By Omeiza Ajayi
Months after it lost its Mojo, the ruling All Progressives Congress APC seems to be on the path of self-rediscovery following the determination of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC to heal all wounds and unite the various tendencies in the fold.
The Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC was inaugurated on 25th June, 2020 with a mandate to reconcile all the warring factions and also conduct a national convention.
More than four months into its six-month mandate, the CECPC has been able to secure the support of majority of the leaders and members of the party. This is in spite of dissenting views from a former Senator for Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa and a member of the party from Benue State, Okpoku Ogenyi. Both men have however been reportedly disowned by their respective state chapters of the party.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Yekini Nabena said the Buni-led committee is focused on achieving true and lasting unity, peace and reconciliation across party ranks and ahead of the planned 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”.
“While a section of the media has been awash with reports of a tenure extension for the CECPC, the focus remains achieving and sustaining the APC caretaker committee’s peace and reconciliation core mandate”, said Nabena.
He said it is important that the APC conducts its planned national convention to produce the Party’s national leadership as a united house, otherwise the main aim of constituting the CECPC following the dissolution of the immediate-past National Working Committee (NWC) will be defeated.
According to him, the Governor Buni-led CECPC has deployed a combination of true reconciliation, consultation and inclusiveness in achieving unity and cohesion in the Party.
In specific terms, Gov. Buni had in order to reposition the Party to ensure good governance, proposed the recently-inaugurated tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC consultative Committee.
The committee is to ensure synergy, good governance and accelerated implementation of the Next Level agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“A peacemaker and stabilizing voice, Governor Buni is meeting 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”, said the party spokesman.
The Caretaker Committee has received the endorsement of elected National Executive Committee NEC (Non- National Working Committee) members. The non-NWC NEC Forum had at a recent meeting with the Party’s national leadership, passed a vote of confidence on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC.
Before then, the 36 State APC Chairmen, including that of the Federal Capital Territory FCT also passed a confidence vote on the CECPC.
It does appear that in spite of disagreements among some stakeholders with regards to the 2023 general elections, there is an unanimity of support for the caretaker committee.
One of the major challenges that has pushed APC into avoidable crisis in the past was its faulty reward system. Many of those who worked towards the electoral successes of the party across the country were left in the lurch.
However, to further carry along dedicated party members, the CECPC said it is already working with President Buhari 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.
One of the most visible achievements of the reconciliation efforts of the Buni Committee is its success in persuading some former leaders of the party who left its fold to return home.
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.
Also, the CECPC has 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. According to Nabena, 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 Governorship aspirants were brought together, campaigned and worked for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN)”, he said.
In Akwa Ibom State where the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe hails from, the CECPC has been able to bring together all the contending interests under one roof and achieved what seems a 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 said to be working together in collective pursuit of Party interests.
One of the reconciliation efforts which seemed impropable at the beginning was that between the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva. Curiously, with the mediating influence of the CECPC, both men have resolved in Party interest to work together and strengthen the Party, particularly in the South South geo-political zone.
The CECPC said it has substantially reconciled various factions in some affected states, viz: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Zamfara, Ondo, Oyo States.
At the same time, it has continued to hold meetings with identified stakeholders/elders, state governors, state chairman, National Assembly caucus, identified youth and women groups, ministers and heads of parastatals.
The CECPC 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 CECPC to take all-inclusive decisions.
The APC has three modes of selecting candidates for elective positions. The methods are direct primary, indirect primary and consensus. However, efforts to use direct primary method in some places have usually hit a brick wall due to the absence of a reliable membership register.
The planned nationwide registration, update, revalidation of the Party’s membership register would however help the party in planning and in conducting direct primary. It would allow it know its numerical strength too.
Like Nabena said, “it is important to take cognizance of the fact that the prior internal party crisis which was unfortunately left to fester before the advent of the CECPC distracted public attention from appreciating the monumental strides that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government is making in delivering on APC’s three critical electoral promises – fighting corruption, security and revamping the economy from 16 years of the Peoples Democratic party PDP misrule and mismanagement”.
Ahead of the planned APC National Convention and indeed the 2023 General Elections, he said stakeholders should continue to support the CECPC 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 party has said it will 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”.
As the APC seeks to reinvent itself before conducting a national convention, it is incumbent on aggrieved Party members who had earlier gone to court to now heed the call of the CECPC to withdraw such cases. That is the surest way to ensure a positive electoral future for the party.