A new chapter opened on Thursday in the annals of the All Progressives Congress (APC), following the setting up of a caretaker committee chaired by Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe State.
The decision was taken at the National Executive Committee (NEC) emergency meeting convened by the controversial acting national chairman, Chief Victor Gaidom, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The cardinal decision was taken by the NEC, following the president’s proposal at a time the National Caucus was on the sideline.
The setting up of an interim leadership may have been a sort of compromise to persuade the warring blocs in the ruling party to sheath their swords.
It may also serve as a plausible problem-solving device, if well managed, to, at least, maintain a clean slate from the past and begin the process that will herald the emergence of a new National Working Committee (NWC) in post-Adams Oshiomhole era.
The dissolution of the NWC drew the curtains on the tenure of the chairman and members of his divided team. His exit translated into a fulfilment of the dream to oust him by some members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, who had an axe to grind with him.
Oshiomhole’s sack underscored the reality of leadership instability in the APC, and hence, its similarity with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in crisis period. Except Col. Ahmadu Ali, past PDP chairmen bowed out in controversial circumstances.
The APC is not showing any remarkable example in leadership stability. The tenure of the first chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was full of tension. He was too weak to provide firm leadership. Now, Oshiomhole left office abruptly and unceremoniously.
Oshiomhole attracted a mixture of commendation and condemnation while steering the affairs of the party. He was firm and assertive, unwilling to be subservient to the governors who loathed his style. He was effective and decisive. But, he was also accused of overbearing attitude. Under him, some state chapters, including his native Edo, were engulfed in crises. Many problems he could not resolve will be inherited by the unelected caretaker committee.
The Buni-led Caretaker Committee is representative of the six zones. Buni, former national secretary of the party, may have been picked to head it because he has insight into the challenges confronting the platform. He may have also been the preferred choice of the governors who want to exert their influence as a dominant bloc.
For the next six months, the Yobe governor may be an absentee governor at home because of additional enormous party responsibilities on his shoulders.
Other members of the committee are: Osun State Governor Isiaka Oyebola (Southwest), former Senate President Ken Nnamani (Southeast), Stella Okorete (Women Representative), Governor Sani Bello (Northcentral), Dr. James Lalu (representing physically challenged), and Sen. Abubakar Yusuf (representing Senate),
Others are Akinyemi Olaide (House of Representatives), former governorship candidate in Bayelsa State David Lyon(Southsouth), Abba Ari (Northwest), Prof. Tahir Mamman(Northeast), Ismail Ahmed (Youth representative) and former Minister of State for Federal Capital Terrirory (FCT), Senator Akpan Udoedehe, a member of the board of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), who is Secretary to the committee.
The committee, which is also the Convention Planning panel, is mandated to organise a convention within six months where a new NWC will emerge. The task is challenging.
Between now and December, aspirants to party offices and their sponsors will be on the prowl in their quest for party power. They will embark on consultations and intra-party mobilisation. The chairmanship battle may become fierce because the next chairman will play a critical role in the 2023 presidential nomination.
The contest for party offices will still be shaped by zoning. Since the Presidency has remained in the North, the chairman will come from the South. The existing micro-zoning to the Southsouth may subsist. Many nominations will be ratified at zonal level. Where there are disputes, the contest will be decided by voting at the convention.
Already, party insiders have suggested two likely contenders – former Cross River State Governor Clement Ebri and Dr. Sam Sam Jaja. However, their belived interest is still in the realm of conjecture.
It is possible that some members of the dissolved NWC will bounce back, following their denomination by their zones. Definitely, Oshiomhole, who is at the centre of the crisis, will not seek re-election.
The committee is also expected to monitor and supervise the withdrawal of court cases arising from the protracted leadership tussles filed by aggrieved antagonistic camps.
The committee is mandated to ratify the Edo State governorship primary that produced Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as candidate. Above all, the interim managers are expected to foster reconciliation in the troubled party.
There is a Southdouth factor in the dominant leadership crisis that has held APC down. Oshiomhole and Victor Gaidom, and those who instigated the former national secretary, are from the Southsouth.
Oshiomhole lost the battle to keep his party office. But, the party ratified the candidature of Ize-Iyamu, who the former chairman will sell to Edo electorate during the campaigns.
Oshiomhole is challenging his suspension at the Supreme Court. Will he withdraw the case?
In Edo, the Obaseki faction, led by Anslem Ojezua, is still in court. Will it withdraw its case against the Oshiomhole camp?
Also, was Gaidom used and dumped? Two days ago, he was given the recognition by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting national chairman, based on a court order. In view of the NWC’s dissolution, what happens to the order that he obtained, the same order that has been rubbished by the National Executive Committee, based on the presidential proposal?
How will the power tussle in Rivers chapter play out? How will the caretaker committee broker peace between the Igo Aguma-led caretaker committee backed by Senator Magnus Abe and the Rotimi Amaechi/Gaidom camp?
Is Senator Lawan Shuaibu, erstwhile national deputy chairman, not also a loser, at least for now? He and the former chairman have not seen eye to eye. He has never relented in calling for Oshiomhole’s removal. Both of them were booted out.
There are two critical assignments before the Buni committee. Edo and Ondo governorship polls are critical. The onus is on the comittee to mobilise the party, not only to retrieve Edo from the opposition, but to also retain Ondo.
Apart from restoring confidence at the national level, the interim leadership should muster efforts to broker peace in crisis-ridden chapters. These include Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Delta, Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Niger and Ekiti.
Under the Caretaker Committee, the APC should fortify its crisis resolution and reconciliation mechanism. It is in its own interest.