Events of the past days at the National Secretariat of Nigeria’s governing political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) did much to underscore the point that really, uneasy lies the head that bears a crown.
On Sunday November 21, 2021, the Forum of Progressive Governors (PGF), held a closed-door meeting, which agenda were not unconnected to the fire on the APC mountain.
Although the details of the meeting were kept to their chest, it was gathered that the governors were troubled by a lot of life threatening developments in the party, including the new Electoral Act, which tends to pull the rug off their feet in the control of the party’s machinery and the nagging issue of zoning elective positions in the contemplated National Working Committee (NWC) that would emerge from the anticipated national convention.
Sources said the governors resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to “iron out some pressing issues regarding APC and the polity.
Before the governors went into the meeting, a chieftain of the party from Kebbi State, Mallam Salihu Nataro had told The Guardian that the governors are making frantic efforts to prevail on President Buhari to withhold assent to the amended Electoral Bill recently passed by the National Assembly.
Nataro explained that the powerful PGF are trying to use the APC national convention to stymie President Buhari’s resolve to sign the Electoral Bill into law, adding that the governors know that further delay in holding the convention will continue to overheat the party.
While advocating that the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) should devise other means of funding the convention, Nataro stated: “The APC governors are trying to deceive party members to go behind and elect corrupt and incapable people to contest election during the convention.
“Majority APC members accepted consensus, when it comes to presidential candidates, but for governorship it will not be possible, because of likely manipulation by state chief executives.”
It is obvious that APC federal lawmakers and the Progressive Governors are locked in a game of wits over who holds the greater end of the stakes in the party, particularly regarding who determines of the fate of aspirants to elective offices.
Executive versus Legislative row
The National Assembly resolution to include direct primary in the amended Electoral Act came as huge affront on the state governors, who have been calling the shots in the party, a development that led to Adams Oshiomhole’s ouster for advocating direct mode of candidate selection and enforcing party supremacy.
Above all, APC’s trouble with its internal structures, particularly the extenuating circumstances and power play that prompted the dissolution of the elected National Working Committee (NWC), combine to make things a little bit tough for the party.
In a telephone interview with The Guardian last week, former Deputy National Vice Chairman (South/South) of the party, Chief Hillard Ntufam Etta, blamed the nagging internal crisis in the party on the dissolution of the elected national leadership structure of the part
Etta spoke, shortly after some security personnel-mostly police men-threw a restraining cordon around the major entry points to the No 40 Blantyre Street headquarters of the party. It was the second time such use of coercive government structures to moderate the free expression of misgivings by some furious party faithful over the manner their party was being run, especially the conduct of elections into the state working committees, will happen.
However, though the recent state congresses reignited the internal contradictions in APC, checks by The Guardian show that a number of considerations are behind the new moves to thrown out the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Following the accusations of high handedness and imperial swagger against the former National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, some highly placed stakeholders resolved that a leader that the governing party required at the period after its second general election victory was one that have calm demeanour and lacking in ambition for ‘the greater office.’
Buni, who was the national secretary of the party before he went on to contest and win the Yobe State governorship election in 2019, served on the Oshiomhole-led NWC that was sacked in 2020. It was the feeling of party insiders that the Yobe State governor fits the bill as an unassuming politician and a member of the elite governors’ caucus of the party.
However, close to two years after the establishment of CECPC and enthronement of the former national secretary as chairman, old problems seem to be conspiring with new irritations to compound the challenges before APC.
Some of the new issues revolve around those angling for the positions of substantive national chairman and the 2023 Presidential ticket of the party, as well as fallouts from the recent state congresses in some states.
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