The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) assumed a new twist yesterday as the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, accused the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of frustrating the reconciliation effort initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu, who heads the APC National Reconciliation Committee, made the claim in a letter he personally signed and addressed to Odigie-Oyegun, dated February 21. Copies of the letter were forwarded to President Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The APC national leader particularly accused Odigie-Oyegun of seeking to undermine the mandate given to him by the President to reconcile aggrieved members and ensure party cohesion by engaging in dilatory tactics. His words: “Drawing from your behaviour in Kogi, Kaduna and with regard to the state chapter assessment requested, I am led to the inference that you have no intention of actually supporting my assignment. Instead, you apparently seek to undermine my mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics for the most part.
“When forced to act, you do so in an arbitrary and capricious manner, without the counsel of other National Working Committee (NWC) members and without regard to our internal procedures.” The former governor of Lagos State, who recalled that the APC was established as a party of internal democracy, lamented that its internal institutions have been actively undermined or allowed to atrophy. According to him, the spirit of a new and better Nigeria that guided the APC to unprecedented electoral success has been steadily replaced by the bankrupt and ruleless ways that brought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) low. He said: “Since the election, there have been several reports of lack of openness and fairness which have led to internal crisis in some of our states.
There have been allegations of self induced crisis resulting from merchandising of internal processes. We all must agree that the party was bound to suffer growing pains but not to the extent of losing part of the substantial goodwill that brought us to power.
“However, that which concerns me has little to do with the manner by which the party is growing. What concerns me is the manner in which the crisis is developing that can lead to serious erosion of party cohesion and confidence.
Were I alone in this concern. I would discount my observations as a sign of my own misperceptions or infirmity. However, I stand not alone in this worry. My grief is shared by so many party members that I would not be accused of exaggeration if I said substantial party leaders are worried about the course of our vessel.
“I believe it was from this sober concern that President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed me to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence-building efforts in our party. Upon the appointment, I gave the president my word that I would work diligently and objectively to achieve the goal set before me.
“In this vein, my first port-of-call after receiving this assignment was our party’s National Secretariat to present myself before the National Working Committee (NWC), with you as one of its members by virtue of your position as Chairman of the party.
“During my interaction with the NWC, I enjoined its members to freely express their views concerning the state of the party at the national, state and local levels. I listened attentively to the views of every member of the NWC present. On your part, you promised unalloyed support for my mission. Consonant with that vow, you said you would provide all Information at your disposal and you vowed to act as a liaison between me and the state party chapters.
“At that very meeting, I announced I had formally started the assignment handed me by President Buhari. I offered to keep you abreast of my work. I said that I wanted the NWC to be like an informal advisory council and board to me in the discharge of this presidential mandate. “Unfortunately, the spirit of understanding and of cooperative undertaking to revive the party seems not to have lived beyond the temporal confines of that meeting.
I assure anyone who cares to know that this positive spirit of cooperation did not meet its demise at my hands. “My position was and is that we can only restore the party by resolving its current deficiencies in an unbiased, neutral manner that allows us to strengthen our internal democracy by annealing those internal institutions and processes vital to such internal fairness. I stated this position then and still hold to it with all sincerity.
“Yet, disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of the APC.”
Tinubu further accused Odigie- Oyegun of contributing to worsen the crisis in some state chapters of the party through unilateral decisions. He said: “As a party, we have strived to be the best, present hope for the nation. Yet, your goal appears to be something of a lesser pedigree in our discussion.
You personally mentioned Kogi, Kaduna, Kano and Adamawa states as places afflicted by serious party issues given your assessment. These were states where I believed cooperation between you and I should have been intense and detailed. Instead, you have taken it as your personal mission to thwart my presidential assignment in these key states. “In Kogi, you rushed to the state to unilaterally inaugurate a new slate of state officials, parallel to the officials already heading the state chapter of the party. While this may place you in significant affinity with those parallel officials you handpicked, this machination suggests no improvement in the welfare of the party in Kogi or at the national level.
This usurping of authority exacerbates conflict and confusion; it does not resolve them. “It is my understanding that your dissolution of the duly-constituted state executives and the hurried naming of the above-mentioned caretaker group was not approved by the NWC. This arrogation of power sets you at variance with members of the NWC as evidenced by National Publicity Secretary Malam Bolaji Abdullahi s statement condemning your improper and unusual action.”
Tinubu also blamed Odigie-Oyegun for the lingering Kaduna APC crisis, saying the eruptive state of affairs is a direct and proximate result of the inability of the party under his leadership to follow the dictates of the party constitution and regulations to arrive at a result that all may agree was rendered objectively and in harmony with the principles by which this party was founded. On the imperative of time over his assignment, Tinubu insisted that the national chairman make available to him the status reports and all other pertinent information regarding the state chapters without further delay if the President’s mandate is to be achieved. He advised Odigie-Oyegun not allow personal issues he has with him to affect the party’s fortune. His words: “You may have personal qualms with me.
That is your right as a human being. However, you have no such right as the chairman of this party. This party belongs to all of its members. You have no greater claim on it than any of the rest of us. Whatever personal qualms you may have with me are secondary at this point. “You have a moral and professional obligation as the party chairman to act in the party’s best interests. Your hurried and unilateral actions belie the important agency you hold for the party.” “I beg that you refrain from taking any more improper unilateral decisions with regard to the national and state chapters of the party.
As the chairman of the party you must ‘work within the confines of the duties and responsibilities enumerated under the party constitution. You must not stretch beyond them. If you continue to do so, I fear you may undermine the party in no small degree. You may well cause internal fractures and dissension difficult to repair yet visible to all. I fear this can undermine our goodwill with the electorate and make the approaching challenges to the party materially more difficult than they need to be.
“As the chairman of this party, you should not want this to be your legacy As a member of this part from its inception, I don’t want this to happen to the party and I don’t want such an awful thing to be your legacy.” When contacted by New Telegraph last night for his reaction, the APC National chairman said he will reply Tinubu very soon.
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