had crashed from 25 to 19 states.

“Accordingly, the Governor Buni-led committee requires deep introspection to gather the pieces, reconcile the various warlords and tendencies within the party. United we stand,” he noted in a chat with Daily Sun.

Granted that the Committee has done creditably well in the areas of reconciliations, winning some major elections, executing certain laudable party programmes like the membership registration and revalidation exercise, attracting heavyweight politicians, however, it seems to be enmeshed in an undercurrent over plans to extend its tenure and organise a national convention to elect new national leadership.

However, ahead of this month’s expiration of the extended tenure given to it, there are already waves of uncertainty and anxiety especially over the much-anticipated conduct of national convention.

Confirming the alleged plans to stay longer than this month, a member of the committee had confided in Daily Sun that it has concluded arrangements to invoke Convention Order given to it to extend its tenure when it expires this month.

He had claimed that after the dissolution of the organs that constitute the party’s NEC, the implication is that the Caretaker Committee has been conferred with overwhelming legal powers to decide its future and the mode of convention to elect the national leadership of the party.

Asked the plans of the committee ahead of the expiration of its tenure this month, he said: “If we have the need to extend the life of this Caretaker Committee, we will consult major stakeholders. Don’t forget that the power of NEC is now with us. You should know that the Caretaker Committee is a legal body and its legality has been tested and confirmed with at least two court judgements.

“We are not thinking about extension, but if there is the need, the power of NEC and power of Convention is with the Caretaker Committee. When we were looking for extension, we did not envisage many things. Let me shock you, the Caretaker Committee can meet and extend its tenure. It can invoke that Convention order and as it is now, the Caretaker Committee is both the Convention and the NEC.

“Unknown to many people, the NEC donated its power to the Caretaker Committee. The dissolution of NEC means that it has given or surrendered all its powers; consequently, the Committee does not need to go back to it to derive powers again. That conferment also means that the Caretaker Committee has assumed the position of NEC and Convention because the NEC we used to know previously cannot be convened again,” he argued.

However, such powers were only tested last week when President Muhammadu Buhari warned that he is expecting the report of the committee ahead of the expiration of its tenure this month.

Speaking last week during an interview with a television outfit to dispel the speculation of his plans to succeed himself, he said: “What this administration can do is to ensure that the APC lasts beyond this administration. The APC will know the number of members in the local governments and the states so that by the time this administration goes, they (members) would be firmly on the ground and can continue. That is the best thing for the country politically and for the party.

“We should allow the party to decide on zoning. We started from the bottom up and I gave the acting chairman until the end of the month.  He asked for an extension. They are going to give me a report on the convention we are going to conduct,” Buhari said.

Rattled by the comment from President Buhari, the Committee, last week, met for several hours, issued and horridly withdrew the timetable and schedule of activities to kick-start the much awaited National conventions, (which it indicated to commence with the ward, state and zonal congresses), to last till October this year, blanking out completely on the date to elect the new national leadership of the party.

Head or tail, the manner and diplomacy the committee applied in handling the convention will remain the greatest albatross around its neck and weapon of destruction that may eclipse the unprecedented successes it recorded in the last one year on the saddle.

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