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The National Caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to meet for National Executive Council (NEC) tomorrow but there are issues even as supremacy battle rages, ANDREW ESSIEN writes.
For the ruling All Progressives Congress, the beginning of 2015 brought the usual expectations just as party stalwarts believed that after the victory in the last general election which saw the exit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the coast is clear for the APC to fully assume its position. But two years down the line, a different song appears to be playing out with some party members questioning the actions of some of the people piloting party affairs. They are worried that some persons who were not with them at the beginning of the struggle and hence may not really believe in what the party stands for, are now strategically placed.
It is now crystal clear that there is obvious tussle within the APC. Alignments and realignments within the party in recent time shows that the tussle is not unconnected to the looming struggle for total control of power in the 2019 elections.
With all the recent endorsements and support being exhibited, even as President Muhammadu Buhari has not officially announced his intention to contest the 2019 presidency, it is significant that the stakes upon political schemings by major camps in the party have almost set the stage for a full blown political confrontation in the polity.
Sadly, the inability of the caucus to rise above personal interest which has been characterised by various contending forces’ as often referred as “survival of the fittest,” analysts aver that the party is grappling with challenges ahead of 2019.
Judging from the last NEC meeting of the party, one would have thought and expected that the core issue, which is the crisis that rocked and fragmented the party, would have been exhaustively and thoroughly discussed.But what appeared to have played out in the meeting were mere words of warnings and caution, in the mix of the raging crisis.
As it poses, like NEC that has the powers to take decisive and definite measures to forestall the breakdown of law and order within the party, but merely can shrug such onerous responsibility of brokering peace between the aggrieved parties including the governors, who themselves are major actors of engendering peace.
Meanwhile, at the recently held closed-door session, President Buhari had cautioned everyone to shelve every selfish ambition and allow the party and, by extension, his government to work.
Almost two years before this meeting, the perceived crisis is yet to abeit even as it threatening to impede the party’s focused leadership.Ofcourse, with leaders converging for the National Caucus and National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings, the avenue grants them window to address the issues and proffer solutions to end the unnecessary upheaval.
At the moment, commentators have averred that amendment to party’s constitution may likely center on areas of discipline and finance which yet offer better prospects for harmony in the party at the end of exercise.
The Last NEC
In the last NEC, President Muhammdu Buhari made some far reaching remarks that can be worth recalling, which for all intents and purposes, the party and its leaders at all levels may have forgotten, if not deliberately negated.
“He said: “The elections have come and gone. The APC has won the battle, but lost the war. This is the paradox of democracy and we shall see how we can manage it going forward.
“I have already addressed you through the Chairman, through the leadership of the party, through your excellencies, the governors, and through our senators and House of Representatives members.
“The APC must not disappoint its constituency, that is the nation-state. We have to convince our various constituencies that we are individually worthy of the sacrifices that they have made.
“Let us as members of the APC no matter our personal differences get together and use the mandate given to us by this country. This is my personal appeal to you in the name of God. Whatever your personal interest or ambition, please keep it close to your heart and in your pocket. Let APC work.
“Let the system work and let us have a government that will earn the respect of our constituencies. My problem is the constituencies. I thank you very much for listening to me, and I thank the leadership across the board, and I appeal to you to please continue to work together.
“Please accept the superiority of the party. I cannot confine myself to the cage or Sambisa forest and refuse to participate in NEC or BoT. So, I respect, the superiority of the party. But God in his infinite mercy has helped by giving us acceptance. Let us not throw this success to the wind,” Buhari cautioned.
The party must further bear in mind that the garrisons from the South to the North, and from the West to East, the rumors of disorder abound with political analysts afraid that the crisis, if not promptly checked, may significantly weaken the party.
For example, in Bayelsa and Kano,Gombe and Kaduna, as well as Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe among others, the APC chapters in these states enmeshed in one form of crisis or another. The leadership at the center, in addition to the issues grappling with, had to intervene in all troubled spots, even as it surprisingly went on to win elections.
An aggregate feeling among the APC national hierarchy is also that President Muhammadu Buhari has sidelined the party in appointments and 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 with most people arguing that political patronage should have had strong inputs on the party and as a strategy for instilling party loyalty and motivation of faithful.
To this end, the Comptroller General (CG) of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hamid Ali recently deduced that the present administration as currently constituted, was constituted by persons who did not share in the movement’s ideologies.
The Customs CG further lamented that such persons who did not share the same ideology with the President were, in part, responsible for the ills of the administration and as such, they must be checked.
This was the thrust of his address at the official commissioning of the BSO office as he charged all to work towards changing the narrative, ahead of 2019.
Ali said: ” Today, with all sense of responsibility, I want to say that we have 50 percent of PDP in our government. How can we move forward with this load? How can we achieve our target with this load? It is a spoilt system and so. When you come in, you shake off everybody and bring in your own. That is what democracy is all about. Today, we have members of PDP calling the shuts. That is what we will begin to fight for, we will fight for our right position, our vision and our mission for this government.
“I want to take this opportunity to tell my colleagues here that we have to change the narrative. When we were out there jumping on the streets, hitting every corner of Nigeria, we were preaching change for Nigeria, now it is Good governance for Nigeria. We must agree that we cannot finish our four years without leaving a tangible legacy that we will be remembered for in this country.
” let we say this without fear of any contradiction, half way through this journey, we are loosing our core values, we are loosing our vision and mission and the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what it is that we must do and get back on track. We need to find an answer and if we do find an answer,what then should we do to get us all back on track.”
Should the party be interested in making serious progress, its financial muscle must be developed including the generation of series of income streams, sourced for the party to keep it floating and indeed, sailing properly even as the political stage promises to get more active in the coming year.
Among other financial shortage that was reported, another report surfaced as to why the party was experiencing downfall in financial inflows which was traced to the refusal of party stalwarts and bigwigs in both executive and legislative arms of government to honour obligations.
It was gathered that party members in the current National Assembly stopped the mandatory monthly payments of N100, 000 for Senators and N70,000 for the House of Representative members since the party was enmeshed in crisis.
The report revealed that most of the present political appointees had not been living up to expectations interms of payment of their dues since they were appointed, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.
Contrary to expectations, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced that it will not hold its national convention until the first quarter of 2018.
The media earlier reported that the party violated an important provision of its constitution with regards to holding national convention to appraise state of affairs and make necessary adjustments.
This is even as the lifespan of the current APC National Working Committee (NWC) is expected to end by June 2018.
Checks revealed that Article 25 (A)(i) of the APC constitution stipulates that the National Convention of the Party shall be held once in two (2) years at a date, venue and time to be recommended by the National Working Committee and approved by the National Executive Committee subject to the giving of the statutory notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission and at least fourteen (14) days notice given to members eligible to attend.
Also, the constitution provides that “the National Executive Committee may summon an emergency National Convention at any time provided at least seven (7) days notice of the meeting shall be given to all members eligible to attend.”
This must be finally addressed to ensure and appraise the state of APC’s unity and further right the wrongs that fistled the party in recent times.
The party definitely would have to put measures in place to hold persons elected on its platform to be accountable as there is seeming derail of party manifesto and campaign promises. The party must go back to the drawing board and re-educate its elected members on what the party stands for and hoping to achieve. This way, members of the society will take the party serious and have confidence in it.
In the final analysis, for ordinary Nigerians, the uncertainty in the APC does not concern them. What they earnestly yearn for is fulfilment of promises to enhance dividends of democracy. Going against this might only spell doom for the party, ahead of 2019.