With less than two weeks to the opening of the window for the Presidential and National Assembly Election campaign, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to reconcile most of its aggrieved members and it is still searching for peace.
The aggrieved members include those who felt alienated during the wards, local government and state congresses of the party, as well as those who contested its presidential primary alongside the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in July and are not happy with the intrigue and manipulations that took place during the election.
As a way of facilitating peace and reconciliation, it would be recalled that a meeting of former presidential aspirants of the APC was scheduled for Abuja, but it could not take place.
The postponement of the meeting was announced a few hours before its commencement. Since then nothing has been heard of it.
The meeting was reportedly cancelled because of lack of commitment on the part of the aspirants, many of whom had indicated that they would not be available.
It was gathered that the aborted meeting sought to address a number of factors, such as a move to reconcile aggrieved members, challenges bedevilling the country, inclusive politics and adoption of winning campaign strategies to coast home to victory ahead of the 2023 general election.
Among those expected at the botched meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
Five serving governors, namely Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) were also expected to attend.
Others were Senate President Ahmad Lawan; former Ogun State governor and serving senator, Ibikunle Amosun; a serving senator, Ajayi Boroffice; former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani; former Imo State governor and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha; a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Pastor and businessman, Dr Nicolas Felix; former Information Minister, Ikeobasi Mokelu; Businessman, Tein Jack-Rich and the only female among them, Uju Ken-Ohanenye.
Since the primary, most of these aspirants have not been active in the party’s affairs and preparation for the 2023 presidential election as they were not included or given any role in the Campaign Council.
Also, there are crises in many of the APC state chapters, with reconciliation efforts ongoing in some and futile in others.
It would be recalled that the crisis in the Osun State chapter of the APC led to its defeat in the July 16,2022 governorship election. The incumbent governor and a factional leader in the crisis, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, lost his re-election bid to the PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
The other factional group led by former governor of the state and current Minister of Interior, Engr Rauf Aregbesola, was said to have given support to the PDP candidate resulting in his victory at the poll.
The National Chairman of the APC, Abdullhai Adamu agreed with this when he said, “We lost the race not because we are incapable, but because of the crisis within. We had a massive gathering of supporters a few days before the election in Osogbo. No one could ever anticipate that we would lose the election.
He was very hopeful that the party would however win the 2023 general election.
“We will sit and check ourselves. We must ask ourselves what is right and wrong and what needs to be corrected,” he said.
Surprisingly, since losing the election, no attempt has been made by the party’s leadership to reconcile the feuding groups.
In Abia State, there was an indication that the leadership crisis in the state chapter of the APC would be resolved as the reconciliation committee set up by the NWC expressed its readiness to submit the report of its assignment
According to the committee Chairman, Chris Adighije, the panel has concluded its task and it is ready to hand in the report, which, is expected to put paid to all contending issues.
Recalling how the committee was set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) to address the crisis, Adighije said, “Having heard from all the parties to the misunderstanding, I am confident that APC will triumph in Abia in next year’s elections.”
Speaking on the steps taken so far by his committee, Adighije, who is also the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State, said the committee started by engaging stakeholders in the state to capture all shades of opinion.
He said the opinions helped to shape the committee’s report, which were far-reaching to the extent that the committee recommended punitive measures against recalcitrant members, even as he pleaded with stakeholders and members of APC in the state to sheath their swords and give peace a chance.
“There is no way anyone will say that we have delivered when APC wins at the national level and lose at the states. It would be assumed that the Abia people did not contribute much to the victory at the centre. The reconciliation committee was, therefore, meant to strengthen the party and to bring about inclusion and unity.
It would be recalled that on August 4, a reconciliatory committee was set up by the APC’s National Working Committee with the mandate to reconcile aggrieved stakeholders in Abia State, following the allegations of conflict over state congresses and primaries.
The committee was headed by the former Abia Central Senator, Adighije. Other members of the committee included, Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikoh; Emeka Atuma; Martins Azubuike; former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Emeka Wogu; APC National Welfare Secretary, Sir F.N. Nwosu and the state rival APC gubernatorial candidate, Chief Ikechi Emenike.
APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had charged the panel to do the needful and unite the state chapter to be able to prosecute the 2023 elections as a family “by lobbying and reconciling considering that politics is local.”
In the Kano State chapter of the APC, stakeholders have asked the party’s top echelon to initiate a strategic reconciliation mechanism to calm aggrieved members ahead of the 2023 polls.
The stakeholders made the appeal recently when the North-West zonal officials of the party led by the APC National Vice-Chairman for the zone, Salihu Lukman, held a meeting with them during a fact-finding tour.
Also, Governor Muhammadu Yahaya of Gombe State recently inaugurated a 21-man Reconciliation Committee to resolve all grievances that arose from the just concluded congresses and primaries of the APC in the state.
A statement signed by Ismaila Uba Misilli, Director-General (Press Affairs), said the committee is headed by Deputy Governor Manassah Daniel Jatau and it is specifically charged with the responsibility of harmonising and uniting members of the party, ahead of the 2023 general election.
Speaking during the ceremony, Governor Yahaya explained that the setting up of the committee becomes necessary in view of the seeming differences that ensued during the just concluded party primaries in the State.
The governor said, “in a contest such as the last APC primaries, it is practically impossible for all the yearnings and aspirations of every contestant to be met without some form of misgivings, reservations or grievances arising from the process”.
How soon will the party leadership be able to reconcile the aggrieved members before the election is a question that cannot be answered immediately.
About the Author
AYO ESAN, has been actively reporting and analyzing political events for different newspapers for over 18 years. He has also successfully covered national and state elections in Nigeria since the inception of this democracy in 1999.