Expectations of a resolution of the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC over the sharing of National Assembly positions came to an anti-climax yesterday after the National Executive Committee, NEC skipped the issue.
Following a scant mention of the rumpus, the NEC passed the buck to the governors to arbitrate. That was despite a caution by President Muhammadu Buhari that the party must not march from victory to violent eruption. The president had in his remarks also tasked the quarrelling gladiators to pocket their personal interests and project the collective interest of the party.
However, the governors in their preliminary meeting with the contending sides in the Senate (led by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Ahmad Lawan) and the contending sides in the House of Representatives, (led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Femi Gbajabiamila) were unable to make progress.
Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State who led the arbitration with the two sides following the NEC meeting nevertheless expressed confidence that the crisis would be over by next week. President Buhari had pleaded with party men to forget their grievances and move on. The specifics of their agreement, according to Okorocha, will be made known next week. But Buhari’s appeal for peace and for all to move on may be heeded.
The NEC meeting was also a setback for those canvassing for the removal of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman as the party leaders endorsed a vote of confidence on his leadership of the party.
Yesterday was the first NEC meeting since the party’s cruising victory in the last general elections and was graced by the president, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Saraki, Speaker Dogara, all the party’s governors, state chairmen among many others.
However, conspicuously absent were the party national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the immediate past national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, the two men believed to be the backbone to the Senator Lawan and Gbajabiamila groups who both lost out in the National Assembly leadership contests.
The contention of the two that the remaining National Assembly principal offices be shared to their associates earlier favoured by the party leadership in the leadership contest is at the centre of the crisis.
Senator Saraki had refused to read a letter from the national chairman pronouncing the favoured party men for the four principal offices. A similar rebuff from Speaker Dogara penultimate Thursday led to the free for all in the House chamber.
Following the troubleshooting efforts by the president it was expected that yesterday’s meeting would lead to a final resolution. It seemingly calmed nerves but final solution is yet to be achieved.
In the absence of Tinubu and Akande, nobody pressed the issue a source privy to the development in the closed-door session said.
“There were many issues on the agenda and that matter (National Assembly crisis) did not get the attention many people expected as it was just briefly mentioned and passed on to the Progressive Governors to handle,” the source said.
No reason was given for Tinubu’s absence yesterday. Tinubu, one of the pillars around whom the APC was formed was on the eve of the meeting a subject of attack from some fellow party stakeholders including some former governors who had pledged to storm the NEC meeting if Tinubu, who does not hold a constitutional office in the party, was allowed in.
Whether out of decorum or in apprehension of the threat, Tinubu stayed out.
Accept APC’s supremacy —Buhari
Opening the meeting yesterday, the president urged party members to adhere to party decisions on the premise that the APC provided the platform for their election.
Noting that the party cannot afford to fail, he said:
“The elections have come and gone. The APC has won the battle but lost the war. This is the paradox of democracy and we shall see how we can manage it going forward.
“The APC must not disappoint its constituency that is the nation state. We have to convince our various constituencies that we are individually worthy of the sacrifices that they have made.
“Let us as members of the APC no matter our personal differences get together and use the mandate given to us by this country. This is my personal appeal to you in the name of God. Whatever your personal interest or ambition, please keep it close to your heart and in your pocket. Let APC work.
“Let the system work and let us have a government that will earn the respect of our constituencies. My problem is the constituencies.
“Please accept the superiority of the party. I cannot confine myself to the cage or Sambisa forest and refuse to participate in NEC or BoT. So, I respect the superiority of the party.
The president also used the opportunity to commend the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for conceding defeat in the last election.
“The opposition party has ruled the country for 16 years. With all the treasuries, literally in their pockets and all the coercing forces under their command, they still meekly conceded defeat. We congratulate them for that.
APC will overcome its challenges soon — Oyegun
Earlier in his welcome address, the national chairman, Odigie-Oyegun expressed hope that the challenges in the party would be resolved before the resumption of National Assembly on July 21.
“We know the issues, the challenges the party is passing through. In the process, we will discuss the challenges. I can assure you that they will be dealt with conclusively before the National Assembly reassembles”, he said.
APC governors to meet Saraki, Dogara
Briefing Journalists after the meeting, the national publicity secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that NEC resolved that the governors would meet with Saraki and Dogara as part of the moves to settling the conflict.
He also stated that both the NEC and the governors unanimously expressed satisfaction with the Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee, NWC and passed a vote of confidence on him.
“Also, it is important to let you know that everybody in the party is united on two issues which are party supremacy and the need to ensure that this government deliver its campaign promises.”
Tinubu, Akande absent at NEC meeting
Party spokesman, Mohammed, defended the absence of Tinubu and Akande on claim that they are not members of NEC.
“If you look at our constitution, neither of them are members of the excos of the party. I think it is at the discretion of the NWC or NEC whom to invite or not. I don’t want to fathom more reasons why they are not here but like I said neither of them are members of the exco of the party”, he said.
Following the NEC meeting, the disputants in the Senate led by Senator Saraki and Lawan and the disputants in the House led by Speaker Dogara and Mr. Gbajabiamila proceeded to the Imo State House, Abuja where the two sides presented their issues.
At the end of the dialogue, Governor Okorocha assured newsmen that the crisis would soon be overcome.
He said: “You will not see any more disagreements as against the past. Peace has come to our party. Both the Senate President and the Speaker; Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila will work together for the unity and progress of our party.
“By next week we will give you people the details of the outcome of this peace meeting, but so far so good all things being equal.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole on his part said: “When you have some little disagreement among friends, the only way to solve them is to talk and we have started the process. The fact that the two sides are present, the foundation for peace is there.
“So, I believe we are making some progress. Not that everything is signed, sealed and delivered that is why Okorocha said we are continuing the process.”
by Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Levinus Nwabughiogu – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/07/apc-crisis-no-deal-yet/#sthash.hOWWY9Vb.dpuf