The Governor Mai Mala Buni led National Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will be one year office on June 25. In this piece, Group Politics Editor, EZEOCHA NZEH, takes a look at the giant strides as well knocks of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the past 12 months
The change of guard at the National secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on June 25, 2020 was seen by majority of the party’s stakeholders as a necessary action taken by the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) that has saved the soul of the party.
To the stakeholders, APC was drifting into a party of crisis, disobedience, anarchy and highhandedness, under the watch of the Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee (NWC}
With the party sinking deep with internal crisis, sharp division among even the NWC members, and also saddled with numerous court cases, the NEC, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, backed by majority of the Progressive Governors Forum, had no choice but to intervene through an emergency meeting at the presidential villa, where the crisis ridden Oshiomhole led NWC was sacked.
The sack of Adams Oshiomhole and his team of trouble shooters, ushered in a new era in the administration of the party at the centre, where the governors took absolute charge with the appointment of one of their own, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state as acting chairman of a 13 member Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Congress Planning Committee on 25, 2020, with a six months mandate to reconcile members and return the party to an NWC elected leadership through a national convention.
Upon assumption of office, Governor Buni in a chat with journalists stated: “My plans for the party, as a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well. It’s all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice there won’t be peace and it is all about team play. I am a team player; I have a capable team that can work with me.
“If you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you, so I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth and the process of convening this NEC, I want to tell you that it is a continuation of the last notice that was issued and we said we have adjourned and now it’s a continuation of the last adjourned NEC meeting.
As the committee settled down for the great task in its first mandated six months, which was basically to re-fix the APC, the Buni-led Committee hit the ground running, when it inaugurated a genuine reconciliation committee that toured all the crisis ridden state chapters of the party, to meet aggrieved members. The committee itself paid several meetings to certain leaders of the party at national level, who they felt harboured some grievances on how the party was managed at the national level.
It is on record that within its first six months, the National Caretaker Committee was able to resolve lingering internal crises in some state chapters of the party like Zamfara, Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River, which seem impossible under Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC.
This effort at resolving internal conflicts at various chapters has, however paid off with members’ desire in compliance with the party resolution to withdraw and terminate all ongoing litigations that involve the party.
Governor Buni, who placed the reconciliation moves as one his committees major achievement within its first six months in office, when he addressed the Forum of APC state Chairman at a function in Abuja, emphasized that the return of peace in the party in several crisis ridden states has also enabled the APC to make some big converts into its fold,
“For example, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade; former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Hon. Dimeji Bankole, Dr. Alex Otti, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, among others have joined the party.
In the same vein, Buni-led Caretaker Committee has resuscitated the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms and has set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, Ekiti among other state chapters with reported disputes.
Sensing that the huge task of returning peace and harmony to the party could not be achieved with the stipulated six months, the Buni committee strongly lobbied for a tenure extension at end of its six months. This was graciously grated by the NEC, with the rallying support of the APC Governors who have solidly stood behind the committee
Already, the reconciliation committee has been able to reconcile the two warring factions in Cross River state and has appointed a State Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Matthew Mbu as acting state chairman.
After the party’s last governorship election primary in Ondo state, all the governorship aspirants were brought together, for a genuine reconciliation, where they all agreed to campaign and work for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN). This was the first time such move was actualized in the APC. The lack of genuine reconciliation after party primaries, cost the APC some states like, Zamfara, Adamawa, Bauchi, Oyo and Imo, during the 2019 elections
Also in Akwa Ibom state, all the contending interests were brought together under one roof for true reconciliation. Presently, APC leaders such as Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, Umana O. Umana, Sen. Ita Enang, Barr. Bassey Dan Abia, as well as the secretary of the caretaker committee, John AkpanUdoede, among others, are now working together in party’s interest.
The committee also achieved a giant stride in the South-south, when it brought the Minister ofTransportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his Minister of State for Petroleum Resources counterpart, Timipre Sylva, who were working apart to a reconciliation table where both hugged each order and resolved to work together and strengthen the party in that geo-political zone.
Membership registration and revalidation
Even as some stakeholders alleged a sit tight plot by the caretaker committee, it also commenced a giant nationwide membership registration and revalidation exercise, which took most its time during the first quarter of 2021
Although not part of it mandate, the committee alleged that the party’s membership data was in the control of only one man, hence it became pertinent to conduct a fresh membership and revalidation exercise to ascertain the total number of APC members and to ensure that few leaders does not continue to manipulate the registered members to their own advantage,
Applauding the conduct of the exercise, Secretary of the caretaker committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, stated at a party function that the APC now has over 40 million registered members, although the exercise is yet be concluded in some states, as the party is still collating the final list.
Despite the inability of the APC to work on the reports of the Muiz Banire led constitution review committee, which was done under the then NWC leadership of John Odigie – Oyegun, the Buni led caretaker committee also in its determination to give the party a solid legal framework, also saw reasons to review the party’s constitution
To actualize this, it inaugurated committee a constitution review committee, which is chaired by Prof. Tahir Mamman, with Mr. Dare Oketade as Secretary; while Prof. Dakas Dakas; Hon. Akinremi Olaide; Dr. Ego Ezuma; Hon. Mohammed Kumaila; Shuaibu Aruwa and Dr. Ekokoi Solomon are all members of the committee.
Prof. Mamman’s panel, which called for and has received several memoranda from party members, including Women and Youth groups, People with Disability (PWD) and others, is been expected to submit its report soon
Determined to leave the APC stronger ahead of the 2023 election, Governor Mai mala Buni and his team recently inaugurated a tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC consultative Committee which is to ensure synergy, good governance and accelerated implementation of the Next Level agenda. This committee, according the the caretaker committee secretary, John AkpanUdoedehe has had several interface with the presidency that has led to several board appointments where party members and stakeholders have been considered in its reward system
Contact and Strategic committee
The Caretaker Committee has also constituted a high-powered APC Contact/Strategy Committee, with Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State as chairman. The committee is tasked with the mandate to establish constructive engagements between critical stakeholders at various levels of the party with a view to reviving confidence and trust among party leaders.
Again Badaru’s Committee is also mandated to develop strategies that will reposition the party in an advantaged position in the public domain and develop a timeline and framework for the implementation of the recommendations of the committee.
Since politics is about contestations, the Governor Buni led APC caretaker committee has not fared badly in leading the party to election victories.
Since its inception, the committee has recorded win elections for the APC in governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections. For example, APC the Ondo state governorship election with a very wide margin, senatorial seats were also won across Lagos, Plateau and other states as well as the good number of State Houses of Assembly.
It is also to the credit of the Buni-led Caretaker Committee that the APC now controls another state in the South east, after Imo, as well as one in the South South, courtesy of defection by GovernorsDave Umahi of Ebonyi state, and most recently, Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers state, who both left the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.
The Buni led caretaker committee has however received some knock from many party members and stakeholders, over his alleged inability to conduct the mandated national convention that would usher in a new National Working Committee (NWC)
Interests from certain APC quarters have accused the committee of conniving with the state governors to hand over control of party to a few governors whose interests have remained to grab powers in 2023.
For example, protem National chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, National leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as well as immediate past National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, have at one time or the other criticised the caretaker committee on over the just concluded membership registration and revalidation exercise, arguing that it was not within its mandate
Other stakeholders have also accused the committee of using different means, including the registration exercise and setting up of committees to but more time in its sit tight approach, without conducting the mandatory national convention
The alleged that the committee has arrogated to itself, more powers as against the NEC mandate on June 25, 2020
But in its defence, the Committee argued that the party should not go into a national convention and indeed the 2023 general elections without resolving all the crises identified, adding that it is vigorously working to fix them.
According to Buni, “the APC must not go into a National Convention, and indeed a general election in crisis. We should take it one step at a time and ensure that the ongoing national reconciliation process being undertaken by the committee is sustained, successful and continues to yield results.”
Also defending the caretaker committees position on party convention, its secretary, John AkpanUdoedehe noted, “We are aware that party members are desiring to hear from the Caretaker Committee. I can tell you that we are looking into so many things and I can tell you that we have to consult extensively before we will do anything. We have major stakeholders like Mr President, Vice President, Governors among others. We have to consult so that when we are coming out there will be no dissenting voice.
“We have lots of problems in the country, not only the national Congress of the party. We have serious security issues like the agitations going on at the zones. We are very conscious of Nigeria as a country not only the Congresses. We are mindful that our party must be strong. We just welcome the governor of Cross River State and assuming it is Congress, how would we have accommodated him. We have taken lots of things into consideration to ensure that the party is peaceful and united.
” I want to assure that there will be no crisis in our party in June. Convention can be done in June and congresses can start and end in June but it all depends on what the leaders of this party agreed upon. We can always fight and resolve at family level.”
Even as the agitations and clamour for a national convention has been ripe and on, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Mai Mala Buni led APC National Caretaker Committee may have won the heart of majority of the party’s stakeholder, especially the presidency, governors and National Assembly leadership, having returned relative peace to the ruling party, through its giant stride within the past one year, majority of its stakeholders believe that it would be in the interest of the APC that the committee is given full support to achieve its mandates, though without violating the party’s constitution. This no doubt could be followed with an anticipated second tenure extension.