Despite the pretentions, this is not the best of times for the All Progressives Congress (APC). Yet, the ruling party can survive the hurdle, if it respects its constitution, upholds the law of the country and puts its house in order.
It may sink, if it fails to hearken to the legal voice of reason. Time is even running out for the pompous platform. Delay in correcting its mistakes could be dangerous.
The recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the governorship litigation in Ondo State is the best guide. The party, being a beneficiary of a rare judicial mercy, should not take the benevolence of the neutral temple of justice for granted. A great damage has been done by violating the party’s ground norm. Greater political calamity can be averted, if APC puts away pride, which goes before destruction.
A searchlight can now be beamed on its scorecard as a fusion or merger of like-minded parties endowed with power.
Why is the APC government not living to expectation in critical areas? What is responsible for its diminishing popularity, despite the defections into the fold? Why are many Nigerians upset with its government at the centre?
The answer may not be far-fetched. APC is a complex organisation; an amalgam of incompatible forces. In the party are those from a certain time-tested ideological leaning and ultra-conservatives, whose main goal was to secure a vehicle for taking power. Having got to power, the clevages surfaced, with the dominant group revolving around presidential power.
How can a party that cannot administer itself succeed in administering a complex society like Nigeria?
The ruling party has become a party of denial, deluding itself into thinking that observers and generality of Nigerians are enveloped in collective amnesia.
It once denied that it promised during the campaigns that it will resolve the national question and restore true federal principle, after securing political control.Two years to the expiration of the second term of its symbol President, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Rufai Panel Report on Restructuring is still gathering dust.
The party has also denied the agreement on zoning between the North and South, prompting a minister of government to cry foul. It thus became a huge national organisation for the exclusive advantage of a bloc, a cabal from a region, and indeed, the zone.
APC may want to deny its national outlook when the debate shifts to the 2023 presidency, unmindful of the fact that while it takes a great deal of time, energy, strategy and resources to build an edifice, it takes a far little time to self-distrust.
When a party schemes against itself, a time comes when it suffers from the impact of over- scheming. So palpable was the tension that gripped the party secretariat in Abuja during the week that the caretaker committee requested for extra and maximum police protection so that security agents can save the party from itself.
Now, it appears that APC has boxed itself into another phase of denial through a curious error of judgment. The divided APC chieftains who are lawyers are locked in disagreement over a straight forward verdict that is clear and unambiguous. Decked in the garment of partisanship, they are playing to the gallery, interpreting and misinterpreting a judgment that has become a judicial precedent to suit personal convenience and the whims of targeted beneficiaries. Even, to the layman, it is laughable.
If there is no judgment at all, should the party not learn from the electoral misfortunes of its Zamfara, Rivers and Bayelsa chapters? Did the party not forfeit its chances at Zamfara and Rivers due to porous and illegal structures, division and lack of reconciliation?
Is there no apprehension in Anambra APC today? The governorship nomination followed the Ondo pattern. The question is: can the candidacy of its governorship standard bearer stand the legal test?
If the trend persists and the party leadership remains disputed till the time Ekiti and Osun APC holds governorship shadow poll, would the exercise be valid?
After shoving aside the strongman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, there was vacuum at the party secretariat because the constitution of the party was not followed. The National Executive Committee(NEC) set up the National Caretaker Committee for two assignments: reconciliation and convention. It was in accordance with the constitution of the party
The tenure was six months. Later, it was extended by three months. After that, it was extended indefinitely. It smacks of impunity.
The interim committee embarked on wooing more defectors to the party. Yet, the grievances of members were not attended to. Many stalwarts nurse a feeling of alienation, marginalisation and exclusion. Instead of engaging in acts that would foster reconciliation and putting in place the machinery for the national congress, the caretaker committee became a sit-tight leadership structure.
The duly elected ward, local government and state executive committees were tampered with. They were transformed into caretaker committees, to the consternation of members at the grassroots.
Unknown to the party, there was fire on the mountain. A section of the party that saw the looming danger and warned about the extention of the tenure of the interim party leadership were ignored.
Until Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)challenged Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s victory in Ondo State, it was business as usual in APC. Curiously, the apex court’s judgement has not jolted the party out of its delusion.
The caretaker committee, according to lawyers and judges, is legal. But, is the composition legal? Should Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni head it? Should other governors serve on the committee?
Jegede, a Senior Advocate like Akeredolu, never contested the results, or figures. He only approached the court to determine whether the foundation on which Akeredolu’s nomination was erected was constitutional.
His prayers were not answered by the court. The Supreme Court is not a Father Christmas. However, it was a split judgement. According to the majority panel, Buni was not joined as a defendant and nobody can shave the head of a person in his absence. Jegede said he did not join Buni because he had immunity. Some observers said he should have allowed the court to decide that. The majority verdict was lucid. It gave Akeredolu and Ondo APC an escape route. The governor of Ondo State said he was apprehensive ahead of the court pronouncement.
The minority judgment was also lucid. The Justices said since APC had been joined, it meant, albeit interpretative, that its agent, Buni, had been joined.
The lesson is instructive. APC chieftain and Minister Festus Keyamo and another lawyer-politician, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, have urged the party to learn from the lesson.
Four jurists favoured Akeredolu. Three were against him. Those against him said it was because Buni was not joined.
Section 183 of 1999 Constitution says a governor cannot hold any other political office or be in another paid employment.
Also, Article 17(4) of the Constitution says no officer in any party organ should hold executive office in government.
In view of these, keeping Buni as Caretaker Committee chairman may be detrimental to the APC in the long run.
There are puzzles: How legal is the chairmanship of Buni?
Are the party membership registration and ward congresses recently conducted by the Buni committee not a nullity?