The APC registration and revalidation exercise under the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee and the needless fuss around ‘extension,’ forms the thrust of this piece by ABDULRAHMAN A. ABDULRAUF.
Following protracted crises that hit the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) under the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) declared the elected officials sacked June 25, 2020.
And in their place, the NEC constituted a National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee headed by its former two-term national secretary, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state.
The 12-man committee which was initially scheduled to be in office for six months, had its tenure graciously extended by the party by another six months-meaning it’s expected to round off its activities by June 2021 with a national convention to usher in new team of officials.
Upon the committee’s inauguration, Governor Buni left no one in doubt of his readiness to put the APC back on track.
He said: “My plans for the party, as a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well. It’s all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice there won’t be peace and it is all about team play. I am a team player, I have a capable team that can work with me.
“If you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you, so I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth and the process of convening this NEC, I want to tell you that it is a continuation of the last notice that was issued and we said we have adjourned and now it’s a continuation of the last adjourned NEC meeting. All the notices were issued accordingly, so in no way ara we in any aberration.
“The duration of office is for six months within which we will do whatever we can as enshrined in our constitution and ensure that we strengthen the party and cap it up with the convention.”
For Buni, the task before him and the entire committee members remains arduous, considering the power play the party went through under Oshiomhole. It remains a fact that those forces dictating the pace while Oshiomhole lasted in office, are far from giving up.
And since coming on board, it is very obvious that the committee has achieved some milestones in terms of party cohesion and unifying all forces to recover and reposition the APC ahead of future challenges, particularly in 2023.
Among other things, the committee’s resolution of crises in some state chapters of the party like Zamfara, Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River, is yet another surest way of shoring up the party’s fortune. Warring members in these states had some what some called irreconcilable differences, yet the committee waded through.
“Our immediate task of resolving the various conflicts across the states have been largely successful. In many of the flashpoints, we have been able to either resolve the conflict or douse the tension, while we continue to make efforts at bringing about an atmosphere that encourages peace and unity of purpose,” the governor said.
Taking on the “tasks with every caution, patriotic zeal,” Buni said “the milestones we have accomplished within this short period bear bold testimony to our single-mindedness and dedication.”
Apart from its effort at steering APC out of troubled waters, the committee, in thinking out of the box, came up with the idea of membership drive and revalidation, an exercise that has continued to generate some fuss within and outside of the party.
Explaining the rationale behind the exercise, the caretaker committee chairman said: “For obvious reasons, we are not surprised that many stakeholders are of the view that the inability of our party to put in place a working structure for continuous membership register updates and new membership drive is a major factor in some of the conflicts that have caused our party major losses in multiple states and in a number of elections.
“During the last five years since our party emerged as the governing party, we have lost members due to either death or defection. We have also received many new members into our party. In all cases, our membership register does not currently reflect these changes. This laxity and the challenging consequences have brought into focus the imperative for our party to immediately embark on this exercise.”
While some political watchers laud the “beautiful milestones” under the committee, there are concerns in some quarters over certain issues within the party, one of which borders on tenure extension.
Voicing such concerns is Director-General Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Mohd Lukman who vowed that any tenure extension will be resisted.
Notwithstanding the committee’s reconciliation effort being applauded by major stakeholders within the party, Lukman claimed the CECPC was yet to address the challenges that led to the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led NWC.
While calling for the establishment of committees for congresses and national convention without further delay, the PGF head said “under no circumstances should there be any contemplation of extending the tenure of the Caretaker Committee.”
To some party members however, there is the need to critically look at the Buni-led committee and establish whether the party’s fortune had really flourished under the governor’s leadership.
Speaking to Blueprint, a member of the party resident in Abuja, Mrs Bola Abdul, said “the hard line posture of some members against the committee won’t do APC any good.”
“I read the views and position expressed by the DG PGF and his likes, and I was greatly shocked. The party should not take Nigerians for a ride. He (Buni) has started the process of party registration/revalidation and should be allowed to complete this novel assignment.
“How many of them ever thought of this type of initiative before now? If tenure extension or whatever it is, will make the committee bequeath a stronger party to incoming officials, so be it! Establishing a data bank for APC is the surest way to making it relevant in 2023. Unnecessary politicking must not be brought into it so the party doesn’t go crumbling.”
Expressing similar sentiments, another party stakeholder in Gombe, Gombe state capital, Mr Ali Ahmadu felt “there appears to be certain ill-feelings within the party. Or how does one rationalise this plot to scuttle the committee’s good work all in the name of personal ambition of some few?
“For God sake, it is very clear that in fixing the mess created by Oshiomhole, the caretaker committee took time to set in motion processes of reconciliation, which from all intents and purposes is yielding the desired result. At least, I can tell how volatile Zamfara crisis was. What of Bayelsa and Cross River?”
A case for extension
“Further to this, apart from inspiring confidence and bringing back former party members into the fold, he also engineered the party’s search for wider membership. In this case, those who joined our party include Ebonyi state Governor Dave Umahi, former Ogun state Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel who was also chairman Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation has joined APC, two former Speakers of House of Representatives namely; Yakubu Dogara and Dimeji Bankole, Barnabas Gemade former PDP chairman, Lt. Gen. Ihejirika and even the ongoing speculations of former President Goodluck Jonathan teaming up with the party. Who says the speculated plan by Zamfara state Governor Mohammed Matawalle can’t come to pass? I mean, what is not possible in politics?
“If you ask me, in my candid view, I will simply tell you the committee should be allowed to do its job to the fullest. A job half done is one left undone. So, let Lukman and his likes think of the party and not selves. Buni is engaged with governance in his state, and not scheming to be the party’s national chairman nor have a candidate in mind,” Ahmadu explained.
With the gains harvested by the committee, analysts are of the view that “it is not sacrosanct that the tenure should not be extended in order to accommodate more people, particularly youth who are 18 years and above.
“The idea of some so-called old members trying to shut out incoming ones that could add value to the party, can at best further dwindle the party ahead of 2023. Further extension for the committee is quite desirable. If APC ends up undoing itself over needless controversy around extension of party registration/revalidation exercise, the opposition PDP can always take advantage of the situation. ”