Weekend failed attempts by the APC NEC to resolve the lingering crisis in the party took a turn for the worse when state chairmen of Kwara and Lagos, loyal to their leaders attacked each, reports Francis Moses
The weekend trouble shooting meeting by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress was yet to make a head way on the lingering National Assembly fueled inter- party crisis when side kicks from supporters of the feuding factions took center stage threatening to throw spanners in the works. At the arena are the local Chapters of the party in Kwara and Lagos whose chairmen tonguelashed each other over the their stance on the National Assemble crisis.
In a statement on Saturday, Publicity Secretary of the party in Kwara, Sulyman Buhari, took on his Lagos counterpart, Mr Joe Igbokwe, urging the party to caution him as his diatribe against Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara APC, could worsen rather solve the party’s lingering crisis.
According to Buhari, the Lagos APC need to “re-orientate” Joe Igbokwe “on his responsibilities in order to halt further embarrassment that his divisive commentary magnets to Lagos APC, adding that “this caution is unavoidable to arrest the dangerous trend whereby a spokesman continues to cause damage to the image of the same party he was elected to protect and promote.” Mr. Igbokwe, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos APC, had taken exception to the manner in which Saraki and Dogara emerged and condemned the election.
He described the actions of both men as “treacherous” and asking the APC to sanction them. Both men are believed to be speaking the minds of the leaders of their parties in their respective states. Buhari comes from Kwara State where Saraki, a former governor of Kwara, holds sway as the leader of the APC while Mr. Igboke, who has been in office as publicity secretary since the governorship of Lagos State by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, does his leader’s bidding at every turn.
Tinubu had vowed that though he is not God, he would not recognize Bukola as Senate President. That statement has since cued all his supporters and members of the party in the Southwest. Infact, the influence of Tinubu played out during the weekend meeting of the National Executive Meeting of the party in Abuja, during which the leaders were expected to find a lasting solution to the party crisis. While all the expected NEC members were in attendance, including President Buhari, the Tinubu camp were holed up in an apartment on Abuja. They included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, ex- Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and Tinubu himself.
Though party spokesman, Alhaj Lai Mohammed played down the absence of Tinubu saying that he was not expected to be there even though he is a leader of the party. He was not forthcoming on the absence of the duo of Osinbajo and Akande. Speaking on the botched outcome of the weekend meeting, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state and his Imo counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, however said things were looking up for the party without stating how. According to Oshiomhole, the fact that the attendees all came out of the meeting smiling shows that they had crossed the bridge of the crisis and would soon lay to rest the differences that ignited it in the first place.
Okorocha expressed optimism that the party would come out stronger from the current crisis. It was President Buhari who however reiterated party supremacy even though he asked members and leaders alike to sacrifice personal interests for the party plans to move the country forward. Buhari said: “Let the system work. I appeal to you to accept the superiority of the party. I cannot confine myself in Sambisa forest and refuse to participate in the meeting because I respect the superiority of the party.” The APC lingering crises erupted on the July 9 when Saraki and Dogara were elected by legislators in the floor of the House against the interests and directives of the party which had supported Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for Senate President and Speaker respectively.
In a mock election conducted by the party among its elected legislators few weeks to the inauguration of the National Assembly, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila defeated Saraki and Dogara . But the eventual senate leaders teamed up with lawmakers elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to secure their positions, a move which angered many APC leaders. Although the APC initially rejected the elections of the National Assembly leaders, it later changed its position, when party Chairman on a day he met the President emerged to tell journalists that the party would support Saraki’s as Senate President. Party leaders who felt he had by that endorsement, taken sides, started drumming support for his removal.
He barely survived with his skin at the weekend meeting through the support of some governors. But the end is yet to be known for him a the powerful forces bent on seeing his back are still waiting for any further slip by him. The party crisis worsened when Messrs Saraki and Dogara rejected persons nominated by the APC to emerge Senate and House majority leaders as well as other leadership positions reserved for the majority party. The crisis has since split the party into two factions: those aligned with the new senate president and speaker; and those aligned with the leadership of the party.
Although the NEC agreed on Friday that all parties sheath their sword while the problem is resolved, the Kwara APC spokesman’s statement on Saturday shows the crisis is far from over. Though the Kwara APC spokesman stated that “what is expected of all APC members is to support the reconciliation efforts of Mr. President and desist from any activity or making comments that tend to ignite more confusion and crises,” he attacked Mr. Igbokwe’s loyalty and commitment to the party, stating that his activities suggest he “is a mole in the APC and/or doing the bidding of some elements outside the APC in order to destabilise the APC.” “I wish to state without equivocation that no matter what Mr. Igbokwe says or his concerted efforts to twist history, he is not and can never be more APC than the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Honourable Speaker, Yakubu Dogara,” the Kwara APC official said.