Uphill task before APC reconciliation committees

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had, on Wednesday, November 21, inaugurated the National Peace and Reconciliation Committee for each of the six geo-political zones in the country, majorly due to cases arising from primary elections.

The NWC had announced the formation of the committees, with each headed by a governor, to find a way out of the stalemate, so that they could go into the 2019 elections as one strong family.

“Do everything to ensure peace within the rank and file of the party,” Oshiomhole charged the committees during their inauguration.

Oshiomhole, who said the committees were free to consult them on new issues that might arise in the course of their assignments, added that the terms of reference given to them were amenable.

However, reliable sources told Daily Trust on Sunday that the committees might not be able to alter the decisions the party had already taken on the volatile states, particularly Ogun, Imo and Zamfara, despite the ongoing protests.

What the aggrieved members want

The demands of the aggrieved members of the party vary.

Amosun’s camp insist on Adekunle

In Ogun State, the grieving loyalists of Governor Ibikunle Amosun have insisted on the declaration of the governor’s anointed candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, as the party’s governorship flag-bearer as condition for peace to reign in the party.

They are equally demanding the ceding of 26 House of Assembly tickets to Amosun’s loyalists, who had been “denied” candidates form (CF001) by the national leadership of the APC.

The ruling party in the state was polarised following the submission of Dapo Abiodun’s name as the governorship candidate against the governor’s pick.

Amosun had won the senatorial ticket for Ogun Central, alongside his chief of staff, Tolu Odebiyi, who got the Ogun West ticket. Another ally of Amosun, Lekan Mustapha, also got Ogun East senatorial ticket. But this is yet to pacify the aggrieved party leaders and members.

A presidential reconciliatory team had met with Amosun’s group in Abeokuta, barely three days before the APC inaugurated its own peace committee.

The three-man team, led by Princess Sandra Oladele and state executives of the APC, was locked in a closed door meeting at party’s secretariat in Abeokuta.

All the 26 candidates vying for State House of Assembly from the governor’s camp, who had been denied tickets, were present at the meeting.

The state chairman, Derin Adebiyi, represented by the APC chairman, Ogun Central, Yomi Ademefun, presented the party’s demands for peace, including declaration of Amosun’s anointed candidate, Akinlade as the party’s governorship candidate.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, a member of the panel, Adewale Adenaike, promised to forward their demands to the party for the reconciliation of the aggrieved parties concerned, asking party members to work together in the interest of peace.

Adenaike said the crisis would be resolved before December 1, but sources said replacement of the name of the current governorship candidate might be difficult because of powerful forces behind him.

“We should not deceive ourselves; this fresh committee can’t alter the decisions taken in Ogun and other states. The forces behind Dapo Abiodun are bigger than those being fingered. It is not about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole or even Chief Olusegun Osoba,” one of the sources said.

Visit to Zamfara will have no value

In Zamfara State, Governor Abdulaziz Yari said the visit of the APC reconciliation committee would be of no value if its main focus is to look into the controversy surrounding the state’s party primaries.

Governor Yari, who spoke through his special adviser on communication, media and public enlightenment, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, said the effort of the committee would not make any difference since they had already filed a suit in a court before the constitution of the peace and reconciliation team.

He said that until the court delivered its verdict on the case, any reconciliation on the state’s party primaries would be an exercise in futility.

“However, if the committee is coming to talk to all aggrieved members to unite and forge ahead so that the forthcoming election would be won, it would be a welcome idea,” he added.

It would be recalled that the fight among nine governorship aspirants in the state had led to unsuccessful conduct of primary elections.

Governor Yari is still battling to ensure that his Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, becomes the APC governorship candidate, amid stiff opposition from eight other contenders, including Senator Kabiru Marafa, the state Deputy Governor Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad, the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan Ali (retd.) and Alhaji Sagir Hamidu Gusau.

Others are former Governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, Alhaji Abu Magaji, a federal lawmaker representing Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji constituency Alhaji Sani Jaji and Alhaji Dauda Lawal Dare.

Aggrieved members want refund in Kogi

In Kogi State, the grievances of aspirants mainly stemmed from the alleged lack of level playing field and hijack of the primaries’ processes by powers-that-be, in order to allow some preferred candidates to emerge against all odds.

Prominent amongst the aspirants that cried out include Dr Toyin Akanle, who contested for the Kogi West senatorial zone, Alhaji Yahaya Audu (Kogi East, Senate) and Mr Ben Adaji, who contested for the Ankpa/Olamaboro/Omala in the House of Representatives.

Speaking on the constitution of the reconciliation committee, Mr Adaji, described the move as “belated.”

According to him, “To me, the reconciliation committee is coming belatedly because so many of the aggrieved persons had already left the party while others have gone to court. How would they reconcile with such people now?

“The APC NWC ought to have set up this committee immediately after the kangaroo primaries that took place all over the country,” he said.

On his expectations from the committee, Adaji said, “What I expect from the committee is compensation because this lip service of offering political appointments if the party wins the election will no longer be tenable because of our past experiences.

“In 2015, some of us aspired but were shortchanged because there were no primaries. They (APC) pleaded with me not to go to court; they asked me to wait, saying that the party was going to compensate me. As I speak to you, nothing has been done for me.

“I came to contest the primaries for 2019 and the same thing played out. So, lip services of giving appointments will not work. Nobody is going to take them seriously on that. Since they collected our money for nomination and expression of interest forms without conducting free, fair and transparent primaries, they should refund our money.

“Any attempt not to refund the money for these forms, which were sold at exorbitant amounts, would amount to daylight robbery. You cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. We are supposed to benefit from the party and not the other way round,” he said.

Imo factions maintain rigid stand 

The chairman of the APC in Imo State, Dan Nwafor, said the reconciliation would make sense after the restoration of the mandate given to those who won in the primaries conducted by Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Agbabiaka (retd) on October 6, 2018.

Nwafor said, “We are ready for peace, and that peace must come with justice. If the committee is coming to ensure justice, then we will welcome them.

“We are not averse to peaceful resolution of the problems, but it makes no sense if the committee will come, listen to us and at the end, there will be no justice.

“And the justice we are talking about is the restoration of the mandate given to those who won in the primaries conducted by Brig-Gen Ibrahim Agbabiaka on October 6, 2018,” he said.

But Dr Theo Ekechi, the convener of the Imo APC Restoration Coalition, said the major obstacle to the job of the peace and reconciliation committee was the “hard-line posture of Governor Rochas Okorocha.”

Ekechi said, “Much injustice has been done to the people of Imo State. So many wounds have been inflicted on innocent citizens of the state. So many expectations of the people have been dashed. Therefore, the APC has lost so much goodwill in the state by the infighting within the party in the state as a result of the impunity from the governor.

“Basically, if the objectives of the committee are real in trying to reconcile the people of Imo State, the major challenge would be in getting the governor to appreciate that there is the need for peace.

“The major challenge would be bringing him down from that Olympian height where he hung himself. The governor should show some flexibility and understanding.

“Apart from reconciliation, the party has to apologise to Imo people for the trauma they have gone through,” he said.

Bauchi: Gov Abubakar must be removed as candidate

The aggrieved aspirants are still hurling accusations at Governor Mohammed Abubakar.

Two governorship contenders, including Dr. Ibrahim Lame and Captain Bala Jibrin, who spoke on behalf of “Concerned Citizens of Bauchi State” in Abuja recently, said no primaries took place in the state, except the direct presidential primary election, saying Governor Abubakar would not win in 2019.

However, Captain Jibrin expressed hope that the committee would not only do a thorough job but also ensure that justice is done to the aggrieved members. He, however, warned the committees to prepare for grievous consequences in 2019 if they fail to bring genuine reconciliation.

Alhaji Sani Malam, a former adviser to Governor Abubakar, is presently in court challenging the party leadership that emerged after the congresses.

On his part, the state party organising secretary, Lawan Gyan Gyan, described the constitution of the committee as a “very good move” to heal the wounds ahead of the elections.

Leadership impasse in Enugu

Since the APC in Enugu State conducted its congresses, there have been lingering leadership crisis, which eventually snowballed into the pre-primaries and post-primaries period, leading to two factions.

One of the factions is headed by the state chairman, Dr Ben Nwoye and the other by Deacon Okey Ogbodo.  Also, there is another group led by the former Secretary to the State Government, Onyemuche Nnamani.

Speaking with our correspondent, the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, who contested for the party’s primary for the Enugu West senatorial district, claimed that the result of the primaries was grossly rigged.

“The Electoral Act has provision for substitution of candidates that were rigged in. The basic function of the committee is to review the petitions. And those found to be genuine, the candidates that were illegally brought in, should be substituted with the genuine ones.

“If they don’t do that and they tour the whole country, it will end up being a peace of the graveyard,” Okechukwu said.

Yobe: Those who worked for party are not compensated

Yakubu Mainasara, had, between 2011 and 2015, represented Nangere/Potiskum federal constituency of Yobe State in the House of Representatives.

He vied for the same position during the recent primaries, but was reportedly edged out because of the procedures put in place in selecting the candidate. According to him, “The formation of the reconciliation committee headed by the APC governors is a welcome development but they have to do it fast.

“We are not happy because we were made to cough out millions of naira to buy forms, but the real primaries were not held at the end of the day.

“We know it is not possible for everyone to get elective positions, but I feel the party has the capacity to reduce tension.

“There are hundreds of appointments into boards and parastatals that have not been filled. President Buhari had also long ago promised to expand his cabinet, but he didn’t do it.

“Assuming they had made all these appointments, the pressure would have been less. Thousands of people who work for the success of the party have not been rewarded with anything since 2015. And they now spent their money to vie for elective offices but were edged out; so how would you convince them to work for the party?

“They should make a serious commitment in respect of appointments, and I am sure that many of us would remain in the party because it is better to remain in APC than to go elsewhere,” he said.

Views about terms of reference 

However, analysts believe that the terms of reference given to the committees were just like the ones given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, whose trouble-shooting adventure could not be concluded before the party was thrown into another crisis.

Oshiomhole himself had buttressed this assertion in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Saturday, when he said, “Well, the process didn’t produce them (favourite candidates of some governors), and that’s it.”

According to him, “We have procedures, and this is well laid out. It wasn’t invented by me or the National Working Committee. These are rules clearly laid out and provided for in our party’s constitution.

“Some are also guided by the amended Electoral Act. So, once those processes have been meticulously followed, they produce an outcome. It’s a game of process, not one of power.

“At this point, I wouldn’t want to say who prefers what, but I know that the candidate that has emerged did not seem to coincide with the ones who are perceived to be favoured in those respective states you referred to,” he said.

A source close to one of the APC governors leading the reconciliation voyage told Daily Trust on Sunday that the intermediaries were in a difficult situation.

“The last day for withdrawal by candidates and replacement by political parties for governorship candidates is December 1 and the date for substitution of National Assembly candidates was November 17, and this has elapsed.

“So the governors would hardly promise anyone anything in respect of elective positions. This is where the trouble lies.

“The honest truth is that they are not going to promise any gubernatorial or National Assembly candidate any elective post in respect to 2019. It is only if the courts upturn some of these cases that aggrieved aspirants would have hope of contesting,” he said.

Asked what the governors would give in exchange for the elective post, another source close to them said, “Government is a continuum, I am sure they would not confront them empty handed, they may promise them some positions after the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, some governors charged with responsibility of reconciling the aggrieved members have started meeting to fine tune the strategy they would adopt.

One of them, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who is leading the committee sent to the South West, slated a meeting with members of his committee last night in Abuja ahead of their voyage to the South West. A credible source confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday last night.

“It is basically about how best to approach the matter; they have a mandate and they (Shettima committee) would listen to each of the aggrieved member which is the fairest thing to do,” he said.

On what the Shettima led committee will give the aggrieved members, considering that time for replacement of National Assembly had elapsed; while it is unlikely for those who want governorship candidates to succeed,  he said “it is the meeting that will decide but it will definitely be a win-win situation.

“There is high probability that they would succeed in the assignment because as you can see, most of the aggrieved members have not left the APC because they believe that is the right place to belong; government is big and there is opportunity for everyone. It is not possible for everyone to get elective position,” the source said.

Those in the committees

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi is leading the North-West committee. Those working with him are Governors Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, Bauchi; Yahaya Bello, Kogi; Sen. Adamu Aliero; Sen. Danjuma Goje; Dr. Jim Nwobodo; and Amb. Fati Balla.

The South-East committee has Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State as chairman. Ganduje is being assisted by Governors Samuel Lalong, Plateau; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti; Sen. Godswill Akpabio; Alh. Umaru Dembo; Alh. Nasiru Aliko Koki and Mrs Ify Ugo Okoye.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State chairs the South-West committee. He is being aided by Governors Nasiru el-Rufai, Kaduna; Akinwumi Ambode, Lagos; Prof. Modupe Adelabu; Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Sen. Ken Nnamani; and Sen. Seida Bugaje.

The North-Central committee is headed by Gov. Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State. He is being assisted by Governors Godwin Obaseki, Edo; Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo; Jibrilla Bindow, Adamawa; Chief Pius Akinyelure; Mrs. Vivian Chukwuani; and Chief Audu Ogbeh.

Gov Rauf Aregbesola leads the South-South committee. He is being assisted by Governors Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger; Sen. Gbemisola Saraki; Hon. Emeka Wogu; Mr. Sullivan Chime; and Mrs. Aleluchi Cookey-Gam.

The North-East committee is headed by Gov Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State. He is assisted by Governors Aminu Masari, Katsina; Abubakar Badaru, Jigawa; Mrs Jumoke Anifowoshe; Hon. Matthew Omegara; Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed Baba; and Gen. Abdullahi Aboki (retd).

Now that the committees are set to work, the outcomes are really uncertain. It could heal the wounds, but the scars will be there as the country gets ready for the 2019 general elections.

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