The on-going revalidation of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which started penultimate week across the country has continued to generate controversy in some quarters setting some members of the party on war path, KEHINDE OSASONA reports.
Revalidation of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and registration exercise has seen many big wigs of the party revalidate their membership. However, the exercise has been opposed by some these big wigs and splinter groups within the party.
When the duo of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, both founding fathers of the APC, opposed the revalidation and registration exercise, it was attributed to suspicion of sinister motive by the leadership of the party.
It is worth noting that the sack of Tinubu’s loyalist and former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, have been blamed on internal squabbles amongst power brokers in the ruling party, particularly the emergence of party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.
Speculations making the rounds indicate that Tinubu, and Akande and other chieftains of the party may have got wind of an attempt by some members of the party to hijack the National Working Committee (NWC) to their advantage ahead of the 2023 elections.
A member of the party, who didn’t want his name in print, told our correspondent that this may have informed their stance and comments regarding the controversial membership revalidation and registration exercise.
It’s aberration, unnecessary waste of funds
Akande had last week faulted the registration exercise, stating that it was “needless, an aberration and unnecessary waste of funds”.
The former National Chairman of the APC further charged the party’s current leadership to resist the temptation of “sit-tight-syndrome,” which he said usually characterised most handpicked authorities in most underdeveloped countries of the world.
Akande maintained that such situation whereby the party’s register submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the time of APC’s registration has been invalidated was unheard of.
While aligning with the position of his political associate, Tinubu, who spoke to journalists after revalidating his membership in Lagos also endorsed Akande’s stance.
Exercise matter of addition, subtraction
According to Tinubu, “Since we have a foundation and that is the foundation on which the structure, up till the present, was built at the time of the registration of this party, I will not fault Baba Akande’s position; I will not but endorse it.
“What we are doing now is a matter of addition and subtraction, free entry and free exit. You have joined a particular party; you have decided to leave that party. You have equal opportunity for new members to join and update the existing register of the party.”
Similarly, taking position on the issue, one of Tinubu’s protégé and member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, in an open letter to the Chairman, APC National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, he expressed concern over the exercise shortly before it commenced.
Faleke, who expressed worry over the timing of the exercise, stated: “The prevailing pandemic situation in Nigeria and the fact of being a Covid-19 survivor have compelled me to write this letter to you as a loyal and committed party member and a patriotic Nigerian.
“I want to state categorically here that the contents of this letter are my personal opinions based on personal experience, interaction with people and observation of events happening around us daily.
“Personally, I felt the decision to revalidate and conduct new registration of members is a laudable and commendable one. As we move towards general elections in 2023, the need to update our membership register could not have come at a more opportune period.
“However, laudable as the registration plan may be, what about the timing of the exercise? With due respect Sir; it is my considered opinion that the timing is not appropriate at this time, especially given the renewed surge in the spread of Covid-19 as it is being reported on a daily basis by the Presidential Task Force.
“Our government has for some time given directives to the religious bodies to reduce congressional attendance at both churches and mosques. So many states have cancelled social gatherings; others are compelling the use of face masks to reduce the rate of infection and fatalities. So why must we go into an exercise that will certainly draw large crowds across the various states?
“The stage is set for the exercise and I must confess that I’m personally impressed with the preparations and logistics put in place for the exercise. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a resounding success for us and will be a springboard for achieving one strong, united party.”
However, while clearing the air on the issues raised by party faithful and leaders, Governor Buni described the revalidation exercise as not only constitutional but also strategic.
The Yobe state governor explained that the exercise was a constitutional provision which was part of the strategic measures taken by his committee to give existing and new members a sense of belonging.
“Since the initial exercise in 2014, the party has not registered new members nor updated the personal information of our existing members as provided for by the constitution.
“The registration exercise gives our new members a sense of belonging and the existing members will update their information while those who left the party will have their names removed from the party register,” he added.
Despite the explanations by the leadership of the party the revalidation exercise appears to have opened fresh wounds and revived old rivalries rather than calming frayed nerves across the states.
This is as in-fighting has marred the exercise in virtually all the states, with different political camps set against one another and settling old scores.
In Lagos, a group led by a former vice-chairman of the party, Fouad Oki, has challenged the leadership of the party’s Interim Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, even as the move is seen in some quarters as a deft move meant to weaken Tinubu’s hold on the APC in Lagos state.
In Benue state, the APC Chairman in Gboko South ward, Tersoo Ahu, was allegedly murdered by a gang of young men in Gboko while Ahu and other ward officials were training party members for the APC registration and revalidation exercise.
APC Publicity Secretary in Benue state, James Orgunga, who confirmed the incident, said the assailants stormed the venue with clubs, cutlasses, and attacked the ward chairman who later gave up the ghost at a hospital in Gboko having sustained serious injuries.
“I can confirm the attack and killing of the APC ward chairman in Gboko, our men rushed to the scene but the suspects fled. However, we have identified them and very soon we shall pick them up,” the Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) for the Benue Command, Kate Anene, stated.
The story was no different in Kwara state as the exercise reportedly ended in chaos with the factions loyal to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq allegedly stopped the Chairman, Kwara APC Caretaker Committee, Bashir Bolarinwa, and his supporters from entering the Banquet Hall for the meeting.
After the fracas that ensued, Blueprint Weekend learnt that some supporters of Bolarinwa left the scene with injuries, while the vehicle of one party member was said to have been damaged.
In Ogun state, though the Governor Dapo Abiodun’s group was said to be in control of the party’s structure, it was learnt that there were five other groups laying claims to the soul of APC in the state.
In particular, loyalists of the former Governor of Ogun state, Chief Segun Osoba, had in a protest letter accused the APC Caretaker Committee of tampering with the harmonised committee list of the party in the state ahead of the revalidation and registration exercise.
The group in a letter, dated Monday, January 11, 2021, and signed by 40 party leaders, accused the Sanusi-led Caretaker Committee of “unjustly upturning the collective decision of the majority.”
This is as the festering crisis in the Rivers state chapter of the APC was compounded by the emergence of a new faction controlled by the former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside.
The two known factions before now were the former Governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuke Amaechi, faction and the Senator Magnus Abe faction.
Similarly, in Imo states unless there was divine intervention the factions loyal to the state Governor, Uzodinma Okorocha, and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, have continued to flex muscles over the control of party structures and it is feared that the infighting may likely tear the party apart before 2023.
In Ebonyi state, since the defection of Governor David Umahi to the APC the party in the state has been facing crisis.
Factions loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, and a former Commissioner for Information and Orientation in the state, Egwu Chima, have been spoiling for a showdown.
Absence of clear cut ideology fuelling wrangling
Speaking on the development, a political analyst, Adesegun Meyanbe, blamed the lack of cohesiveness in the party on lack of a clear cut ideology and unresolved internal wrangling plaguing the ruling party.
In a chat with Blueprint Weekend, he said: “Let me tell you, APC, PDP and every other party at that does not have a clear cut ideology on party discipline, how party should be run and how best to uphold a political belief as obtainable elsewhere.
“Apart from the fact that our democracy is still young, there are other factors that have been hindering party growths and how members can be guided from straying away party philosophy.
“So, it is not peculiar to APC, basically political parties in Africa are all guilty of these shortcomings and deficiencies,” he noted.
Meyanbe, thereafter, charged political parties in the country to take a cue from parties in Europe, even as he assured that, “We would get there with time.”