By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
No one has described the recent crisis that the ruling APC has been enmeshed in, like the Senior Special Assistant to Mr. President on Social Investment Programmes, Ismaeel Ahmed Esq. When he appeared as a guest on Channels TV, he was asked how he felt about what was going on in the party and he said, “I am embarrassed by what is going on because the people we have saddled with the responsibility of managing a political party have messed it up to this level. This party is only 6 years in existence, and 5 of which we have been in power. Nigerians have done their part and have given us an overwhelming majority in almost all the tiers of government. We the younger people have contributed our sweat, our time and our little resources, and are still out there as foot soldiers, giving our own part in building this party to outlive us, but alas; it has been bastardised by former this and former that. So I am not surprised but absolutely embarrassed. And everyone goes to court or is taken to court by the party, claiming the constitution of the party, meanwhile all the solutions of the perennial problems that have arisen are very well in the constitution of the party, that is observed more in breach than in compliance.”
The crisis in the APC was brought to the fore by the battle of wits in Edo state. Then Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki who had succeeded him as the governor of Edo state, were embroiled in a bitter battle that saw to half the members of the Edo state assembly, denied their place in the house, and stopped from performing their duties as elected members of the House. There was also a move to suspend Oshiomhole from the party by his ward members which was purportedly orchestrated by Obaseki. The matter was taken to court and both the high Court and the appeal court upheld the suspension of Oshiomhole. Before the judgement of the appeal court, Gov. Obaseki had left the party and was on his way to the PDP as he saw Oshiomhole as standing in his way. Some felt it was a blunder by Obaseki because if he had stayed a little longer, perhaps things may have worked in his favor. Others believe no matter what happens, other powerful unseen forces in the party would still deny him the ticket to run for his much coveted 2nd term; because afterall, Oshiomhole’s suspension was later lifted by his ward executives’ of the party.
The Judiciary has played a rather faulty and dabbly role in the political crisis of the country, especially as it pertains the APC. It was one court judgement or the other that culminated in Zamfara state being handed over to the PDP, even though the APC won. The courts did deny the APC fielding a candidate in Rivers state at all. The courts also handed over the APC’s victory in Bayelsa state after disqualifying its Deputy gubernatorial candidate. And yet in Ondo state, we have a governor and a deputy from two different political parties – which means the law accepts them as separate entities? Or as one and the same entity? Victor Giadom, who was the former Deputy National Secretary of the APC, rode on a court judgement that made him the party’s chairman. Some say it was an ex-parte order that ought to have expired and unless it was renewed, it held no substance. Besides, the order of succession in the National Working Committee of the party does not favor Giadom as there were other higher ranking officers to assume the chairmanship, should any leadership crisis arise. Also, the order did say that he was to hold sway until when the National Executive Council, NEC, of the party sits and takes a decision on the matter. Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the party had duly announced that former Gov. Ajimobi (now late), is to be the acting National Chairman of the party, pending when a resolution is reached on Oshiomhole’s matter in court.
The National Working Committee, NWC, and Victor Giadom were at loggerheads, with each party laying claim to the chairmanship position of the party. Most party loyalists were of course more in tune with the NWC but at the same time, the Victor Giadom voice in the whole matter could portend more trouble and be a cog in the wheel, regarding the legality of the party’s decisions; like the affirmation of Ize-Iyamu as its flag bearer in Edo state. The NEC meeting was supposed to have taken place in March of 2020 but it never took place. Members of the party have always decried the lack of these meetings as well as that of the NWC to sort out matters affecting the party in different instances. Victor Giadom had summoned a NEC meeting and to the surprise of some, and chagrin of many, Mr. President lent his voice to the call and confirmed he was going to attend. We were all in wonderment as to how that could be possible.
Eventually the NEC took place and PMB seemed to have everything under control as per the APC’s crisis and the factionalisation of the NWC. It was dissolved and an acting Chairman in the person of Gov. Mai Mala Buni was inaugurated along with other members to represent different zones. Mai Mala was the party secretary before he resigned and left to contest for the Governorship of Yobe state, so he is one man that knows the inner workings of the party through and through and would be able to balance interests and groups within the APC. A convention was slated for in six months time. At the end of the day, Giadom’s call, whether selfish or not, has seen to some sanity in the leadership tussle of the APC. But this is just the beginning I must say, as the crisis is about the control of the party so as to have an upper hand in clinching the presidential ticket in 2023. Tinubu is the most touted name and it seems it is a race between Tinubu and others, and rightfully in this scenario – governors of the APC. Just like in the PDP, when OBJ was leaving, it was either his Vice or the PDP governors at the time. This very tough battle is what will make or mar the APC. Whether the ticket will be zoned to the south or it will be a contest for all, is another catch as to how the APC tussle will end up. The PDP will lay low and watch what happens in the APC, as it would certainly be the beneficiary of a divided house, should the APC tussle result in another season of mass defections, just as in 2015. When Adams Oshiomhole was battling with Gov. Obaseki, he was quoted to have said that, “when you are going to race against a snail, you don’t run, whenever you are ready, you just pick it up and put it in your pocket.” He was referring to how much bigger he was compared to Obaseki. For now, PMB has picked up the snail and put it in his pocket and for some time to come, all will be well with the APC. He is the leader of the party and cannot show his hand as to whom he favors as his successor. It is too early and it will certainly be unhealthy.