APC Caretaker Committee And The Quest For Unity

After the ouster of the  Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), a caretaker arrangement aimed at reconciling warring factions and putting the party back on track ahead of 2023 emerged. ANDREW ESSIEN chronicles the activities of the caretaker committee so far.

There is no gain saying that the greater part of 2019 and 2020, saw the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in a lot of internal wranglings that threatened, somewhat, the fabric of the party.

Just as the APC had several electoral success, the myriad of challenges plaguing the party, arising from various interest groups and factions, also  threatened its delicate balance, tilting it to a boiling point.

At one level, some schools of thought argue that the crisis being experienced were largely inherited from the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. But others insist that the immediate past national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s style of party administration was in part, responsible for pushing the APC to a melting point.

With the party nearing a precipice, President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders brought into being, a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) headed by the governor of Yobe State and two-time national secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni with a mandate to achieving true and lasting unity, peace and reconciliation across party ranks ahead of a national convention of the party.

Recall that the CECPC was constituted and inaugurated by the 8th resumed meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) in June with a core mandate to “achieve peace-building, true reconciliation and to give a sense of belonging to every member of the Party”.

One of the lingering issues that was a tension spot was the introduction of the Direct Primary System by Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC). This was the beginning of many more internal wrangling that greatly polarised the party even as pundits had pondered on APC’s ability to rise from the ashes of the crisis that beset it, galvanise all its ‘formations’ and ‘arsenals’ in time to prosecute future elections.

More worrisome was the fact that from the South to the North, from the West across the East, the APC at the both national and state levels had been battling with so many issues with political analysts fearing that these crisis, if not checked timely, may significantly weaken the overall fighting power is the party when the time comes.

From faraway Bayelsa to the distant Kano, across to Gombe, Kaduna, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe and the list goes on, the APC chapters in these states erupted in one form of crisis or the other.

The leadership at the center, added to the issues it was dealing with, had to intervene in all these troubled spots, even as it surprisingly went on to win elections conducted in some of these “troubled spots”.

Hence, upon assuming the responsibility calming frayed nerves at the party, Governor Buni-led CECPC  deployed a combination of true reconciliation, consultation and inclusiveness in achieving unity and cohesion in the party.

To this end, the CECPC also resuscitated the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms and has set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, Ekiti among other States 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.

The success stories of the ongoing reconciliation efforts abound. Case points are Cross River State where the CECPC reconciled the two factions and appointed a state caretaker committee led by Sen. Matthew Mbu (Jnr.) as acting state chairman. In Ondo State, all the hithero aggrieved  governorship aspirants were brought together and given a sense of belonging which saw they  campaign and work for the successful re-election of the APC candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).

In Akwa Ibom State, the CECPC 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 (Snr) among others are working together and in collective pursuit of party interests.

At the national level and on the auspices of the CECPC, the minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva have resolved in party interest to work together and strengthen the party, particularly in the South South geo-political zone.

Amid efforts to reposition the Party to ensure good governance, Governor 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.

However, these seeming  successes have  not gone without challenges even as some members of the APC  issued a 14-day ultimatum to the party’s caretaker committee, led by Mai Mala Buni, to set up a panel for the party’s national convention.

In a statement signed by Abdullahi Dauda, spokesman of a group of APC members, alleged that instead of making plans for the December national convention, the committee is “scheming to extend their tenure for another one year”.

Dauda said the caretaker committee has failed in carrying out its assignment, alleging that the committee “is planning registration of members which is not part of the resolution of the last NEC”.

“We are Concerned APC members, who have watched with amazement and disillusionment for several months the inability of the APC Caretaker Committee to provide direction for the party and set up a timetable for December elective convention,” the group said.

“We are not out to discredit the conscientious efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and his team that have taken commendable steps to fight for the progress of the party by setting up the present Caretaker Committee to save the party from internal crisis but to bring to his notice that there are certain areas that the Governor Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker Committee has out rightly failed, especially as it concerns the non-compliance to the scheduled December National Convention.

“We are less than two months away from the December deadline and no meaningful plan is in place for the much-awaited convention.”

Despite this, the elected National Executive Committee (Non- National Working Committee) members at a recent meeting with the party’s national leadership, passed a vote of confidence on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC. This was sequel to an earlier passed confidence vote on the CECPC by 36 State APC Chairmen, including the Federal Capital Territory.

To further carry along dedicated party members, the CECPC 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.

It is commendable that the consultative party leadership style instituted by Governor Buni as chairman of the APC CECPC 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, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Dr. Alex Otti among others.

The planned nationwide registration, update, revalidation of the Party’s membership register will undoubtedly cement the APC’s political and numerical status as Nigeria’s largest political party.

Consequently, the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) resolution directing all aggrieved Party members who had gone to court to withdraw cases: The CECPC further directed affected parties to fully comply with the directive in the true spirit of peace and reconciliation.

Among the successes recorded,  the CECPC has substantially reconciled various factions in some affected states, viz: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Zamfara, Ondo, Oyo States.

Meetings with identified stakeholders/elders, state governors, state chairman, National Assembly caucus, identified youth & women group, ministers and heads of parastatals.

Party supporters aver that ahead of the planned APC National Convention and the 2023 general elections, stakeholders should continue to support efforts to unite the party in order to make it formidable enough to consolidate on the APC’s national governing status and landmark achievements.

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 CECPC is sustained, successful and continue to yield results.

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