Poor Housekeeping Manners In APC – By Ehi Braimah

In a recent article, I complained about the “nonsense” going on in the All Progressives Congress (APC). I analysed the leadership crisis in APC instigated by the inordinate ambition of some selfish party leaders. Mind you, the cloud confusion over the party convention has not blown away but what were we expecting? It is evident APC is a house divided against itself.

I hinted that Mai Mala Buni, the erstwhile chairman of the caretaker and extra-ordinary convention planning committee (CECPC) and governor of Yobe state as well as some APC governors including John Akpanudoedehe who was national secretary of the caretaker committee, did not mean well for APC. The party’s constitution has been serially undermined and there are fears that APC would eventually unravel beyond redemption if the chestnut is not quickly pulled out of the fire.

I explained that members of the committee whose mandate was for only six months from June 25, 2020 were hell bent on hijacking the party for their selfish interest while using President Muhammadu Buhari’s name as cover to promote their ambition. I argued that the President indulged Buni to the extent that he overstayed his welcome as chair of the committee. When was Buni’s tenure supposed to expire?

I concluded that Buni and his colleagues refused to quit the stage when their time was up, using delay tactics which resulted in serial postponement of the national convention of the party. I added that they did not understand the wider implications of their bad behaviour.

After three previous postponements, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, revealed last week in a Channels TV interview that even the March 26 convention – moved from February 26 – would be threatened and may not hold if Buni was still in charge.

There was enough evidence, according to el-Rufai, to prove that Buni, with the support of some governors, had a hidden agenda. The party leadership did not know that a member of the party had procured a court order since November last year to stop the national convention until his case against the party was determined – and this can take months.

Buni was both governor and caretaker committee chair at the same time. How come the party leadership did not see anything wrong with this anomaly? Apparently, Buni and his collaborators knew about the court order. It was kept as top secret and, according to el-Rufai, it was meant to be pulled out at as their joker at the last minute to derail the national convention and hurt the party’s chances at the 2023 general election.

APC has no structures or organs as a properly run party for as long as we can remember because internal democracy is in jeopardy. APC is like a car without a spare tyre and brake lights. Even the brake pads are due for replacement. When it rains, the wipers of the car do not work, so it is difficult to drive well because visibility will be poor. Now, the car has a new driver who is in search of spare parts and a new direction.

Who has the authority to convene the national convention of the party? Who will preside at the convention? The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has already issued APC a yellow card over “untidy” arrangements in respect of its upcoming National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

President Buhari who is also the leader of the party is clearly unhappy over the leadership crisis and the inability to hold the party’s convention. He has requested that every legal means be used to vacate the court order. Buni should be able to explain why he was chair of the caretaker committee for almost two years — instead of six months — without holding the party’s convention. He may be unwilling to provide the explanation but there’s a back story to the APC crisis.

According to a very dependable source, a plot was hatched by Nasir el-Rufai (governor of Kaduna state), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti state governor), Abubakar Bagudu (governor of Kebbi state), Mohammed Abubakar (governor of Jigawa state), Simon Lalong (governor of Plateau state) and Mai Mala Buni to become the controlling force and power brokers of APC.

That was when it was alleged that APC governors had hijacked the party and were calling the shots. These governors had the backing of Abubakar Malami, the attorney general and minister of justice, and the story was widely reported. From what we now know, the governors are the biggest threat to the survival of the party and this is why President Buhari is unhappy.

One of the goals of these governors and Malami, according to my source, included searching for who will succeed President Buhari next year. It was alleged that this group was not going to support Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a national leader of the party, if he decided to throw his hat into the ring.

Instead, they rooted for Kayode Fayemi as a possible presidential candidate of APC from the southwest region, but el-Rufai disagreed and pulled out. It was speculated that the Kaduna state governor also had his eyes on the presidency. At this time, the zoning of party offices had not been determined; all the permutations were mere speculations.

After el-Rufai quit, Buni and colleagues regrouped. This time, revealed my source, Yahaya Bello (governor of Kogi state), Dapo Abiodun (governor of Ogun state) and Hope Uzodinma (governor of Imo state) became the new members of the group. This “cabal” was in force until Buni was “dethroned” recently. His army of supporters and praise singers also reduced.

The truth of the matter is that these guys are promoting and protecting their personal interests. For example, the governors who are in their first term want to return for a second term. Buni had his own game plan just as Malami was scheming to become the governor of Kebbi state. John Akpanudoedehe also wanted to use his position to clinch the APC governorship ticket of Akwa-Ibom state.

Part of the grand scheme by Buni and his colleagues to buy time and extend their illegal tenure was to cause distraction and divert attention. It included inviting high profile opposition politicians to join APC. The attempt to lure former President Goodluck Jonathan into APC was part of the plot but it ended as a ghost campaign. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was also a target but it did not work out.

However, Buni succeeded in recruiting Dave Umahi (governor of Ebonyi state), Ben Ayade (governor of Cross River state) and Femi Fani-Kayode, former aviation minister, to dump the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for APC. Buni celebrated his “conquests” and made it a point of duty to present the defectors to President Buhari in Aso Villa. My source insists that Buni believed those defections would boost his political capital and help him achieve his goals.

Buni, while enjoying the perks of office as governor, wanted to use his position as chair of the caretaker committee to pursue his ambition of becoming the vice presidential candidate to Fayemi. If this plan should fail as it did, Buni’s Plan B was to pull out all the stops and become national chairman of APC. Continuous postponements of the convention were aimed at forcing a consensus candidate on the party to be determined by the “cabal” but the plan back fired.

Gboyega Oyetola and Abubakar Sani Bello, governors of Osun state and Niger state respectively, are members of CECPC. Oyetola resigned to take part in the primaries which he won to pave way for him to contest the Osun state gubernatorial election that will take place on July 16 as he seeks a second term in office.

With Buni out of the way, and in the absence of Oyetola, Bello took charge based on presidential directive. Initially, President Buhari was not convinced that Buni should be replaced as chairman of the caretaker committee, but when “overwhelming evidence” was presented to him, Buhari changed his mind.

Buni knew about the court order to frustrate the APC national convention. In addition, it was also alleged that he was making “cool cash” by railroading state governors into submission in exchange for political benefits. The controversial state primaries which necessitated setting up a reconciliation committee were a perfect playground for the alleged hanky panky. These were weighty allegations that could not be swept under the carpet.

President Buhari reflected on these issues which deeply troubled him, explained my source. It was the reason Buhari made a surprise return to Abuja from Kenya instead of heading to London based on his original itinerary to take care of the disturbing housekeeping issues within the party. It was at this time Buni also headed to Dubai for his medical vacation.

Meanwhile, after reluctantly signing the Electoral Amendment Bill into law, President Buhari wrote to the Senate president, requesting that Clause 84(12) be expunged by the National Assembly because it will disenfranchise “political appointees”.

Again, this was the result of poor housekeeping. Malami and his group paid more attention to the direct and indirect primaries options for the party based on the proposal by the National Assembly which President Buhari rejected and refused to sign the bill. They completely ignored or did not see Clause 84(12) and what its implication. In place of indirect primaries earlier rejected by the presidency, Clause 84(12) became a perfect replacement in view of the overwhelming voice vote by the senators affirming support for the Clause

However, the contentious Clause of the Electoral Act 2022 ought to apply to political appointees and those voted into office. Since the National Assembly did not provide clarity and context, the Clause under reference is discriminatory. By June 3, the law says all party primaries must hold, and political appointees are required to resign from office at least three months before June 3.

It means the likes of Abubakar Malami, Rotimi Amaechi (Minister of Transportation), Godwin Emefiele (governor of the Central Bank) cannot vie for any elective office at next year’s general election because we now have less than 90 days to the deadline issued by the INEC.

The fear is that access to public funds will be an unfair advantage to political appointees while in office and at the same time vying for elective offices. Senate minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, urged his colleagues not to allow the bill scale through the second reading because doing so “will not be in the interest of democracy”.

It was Senator Adamu Aliero, former governor of Kebbi state, who raised the point of order on the floor of the Senate regarding the contentious Clause 84(12). Aliero and Malami are from Kebbi state but they do not see eye to eye. Aliero, said my source, is clearly opposed to Malami’s ambition to become the governor of the state.

Now, what is Malami, Buni and colleagues – the cabal that has been running the show in APC — doing in London? It was reported that they travelled to London to disturb President Buhari who is resting with poor housekeeping issues which could not be managed at home. It is obvious they’re fighting back to regain control of the party — but it is too late.

Today it is APC; tomorrow, it will be PDP. These politicians do possess any sense of shame and their parties are not driven by any higher purpose. They are just having fun at our expense.

APC and PDP are two sides of the same coin; the more we look, the less we see.

– Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng)

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