Register: The Uneasy Calm in APC
By Samian Lawan
The country home of former Governor of Osun Chief AbdulKareem Adebisi Akande played host to a huge crowd of political juggernauts on Wednesday February 2, 2021.
As Akande himself acknowledged, “I feel more humbled and honoured to day that the same party- the APC – singles me out for membership revalidation at this ceremony in my village home of Ila Orangun within this tiny corner of Nigeria.”
Yes! Akande recognized the honour when the chairman of the South-West Monitoring Team of the All Progressive Congress Membership Registration committee, Senator Abu Ibrahim, led his team to make Akande’s Ila country home the centre for the flag off of the ongoing registration and revalidation of members for the party in Osun.
But in spite of the honour, Akande carried in his belly, some heavy words.
It took only two paragraphs to put spanners (so it seemed) in the works of the whole exercise.
“Permit me to make two observations,” began the 82 year old interim chairman of the APC under whose tenure the party’s first register was compiled and who supervised the election of Muhammadu Buhari thereby unseating a president from a party that had held sway since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
“I see the present APC membership registration within less than a decade after the original register as an indefensible aberration leading to certain ugly perceptions.
“The first major perception is that APC, already having a well computerised register for an average of 100 leaders of similar ideological orientation per each of the more than 120,000 polling units across Nigeria, might be lacking comprehension and matrix of the modern day technology. The second major or is that APC leadership might be wasteful and unappreciative of the proper use of money itself. These seeming ugly perceptions put into abeyance the applause of the two national election successes that the original APC register enjoyed since it's completion on 15th February, 2014 and the over one billion Naira of 2014's value that the original register cost when APC had no money of its own.”
The party bigwigs who sat didn’t see this salvo coming. They had come to the home of one its chieftains to give fillips and endorsement to the nationwide exercise.
Of course, the statement headlined the media hours after those words were uttered.
“Something is happening to this party,” said a member of the National Assembly who preferred not to be mentioned.
But Akande was not done yet! He had his misgivings about the constitution of a caretaker committee led by Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
“In normal circumstances, a Caretaker Executive Committee for a political party is an abnormality,” said to the bewilderment of the sitting party chieftains.
“Most aberrant authorities end up in contempt and disgrace,” was his warning to the committee just as he warned against “all temptations of sit-tight syndromes that usually characterized most handpicked authorities in most underdeveloped countries of the world.”
The third day, the Chairman of the caretaker committee responded saying that what Akande stood to condemn was a constitutional requirement of the party.
Without appearing to want to join issues with an elder statesman, Buni in his response, merely reminded Akande of the constitutional provisions in the party.
“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.”
But beyond Akande’s reservations and Buni’s counter, there is a simmering discontent within the APC which suggests that all is not well for the ruling party.
Currently, the party is at war with itself in many states especially where it controls the government.
The hair-splitting, chair-throwing drama in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital on the day of the flag off was a more violent version of the salvo that took place in Osun. Indeed, many party faithful in the State of the Virtuous know that the state’s chapter of APC has long lost its virtues of oneness, togetherness, unity and cohesion.
Since 2019 and shortly after the inauguration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, there had been a gradual descent into ‘balkanisation’ of the party. The successor-predecessor imbroglio becoming too rampant in Nigerian politics has played out in a way that the fate of the party now hangs in the balance.
Not even spirited attempts to paper over the cracks have succeeded in putting the tension outside of public knowledge. It is a known fact that all is not well within the APC in Osun.
In Kwara, the party is torn among the interests of incumbent Governor AbdulRasaque AbdulRahman, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, Senator Gbemisola Saraki and some other splinter interests.
In Ekiti, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu is not in the same camp with Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Though experts say that for a ruling party, the pocket of crisis in the APC across the country isn’t anything amazing or strange especially within the context of political contests in an African nation.
The jostle for power, knowing the strength of the political platform, becomes more ‘deadly’ since contestants know that their chances of victory once they secure party tickets are almost guaranteed.
There is an uneasy calm within the APC. The journey to 2023 has commenced in earnest all the permutations are in the air.
Already, there are insinuations that the membership registration and revalidation was conceived to achieve some ulterior motives in the overall agenda to alter some calculations ahead of 2023.
Amidst all these, the APC trudges on as the ruling party as Nigerians await the drama that would unfold before them.