BODE OLAGOKE, takes a look at the efforts of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) under the leadership of Yobe state governor, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, and some of the gains recorded in almost 12 months.
Precisely by 25th of June it will be one year the current National Caretaker Committee of ruling party, chaired by governor Mai Mala Buni took over the from Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) which was sacked by the National Executive Council (NEC) barely two years into its fours term.
The need to sack Oshiomhole’s leadership became more urgent due to a long period of protracted internal crisis that nearly consumed the party.
The ruling party, however, convened emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which held at the Presidential Villa on June 25, where Oshiomhole-led NWC was dissolved and the current Caretaker Committee of a 13-member caretaker committee headed by Yobe state governor, Mai Mala Buni, was given six months by the NEC presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari to completely reposition the party, organise a national convention for new leaders to emerge and also reconcile all aggrieved members ahead of the said national convention.
Buni’s reconciliation plans
Speaking with newsmen the day he came onboard, governor Buni said: “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.
The first six months
The Buni-led Caretaker Committee was initially mandated to fix the party within the six months but got it term extended for another six months in December due to remarkable achievements it has achieved within the short time and bearing in mind that the set targets have not been completely achieved.
Within the first six months the National Caretaker Committee was able to resolve life-threatening crises in some state chapters of the party like Zamfara, Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River, which seem impossible under Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC.
The caretaker committee set up several high-profile reconciliation teams across party chapters that were battered by internal crises and has recorded a good number of resolutions that have improved the party’s stand and cohesion since then.
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.
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 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.
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.
Before the last governorship election in Ondo state, all the governorship aspirants were brought together, campaigned and worked for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
In Akwa Ibom state, all the contending interests were brought together under one roof and achieved true reconciliation. Presently, APC leaders such as Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, Umana O. Umana, Sen. Ita Enang, Barr. Bassey Dan Abia, among others, are now working together and in collective pursuit of party’s interest.
Still in South-south, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who were working apart have been reconciled by Buni’s leadership and both resolved to work together and strengthen the party, particularly in the South-south geo-political zone.
Membership registration and revalidation
Although not part of it mandate at the beginning but to ascertain the total number of the members and to ensure that few leaders does not continue to manipulate the registered members to their own advantage, the Caretaker Committee embarked on a nationwide APC membership registration, revalidation and register exercise which is also meant to increase the party’s membership and support base nationwide.
At the moment, the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, has said that the APC now has over 40 million registered members, although the exercise is yet be concluded in some states.
Party’s constitution review panel
As part of efforts to reposition APC, the Buni-led Caretaker Committee also saw reasons to review the party’s law book and a high-level committee is already working, although yet to submit its reports.
The constitution review committee 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 is mandated to consider recommendations of contributors, particularly on contemporary issues that need to be adequately captured.
The panel has however, received memoranda on enshrining party discipline, deepening internal democracy, greater inclusion of marginalized groups – women, youths and People with Disabilities (PWDs), among others.
Constitution of Tripartite committee
Another conspicuous achievement is the constitution of a recently-inaugurated tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC consultative Committee which is to ensure synergy, good governance and accelerated implementation of the Next Level agenda.
Contact and Strategic committee
The Caretaker Committee has also constituted a high-powered APC Contact/Strategy Committee chaired by the Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru Abubakar, wth 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.
The committee is also mandated to conduct a need assessment survey from party members and the general public and to also create a statement of vision, mission and core values of the party that will foster unity.
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.
Buni’s committee no doubt has led the APC into major elections victories comprising governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections. For example, APC won gallantly at the Ondo state governorship election, senatorial seats won across Lagos, Plateau and other states as well as the good number of State Houses of Assembly.
One of the major causes of crisis within the APC has been the poor reward system of dedicated members of the party, but Buni having realised this fact has recently hinted that the committee was already working with the President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the reward system for dedicated and loyal party members.
According to Buni, this can be done through appointment of deserving party members into several boards, agencies and parastatals of government.
Umahi and Ayade now in APC
It is to the credit of Buni-led Caretaker Committee that two governors; Ebonyi state governor Dave Umahi and most recently the Cross Rivers state governor Ben Ayade left the major opposition party to the ruling APC.
Both Umahi and Ayade have attested to the quality leadership in place in the ruling APC.
For Umahi, his coming to the ruling party has boosted the presence of APC in the South-east region where governor Hope Uzodinma was lonly.
In the case of Ayade, his defection to the ruling party has confirmed firm presence in a region (South-south) where the APC did not have a sitting governor.
Although some members of the party and certain interests have been agitating for a National Convention to elect a substantive National Working Committee members but analysts said there are wisdom in the position of the Caretaker Committee under Buni.
The Committee believe the party should not go into a national convention and indeed the 2023 general elections without resolving all the crises identified which its vigorously working on.
The Committee called on all stakeholders to continue to support the its efforts to unite the party in order to make it formidable enough to consolidate on the APC’s national governing status and landmark achievements.
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.”
The committee said it was constantly briefing the President, Chairman, Progressives Governors Forum, Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives with a mid-term report which will enable the committee to take all-inclusive decisions.
With some of the achievements so far recorded, the current developments in the ruling APC could be said to have been justified by the constitution of Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee which should be given all support to achieve its mandates, though without violating the party’s constitution.