AN OPEN LETTER TO APC STAKEHOLDERS
The irrepressible factional crisis in the Edo state chapter of the APC which has resulted in the suspension of the National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomole from the party, and the subsequent disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the Party Primary contest, has predictably snowballed into a leadership crisis at the national level.
Undoubtedly, the APC is currently embroiled in an internal crisis of leadership tussle, and this has engendered fears among concerned party members nationwide about its possible disintegration if urgent and effective measures are not taken. The conflicts have tested the party’s grit and ability to manage intra-party squabbles and disputes. Many are of the view that the major factors responsible for the present turmoil in the party are leadership deficits and lack of respect for its own internal processes and constitution.
Apparently, the party is held hostage by a tactless, pliant and indifferent leadership bereft of skills, while it portrayed intolerant disposition to accommodate divergent views and dissenting opinions within the party. It is also characterized by ineffectual and docile internal disputes resolution mechanism, that is scornful of expressing democratic opinions. The party is thus, unarguably divided between the conformists in support of the status quo,
and those whom they wrongly view as dissidents, which moulded the perception of a struggle for the 2023 political project that debuted the party too early.
I. Remote Causes of the Crisis
Among the remote causes of the crisis in APC is the long-drawn political manoeuvres and rivalries to take advantage of the party’s leadership composition to make it amenable in the service of future political ambitions.
Secondly, is the revealed inability of the party leadership to manage and accommodate dissenting opinions within its ranks, which has generated chaos and disorder leading to needless suspensions, avoidable courts actions and various acts of indiscipline and disharmony.
Thirdly, the governing party, the APC, is grossly disrespectful of its own laws and constitution which prescribes the interrelated functioning of all organs of the party according to certain mandatory roles to accomplish tasks. Presently, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party is yet to be inaugurated six years after party formation, and only three National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings had ever been convened since the inception of the party, in clear contravention of the constitutionally provided quarterly NEC meetings. Thus, it is safe to argue that the party is being administered and run against the grain of the rule of law and left to the whims and caprices of the leadership through the National Working Committee (NWC) which has serially substituted other relevant organs. This attitude has culminated into the undemocratic conducts on the part of the NWC, and prodded up the legitimate resistances from other members of the party.
Fourthly, and arising from the three misdemeanors above, the party’s internal conflicts resolution mechanisms are either weak and untrusted or disrespected and disregarded by the aggrieved persons. The party is also legendary for its nonchalance towards timely intervention and resolution of internal party squabbles and, more often than not, the leadership is seen as biased or accentuating crises with its lukewarm or combative postures to contain any brewing imbroglio and squabbles.
II Other Contributory Factors
a) A major source of frictions in the APC is the glaring undemocratic usurpation of the powers of NEC, Party Caucuses, National Convention and the BOT which rendered them inoperative and comatose, while their powers were being exercised in breach by the NWC. This scenario is viewed by many as deliberate, reckless, indefensible, and unparalleled in the history of party politics in Nigeria. The roles and functions of these organs are clearly spelt out in the party’s constitution, but trampled upon for subterranean political purposes which robbed the party the opportunity to periodically review, update and ratify its actions in between.
b) By the combined actions and inactions of the current leadership, it has lost any moral pedestal to superintend the affairs of the party for its failings to abide by the groundnorms and internal processes of the party. The flagrant misconducts of the current party leadership is curious, unacceptable, and incurable.
c) There is absence of synergy, coordination and communications across the various layers and organs of the party. As party members and leaders, we pick information from the party concerning the internal issues of our party from social media and other news portals.There is a near complete disconnection between party officials from ward levels to the national, which renders the national leadership susceptible to manipulation and intrigues since nature abhors a vacuum.
d) APC as a conglomeration of a number of defunct political parties and interest groups, is yet to fuse into a single party.
III. Solutions to the Leadership Tussle
1) The immediate solution to the crisis is for the President to call for a NEC meeting to uphold constitutionalism in the midst of chaos and deep polarization of the members of the NWC. The NEC meeting will avail the members the missing thrust to resolve all pending knotty issues and discuss the way forward for the party. It is recommended that the meeting discusses the future of the current leadership which may involve its dissolution and appointment of a caretaker committee to organise a special national convention to elect new national officers within 12 weeks. The caretaker committee, if appointed, should overhaul, recalibrate and reposition the party to face the challenges of future elections. The committee members must be all-inclusive and reflective of all interests and tendencies within the party as well as possess the desired competence, experience, impartiality and integrity. The composition may consist of all former Chairmen of national political parties who are now members of the APC, and other accomplished and evidently neutral persons. The Chairman who may emerge from the South-South zone must never be seen to be controversial and shall enjoy the goodwill of a wide spectrum of all tendencies.
2. An early national convention should be convened to among others, re-zone party positions and ratify key decisions, including certain appointments.
3. All party organs must be inaugurated, vacant positions filled forthwith, and be allowed to function as provided for in the constitution.
4) A new reconciliation and membership drive committee should be set up to mend fences and expand the frontiers of the party to face future elections.
5) The new party leadership shall play the key role of watchdog to ensure the government lives up to its campaign promises to bequeath enduring legacies and projects, besides holding it to account. Furthermore, it is imperative to reward loyal party members through patronage and appointments immediately, to calm the tensions, disaffections and dissident behaviours.
6) The party should set up a constitution review committee to remove all ambiguities and strengthen its clauses, roles and functions of all organs of the party without delay, and if need be, specify sanctions for non-observance of those functions and requirements of law by the NWC.
7) Any national officer of the party must be appointed or elected on merit and competence, and must be someone with a national profile, non-controversial, well-accomplished in private and public services or must have held the position of at least a Commissioner or its equivalent in the state EXCO or membership of either the state or national assemblies. Henceforth, no national officer should emerge out of the blues simply on account of cronyism to a godfather.
8)The constitution of the party encourages use of internal conflict resolution mechanisms. This has been discarded by members and the Leadership, which is evidenced by the plethora of Court cases. Henceforth any aggrieved party member that goes to Court without exhausting the internal conflict resolution mechanism should be suspended or expelled.
9) The constitution review committee should enshrine the supremacy of the party in running of its affairs. The powers and authority of elected party leaders at all levels has to be respected by all members of the party, including elected government officials.
10) During the second republic, political parties were self-funded, and their funds came through voluntary contributions from members, membership registration fees and 5% contributions from salaries of political office holders. Unfortunately, Governors are now the only major source of funding the Party.
11) Without a functional BOT and given the prime position of Mr President, he needs to play the leadership role of nipping any conflicts in the bud. The party desires the fatherly role of Mr. President to be assertive and decisive in ensuring discipline in the party. The President can ill-afford to be onlooker to unsavoury developments in the party.
12) The NASS CAUCUS is currently dormant and docile. We expect the NASS caucus to assert itself and ensure party discipline is enforced, while the constitution and guidelines are followed to the letter.
13) The method of registration, documentation and retrieval in the party should be upgraded.
14) We must upscale the principles of absolute sacrifice and loyalty to the Party and jettison the current self-centred philosophy of personal interests and ambitions. Collective, inseparable and joint action and resolve to accomplish our objective of changing Nigeria positively should be our irreducible minimum target and focus.
The forum of APC former House of Representatives Members is convinced that if the foregoing suggested solutions are adopted and implemented diligently, they will restore the glory of our party. Needless to say that progressive-minded Nigerians still have strong faith and trust in the APC, but the party must never allow its lingering leadership tussle and unhealthy rivalries erode that confidence.
1 . Hon. Isa Ibrahim Bio. 2. Hon. Usman Balkore Mohammed 3. Hon. Chidi Duru 4. Hon. Eng. Janet Adeyemi 5. Hon. Dr. Shuaibu H. Abdullahi 6. Hon. Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa 7. Hon. Hassan Jonga 7. Hon. Lumumba Dah Adeh 8. Hon. Idris Yahaya Yahuza 9. Hon. Chidi Nwogu 10. Hon. Bala Kaoje
For And On Behalf of APC Forum of Former Members of the House of Representatives