APC’s NEC in crisis meeting
THERE were indications yesterday that as its National Executive Committee (NEC) meets today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not have any other option but to endorse the National Assembly leadership headed by Senator Bukola Abubakar Saraki.
Already, the party Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, is optimistic some consensus would be reached, compromises made, but that ultimately, they would make peace among themselves.
As the NEC meets, former Vice President and chieftain of APC, Atiku Abubakar, has urged leaders of the party to shift from extreme positions to a centrist one for the interest of democracy, the party, the new administration and the country at large.
A statement released by his media office in Abuja yesterday quoted the former vice president as calling for the concentration of positive energies on building unity, cohesion and harmony among party leaders and other stakeholders.
But whatever peace APC makes today, however, would seem to depend heavily on President Muhammadu Buhari to whom members of the House of Representatives have appealed to urgently wade into the ongoing leadership crisis and save the APC and his administration from further embarrassment.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at the party national secretariat, Odigie- Oyegun said: “For me, I think that there is no other way to resolve the conflict other than for all of us to accept compromise. Each one of us will lose face and that is the only way forward.”
Calling on all the interest groups to accept compromise in the interest of the party, he reminded the warring groups that they “should bear it in mind that they may have to lose face for an amicable resolution of the internal conflict.”
The party crisis was triggered after Saraki and Mr. Yakubu Dogara, had on June 9, 2015, defied the directive of the party by contesting and winning the Senate Presidency and Speakership against the wish of APC which preferred Ahmed Lawan as Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker.
Also, the emergence of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Ike Ekweremadu as the Senate Deputy President not only ruffled but sent tongues wagging among the ranks of the APC.
While, it may come to terms with the reality of Saraki and Dogara’s emergence,
Ekweremadu’s position as Deputy Senate President, according to a source at the party’s secretariat may be one of the bitterest pills the APC may have to swallow.
“That is one bitter pill we find difficult to swallow. We are lucky we got the Senate presidency because if one of the senators had stood up to nominate Senator David Mark on that day for the office of the Senate President, he would have got it because the PDP had the number of senators to do so that day.
Saraki is the Senate President and there is nothing anybody can do about it. We have to live with the realities,” he noted.
Unknown to many, the Buhari was not aware of the meeting of APC lawmakers supporting the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Gbajabiamila on the day the National Assembly was inaugurated.
The source revealed that the meeting actually held at the instance of an influential leader of the party adding it was aimed at compelling members to elect Gbajabiamila and Lawan as heads of chambers of the National Assembly.
Insiders said Buhari who was apparently piqued that his name was used by some self-serving politicians decided not to interfere when Saraki and Dogara went on to clinch the coveted seats.
The source said but for the desire by the top politician behind the ill-fated inauguration day meeting at the International Conference Centre (ICC) to “encircle” President Buhari with his stooges, the current crisis rocking the party would have been averted.
At the NEC meeting today, a combination of the G5 power bloc and those of Buhari’s defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) bloc who are uncomfortable with the overbearing influence of one of the leaders of the party would roundly support the continued stay of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in office who has come under fire from certain elements in the party opposed to Saraki and Dogara.
The lawmakers who sought Buhari’s intervention want him to prevail on Dogara and his loyalists to obey the party’s position on the distribution of the four remaining leadership positions in the House as prescribed by APC.
Shortly before reporters were sent out of the meeting venue, however, Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC) Katsina South, Buhari’s home state, had informed the President that the delegation were around to explain to the President their own version of the crisis that rocked the House that led to the election of Dogara, who defeated Gbajabiamila.
In a prepared text on behalf of the 174 APC members of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila, recalled to Buhari that “39 APC members colluded with the opposition PDP, to elect the current Speaker and Deputy Speaker, thereby disregarding the party directive.
Gbajabiamila, a lawyer faulted the principle of federal character argument of the House for their disobedience of the party directives, noting that the principle never covered the House of Representatives because the legislature was not an agency of the Federal Government.
Atiku, who is outside the country to perform a Lesser Hajj (Umrah) in Saudi Arabia, said he is deeply concerned that, soon after capturing power, the APC is torn apart at a time more energy are needed to attend to the objectives of the change agenda for which it was voted into power.
The former Vice President said it was high time the party overcame its current crisis of confidence arising from the National Assembly election of principal officers.
He explained that the current blame games targeted at individuals was an unnecessary diversion of energies at the expense of the urgency of the mission of the party to make life better for Nigerians.
According to the former vice president, the vilification of individual party leaders and members in the face of challenges facing the country was painful to him, adding that the party should learn the lessons and move ahead.
While restating his commitment to the party and its change agenda, the former vice president advised the party leaders not to allow people of bad faith to fuel division and acrimony among the party, adding that all positive energies should be directed towards sustaining the morale of the voters who look forward to the APC to make their lives better.
He reminded party leaders that any division could be exploited at the expense of the party. He extended his goodwill to the party for successful deliberations and assured the party of continued support and loyalty at all times.