State chairmen of the All Progressives Congress are threatening a showdown with the national leadership of the party over recent appointments at the federal and state levels.
The PUNCH learnt on Monday that the state chairmen were becoming frustrated over the failure of the leadership of the party to reward loyal party members with appointments.
The chairmen expressed their grievances as the governors elected on the platform of the party on Monday warned that the internal crisis in the APC could destroy the party and the political process.
The renewed agitation of the chairmen followed the expiration of a 10-day ultimatum issued to the National Working Committee of the party under the leadership of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Recall that the Forum of APC State Chairmen had on September 23 issued an ultimatum to the NWC to address their perceived concerns.
Among their concerns are failure to secure appointments for party loyalists and fill vacant leadership seats in the party.
The position of the National Secretary had become vacant following the swearing-in of the last occupant, Mai Mala Buni, as Governor of Yobe State.
Also, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Otunba Niyi Adebayo, was recently appointed as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Their chairmen alleged that they were being treated as outsiders in the party they toiled day and night to secure victories for in the last general elections while those who worked against the party were being rewarded.
Prominent among state where core party members were neglected included Ogun State, where two loyalists of ex-governor Ibukunle Amosun, clinched federal appointments. During the 2019 elections, Amosun supported the Allied Peoples Movement governorship candidate, Mr Adekunle Akinlade.
The ultimatum has expired without the chairmen getting any concrete response from the party national leadership.
One of the state chairmen, who spoke with one of our correspondents in confidence said the state chairmen were angry because their concerns had not been addressed despite the letter to the national leadership.
He said, “It is unfortunate our efforts are not being recognised by the party we have all laboured for while those that did nothing were getting rewarded because of their closeness to some powerful forces in government.
“There is a limit to everything because we are fast losing grip of our members at states who feel the party is not carrying them along.”
Another state chairman from the North said, “The situation is getting critical and our members are becoming disenchanted and losing faith in us for something that it is not our fault. We don’t know what to tell them again because it is getting to a stage they can no longer understand the direction of the party.”
However, the Secretary of the forum, Dr Ben Nwoye, told The PUNCH that they were not relenting in their efforts as there was no going back on their demands.
He said, “There is no response yet, but when it is time you will hear from us. You will hear from the party faithful; those who believe they worked hard for the party and have been left behind and out of the system while those who worked against the government and the party have been rewarded.
“You will hear from those who participated in putting the government in place in various states and have been abandoned.”
Nwoye, who is the Enugu State APC chairman, said the state chairmen would meet in the next few days to review the development.
“Discussions are going on. We are planning and we are organising ourselves. Whatever that will be done will be a collective decision of all of us and it will be made public; it won’t be in isolation,” he said
Speaking on their grievances, Nwoye said, “The chairmen are speaking the minds of the people, those who sacrificed, worked hard and promoted the cause of the party but have been left behind.
“We are speaking the minds of the contestants who have promoted the image of the party and have been neglected. The minds of the people who nurtured the party in the non-APC states but have been left behind while the PDP people are rewarded.”
Efforts to reach the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, proved abortive as he did not answer calls placed to him.
He had also yet to reply to a text message sent to him on what the APC had done to address the issues raised by the forum of state chairmen in their letter to the NWC as of 7:53 pm.
We are looking into chairmen’s grievances – National Vice-Chairman
But the APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, said the concerns raised by the party leaders at the state level were being looked into.
He assured the public that the party had the capacity to deal with its internal issues noting that all issues that fell within the purview of party leadership would soon be resolved.
He said, “You cannot take concerns of our state party chairmen as a storm in a tea cup. I’ve always said that politics is all about conflict resolution.
“It encompasses conflict resolution and when there are no conflicts then what is there to resolve? These are conflicts that are within the orbit of the party to be resolved; I believe the party will resolve these conflicts.
“We have internal conflict resolution mechanisms and I can assure you that all of these issues will soon be resolved.”
Buhari’s friend’s son pursuing pre-election case against Masari
Besides the chairmen’s grievances, a top member of the National Assembly said the party was battling with many problems.
The source said, “We have internal problems. Some were inherited while some are just coming up.
“Recall the issue of the Deputy National Chairman (North), Sen. Lawal Shuaibu, and his letter. There is also the case of our National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir, who has taken us to court. Now the state chairmen are threatening
“This is aside from the crisis in some of the states we control. The split judgment in the governorship election tribunal case in Katsina should tell you something.
“A son of a friend of President Muhammadu Buhari, Isa Funtua, Abubakar, is pursuing a pre-election matter against Governor Aminu Masari in Katsina State. He is challenging Masari’s educational qualifications.”
Governors confirm internal crisis in APC, seek N’Assembly support
But members of the APC Governors’ Forum, during a courtesy call on the leadership of the 9th National Assembly in Abuja on Monday, lamented the lack of cooperation between elected members of the executive arm of government and the legislature.
The APC governors were led to the parliament by their Chairman, Atiku Bagudu, of Kebbi State. They were received by the leadership of the 9th National Assembly led by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Bagudu told their hosts that they were in the nation’s apex legislative institution to present the report of the forum’s sub-committee on Legislative Matters, chaired by the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari.
Addressing the gathering, Masari lamented that all efforts by his panel to come up with an acceptable mutual relationship between the governors and the National Assembly had not achieved the desired results.
He noted with concern that the absence of coordination between the elected state executives and the federal parliament had produced crisis of trust which could destroy the party.
Crisis can destroy our party, Masari warn
Masari said, “The absence of coordination (between the executive and the legislature) has produced crisis of trust which if care is not taken can destroy our party and the political process.
“So as leaders, we need to make amends especially in the area of management of political relations among all the party stakeholders. We need not remind ourselves of what happened between 2015 and 2019.
“The Progressive Governors Forum has a standing subcommittee on legislative matters that started in the last Assembly. But unfortunately, no success came out for obvious reasons.
“So we thought that we should contact you (National Assembly) early enough so that we put machinery in motion in making sure that this time round, we are on the same page, that is, the Progressive Governors’ Forum and the National Assembly.
“In doing so, we want to use this opportunity to address some fundamental issues that do not only affect the APC as a political party but the whole nation. We have itemized some areas which we want to discuss for the purpose of this courtesy call.
“The details will come when your subcommittee and our subcommittee meet and discuss in detail.
“We can recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently reminded us of our responsibilities in providing leadership to and prioritize building of strong relationships between all elected representatives both in the executive and legislative arms of government, as well as our party leaders.”
He further noted with regret that the avoidable circumstances were preventing the elected officials of the ruling party from providing the necessary leadership.
He said, “Unfortunately, we allowed avoidable circumstances to give new life to our political opponents, especially parties in opposition to the APC, like the PDP.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila, expressed dismay over the way the Edo State Government frustrated the House efforts at resolving the crisis rocking the state Assembly.
Gbajabiamila lamented that despite the fact that the PDP government in Bauchi State supported the National Assembly peace efforts in resolving the crisis in the state legislature, the Edo State Government frustrated its moves.
He, therefore, said that the National Assembly would appeal the judgment obtained by Edo State, preventing the nation’s parliament from performing its constitutional roles.
The Speaker said, “ I’m not sure of the legislative agenda that the Governors’ Forum are bringing but let me seize this opportunity to say that our legislative agenda would be unveiled on Friday which we hope to get across to you. We are also using this opportunity to invite the governors to the event.
“Whether or not we need to take it and amend it later before Friday, would depend on the presentation you are going to make today. We want to be working in unison, together as one party and as one government.
“While addressing the issue of one party and one government, my big brother ,the Senate President, and I will want to the draw our attention to the issue of the crisis in Bauchi and Edo states.
“Whilst we were able to successfully resolve the issue in Bauchi State, which is an opposition state, unfortunately, we are unable to resolve that of Edo State, I think this is what we have to look at and prioritise.
“We should consider how to constitutionally address the issue. For those of us on this side, the National Assembly, we are surprised that the exclusive constitutional roles given to us as prescribed in section 12 of the constitution which is written unambiguously clear was being tested.
“We are a bit concerned about that. Of course, we have three arms of government and on the basis of that, we will be going to court on this matter to resolve not just the judgment but to ensure that any other related issues like that do not come up again.
“The House of Representatives has adopted a theme, “The nation building is a joint task”, that is how we are operating in the National Assembly irrespective of our political party divides.
“We have resolved to come together when it comes to national issues. We believe that since there is one government, there should be a symbiotic relationship between the governors and the legislators. We are going to have a robust conversation after the press would have gone out.”
Gbajabiamila and Lawan commended the governors for the role they played in their emergence as Senate President and Speaker respectively.
The Speaker said, “The leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives are very appreciative of the roles that the APC governors played in our emergence as Senate President and Speaker of the 9th National Assembly.
“The roles in no middle way, played a major part in the success we recorded at the elections and we are very grateful to you for this.”
Lawan said, “It is a fact and a truism that our party, particularly our governors did so well; they worked so hard and assiduously to ensure the leadership of the National Assembly emerged with little or no hitch in the 2019 leadership contest.
“We thank you for that show of trust. We believe that you have done your part by giving us all the support that we needed.