Following the appointment of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the party’s reconciliation team, there have been different reactions to the announcement.
The team, which was established to reconcile aggrieved members of the APC across the country, had been seen by many as one with a heinous task, owing to the many factions existing within the party in virtually all the states of the federation.
Checks by Saturday Telegraph revealed that, not only are the people ready to receive the team across the geo-political zones, aggrieved party faithful are also waiting to lodge their complaints and give their terms and conditions for peaceful resolutions of the crises.
The party had been divided in no less than 10 states, including Bauchi, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Kogi, Kaduna and Kano, just to mention a few, where the division is visible with notable actors, such as governors, senators and ministers, playing significant roles.
Analysts had however argued that it would take a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Tinubu to bring about reconciliation in some deeply troubled states, noting that Tinubu is himself an aggrieved party member.
‘National Leader, most aggrieved member’
According to Barrister Frank Okon, who is a member of the party in the South South, it is going to take concerted effort to unite all factions because the man at the helms of the committee is also aggrieved. “How can you ask the number-one aggrieved member to lead reconciliation? The National Leader is the most aggrieved person in the party today. Who will reconcile Tinubu with the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun?
Are you not aware that Tinubu himself is aggrieved? He also needs to be pacified, especially in his grievance against the President. Buttressing Okon’s point is another stalwart from Adamawa, Alhaji Yinusa Inuwa, who explained that the person bestowed with the responsibility has many enemies within the party, as such, the job may be difficult. “Tinubu has issues with many people in the party, especially those who went against him during the elections into the leadership of the National Assembly. He is fighting the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and many sen-ators who supported Saraki. He is also fighting Yakubu Dogara and Governor Aminu Tambuwal over the speakership. Who will reconcile him with those lawmakers? Is he going to reconcile himself with them?
States mostly affected
A quick peep into some of the states where the crisis had blown open showed that the role given to Tinubu might not be an easy task for him after all. While the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. YaKubu Dogara is battling with Governor Mohammed Abubakar over the control of the party machinery in Bauchi State, Senator Olamilekan Adeola and Governor Ibikunle Amosun are at loggerheads in Ogun ahead of the 2019 election. Amosun in an apparent reference to the man popularly called Yayi, had openly said that no ‘foreigner’ or tekobo (Lagos returnee) would be allowed to succeed him. In Oyo, it has been a tug of war between the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu and Governor Abiola Ajimobi, to the extent that the ‘war’ in Oyo is echoing in Aso Villa.
The battle in Kogi State has taken different dimensions with Governor Yahya Bello fighting on multiple fronts. Having scaled his hurdle against Hon. James Faleke at the Supreme Court, he did not wait to shift focus on Senator Dino Melaya and his supporters. And now, the once friendly banters has snowballed into a major crisis for the party. Analysts have however argued that it will take more than a Tinubu committee to reconcile the Kogi factions, as the head of the reconciliatory team himself is said not to be in tune with one of the gladiators.
It’s a step in right direction
Speaking on behalf of the Chairman of APC in Oyo State, Chief Akin Oke, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Wale Sadare, said: “The appointment of Tinubu by Buhari as the anchor of the holistic reconciliation in our party ahead of the 2019 general elections is a right step in the right direction. It is an eloquent testimony to the fact that the APC is a divine project being piloted by those appointed by God Almighty. “We have no iota of doubt that Asiwaju Tinubu and his team will achieve all-round success in the task just handed down to them in view of the National Leader’s experience, passion and patriotic zeal in him.
Most of the crisis in our party are exaggerated but notwithstanding we are not leaving anything to chances because the hawks are gathering again”. Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, Executive Assistant to Oyo State Governor on Political Matters, in his reaction also said: “The appointment of Asiwaju Tinubu to lead the reconciliation of APC warring individuals is a step in the right direction. “Tinubu is arguably Nigeria’s foremost politician of this era. He has the experience, the contacts, the temperament and the intellectual capacity required for this onerous assignment.
“It is not unusual for a political party of the size of APC not to have individuals or groups who for one reason or the other are aggrieved. Buhari has taken the right step and at the right time in asking Asiwaju Tinubu to sort out all grievances and restore order in our great party as we prepare for the 2019 general elections. We wish our leader success in this assignment and we under the leadership of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, assure him of our full support”.
Doubts in Kaduna
In Kaduna, it was a different kettle as Saturday Telegraph approached some of the aggrieved politicians. Speaking at the launch of what he described as APC Aspirants Forum, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who represents Kaduna North in the upper chambers, said he doubt whether the Tinubu committee would make any inroad in Kaduna.
Hunkuyi who is already poised to contest the 2019 governorship against el-Rufai said: “I don’t know whether the committee can achieve result in Kaduna State. With due respect, it has not been done before. But the fact that there is a committee to reconcile aggrieved members shows there is conflict within the party. “Putting a government through transparent internal democracy which they felt and we agreed that PDP in 2015 lacked the credibility is important factor that will guarantee the success of the committee. So, the setting up of the committee is not late so long we have it at the back of our mind that democracy is about people”, he said. On his part, the Chairman of Restoration Group, a faction of the party in the state, Tijani Ramalan who spoke at the same occasion was more brutal in his comment, insisting that the only panacea for reconciliation is for the state governor not to seek reelection in 2019. His words: “We are calling on all APC members in the state to support the forum to protect democracy in the state to be able to provide the dividend of democracy to the people.
“I learnt that APC reconciliation team would be coming to Kaduna, if they want our support, then el-Rufa’i should not run in 2019”. Also speaking with Saturday Telegraph, the Publicity Secretary of APC Akida, Murtala Abubakar, was categorical, saying that the group will battle el-Rufai to a standstill. “The governor must stop violating the rules of the party. Politics is about the people, not one man. Not because you are the governor you take unilateral decisions, the people must be carried along. That is the only way the reconciliation can work for the good of the party, the country, the state and the people. “We in APC Akida are always ready for peace and we have made it abundantly clear, we are against the unilateral decision of el-Rufai and his actions which are against the constitution of the party. “We want the party to operate according to democratic culture. We want him to recognise the acting chairman of the party that is recognised by the national leadership of the party, instead of some people they are parading as the leadership of the party. “During the last congress of the party, elections were supposed to be held in all the local government and states across the country, but in Kaduna nothing like that, only for us to hear that a list had been sent to the national headquarters. “El-Rufai is not the only APC person in Kaduna State; we have our party leaders and supporters across the state. We went to the national headquarters of our party to lay our complaints but up till now nothing has been said. “Since we submitted our letter of completion, no acknowledgement and committee has been set up to verify our claim, so we believe that the national leadership and especially the national chairman is the one encouraging the governor to do what he is doing”, he said.
Kogi factions speak
Kinsley Fanwo, the Director General, Media and Publicity to Governor Yahaya Bello, said there was nothing wrong with the appointment. “The President appointed Tinubu and with great respect for the person and office of the President, we respect his sense of judgement and therefore we respect his choice. The committee had been set up, and since we believe in Mr. President, definitely we must believe in whoever the president chooses for any given assignment.
“When the committee roles out its programme, we will be pleased to seat before the committee especially in areas that has to do with reconciling those fighting the government put in place by the party. We believe that the person of Tinubu who is one of the national leaders of the party will do justice. “When the other committee was set up, as products of the APC, we ensured that we made ourselves available, we went to the national headquarters in Abuja to present our own position, it was a point of duty that we honoured, as government, as loyal party members. So the persons that set up the committee must have gotten these reports of the committee”, he said. The state treasurer of the Kogi APC, Comrade Ade Ismail, also added his voice, saying that members in the state were loyal and ready to work with the team. “We’ve always been loyal party men and anybody who knows the history of progressives in Kogi, will know that Tinubu had been part of the development of the progressive politics in Kogi State. He was part of us, he was the only governor we had been running to from the era of Alliance for Democracy and you saw it that every time we want to campaign, particularly from the days of ACN in Kogi, he always come around to give his support.
“He was here for the last governorship election, so we see this assignment given to him as a good thing particularly as it is coming from Buhari. The man knows who are his sincere believer and supporters and I think Buhari has chosen his most trusted man to lead the team. “We have always been submitting ourselves to reconciliatory efforts in Kogi State, we were at the party headquarters during the first reconciliation in June last year, there we made our position known, there we told the committee that the issue we were having with the governor was not personal. “What we wanted from the governor was to carry party members along, making sure that those who worked for the victory are not left out and we presented ourselves again in October or November thereabout. “We are looking forward again to make ourselves available for this one that would be led by Tinubu, he is a man known for solving crisis. That is why in Lagos, it is impossible to have crises that will last a month.
“The difference between this one and the previous ones is that the current one is put in place by the President himself, while the other ones were organised by the national chairman and I want to believe that the chairman must have compromised in one way or the other and that was why he couldn’t use his sledge hammer. But you know that Buhari will not allow anyone no matter his or her position to cause havoc to his efforts.”