By Nasir Kura
Among the eagerly anticipated political events of year 2018, last week’s national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was arguably one of the picks of the pack.
The make-or-mar convention, particularly the infighting which marred the party’s ward, council and state congresses in many states of the federation, raised concerns, anxiety and suspense. The poser on most lips was: Would the convention be torpedoed by the same factors that rocked the congresses, or will it enjoy a smooth sail?
Against this backdrop, palpable tension and uncertainty enveloped the atmosphere as the conventions D-Day drew nearer. This was more so as multiple reports had it that some APC factions in certain states had gone to court in a bid to stop rival factions from attending the event billed for the Eagle Square, Abuja. To make the situation more delicate, virtually all the last-minute efforts made by concerned stakeholders to reconcile the warring factions in states like Oyo, Kano, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers floundered. Not even the fact that the then national leadership had stipulated that only the newly-inaugurated state executives and their delegates would be recognised at the convention, would deter the other factions.
Not unexpectedly, some measure of melodrama reared its head. Delegates from Imo and Delta states, for example, engaged in a free-for-all before the eyes of all and sundry, including President Muhammadu Buhari. This was just as the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, pointedly shunned the space reserved for delegates from his home state and sat, instead in the space occupied by delegates from a particular northern state. Not to mention the fact that a number of prominent APC personalities shunned the convention. They include former governor of Kano state, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and Senators Dino Maleye and Shehu Sani from Kogi and Kaduna states, respectively, to mention but few.
Despite these and other oddities, however, the APC national convention generally panned out according to the expectations of the party’s members and leaders. The highlight of the event, needless to say, was the election of a new set of leaders who will pilot the party’s affairs in the next four years.
Rather unusually, positions that would normally have witnessed keen contests turned out to be “anything but contest” as scores of officials emerged unopposed. Their rivals either voluntarily withdrew from the race in advance or were reportedly prevailed upon by the powers-that-be to step down for “consensus” candidates .
The list of unopposed winners include Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (national chairman); Tunde Bello (national financial secretary); Ibrahim Masari (national welfare secretary); and Hassana Abdullahi (Zonal Women leader, North central); and Misbahu Didi (representative of the physically challenged). Tukur Gusau (ex-Offico, North west); Mrs Akpabio (women leader, South South); Isa Azare (Ex-offico, North East); and Nelson Abbu (ex-officio, North central) also emerged unopposed.
Ahead of the election, all eyes had been on the contestants eyeing the national chairmanship position. Although it was an open secret that many of the party’s leaders, notably state governors, had anointed Oshiomhole for the post, at least three other contestants, including a former governor, Clement Ebiri, warmed–up for the race. They eventually threw in the towel thus paving the way for the Ex-Edo state governor, Oshiomhole, to emerge as the brand new helmsman of the APC.
Apparently satisfied with the way and manner events turned out at the convention, President Muhammadu Buhari said he was optimistic APC would emerge stronger despite a couple of yet-to-be resolved issues . “I want to assure everyone here that despite a few lingereing issues…, our great party will emerge stronger after this convention,” he said.
“The unresolved cases we have are the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with a winning team. I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right.”
In fact, thre are a lot of things to put right in the ruling party and this, analysts believe, is at the heart of the agenda for the newly-inaugurated officials. First on the list is the task of reconciling the divergent factions in virtually all the states of the federation. Over the past couple of months, competition for the contol of APC affairs has thrown the party into convulsion in many states. Oshiomhole and other leaders of the party have their work cut out for them in this particular regard.
Allied to that is the little matter of aggrieved members of the former new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) in the APC. As the nPDP leader, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, pointed out during the convention, their presence at the event notwithstanding, the issues that they have articulated again and again are yet to be settled. The new APC leadership needs the wisdom of King Solomon to resolve this tricky matter.
Mounting the saddle barely a couple of months to the 2019 general elections and barely few weeks and months to the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, respectively, it goes without saying that APC’s success or failure in these contests will, to a large extents, depend on the dexterity or otherwise of the Oshiomhole–led executive. From the foregoing, it is evident that the new leaders of the ruling party have no choice than to hit the ground running and do the needful before it may be too late.