- We won the battle, but lost the war, says President
There seems to be no respite in sight for the crisis-ridden All Progressives Congress, APC as the National Executive Committee meeting of the party yesterday ended in stalemate without resolving the issues affecting the party.
However, respite came the way of the embattled national chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as NEC party passed a vote of confidence on his leadership. The meeting took place at the party’s national headquarters. NEC is the second highest organ of the party.
But, the efforts of the party to find lasting solution to the crisis threatening the soul of the party proved abortive as the long awaited meeting lasted for barely one without resolve all outstanding matters.
Admitting the inability of NEC to resolve the issues at stake, the party’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said APC governors would later meet with the senate president and the speaker to iron out the issues.
According to Mohammed, “NEC has provided an enabling environment to look into ways of resolving the National Assembly lock jams. Later in the day, the governors will be meeting with the speaker and the senate president in a further attempt to find a lasting solution to the lingering lock jam at the National Assembly.
“Also, it is important to let you know that everybody in the party is united on two issues which are party supremacy and the need to ensure that this government delivers its campaign promises.”
On whether the resolution includes looking into ways to reverse what has already be done in the National Assembly especially as it concerns principal officers, Alhaji Mohammed said,
“NEC has provided a platform to resolve this issue and part of the resolution is the meeting that will be held today (yesterday) between the governors on one hand and the senate president and the speaker of the house of representatives on the other hand.
“The president said he believes in party supremacy. We have a problem on our hands and we must find the best means to resolve it. One thing I can assure you is that, this house (the APC) shall not fall.
“The less said about this logjam the better it’ll be not for only this party but the whole nation. It is for the interest of everyone who voted for change. I would not want to go into the knitty gritty of what the resolution will be because as I speak, for now I don’t know. When you talk about party’s supremacy, it is derived from the constitution.”
The APC’s spokesman however could not satisfactorily explain why notable chieftains of the party such Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor and Chief Bisi Akande erstwhile interim national chairman of the party decided to stay away from the crucial NEC meeting ostensibly convened to rescue the party from crisis. According to him, “invitation to the meeting was at the discretion of the NWC or NEC who to invite or not and it is not out of respect to question why they are not here but the bottom line is that neither of them are members of the Exco of the party.”
Although going by the constitution of the party, Asiwaju Tinubu is not a member of the party’s NEC, but other chieftains of the party who are not constitutionally members of NEC attended the meeting. However, Chief Akande as a former national chairman of the party is an automatic member of NEC.
There are indications that the only solution to the crisis is if both the senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives concede to the demand of the party, which according to sources is reversal of what has already been done in the NASS especially election of principal officers. “The president has made it clear that there must be party supremacy. And arising from that, if the leadership of the National Assembly wants an end to the lingering crisis, the only option left on the table is reversal of the principal positions and go according to the list the party submitted. Any other thing contrary to this will amount to disrespecting the president,” the source said.
President Muhammadu Buhari used the occasion of the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting in Abuja to lament the lingering crisis in the party. The president also passionately appealed to party members especially the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara to at all times adhere strictly to party supremacy.
The president who unexplainably omitted recognising Speaker Dogara in the order of protocol despite the Speaker sitting just by the president’s right hand side went down memory lane in narrating how the party came into being. He explained the rigorous route the party took to arrive at success in order to drive home the point that the New PDP members who seem to have hijacked the party.
The president clearly said that when the members of the three legacy parties were in the trenches fighting to unseat the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, some of the people present at the NEC meeting were not around.
“The elections have come and gone, the APC has won the battle, but lost the war. This is the paradox of democracy, and we shall see how we can manage it going forward.
“I have already addressed you through the chairman, through the leadership of the party, through the governors and through our Senators and House of Representatives members.
“The APC must not disappoint its constituency, that’s the nation state. We have to convince our various constituencies that we are individually worthy of the sacrifices that they have made.
“They stayed awake day and night, travelling all over the country and made sure as a party, we emerge victorious. What subsequently happened is human, and as human beings we are not perfect, but let our collective actions in this party prove that we have won the elections, won the battle and we will win the war.
“The opposition parties then realized they wanted to unseat the PDP, they agreed and accepted that the only way through which that could be done was to come together. The ACN,the ANPP, the CPC, APGA and DPP wanted to come to participate fully in the negotiation, but we suspected that if we allowed APGA and DPP to participate actively in the negotiation for merger, there might be court cases that could cause either delay or deny us registration.
“So we persuaded our colleagues in APGA and DPP to stay out of the negotiation and that when we eventually get the registration, they could join in block or individually. Along the line, I assure you that nothing was done by impulse in our process to merge. There have been various committees, quite a number of you sitting here have been members of committees either leading them or being a member and we agreed. At some stage or the earlier stages, we agreed that nine people should form the interim committee, that’s the national chairmen of the parties, the secretaries and the treasurers.
“I personally and on behalf of you congratulate Chief Bisi Akande, it’s a pity he is not here, he led the interim party with dexterity and integrity. I respect his patriotism. When we got the APC name through the agreement of various committees of the respective parties, we started working from polling unit upwards, eventually we ended up in the convention, which gave us the leadership of the party.
“After that the election started, and again it started from the bottom up. I have gone to this extent because not all of us here participated in it and this is for you to reflect and thank the leadership of the party at various stages for going through all this, which is not easy.
“But God in his infinite mercy has helped us by giving us acceptance. Let us not throw this success to the wind. Let us as members of the APC no matter our personal differences get together and use the mandate given to us by this country. This is my personal appeal to you in the name of God. Whatever your personal interest or ambition, please keep it close to your heart and in your pocket. Let APC work, let the system work and let us have a government that will earn the respect of our constituencies.”
The NEC meeting was the first since the party’s victory at the 2015 general elections and was called according to the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to constitute and ratify the members of the Board of Trustees of the party.
Party chieftains present at the meeting included governors of Niger, Adamawa, Yobe, Plateau, Ogun, Katsina, Kebbi, Edo, Lagos, Kano, Imo, Zamfara, Sokoto and deputy governors of Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Benue Speaker and his Deputy, the senate president, Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Dino Melaye, etc.
Notable absentees included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande.
While fielding questions from journalists, the senate president who was smiling said the party was on its way to resolving the crisis. “You can see the smiles on our faces, that mean it is a good way to go,” the senate president said.
Imo state governor and chairman of APC Governors’ Forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha said the party resolved their differences amicably and passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the party.