Monday, March 21, 2016 12:44 pm
In the run up to the crucial All Progressives Congress (APC) National Caucus, BoT and NEC meetings, the squabbles within the party are fueled by a supremacy battle among some political power blocs angling to shape the workings of the present administration vis-à-vis political posturing towards 2019.
By ANDREW ESSIEN
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has approved March 21, 2016 for the National Caucus meeting, while the Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Council (NEC) would take place on March 22 and 24 respectively.
After winning the last presidential election, the tussle within the APC was expected because it was a coalition of several other parties with sundry interests. Again, the events leading to and after the defeats suffered by APC ‘anointed’ candidates in the June 9, 2015 National Assembly elections further highlighted the supremacy battle among the political party coalition that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power in March, 2015.
As it stands, the struggle for power within the party is being fought by different political power blocs within the party.
Meanwhile, the tussle is not unconnected to the different political power blocs posturing towards the 2019 elections. Series of realignments within the party in recent times has shown.
Should President Muhammadu Buhari signal his intention to contest the 2019 presidency, it’ll largely lay to rest the political schemings by the Tinubu and Atiku camps. As a matter of fact, the APC administration requires more than a four year term to repair the damage caused by the 16-year misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The inability of the various caucus to rise above personal interest which has been characterised by the contending camp’s imposition of candidates and a “survival of the fittest” mentality has triggered the costly divisions the party grapples with lately.
After the presidential election, the APC through its National Working Committee (NWC) announced that the party would zone vacant political positions. Led by the former chairman of the defunct ACN, Bisi Akande, some APC governors led by Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state and other supporters in the party, the NWC’s zoning directive was overruled. This was all in the group’s bid to install their preferred candidates. The APC went ahead to conduct a contentious mock election to “select” its candidates for Senate President and House Speaker. What played out did not go down well with some.
Since then, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led APC leadership, has been hounded to sanction the ‘rebel’ incumbent Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker, but Chief John Odigie-Oyegun advised the line of caution and decided to carefully manage the situation so as not to bungle the APC’s political and numerical grip of the National Assembly, a situation which if not well handled can pave way for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to cash in on the situation and possibly take over the leadership of the National Assembly.
Recall that the incumbent Senate President and House of Representatives (both APC members) emerged after getting bloc votes from the opposition PDP caucus in the National Assembly.
The establishments had also kicked against the APC’s decision to field Yahaya Bello as Kogi state governorship flagbearer in the December 5, 2015 supplementary election in the state. Instead of James Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives representing Ikeja federal constituency in Lagos state, running mate to the late Abubakar Audu to replace the deceased as the APC flagbearer.
Some have accused Odigie-Oyegun of not doing enough for their cause while others accuse Oyegun of acting Tinubu a script. So far, President Muhammadu Buhari has been disengaged from the APC squabbles, a move that is politically-unwise and could prove very costly in the politics leading to the 2019 elections.
Series of events show that the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led APC has had to align party decisions and actions with the “body language” of President Muhammadu Buhari, a decision which is healthy for the party and good administration of the country. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s independent mindedness and neutrality has been the sole unifier in the APC. It is in President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategic interest to back and strengthen Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to counter the political machinations of the contending camps. Any attempt to weaken Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as APC National Chairman will ultimately rub off negatively on President Muhammadu Buhari and lead to a possible breakup of the party before 2019.
The March 24, 2016 APC National Executive Council (NEC) would be a perfect time for the President to openly reaffirm a vote of confidence on the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The sponsored and syndicated media campaign suggesting moves to “ease out” the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun before the completion of his four-year term guaranteed by the APC Constitution is a veiled plot by the contending APC political camps to install their stooges as the APC National Chairman and hjack the APC political machinery in the leadup to 2019. They consider Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to be too independent-minded.
The foregoing is a red flag that President Muhammadu Buhari must not ignore considering the political interest and machinations of the listed camps.
The APC must not copy the politically wayward ways of the PDP that led to the ouster of PDP from power. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun is about the best the party can have for now as his track record of public service is outstanding. He is a seasoned technocrat; incorruptible progressive politician and knowledgeable administrator.
The forthrightness, flexibility and independent-mindedness of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun should be considered as a plus to the APC, a party built on the firm foundation of justice, peace and unity. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun is reputed for his honesty, exemplary patriotism, selflessness and dedication to the progress and well-being of Nigeria which he demonstrated throughout his long and very successful career as a top civil servant and political leader. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s integrity, wisdom, hard-work and visionary leadership contributed in no small measure, to the successful formation of the APC and the party’s historic victory in the last general elections.
It is important to recognize that if not for personal integrity, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun could have sold out to the ex President Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP in view of the enormous pressure piled on him as a fellow South Southerner in the leadup to the 2015 presidential elections. Indeed, monetary inducements were made to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun which he rejected.
President Muhammadu Buhari should pursue a closer working relationship and strengthen the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to check the political scheming of the contending camps.
President Muhammadu Buhari has kept a distance in the APC squabbles but he must keep in mind the political drawbacks that could follow.
An aggregate feeling among the APC national hierarchy is that President Muhammadu Buhari has sidelined the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led APC in appointments into positions in government. The slow pace of appointments and removal of PDP appointees in government positions, all to the detriment of APC members on the long waiting list has angered the APC hierarchy. The distribution of political patronage should have strong inputs from the party as a strategy for strengthening party loyalty and motivation of party faithful.