APC Convention: Caretaker or Undertaker
By Abdul Oroh
Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Your Excellency, every committed leader and member of our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC), is very apprehensive that with less than two weeks to the scheduled February 26, 2022 National Convention, preparations are very low key, to put it very mildly. There is no indication that sub-committees have been setup to drive processes of organising the Convention. Every day, we wake up with different speculation about either Governors will be meeting to decide on zoning or Governors are going to be meeting with Your Excellency, etc. Communication from the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is very poor and hardly gives confidence that the leadership of the CECPC, especially the Chairman, His Excellency Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe are making any effort to mobilise all leaders, members and Nigerians sympathetic to the party as parts of preparations for the National Conventions.
Based on the schedule of the Convention as issued by the CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanudoedehe on January 19, 2022, Sales of Forms to all aspirants is supposed to commence February 14, 2022. As it is, today, February 15, 2022, forms are not available anywhere and the excuse from all available sources is that unless zoning of offices to be contested are decided, forms will not be available. Why has the CECPC not conclude on zoning up to now? When will they conclude on it?
Looking at the schedule of the Convention, the CECPC is expected to publish Convention Sub-Committees on Saturday, February 19, 2022. The question is, has the Sub-Committees been setup and are already working? If they have, what are these Sub-Committees and who are the members? If not, when will they be setup? What are the details of these Committees and their mandates, which is to be implemented within less than one week to the Convention?
Your Excellency, the way the CECPC is approaching the organisation of the National Convention gives enough ground to suspect internal sabotage. Is leadership of the CECPC working to ensure that the Convention doesn’t hold on February 26, 2022? Recall that initially, the Convention was scheduled to hold December 28, 2021. Through consultations, it was moved to February 5, 2022. Unfortunately, we found ourselves, as a party, in the embarrassing situation of having to contend with speculation about alleged ambition of His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni to manipulate his emergence as the substantive National Chairman of the party, which means reluctance to organise the National Convention and handover to an elected leadership. Somehow, here we are, from February 5, 2022, the Convention had to be moved to February 26, 2022.
Even while consultations were going on leading to the decision to move the Convention to February 26, 2022, there were media speculation that the leadership of the CECPC want the Convention moved to either May or June 2022. Some sponsored media campaigns were openly promoted to canvass for these positions. Although the alleged ambition of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni to emerge as the substantive National Chairman is very difficult to believe, however, with the way the leadership of CECPC under his watch is sluggishly handling organisation of the National Convention, it gives strong credibility to the speculation.
As things are, the CECPC leadership is using sophisticated strategies to force the hands of party leaders, including blackmails and wildcat promises of electoral opportunity to emerge as candidates of our party for the 2023 elections. This is very unfortunate and must be redressed urgently. Your Excellency, as the moral leader of our party, and one of the leading initiators of the merger negotiations that produced the APC in 2013, you never demanded automatic ticket to emerge as the Presidential candidate of our party. You contested with other four aspirants in the December 10, 2014, in a keenly contested primary election in Lagos and became our Presidential candidate. That was the orientation you provided. Why should the leadership of the CECPC be setting the stage for destroying a veritable democratic tradition, which was one of the important attractions that guaranteed our party the historic victory of the 2015 general elections?
Your Excellency, we are faced with a very critical situation, as a party. Sadly, we have some leaders in our party, including the leadership of the CECPC who believe that they can manipulate every situation to impose their choices on the party without going through the needed processes as establish in the constitution of the APC. We can’t be a party of change and overlooked situations whereby these very leaders continue to take us and the country back to the dark days when party politics is reduced to the circus of undemocratic practices. This is a very painful reality, which must be urgently redressed.
Your Excellency, beyond manipulating situations in the party to impose their choices on party leaders, members and Nigerians, these few party leaders led by the leadership of the CECPC are very intolerant to criticisms. This is no longer the party, Your Excellency, together with all the founding leaders negotiated to establish. It is quite nostalgic to recall that some of us even opposed Your Excellency’s aspiration to emerge as the Presidential Candidate of our party in 2014. But that did not prevent you from relating with us as loyal members of our party. Now, even if one support the aspirations of some of our leaders but disagreed with them on any issue, such a person risked being declared enemy.
Consequently, debates are hardly taking place in the party. The leadership of the CECPC have also ensured that meetings are hardly taking place. The only meeting now taking place is the meeting of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF). So long as meetings are not taking place, ability of leaders and members of the party to hold the leadership of the CECPC accountable will be weak. Conscious of the fact that party leaders and members are weak in holding them accountable is about the only reason why these leaders have a strong self-belief that they can continue to succeed in manipulating situations in the party to their advantage, including undermining the National Convention of the party.
Many party leaders and members are greatly at pain that, as a party, we are sinking deeper and deeper in more and problems. A Caretaker Committee, which is expected to open a new democratically vibrant life for the party, facilitate internal party contests, is more and more becoming an Undertaker Committee working to end every democratic life existing in the party by blocking every internal party contest. Everything in the party is being reduced to decisions of some party leaders. If the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC was highhanded, intimidating and trampling on the democratic life of party leaders and members, the CECPC led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni is administering poison, thereby destroying every democratic practice in the party and preparing every stage for the burial rite of APC as a party. This may sound harsh, but it is the sad reality.
Your Excellency, just like you were able to rescue the party from the tightfisted grip of Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC, you will need to also take every urgent step to rescue the party from the reprehensible leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC. The fastest way that can happen is by ensuring that nothing is allowed to prevent the National Convention from holding on February 26, 2022. In addition to ensuring that issues around zoning offices and setting up all the Sub-Committees for the Convention are decided immediately and sales of forms to aspiring candidates also commenced immediately, it may be important to hold a consultative meeting with all critical stakeholders, especially members of the National Caucus of the party.
The opportunity of a consultative meeting with members of National Caucus will provide the opportunity to speed up processes of preparations for the National Convention. Your Excellency, it is important to emphasise the point that APC is a product of sacrifices by leaders and members of our legacy parties. The CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni must be compelled to provide honest leadership to the party based on sacrifices. As we therefore prepare to elect new leaders for the party, we need to appeal to all leaders to approach the process of party leadership selection based on good assessments of the credentials of those being selected. As is often said, once beaten, twice shy; or is it twice beaten, thrice shy?
The downward spiral in the quality of party leaders at national level must be halted by ensuring that the next leadership to emerge at the February 26, 2022 National Convention are committed leaders with all the democratic credentials and experiences to return the party to its founding vision. I have no doubt that one of the legacies Your Excellency will want to bequeath to this generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations is a truly progressive and democratic All Progressives Congress (APC). May God almighty guide Your Excellency and all APC leaders to put APC back in the direction of providing the needed political leadership to facilitate politics of change in Nigeria. Amen
February 15, 2022