The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, led by Yobe State governor, Mallam Mai Mala Buni, is on the last lap of its sensitive assignment that could make or mar reputation of its 13-member team. On February 2, 2021, the APC would commence the first phase of a process of membership registration/ revalidation of its chieftains and ordinary faithful across the 36 states chapters and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
An initiative that was mooted by the APC CECPC, it generated controversy last year as a certain power block which lost out in the power game that ousted Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee last June claimed the membership register was a plot by the Governor Buni team to elongate its tenure beyond the last December timeline given it by the National Executive Committee at its last June emergency meeting where it resolved to dissolve the Oshiomhole›s NWC.
The stalemate was, however, resolved in favour of the APC CECPC by the NEC which at its last December meeting passed a vote of confidence in the team, elongated its tenure to June 2021 to conduct a national convention to elect new set of national officers. The NEC equally endorsed the Governor Buni team initiative to conduct a membership registration/ validation ahead of the national convention fixed for June.
At a meeting held last November at the National Assembly with the APC federal lawmakers, to seek their support for the exercise, Governor Buni said it was necessary to tidy up the party register declaring that “the party today lacks authentic register in all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
He expressed concern that those who left the party since 2018 still have their names on the membership register. “It, therefore, becomes imperative for the party to revalidate its Membership Register, expunge names of those who had left the party and include those who have joined the party from 2014 to date in compliance with Article 9:4 of the Party Constitution. Similarly, the annual membership dues payment, which has almost been totally neglected over time, is a clear violation of Article 9:1(I) of the Party Constitution. The committee, therefore, finds the membership revalidation exercise as necessary to capture all members to promote internal democracy in the party.
Aside the lawmakers and his colleagues in the Governors Forum, the Yobe governor had told other stakeholders that a valid membership register was necessary to consolidate its successes in resolving the crisis in state chapters before handing over to a new set of national officers. Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that since its inception the team trouble shooting efforts had paid off in states like Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo and Oyo States. States like Zamfara, Lagos and Kwara however continued to remain crises prone.
At a meeting with forum of state chairman before the last meeting of NEC, Governor Buni had detailed his efforts to restore internal democracy in APC. He said: “The APC CECPC, having taken over the management of the party’s affairs in the circumstances which you are familiar with a few months ago, has taken and implemented a number of open door policies to revamp and improve the lots of the party both internally and with respect to the party’s integrity and acceptance nationally. Consequently, we have recorded a number of positive results, which include the resolution of several internal disputes that were menacing in several state chapters of the party.
“These much and as the anchor of the Committee’s modus operandi, we have made the decisions and have effected procedures that among several other, have: “created a level playing ground for all members of the party, inclusive of state chapters to run affairs of the party in their domain without unnecessary and destructive interference from external interests, for as long as the laws and regulations of the Party are duly abided by; this has consequently ushered in a much needed regime of internal democracy within the party as was obvious in the handling of the various primary elections that were coordinated in the last few months by CECPC; and the manner of the conduct of the recent Ondo state election that the party won;
“The CECPC has embarked on massive conflict resolution in the party across the 36 states and FCT. We have also been able to reach a compromise that demands the withdrawal of all internal litigations against the party, to allow for internal resolutions and settlement of disputes. This alone is a huge positive that would not have been possible without your full support and collaboration as party chairmen across the states of the federation.”
Having got the endorsement of a superior statutory organ of the party, the NEC the interim leadership preceded with the planned exercise by inaugurating the sensitisation/mobilisation team on January 12, 2020 .The membership registration/ validation team was later inaugurated on January 20.
Both committees were led by Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello and his Niger state counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello, respectively.
Inaugurating the membership registration Committee, Governor Buni restated the imperative of the exercise: It was to provide the opportunity for both new and old members to register and update their membership in the party, and for the party to expunge names of those who had since left and ultimately, update the membership register.
He pleaded with chieftains of the party to subordinate themselves to the larger interest of the party as he warned against sabotage of the process.
He said: “Let me make it abundantly clear that the party would not condone any act of sabotage of denying anyone or group of persons from registering. The party would deal decisively with anyone or group who attempt hijacking the exercise. Everyone must be allowed and given the chance to register.
“The party has adequate back up materials to ensure a successful exercise and no one must be disenfranchised.
“I urge the committee to work as a team for every member to contribute his quota to the success of this important assignment. I wish you great success.”
Despite the assurance from the APC CECPC that it would be fair to all, those cynical of the exercise continue to express their doubt. Aggrieved chieftains insist that Governor Buni was bound to protect the interest of the power block he belongs, Progressives Governors Forum. They continue to argue that sitting governors with an eye on second term will want to take charge of the process and ultimately, sideline or frustrate their rivals ahead of next general elections.
By convention, governors are the party leaders in their respective states and it has emboldened them to run the party secretariat as an extension of Government Lodge.
In Kwara State, the state governor, Abdulrahman AbdulRasaq and Senator Gbemi Saraki and Lai Mohammed — two Ministers in the Federal Executive Council, who incidentally are from the state are in cold war for the control of the state secretariat of the party.
In Zamfara State, the APC is polarised in the North West state between faction led by immediate past governor, AbdulAziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafan.
In Ekiti State, where election. Is expected to hold next year, aspirants for the ticket are already smarting for a showdown with the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi who is exercising his second term mandate.
Speaking on the fear that the exercise could be hijacked, Niger State governor and Chairman of the registration Committee allayed the fears of members. He said his committee did not envisage crisis in states under the control of its governors but in states chapters where it is opposition. “We have isolated cases of communication gap but overall, the party is stable in all the states. Then for states that don’t have APC Governors they’re bound to have some little issues because of different stakeholders and some of these stakeholders sometimes tend to disagree on certain things. Overall, I can assure you that most of the States are stable and hopefully with the little few that have issues, we are making efforts to see how we can resolve their crisis.”
He further assured that adequate registration materials would be made available to satisfy all contending groups. “We have to ensure that everyone that has interest or group is being registered. We shall provide enough materials to be able to register everyone. It’s going to be a free fair, transparent registration exercise and at the end of the exercise any willing person or group is free to come and register in the party.”
Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, at a meeting last Friday with the Forum of State Chairmen also warned the acting chairmen against compromise with any power block in their respective states which could cast a slur on the credibility of the exercise. “Nobody should intimidate anyone. Allow other political parties who want to join us to come and join the APC. You can see the gale of defections from the other political parties; it means APC is the way to go. We are going to ensure that everybody is carried along, irrespective of your background, class, religious or creed difference. You don’t have to be afraid or scared of who is coming as committee to state to conduct registration.
“If you are a politician that price yourself high, you should belong to the grassroots. All politics is local. You should have followership at the grassroots. What we’re starting with now is the basis – let people come into APC. People make the party. The party doesn’t make people. You cannot claim to be strong or be in power or in authority today if your membership or base is not big and robust enough. So as chairmen of our party, you will only be proud of your chairmanship if you are able to mobilize and have enough numbers from your states – that is your strength as a chairman. As a leader, the number of people you are able to convince to join our political party either from a different political party or even those who do not have interest in politics before much were you able to make them to join APC, that’s your strength. Don’t bother about what happened thereafter.”
Will the trio of Governors Mala Buni, Yahaya Bello and Sani Bello, walk their individual talks of free, fair and transparent validation exercise? Only a credible process in state chapters will guarantee a rancour free gathering of the party highest statutory organ, the national convention fixed for June.
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