In this piece, JOHN ALECHENU writes on the struggles for the control of the structures of the All Progressives Congress in some states of the federation and the party’s attempt to resolve them.
The struggle for the control of the structure of what is arguably Nigeria’s fastest growing political party, the opposition All Progressives Congress, between the foundation members of the party and five governors who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC, has led to some unintended consequences. It has led to a crisis of confidence, which has arguably become the opposition party’s greatest challenge.
Members of the three legacy political parties -the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change- have been locked in a supremacy battle over the control of the party’s structure in some states.
This situation is more pronounced in four northern states of Adamawa, Sokoto, Kano and Kwara.
Just as the party was celebrating an influx of aggrieved members of the ruling PDP into its fold, two key figures in the merger of opposition political parties, which gave birth to the APC, left to join the PDP.
Former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, and ex-governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, eased themselves out of the APC. The duo, it appeared, felt it was obvious that the party’s hierarchy was more favourably disposed to recognising their arch rivals, Governor Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, as leaders in their various states.
While advancing reasons for his decision to leave the APC, Shekarau told his supporters on Wednesday, that “we intended with the merger to form a solid foundation for the entrenchment of democracy.
“The legacy group sacrificed all interests for the merger, but for the past six months, all agreements reached by the merged parties have not been met.
“No clear leaders, no registration of APC members at any levels. This shows a clear lack of commitment, transparency and accountability to all concerned.”
Ten members of the House of Representatives, who are Shekarau’s loyalists, distanced themselves from the decision which they claimed was unilateral.
But the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his response to the defection of the party stalwarts, simply said, “We wish them luck.”
It was however learnt that while the party leadership was grateful to the two for their contributions to the merger, it felt it made more political sense to give serving governors a sense of belonging.
A party insider noted that since party politics is all about getting political power to better the lot of the people, it is better to make concessions to governors who are already privileged to be in power. This approach appears to have worked in Adamawa State, where peace has been achieved.
The duo of Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.) and Markus Gundiri had initially opposed the concession made to the governors by the national headquarters of the party.
The APC had assured the five governors, who defected to the party, that they would enjoy equal privileges enjoyed by their counterparts, who were members of the legacy parties.
Marwa and Gundiri capitulated when the state governor, Murtala Nyako, conceded several positions to his adversaries in the state APC’s Interim Management Committee. The State Interim Management Committee was subsequently inaugurated at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yola, on Monday, January 27, 2014. The 14-man committee is headed by Kobis Thimnu, who is the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government.
This followed a marathon meeting of the state harmonisation committee, presided over by the National Deputy Chairman, North, Alhaji Bello Masari. The meeting was first of its kind in the fledging party because all the stakeholders participated directly and endorsed the outcome.
During the inauguration ceremony, Masari, Marwa, Gundiri, Nuhu Ribadu, Boss Mustapha and Fati Balla paid glowing tribute to Nyako for his sterling leadership qualities and spirit of reconciliation.
Those, who spoke acknowledged that the governor’s decision to concede several slots paved the way for the peace, harmony and mutual understanding which currently prevail. They all accepted Nyako’s leadership of the party.
An APC insider explains that each state has its peculiarity, saying, “There is no one shoe that fits all types of scenarios.”
Although it appears to be too late for the likes of Bafarawa and Shekarau to rescind their decisions, the party and its members in states like Kwara and others will draw positive lessons from the Adamawa example.