by Niran Adedokun
The All Progressives Congress must have felt very triumphant with what looked like a successful National Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.
The party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at his almost ever ebullient best, ventilated the victory of his executive committee and by extension that of the party immediately after the meeting, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Assembly leaders and state governors.
Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee were gifted with a 12-month extension of their tenure, something which could justify the former Edo governor’s enthusiasm. But a party leader should exhibit a bit more discretion. Even in the most triumphant of moments, the leader of a political party riddled with crisis should be more circumspect than throw stones at some “prophets of doom,” for pecuniary gain that may add nothing to the fortunes of the party.
However, it does appear that Odigie-Oyegun is not the only APC leader who seems amnesic and caught in the same error which brought the party to the pathetic situation it currently tries to sweep under the carpet.
Leaders of the APC including President Buhari, the ultimate beneficiary of the conglomerate of politicians that formed the party in the warm-up to the 2015 general elections, now pretend to be unaware of the troubles that have gripped the soul of the union since elections were won three years ago.
While addressing the party’s national caucus on Tuesday, the President was quoted as saying: “I wish to individually and collectively thank you all sincerely for believing in me and remaining steadfast party members despite distractions and antics of the opposition.” And I wondered, really? Did the President refer to the near inexistent opposition political parties or the internal wrangling within the APC?
One other thing that shows that the APC leaders are one in their failure to learn anything in the past three years was the part of the President’s speech where he said: “We must remember that this resounding success would not have been achieved without the unity of purpose we exhibited in the challenging and defeating an incumbent government.” Indeed, members of the APC were united in one purpose in 2014 and 2015. That purpose was merely to win the elections and defeat the incumbent President. The party closed its eyes to the contradictions inherent in the rainbow nature of its membership. It was not proactive about how to rein in the egos of the various and disparate groups of people that came together in the union, satisfy conflicting ambitions and build a formidable party whose main interest would rest on good government and the emancipation of Nigerians. The APC merely wanted to win power. It did win power but has lived with the irony that this same victory has been its greatest albatross. Sadly, three years later, the party just realised the need to come together but for no other reason than to win the next general elections and retain power at the centre.
I agree that this is a legitimate desire for any political party but critical to the soul of political parties is cohesion and a unity of purpose which the APC does not have. This is more so for a ruling party, whose policies define the future of the country.
Party faithful would of course remind us that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was set up to reconcile warring factions in the party but they should be reminded that the reconciliation committee, which till date remains a one-man show, has recently publicly called out Odigie-yegun and accused him of lack of co-operation. That is if we put aside the element that this presidential initiative came at a time when omoye does not need a protective clothing any longer, having danced naked into the marketplace as the Yoruba people say. The President, as leader of the party, has left these various levels of misunderstanding to fester for long such that there are now ten stitches instead of one!
That this late moves would hardly help the APC were even evident from the Tuesday meeting. Prior to the meeting, there were insinuations that moves were on to remove Odigie-Oyegun by forces associated with Tinubu, the same man saddled with the responsibility of bringing the party to unity or bring unity to the party. This alleged attempt to take over the party was what the NEC meeting tried to circumvent by the extension of the tenure of NWC and the executives of the 36 states
But there are reports that some members of the party, notably governors, hold that the extension of the tenure of the party executives is illegal. Reports on Wednesday quoted the Governor of Yobe State, Abdulaziz Yari, as suggesting that the NEC acted ultra vires
Yari, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, was said to have pointed out that the constitution of the party allowed only the national convention of the party to embark on such a procedure. Quoting Article 30 of the party’s constitution, Yari concluded that: “What was done yesterday is only an expression of a desire to extend the tenure of Chief Odigie-Oyegun-led executive.” In essence, the victory that Odigie-Oyegun sang about on Tuesday can be tentative.
And this is the repercussion of having left these altercations within the APC to go on for this long. How does a party which has been unable to constitute a Board of Trustees because of the competitive interests of its members suddenly hope to arrive at some unity just because an election is approaching?
What is most of painful about all of this however is that the selfishness of members of the ruling party tells negatively on Nigerians.
President Buhari himself conceded that the stand-off between the Executive and the National Assembly slowed down the process of government, yet he has waited almost three years before realising this very obvious point.
In an article titled, “Buhari: Why 100 days is important,“ published on this column on September 3, 2015, I had argued as follows: “Another reason why the first 100 days is important is the belief that the President is still able to have a good hold of the legislature within this period as altercations between both arms of government are common and usually become an impediment to the delivery of good governance. Secondly, in environments like ours where scheming for elections four years down the line starts in earnest after the conclusion of another one, politicians do not have the luxury of time to be slow… Unfortunately, this administration has not even started on that front. It has lost every opportunity to consummate a healthy relationship with the National Assembly, which is ironically led by the same APC. In addition to that, the government has not put the structures that will drive the vehicle of governance in place within 100 days. This is in spite of the monumental level of unemployment, insecurity, corruption and social economic disillusionment in the land and the messianic hope retained in the Buhari administration.”
All of these have happened because Nigerian politicians do not put the citizens’ interest into consideration. If they did, the first thing to do after winning elections would be to reconcile all identifiable differences and build strength to deal with the challenges that the country faces.
Has the executive in this dispensation, for instance, ever sat down with the legislature to discuss the manifesto of the party and how the two arms of government can work together to achieve same? The answer of course, is no! But the APC’s omoye may no longer need that protective clothing as it has already danced naked into the marketplace. Politicians need to learn not to stop taking Nigerians for granted.
by Niran Adedokun