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Thursday, 26 September 2013

APC, state structure and power tussle

  • DARE ADEKANMBI examines the issues the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been battling, especially with regard to the composition of state structure for the party.
    The All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be in a fresh fix over the guideline for the composition of its executives in some state chapters.
    There are cleavages within the party in some state chapters, particularly in the South- West, that are in seemingly endless scheming for the control of the party in the states.
    The rainbow coalition opposition party, on August 22, in Abuja, adopted the recommendations of its national interim executive committee on state structure. At a meeting attended by the leaders and state chairmen of the fused parties the day before, stakeholders had expected that the meeting would deliberate on the composition of executives in the state chapters. They were stunned when the meeting ended without the issue being discussed.
    The division manifesting in some states, reliable party sources confided in the Nigerian Tribune, necessitated the need to constitute the state chapters and address the situation in the party and settle whatever disagreements that might arise amicably as the 2015 elections approach.
    Following the adoption of the committee’s recommendations, the APC leadership released the guideline for the composition of party officers from ward to state across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). According to the guideline, a copy of which was obtained by Nigerian Tribune, the responsibility of constituting the executive members of the party is reserved for the State Harmonisation Committee (SHC).
    The choice of SHC was arrived at from several other options available to the committee on state structure. Part of the proposals, it was gathered, included the allocation of 50 per cent of the party offices for the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and 25 per cent each for the dissolved Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in states dominated by the ACN and vice versa.
    It states, “the Committee first sat on the 15th of August, 2013 and had extensive deliberation on the various options of structures which were put forward by members, including the ones recommended by the merger committee.
    “After carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed structure, it was unanimously agreed as recommended herein that, a committee to be called State Harmonisation Committee (SHC) be set up in each state and in the FCT,” the report of the committee read in part.
    Members of SHC are past and serving president/vice-president who are members of the party; serving and past governor and their deputies, Senators, Representatives, Speaker or Minority Leader of the state House of Assembly who is a member of the party and“provided that where none of the above is available, the members of the party in the House of Assembly shall be members.
    Others include former ministers, federal commissioners who are members of the legacy parties (CPC, ACN, ANPP, APGA faction); all immediate past national executive members of the legacy parties; immediate past governorship candidates of legacy parties and their deputies where APC does not have a sitting governor; nine (9) persons, comprising three elders, three youths and three women, one of each should be from each of the senatorial districts of the state, to be nominated by the NVC (National Vice- Chairman) in conjunction with IEC (Interim Executive Committee) members in the zone; state chairmen and secretaries of the legacy parties and members of the national interim executive committee.
    An analysis of the guideline revealed that membership of the committee would vary from one state to another depending on the peculiarities of the ‘legacy parties’ in each state. Functions of the state committee included harmonising and fusing “the structure of legacy parties into one united, strong and vibrant APC party in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. ”The committee, which is responsible to the national vice-chairman in each state, is also to organise and hold ward, local government and state meetings as well as embark on membership drive, among other functions.
    APC national vice-chairmen in the six geo-political zones are to supervise SHC, generate the names of those who fall into the criteria for inclusion in SHC and forward same to the national interim executive for approval and inauguration.
    A former Ekiti State governor, Chief Niyi Adebayo, who is the national vice-chairman (South-West), is coordinating the lists for the zone and he is to, in conjunction with IEC members from the zone, recommend those to be appointed as coordinator secretary and treasurer for each of the states.
    The 2015 governorship factor
    As events that followed the release of the guideline in some state later showed, the real issue was composition of SHC in the states. The factions in some of the parties that formed APC were quickly resurrected as soon as the guideline was made public. Particularly from groups opposed to governors in their states, the guideline was greeted with commendation for the national leadership’s resolve to ensure that the rank and file in the party are given the power to decide who will fly the party’s flag at any of the elections in 2015. These groups quickly commenced a series of meetings where they calculated the number of members of SHC that would be on their side. It was gathered that the anti-governors groups in APC had the upper hand as most of the National Assembly members from APC were opposed to governors controlling the structure of the party. The 2015 power play was also said to have played out as some of the Senators and House of Representatives members of the party were speculated to be eyeing the governorship seats of their states.
    However, groups loyal to governors were said to have expressed displeasure over the criteria for membership of the committee. Some of the governors on the platform of the party were said to have been telephoning one another over the development and consequently come up with a counter-strategy to stop those opposing them. Sources at the interim national leadership of the party confided in Nigerian Tribune that two governors had petitioned the national leadership about the guideline for SHC composition in their states. The governors reportedly anchored their argument on being the main financiers of the new party and consequently sought a better deal in the composition of SHC in their states.The governors’ sentiments were said to have been echoed by Governor Adam Oshiomhole of Edo State.
    Capitulation to governors’ demand
    After carefully weighing the implications of not responding positively to the governors’ request, APC interim national leadership was said to have agreed to give some concession to the governors over the party structure. The petition was said to have warranted a review of the initial guideline and in the new one, governors were made automatic coordinators of SHCs in addition to their getting five out of the nine slots initially meant to be distributed, three each for the constituting parties. Interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande was quoted to have said the party needed about N1.6 billion for registration of members slated for next month and that the bulk of the money would come from the governors.
    The Tinubu nexus
    The influence of a recuperating leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, was said to have been factored into consideration by the interim national leadership in arriving at the decision. The APC leadership was said to have discussed the development with Tinubu as it did leaders from the defunct CPC and others.
    The decision, according to observers of developments in the party, has confirmed the theory in certain quarters, especially from quarters loyal to the governors, that the leadership of the party could not afford to deny governors, who are qualified to run for a second term, the opportunity to get automatic ticket. It was gathered that the need to forestall the boat of the new party being rocked by the governors, who have resources to deploy for that purpose, led to the surrender of the interim national leadership.
    The risk of implosion
    The review of the guideline in favour of the governors has not gone down well with some groups in the party in quite a good number of states.
    These groups were said to have gone back to trenches on the next move against the governors. Some of the groups, it was gathered, were said to be already brandishing a Plan B that would see them work against those holding the control of the party. Some of these aggrieved groups were said to have joined other parties such as the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
    Situation in North-West
    In the entire 19 states of the North, APC has its largest following in the North-West. Although the zone is still relatively peaceful for the party, signs of crack have begun to emerge in some states. For instance in Katsina State, which is the state of one of the biggest leaders in APC, General Muhammdu Buhari (retd), APC has lost a good number of its key officers led by the state chairman of the defunct CPC, Dr Yusah’u, to PDM. The chairman explained that he and others left because they had no confidence whatsoever in APC as constituted. According to him, “everybody is aware of Katsina CPC crisis that emanated from the 2011 general elections. We have succeeded in winning three senatorial seats and 12 House of Representatives’ seats, but some leaders of CPC in the state substituted our governorship candidate and thereafter the internal crisis began.
    “We are going to meet in APC the same people that have scuttled internal democracy and created internal crisis in the defunct CPC in Katsina. We believe that in PDM, we can fulfill our political ambitions. It is a political party that has its roots in Katsina; we know its founders and their political capabilities and we are confident that, together, we can achieve our political dreams,” he said.
    It was apparently a good harvest for PDM as other members of the defunct CPC that joined it included the 25 members of the dissolved executives, 34 local government chairmen and 361 ward chairmen. Speaking for APC in the state on the development, Alhaji Farouq Aliyu, dismissed the possibility of the defection having negative consequences on the party in the state. “It is good that they have gone where they believe they can satisfy their political aspirations; this is the beauty of democracy, they don’t believe in what we believe in and we don’t believe in what they believe in,’’ he was quoted to have said.
    Observers are watching the battle for the control of the APC in Kano State; how it will pan out between a former governor of the state, Alhaji
    Ibrahim Shekarau and a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari.
    APC in South- East zone
    All appears intact for APC in Imo State under the leadership of the governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, who has also been vocal in drumming support for the party within and outside the South-East. Last weekend, he was in Ibadan, Oyo State, where he formally presented hundreds of his supporters from the region but who are resident in the South-West to the governors of Oyo, Osun and Ekiti States.
    APC is waiting to use the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State to show its strength in the state and by extension, the zone.
    However, cracks have begun to surface in the party over the governorship race. The emergence of Senator Chris Ngige, who is a former governor of the state, as APC candidate in the election, has been dogged by crisis. Ngige was initially endorsed at the APC stakeholders meeting in Abuja.
    Controversy trailed his endorsement as other stakeholders observed that the party’s candidate should emerge through party primaries. Although the purported endorsement was reversed and primaries held, Ngige still won the ticket.
    Senator Annie Okonkwo, who was purportedly pressurised into withdrawing for Ngige and later made the director of campaign for Ngige in the election, has resigned his coordinatorship of Ngige’s campaign. In a letter of resignation reported to have been dated September 18, 2013 and addressed to APC interim national chairman, Chief Akande, Okonkwo was reported to have, among other things, said: “I regrettably decline the appointment and also disassociate myself from the candidature of our standard bearer, Senator Chris Ngige. My decision was borne out of the inability of not keeping to agreement and flagrant distrust and abuses by our flag bearer who, of course, showed no appreciation of supreme sacrifice of stepping down for him.”
    South-West zone
    The South-West appears to be the zone where APC has the greatest threat to its cohesion ahead of the 2014/2015 elections coming up in the zone.The battle over who takes over from Governor Babatunde Fashola in 2015 is creating some ripples in the Lagos State chapter of the party.
    While some have alleged that the governor has anointed a candidate, an allegation Fashola has since denied, those in the group which is bent on having a successor to the throne from camp, have taken the matter to the recuperating leader of the party, Senator Tinubu currently overseas. It is believed that with Tinubu firmly in charge, the issue will be resolved peacefully.
    In Ogun State, there seems to be a cold war between a former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba and the incumbent, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who are both from the Egba division in Ogun Central Senatorial district. While Amosun is keenly interested in being re-elected in 2015, Osoba is said to be supporting the running mate to the presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Fola Adeola to replace Amosun in 2015.
    It is the same story in Oyo State where some stakeholders are in a war of wits and strategy over the control of the party ahead of the 2015 polls.
    The crisis in the Ekiti State chapter of the party has festered over the 2014 governorship ticket between Honourable Bamidele Opeyemi and Governor Kayode Fayemi. Osun State appears calm and firmly in control of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, who seems to be in the same camp with the interim national chairman, Chief Akande.
    Pundits have submitted that how far the party can go in 2015 will depends on the resolution of the crises in some of the zones for APC. They opine that it will take great deal of political sagacity for the leadership of the party to settle the matters in some state chapters in a way that will be mutually agreeable to the various camps in the party.

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