President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated a National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to reconcile aggrieved members of the party to ensure harmony and cohesion ahead of the 2019 general elections. Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN examines the issues involved in the affected state chapters and how the reconciliation move would enhance the fortunes of the ruling party at the polls.
RESOLVING the intra party crises rocking many state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not likely to be a tea party. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu recently to lead the party’s reconciliation effort and improve cohesion within the fold, as preparations for the 2019 general elections gradually get underway.
Tinubu’s mandate includes resolving disagreements among party members, particularly the leadership of the party in various chapters and political office holders. Given the existence of factions in virtually all the states controlled by the APC, observers are of the view that it is imperative for the ruling party to put its house in order before campaign for 2019 begins. If properly carried out, analysts believe the initiative is capable of rescuing the APC from disintegration and in turn enhance its performance in the next general elections.
Analysts are of the view that Tinubu has a difficult job on his hands, because many chieftains in different state chapters and political office holders are at dagger drawn and the party is polarised in factions. Besides, the leadership of the National Assembly are not on the same page with the executive. Though the APC is in majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and produced the leadership of both chambers, the party members in the two houses play the role of opposition, to the admiration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the official opposition party. As a result, budget proposals, government nominees and requests usually suffer delays in getting approvals.
For the APC to succeed in papering these cracks, the leadership of the party must face reality in its approach to tackling the problem. Lagos lawyer and civil right activist, Mr Monday Ubani, cautioned the leadership of the party not pretend that all is well. He said there are issues that must be resolved, for the party to avoid protest votes by the aggrieved factions or individuals in 2019. He added: “It is not too late to address the contending issues that have created factions in many states chapters.”
Ubani said the time to unite the party is now, because in few months the party, going by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) time table, would hold primaries to choose candidates for various elective positions for the 2019 general elections. He said the APC should avoid a situation whereby the aggrieved factions or individuals would use the convention grounds to ventilate their anger.
The civic rights activist commended President Buhari for setting up a committee headed by Tinubu to bring all aggrieved members to a round table. He is optimistic that Tinubu will deliver. He added: “If the aggrieved members or groups know that you are serious with the reconciliation and all the mistakes are corrected, they will forgive you. To err is human and to forgive is divine.
“The President should be sincere with Tinubu, so that the reconciliation would be genuine. He should be given the power to address the issues. Tinubu is not in government, how can he make changes and calm the frayed nerves. This can be done if the President accepts and implements the recommendations of the committee. If the leadership of the APC agrees to address the perceived injustice on time with genuine interest, it will help the party. If not, it will do more damages to the fortunes of the party.”
To Professor Ayo Olukotun, the idea of saddling Tinubu with the reconciliation of aggrieved individuals and groups in the APC speaks volumes about the importance of the APC leader to the continued existence and success of the party. To that extent, he described the move as a good idea.
Olukotun, a professor of Political Science at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), appears to agree with the statement credited to Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas that “if Bola Ahmed Tinubu dumps President Muhammadu Buhari, he (Buhari) runs the risk of losing popularity before the 2019 elections”. The statement added: “Tinubu is the only hope of Buhari’s re-election come 2019. If he says that he will not support Buhari, the Southwest is gone.”
Aligning himself with Falola’s view, Olukotun said the leadership of Asiwaju in the APC is not in doubt. His words: “Whether you like Tinubu or not, you can’t take away from him the strategic importance of continued existence of the APC. Tinubu is the gate.”
On the essence of reconciliation, Olukotun explained that “when you have a mega party like the APC, the different dimension of national question and the crack in the wall of Nigerian federation are transferred to the mega party. The party becomes a mini-Nigeria, reflecting the contradictions, the crisis and the cracks within the larger polity.
“There is this feeling that Buhari has not been fair to the constituent parts of Nigeria, except his own part of the country. Furthermore, the strategic role played by Tinubu that led to Buhari’s victory in 2015 has not been given due recognition. All these facts will make the assignment difficult and somehow ironic.
“It appears a belated recognition of the pre-eminent role which Tinubu played in bringing about the APC. It would have been nicer if the assignment had come earlier with the reverence that is due to Asiwaju Tinubu, so that it is not seen as an errand boy assignment. It’s a tough assignment.”
But the Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Anthony Sani, disagreed with Olukotun’s position. He said Tinubu does not need any tutorials to be able to deliver on his mandate. His words: “Senator Tinubu is a serious-minded politician who knows what is required to reconcile the party into a united platform that can face the challenges with clear head that comes with determination, harmony and stability. I do not believe Senator Tinubu needs any tutorials to be able to deliver on the promise of his mandate.”
Sani also dismissed the insinuation that Tinubu has grievances with the APC leadership. He said: “I am not aware that Senator Tinubu has complained of being marginalised by the party, because he has debunked such reports and has asked Nigerians to support the current regime under President Buhari. I believe those who gave him the assignment would not do so, if his loyalty was in doubt.
“The senator is a serious politician; I do not see him accepting the assignment if he does not believe in the party any more. What is more, Senator Tinubu does not see politics as an individual enterprise, but a collective mission. Tinubu’s constituency is adequately represented in this government. As a result, the senator would be too happy to serve a party which has given his immediate constituency the opportunity for their progressive ideology to find expression.”
On the timing of the reconciliation move, the ACF scribe states: “One year is not too short for any reconciliation to take place and enable the party to come together, to confront the challenges ahead with unity of purpose, clear thought and morality. I do not think it is too late. The APC does not want to confront the coming general elections as a divided house, but as a sturdy platform brought about by the reconciliation.”
Civil rights activist Comrade Mashood Erubami said President Buhari took the right decision by choosing Tinubu to lead the reconciliation process. He said that was the best decision, under the circumstance the party found itself. He advised those who were jolted by the choice of Tinubu as a peace envoy not to be biased, but to begin to understand and appreciate the position occupied by the National Leader in the party.
Erubami was optimistic that the Tinubu-led peace committee will successfully reposition the APC as a mega party. His words: “With Asiwaju in the fore-front of peace-building moves among the members of the party and the strong confidence that the President has in him, forging a renewed and sincere alliance will bring the APC back into its glorious space and rekindle the confidence of the people in its undoubted capacity to deliver and help the masses from the state of penury to state of prosperity.”
The activist said the peace building work that Tinubu has been saddled with must “not only bring party members together for the continued enjoyment the available patronages, but also encourage a new covenant between the people and the APC, particularly in re-jigging its manifesto to conform to current realities”.
Erubami believes that with the reconciliation process, “conflict resolution among the party members will lead to genuine deliberative governance that will target new economic, political and ideological measures to be newly designed to improve the lives of citizens, with new orientation for gainful engagement, new and better welfare for the people”.
The Tinubu committee is expected to move from one chapter to the other and reconcile the warring factions. There are a lot of grievances among major stakeholders that have proved intractable. These grievances are also responsible for lack of cohesion in the party. Some of the states where members of the APC are at cross purposes are listed below.
 
Kano
The political tussle between the immediate past governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso  and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje appear to have reached a point of no return. This is to the extent that governor declared recently that he has parted ways with his predecessor forever.
Kwankwaso and Ganduje were former political associates who enjoyed harmonious relationship since 1999. But a fierce battle between them broke out immediately after the former handed over power to the latter. The crisis brought cracks within the ruling APC in the state. While the supporters of Kwankwaso are known as the Kwankwasiyya movement, those backing Ganduje are referred to as Gandujiyya group.
The tension has been so high among members of the two factions that the Kwankwasiyya group had filed a lawsuit in Abuja to try to stop the recent local government elections. The Ganduje group has warned Kwankwaso not to visit Kano, because his safety can longer be guaranteed.
Extolling his innocence, Ganduje said: “Everybody knows we are innocent in our crisis with Kwankwasiyya. What baffles me is that they are going round the country saying we can’t win election. This is ridiculous. This is lie. I have never seen such an enmity. Do these people love us? But they are calling for reconciliation. For what? If we reconcile, how do we manage this red cap? I myself, I’m about to remove my own. Kwankwasiyya is not a political party. So, what would be our position if we reconcile?”
The Kwankwaso faction appears to have the backing of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau. Three of the former governor’s top associates declared support for the Kwankwaso movement on January 26, 2018. Shekarau was a foundation member of the APC; he was a member of the committee that harmonised the various political parties that transformed into the APC in 2014. He pulled out of the party when the APC national leadership appointed Kwankwaso as party leader in the state; a decision Shekarau considered absurd.
A close watcher of Kano politics, Malam Idris Gwamaja, said the crisis has deepened to the extent that both factions have sworn not to come together again. He said with the calibre of the Tinubu-led committee coming to broker peace in Kano APC that there might be a solution in sight.
He said: “I am sure they will listen to him. Both Kwawanso and Ganduje are close to Tinubu. Besides, the APC National Leader should extend his reconciliation mission in Kano to include Shekarau. He was a member of the committee that formed the APC. He should be brought back into the fold; he’s an influential politician in Kano.”
 
Kaduna
The feud between Governor Nasir el-Rufai and the Senator representing Kaduna Central Malam Shehu Sani has polarised the APC in the state. The crisis reached a climax in January 2016, when Sani was suspended from the party for 11 months for criticising the governor’s policies publicly and for portraying him in a bad light before the international community. The suspension lapsed on December 2, 2016.  Sani and his supporters had expected that they would be fully re-absorption into the party. But, the senator was again given an indefinite suspension. Besides, his house was attacked by some youths and his constituency office later vandalised.
Analysts believe that the genesis of the crisis could be traced to the APC governorship primary where el-Rufai given the party’s ticket for the 2015 election. It was learnt that Sani had wanted to contest for governorship, but he was pressurised to allow el-Rufai who was considered the favourite of the President. Thus, Sani settled for the senatorial ticket. He contested and won the election. But, since then, there has been cat and mouse relationship between him and the governor.
At a point, the APC national secretariat intervened and quashed the earlier suspension slammed on Sani by the state executive of the party. The mediation team that restored peace between the feuding parties was led by the APC Vice Chairman (North West), Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir. Despite the intervention, peace has continued to elude Kaduna APC.
 
Kogi
The crisis in the Kogi APC chapter was triggered by the emergence of Yahaya Bello as governor, following the death of Prince Abubakar Audu who was the APC candidate in the November 2015 governorship election. Audu died before he could be declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As a result, his running mate Hon. James Faleke insisted that he was the right person to replace Audu, since they ran the election on a joint ticket. But, INEC after consultations with legal minds decided that the first runner-up in the APC governorship primary was the rightful replacement for Audu. Consequently, Bello was declared winner.
Faleke headed for the courts to challenge Bello’s emergence. The matter went up to Supreme Court, which eventually ruled that INEC followed due process in replacing Audu. Since then, there has been no respite in the Kogi chapter. Stakeholders are concerned by the growing animosity between the governor and other major stakeholders; they appear to be working at cross purposes.
Analysts believe that the Kogi crisis will not be difficult for Tinubu to handle, because he knows everything involved; he will prevail on Faleke and his supporters to embrace peace and join hands with the governor in the interest of the party.

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