Buhari’s timely warning to APC members

President Muhammadu Buhari

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari warned members and leadership of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), of what may happen if they fail to close ranks and project the party in good light ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The President, who stressed the need for the members of the ruling All Progressives Congress to put an end to the current internal wrangling to enable the party to retain power in 2023, said without unity of purpose among the leaders, especially, and other party members, APC might lose elections to the opposition.

The President spoke during an interview with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).

He said the opposition can take over power from the APC in the 2023 general elections if the party fails to agree on some very thorny issues plaguing it, and there are many, within a reasonable time.

“We have a timeframe, we have to work because the four-year tenure is constitutional. It cannot be interfered with by anybody. So, if the party couldn’t agree, then, the opposition can take over,” he said.

“What did the PDP do? They said the opposition could not come together, but when ACN, ANPP, CPC, APGA came together before PDP realised it, they were off, they are still off!”

However, while it is true, just like the President observed that the Peoples Democratic Party is “off,” it does not appear, as he, again, suggested that the ruling APC has its feet firmly on the ground ahead 2023.

Yet, the reasons the APC finds itself in a difficult situation are not hard to tell. The promoters of the political parties that came together in 2014 to form the party didn’t envisage the kinds of crises that affect the APC today.

Many have argued that the then parties’ leaders were too preoccupied with wrestling power from the PDP, instead of putting in place policies, programmes and measures to usher in a truly national and ideological-based political party.

With the knowledge of hindsight, it could now be said that the initial leaders of the APC, maybe deliberately so or unconcernedly, ignored early warning signs of a possible crisis in future in the party when each amalgamating party was allowed to dominate the leadership of the party in the state they were dominant.

Thus, in Kaduna, for example, the old Congress for Progressive Change dominated the leadership of the party, relegating the Action Congress of Nigeria and All Nigeria Peoples Party to the background. In Lagos and some South-western states, the ACN became dominant while in Kwara state, the faction of the PDP that joined the then-emerging APC held sway, as well.

That was the situation in many states and, ultimately, that, of course, created a crisis in the party that nobody thought would linger until now. Some have argued and still argue that the only unifying factor of the different tendencies that came together to form the APC was and is still the President.

This trend, that has its roots in the APC, has failed to abate and played out when the party decided to change its leadership in 2018 with the various groups within the party failing to reconcile their differences, leading to the emergence of factional leaderships in many of the 36 states of the federation.

Where the party had a sitting governor, it was the governor’s group against the others. Suspicions are rife in the APC and even the attempt made by the party to have a register of its members was dismissed as a move that was targeted at disenfranchising some individuals in the APC and weakening their political base.

According to many, the only consensus then was in the choice of the national chairman as none of the governors wanted to confront the President.

Though some of the governors wanted Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to continue as the APC national chairman, they were quick to turn their back against him when the President backed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

Meanwhile, with the APC still dealing with its apparent problems, the party has announced its intention to hold a national convention and repeatedly, as well, fail to hold the same, since the removal of Oshiomhole as the chairman and replaced by the Governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni.

For now, ahead of the planned convention scheduled to hold in February, the question is whether the crisis that is rocking the party will not be carried over to the convention, if and when it eventually holds.

Interestingly, while the party says it is going ahead with plans to hold the convention and, before then, resolve disagreements bedevilling the party, reports have started emanating that some people, in high places in the party, do not want the convention to hold just yet.
So, for the APC, it can conveniently be said that the sky is very hazy and Buhari, a leader whose stabilising contributions to the party cannot be ignored, has some good reasons to warn members of the party to be careful lest they get swept off the national floor by the opposition.
However, despite his genuine fears, there appears to be little he can do to help reposition the fractured APC ahead of the general elections in 2023. That is so to the extent that there is no doubt that some provisions of the APC Constitution form part of the problems plaguing the party.

Tellingly, the Constitution allows plenty of room for manipulations by its “powerful” members. For example, the Constitution gives so many powers to the national chairman, making him practically a chief executive, when, ideally, he should be the chief coordinator of activities, and leaves the machinery of the party at the state level at the hands of the governors.
Tellingly, too, the governors are, by no means, soft on their grip of the party’s affairs in their state and, in the process, leave every other member as mere passengers in the APC fast-flying aeroplane.

The same grip of party affairs exists at the national level where there is no gainsaying that the crisis that swept Oshiomhole away as a national chairman was caused by his refusal to allow the governors to dictate to the party.
Thus, in the end, the need for especially the APC leaders to heed the President’s warning cannot be overemphasised. After all, the strength of the APC lies in its ability to resolve the many problems plaguing it, hold its convention, elect new leaders to pilot its affairs at the centre and, ultimately, help the President to govern Nigeria well in the remaining time he’s got left.
Again, as the President has suggested, his time for being a position to always rescue the party from the many negative consequences of its actions and undoing may soon be over. “The age is telling on me, working now for 6, 7, 8 hours a day in the office is no joke,” he said. “There are executive council memos from as many states as possible to be considered virtually every week. So, it is a lot of hard work, but I asked for it and I cannot complain.”

NNPC and accountability

This week, President Muhammadu Buhari urged members of the Board of the newly incorporated Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to ensure strict compliance with the corporate governance principles that place a premium on doing business with the highest ethical standards, integrity and transparency.

Inaugurating the board chaired by Senator Margery Chuba Okadigbo, the President said: “I expect the NNPC Limited to be mindful of our commitments to our net carbon zero aspirations and to ensure total alignment with the global energy transition realities.”

The President reminded the Board members that they came on board as a result of the reforms put forward by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, which seeks to reposition the Nigerian petroleum industry to a commercially viable and competitive industry in line with global business dynamics and best practices.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is mandated to focus on profitability and continuous value creation beyond the simple fulfilment of legal and regulatory requirements,” he said. “NNPC Limited is expected to operate at par with its industry peers across the world while acting as an enabler company that will foster the development of other sectors of our economy.”

Of course, this is not the best time for economies and business entities. The effects of the coronavirus have shattered very many plans, aspirations and projections of business concerns globally.

The NNPC has, no doubt, recorded its pains and losses and is currently strategising on how to pull through and mitigate risks both in short term and in long term and to remain profitable.
Still, it is hoped that the board of NNPC Limited, established to carry out institutional reforms in the Nigerian petroleum industry, including the need for good corporate governance practices and address the then noticeable lack of transparency in the affairs of its predecessor, will uphold the best corporate governance practices such as accountability, transparency, fairness and responsibility.

Doing so, as the President envisages, will keep NNPC Limited on the path of sustained profitability and achieve other objectives of the company, especially the need to attract investors to the company.

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