By KOLA BOLA

Going by the rising infightings and rancours currently brewing among the ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the party, to reconcile all the frayed nerves in the party involving its bigwigs embittered over some critical issues since attaining power on May 29, 2015.
This mission to safe APC ahead of the litmus contest of 2019 poll is timely and very apt if the dream of the party to retain power will be realized. However, many watchers of the nation’s political space, especially the running of the APC since it assumed power at the centre in 2015 do not see Tinubu as the wisest choice to troubleshoot the myriads of fracas fast tearing the party apart barely three years after it attained national reckoning.
Tinubu, no doubt, pushed one of the greatest political blocs in the opposition into forming a mega party that eventually wrested power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after 16 years of being at the saddle. Soon after the APC secured the central seat, things begin to fall apart when the major power blocs began to knock horns in a war over sharing political offices and appointments. This war prominently featured Tinubu and his followers as aggrieved lots by the development.
Instead of doing critical fence-mending before the crisis snowballed to its present magnitude, the party stalwarts, especially those who are very close to Buhari, were not ready to allow the much needed internal democracy and peace to reign just to keep drinking the ‘milk’ flowing from the man in power – President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, whose political cronies within the party was seen in a protracted war of attrition to unseat the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, Dr. Yakubu Dogara for the control of the National Assembly, he was also prominently involved in the crisis that characterized the party’s primary that produced Barr. Rotimi Akeredolu. In Ondo State especially, Tinubu and the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, fought dirty over who flies the party’s flag in the gubernatorial poll of the state.
Now, weeks after his appointment by the presidency as a troubleshooter, Tinubu fired the first salvo, accusing the National Chairman of the party of sabotaging his efforts to rebuild the party in line with the mandate given to him by the president.
A war of attrition seems to be brewing in the party as its National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, has written a letter to the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, accusing him of undermining his efforts at reconciling aggrieved members of the party.
President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Tinubu to reconcile all aggrieved persons within the party, an assignment which he has begun, talking to major stakeholders, including the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
But Tinubu, in his eight-page letter dated February 21, which was copied to the president, vice-president, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, accused Odigie-Oyegun of taking actions aimed at sabotaging his presidential assignment.
According to him, “Upon my appointment I gave the president my word that I would work diligently and objectively to achieve the goal set before me…during my interaction, members freely expressed their views concerning the state of the party at the national, state and local government levels.
“On your part, you promised unalloyed support for my mission. Consonant with that vow, you said that you would provide all the information at your disposal and you vowed to act as a liaison between us and the state party chapters.
“Unfortunately the spirit of understanding and of cooperative undertaking to revive the party seemed not to have lived beyond the temporal confines of that meeting. I assure anyone who cares to know that this positive spirit of cooperation did not meet its demise at my hands.”
But Tinubu suggested that Odigie-Oyegun was not similarly persuaded, contending that the national chairman was apparently incapable of measuring up to his leadership responsibility.
Tinubu pointedly accused Odigie-Oyegun of the undemocratic act of unilaterally meddling in the affairs of some crisis-ridden states, particularly, Kogi, Kaduna and Adamawa States.
In his response Oyegun said Tinubu has his full support in the discharge of his duties to resolve APC’s crisis.
“Let me once again formally congratulate you on the peacemaking assignment Mr. President has entrusted you with. It is most challenging but I believe you will ultimately justify the confidence reposed in you by Mr. President. In this, you have my fullest support.”
Senator Oluremi Tinubu has also given an indication that the daunting task given to her husband to rebuild the party may hit the rock as he battles to reconcile warring sides in APC, his wife has decried that her husband was “trashed” after the party won the 2015 elections.
Remi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District at the Senate, while on a Television programme, alleged that Tinubu was sidelined despite his efforts towards ensuring that APC won the 2015 polls.
Mrs. Tinubu, who disclosed that she was forced to discourage her husband from his continued loyalty to the Presidency and the APC, said the party leader was always harping on the development of the country.
Recall that the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha Buhari, had lamented that those who worked for her husband to get into power had been sidelined in the scheme of things under the current administration.
Mrs. Tinubu however pointed out that despite that the Buhari – led administration was now under massive criticisms, the President remained “the candidate to beat” in the forthcoming poll.
However, of all the 68 registered political parties in Nigeria, ruling APC has also earned the notoriety of ruling when it comes to epic internal problems, tearing the party apart from within. The party needs to look at some of the conflicts which the party must resolve, and soon before the 2019 general elections.
Though President Muhammadu Buhari has designated Tinubu as chief mediator in the crises-ridden APC, now, barely three weeks later, more crises have come to the fore. The conflicts within APC are not just about reconciling aggrieved members, or telling them to ignore the past and look to the future.
An aggrieved APC leader from North West, who does not want his name in print, said Buhari had allowed minor issues in APC to fester, and have now grown. He said trouble in APC started when different people with different persuasions from the defunct legacy parties, including Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a portion of PDP and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) collapsed into one but strange force.
Another party stalwart said “Let me tell you the truth, asking Tinubu who is widely seen as an interested party to champion the reconciliation move is like abdication of responsibility on the part of Buhari.”
The chieftain, who spoke days before Tinubu’s letter was leaked to the media, said contentious issues in APC far outweigh the capacity of the former Lagos governor. If that is the case, what about the contentious issues currently staring at APC?
In retrospect, Tinubu has not been happy with Kogi State since the death of then-candidate Abubakar Audu in 2015.
Tinubu’s anticipation then was that Mr. Abiodun Faleke, who was to be Audu’s deputy as they cruised to power during the elections, should be sworn-in as governor but the whole process, which was alien to the Nigerian constitution, was allegedly twisted at APC headquarters under the watch of Oyegun, in favour of Bello.
Also in 2016, Tinubu had accused Oyegun of “sabotaging the will of democracy” in Ondo State by allegedly overriding the decision of the appeal panel which asked for a fresh governorship primary, following investigations that showed that the delegates’ list used for the exercise was tampered with.
Many APC members also opined that the decision to give the onerous mandate to Tinubu alone to do what he wants was a political suicide, saying Buhari should have put together competent persons from all walks of life to team up with him.
“The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the Federation.”
However, Mr. Ibrahim Jirgi, a member of APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2015, said, “This is the first time I am seeing this kind of one-man committee. Nobody doubts Tinubu’s capacity, but he is human, and cannot pretend to know everybody and every issue across all the states. Buhari should have selected at least six persons, one from each of the geo-political zones and then formally inaugurate them with clear mandate and time frame.”
APC as a party has been hugely factionalised. In Kano, it is a fight between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso. Ganduje had recently said Kwankwaso would be replaced as senator by another fellow in 2019.
In Kogi State, it is between aggrieved executive members of its state chapter who have been at loggerheads with Governor Bello for allegedly side-lining them since he assumed power about two years ago. The governor has created a faction and Oyegun has blessed them.
In Bauchi, it is between Governor Mohammed Abubakar and Speaker of the House of Reps, Mr. Yakubu Dogara as well as three senators from the state namely, Ali Wakili, Isa Hamma Misau and Nazifi Gamawa. They all accuse the governor of reneging on the promises he made to the people during campaigns. Senator Chris Ngige-led committee could not resolve the problem.
In Oyo State, it is between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu. Shitu wants to succeed Ajimobi as governor but clearly, the governor has someone in mind, as evident in their utterances.
In Katsina, Governor Aminu Masari is finding it difficult to contend with threats from APC splinter group called APC-Akida comprising people like MT Liman, Sadiq Yar’adua, Sada Ilu, Usman Bugaje, and others.
In Kaduna, there is serious revolt against Governor Nasir El-Rufai from the camp of Mr Shehu Sani, and there’s former APC chairman in Kaduna State, Mr Hakeem Baba Ahmed who blamed the governor for dividing the party, culminating in the formation of APC Akida faction in the state. Mr Hunkuyi, whose house was demolished last week, has also created a different faction.
In Zamfara, Mr Kabiru Marafa is at daggers-drawn with Governor Abdul’aziz Yari; while in Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha has perfected plans to plant his son-in-law as successor.
In addition to all these growing melees in APC when aligned with conventions, congresses and even more congresses can be very colossal for the handle before the 2019 polls.
The tenure of APC officials at the ward level in all the 36 states across Nigeria lapsed on February 24, but indications are clear that party leaders in Abuja have been overwhelmed by other issues, and therefore forgot about this important party constitutional matter.
The tenure of the Oyegun-led NWC would also lapse on June 13, this year amidst speculations that the leaders are planning for tenure elongation beyond 2019. For now, all activities lined up ahead of the congresses at ward, local government and state levels on one hand and at the national convention on the other hand, have been shrouded in secrecy.
At present, the tenure extension saga is a serious issue within the party as sources said most of the 24 APC governors and leaders such as Tinubu, Mr Bisi Akande among others are not on the same page with current NWC members who supposed to ease out in June and pave the way for others ahead of 2019.
It was gathered that based on advice on the negative implication of having new party leaders at this crucial moment, President Buhari is somehow comfortable with the tenure extension plan for current APC leaders.
Though its role is strictly advisory, absence of Board of Trustees (BoT) is the conscience of any political party and evidently, APC is yet to have a visible one. Pundits say it would be a huge joke for APC to approach the 2019 elections without one. The BoT which normally has founding members in its fold plays a vital role in appealing to traditional and religious leaders for support.
After the general elections that gave them power, there were insinuations that Tinubu and ex-VP Atiku Abubakar were fighting for the position. But in September 2015, Tinubu denied any rift with Atiku over the seat. Atiku has since defected to PDP without actualizing any of his dreams in APC.
Article 13.2 (X) of the APC Constitution (October 2014 as amended) had clearly stipulated the powers of BoT.
Some party leaders are suggesting that Buhari should simply take over as national leader of the party and work towards making Tinubu BoT chair.
All the 2015 campaign council members left high and dry after the won the polls. Ahead of 2015, the party formed what came to be known as APC Presidential Campaign Council. The party unveiled the names of Buhari as Chairman, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo as Alternate Chairman, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Vice Chairman (North) Tinubu as Vice Chairman (South) and then Governor Chibuike Amaechi as Secretary/Director-General.
Beside the remaining 57 members, the presidential campaign council was thereafter extended to accommodate over 5,000 people drawn from across the state and subsumed under various committees as coordinators. “Where is the fate of the over 5,000 Buhari’s campaign coordinators and APC campaign council members that were drawn from all over the country?” Ibrahim Jirgi who is member of one of the media committees, asked.
APC may also have to contend with apparent a potent National Assembly ‘cabal’. At present, sources say APC will do extra work to convince some senators and members of the House of Reps to first remain in the party and then support it to win elections at different levels. An insider disclosed that the division in the senate has increased.
“Some of the ex-governors in the Senate are already having meetings because they heard that by the time the APC wins again, especially with Buhari as president, all pending corruption cases against them would be dusted by anti-graft agencies,” he said.
Many senators who defended Buhari over some issues have been cut to size with threats of suspension. The memory of the cases of senators Ali Ndume, Omo-Agege and Abdullahi Adamu easily come to mind. The situation is the same in the House of Reps.

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