Let me first of all congratulate the Chairman and dustinguished members of the Caretaker Committee for your selection to undertake the honourous task of putting our drifting Party, the APC, back on course.
The action of NEC, led by our amiable Party leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, in dissolving the NWC was not only appropriate, but timely, considering how far off-course APC had drifted as a result of intra-party squabbles – the bulk of which were purely out of self-serving interest.
The choice of His Excellency, Governor Mai-Mala Buni of Yobe State, who was the immediate past National Secretary of the APC, to chair the Caretaker Committee has given all Party stalwarts the confidence, that indeed, there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel, because of his high standing, knowledge of the inner workings of the Party and all the problems that led to where we are today.
Mr. Chairman, sir, the task before you and your committee is a herculean one that should be approached with all the zeal and political mastery that you have been endowed with. Already, you started on the right footing by paying visits to the key leaders of the Party, President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
While these two visits, and indeed, the subsequent others the Committee might undertake to high profile members of the APC may seem suffice, the most important input and contribution on the way forward will definately come from the ordinary members of the Party. That is why it is important to hold town hall meetings at zonal levels to afford all interested party members the opportunity to take part and be heard.
Your Excellency, I want to remind the Committee that a lot of mistakes were made in the past by the leadership of the Party at various levels that led to disenchantment, that in turn led to loss of interest and voter apathy, and, in some cases, outright anti-party activities that has nearly brought the Party to its knees.
In this regard, I want to draw the attention of Mr. Chairman that in 2015, through the goodwill of Nigerians, APC won majority states, 21, while PDP won only15. By 2019 however, APC fortunes degenerated and managed to win in only 19 states, while the PDP captured 17, plus the FCT.
It is clear from the above data that if the trend is not halted, the PDP will cruise to a comfortable victory in 2023. This is bearing in mind that there is an appreciable number of Nigerians that do not normally bother to vote, but queued in the hot sun and rain in both 2015 and 2019, to vote for APC because of President Muhammadu Buhari. This Buharists group may not be there in 2023 to give APC the advantage.
How did the APC mismanaged its 2015 fortunes and ended up neck-and-neck with the major opposition PDP in just four years? The answer can be found in an open letter I had written to the immediate past Chairman of the APC, Cmrd. Adams Oshiomole immediately after the 2019 general elections.
In the letter, I lamented how APC handed over some key APC states to the PDP, due to the selfishness of Party leaders in those states. I told the former Chairman in some of the quotes below:
“Your Excellency, while those who win elections are still celebrating and looking forward to being sworn in to their various offices, allow me to mourn with you and our national leaders, the loss of Adamawa (my State), Bauchi, Sokoto, Benue and Oyo – all of them very important states in the arithmetic of the country’s politics.
“It is quite clear that these states were lost because of the unfortunate overconfidence the national leadership had on the Governors, thinking that they would deliver, when in reality, their underperformance was glaring, including failure by some, to pay salaries despite the Paris Club refund intervention released to states by the federal government.
“Intera-Party squabbles was however the biggest problem that pulled APC down in the 2019 election exercise. The Governors used their power of incumbency, money and influence to hijack the primaries election in their favour. This, did not go down well with the other candidates, and that is, in addition to other problems.
“More than anything else however, the lack of internal democracy started from the time of the election of officers for states and local Party chapters. Again, the Governors bulldozed their way and hoisted their cronies in to all the most important and powerful positions. This led to massive exudus of substantial number of influencial senior stakeholders to other Parties, while those who stayed indulged in sabotage.
“Mr. Chairman, sir, it is pertinent that the journey for 2023 starts today. And there can never be any other panacea to these myriad problems than enforcing internal democracy through strict Party discipline, including overriding Governors’ interest for the common good of all members and the overall interest of APC.
“Another way of strengthening the Party at states level is to encourage Mr. President to appoint, especially in states where the APC is weak, Ministers with strong political background. Those that will always have their doors open to the people – mobilisers, if you will.”
Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman, the above enumerated points should be taken with all seriousness. If justice and fairness is not observed in running party affairs or discharged by elected leaders, the Party will die a natural death.
The Caretaker Committee now has a tremendous opportunity to lay a solid foundation for the rejuvenation of our great Party, the APC, by coming up with some realistic recommendations that are fair and just, especially the doing away with the clause in the Party’s constitution that deals with consensus candidates. Incumbent leaders always muscle on this and have their way.
No Party member should be denied the right to contest for any post at primaries level. Most problems arise from there and, if that can be taken care of, 75% of the Party’s problem would have been solved.
Mr. Chairman, sir, we are confident that the Committee will do a marvellous job in paving way for the APC to make a great come back and win big in 2023.