Yobe State Governor and Chairman Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Mai Mala Buni
File: Yobe State Governor and Chairman Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Mai Mala Buni
Efforts by the National Reconciliation Committee set up by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to resolve the internal crisis in some state chapters of the party may have suffered a setback in some states, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
In some of the states visited by the committee, led by a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, findings showed that the crisis in the party was far from over.
It is believed that the prolonged crisis in the state chapters of the party prevented the party from holding its national convention. Since June 2020 when the committee, led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, was inaugurated, the convention has been postponed several times.
At the ward, local government and state congresses of the party held previously, parallel leadership emerged in many states, prompting the setting up of the committee.
Oyetola and Aregbesola groups fight on in Osun
Meanwhile, barely one week after the Adamu-led committee visited Osun State to reconcile aggrieved party members, peace has yet to return to the state chapter of the party. Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, have remained at loggerheads.
Aregbesola, who is also the Minister of Interior, said on Friday that the ruling party in the state was divided, noting that at the right time, the party would be reorganised.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Digital Nigeria Centre in Ijesa Muslim Grammar School, Ilesa, Aregbesola alluded to the existence of The Osun Progressives loyal to him, and another group, Ileri Oluwa, loyal to the governor.
Speaking in Yoruba, Aregbesola, acknowledged Rasaq Salinsile, who his faction elected as the chairman of the APC in the state.
The former governor said, "For anybody who seeks to know, the APC is divided in Osun. We have APC of Rauf Aregbesola, which is chaired by Mr Razaq Salinsile, and the other. Everybody is doing his or her own, later, we will reorganise, we will rearrange everything.
"The caucus that produced our faction is called The Osun Progressives chaired by Elder Lowo Adebiyi. People who are in doubt, thinking whether I am part of the TOP or not should listen, I belong to TOP. I am happy that the Commissioner of Police is here. There are a lot of lies that are flying around."
But on Saturday, the chairman-elect of the APC loyal to the governor in the state, Prince ‘Gboyega Famoodun, described members loyal to the Aregbesola group as disgruntled members of the party.
Famoodun in a statement in Osogbo on Saturday, berated Aregbesola for open declaration of support for TOP, saying the conduct of the ex-governor was below expectation. He also told Aregbesola to perish the belief that he was the only powerbroker in Osun progressive politics. He said the former governor was only living in past glory.
The statement read in part, "The intra-APC opposition group, called TOP, which meets every Thursday in the Campaign Office of the Interior Minister in Osogbo has become a venue where barrage of insults are heaped on the person of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the state leadership of the APC and the state government by the leadership of the said TOP.
"This disgruntled set of the APC members are peopled by members of the cabinet of Aregbesola during his two terms as the governor of the state who are now protesting their not being appointed by Governor Oyetola for the third term.
"Osun APC is too strong for Aregbesola to break. His recent statement in Ilesa reduces his status as a former governor and as a serving minister of a party he claimed to belong to. Aregbesola is an arrogant, selfish, self-centered, reckless, wicked and inconsiderate politician who wants the whole world to be his possession. It is not an overstatement to categorise Aregbesola as someone who prefers to rule in hell than to serve in paradise.
"Aregbesola should be told that there is no amount of intrigues by him that is capable of bungling the second term ambition of Governor Oyetola as it has divine guidance and pathfinder which makes him(the governor) unstoppable by any mortal."
When contacted for reaction, secretary of Aregbesola backed APC faction, Lani Baderinwa, said response to Famoodun "will be made available soonest."
Only genuine resolution can bring peace to Osun APC – Aregbesola’s group
Meanwhile, Baderinwa had told one of our correspondents that only reorganisation and genuine reconciliation could return peace to the party. Baderinwa, expressed hope that the reconciliation committee, having heard the complaints of the group, would ensure that justice was served.
"We have met with the reconciliation committee and all we have been saying is that let us ensure reorganisation and fairness. We hope justice will be served by the committee. Until then, the party will continue to push for a better APC that can win elections without struggling in Osun State," Baderinwa added.
Meanwhile, the verbal attacks between Aregbesola’s camp and the faction loyal to the governor in the past few days were a testament to the raging impasse between the two camps.
In Kwara State, one of our correspondents gathered that the committee met with the two factions: one led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed; and the other led by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in separate meetings in Ilorin, the state capital, on Monday.
Adamu had assured the factions of fair hearing and that it would try its best to reconcile the parties.
The Publicity Secretary of the faction loyal to the governor, Alhaji Folaranmi Aro, who confirmed that the committee met the group, said the prominent members of the opposing group in the party including the two ministers; Lai Mohammed and Ms Gbemisola Saraki, as well as Bashir Bolarinwa, the suspended chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee in the state, were not present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, soon after the committee left the state, the faction loyal to the Information and Culture minister accused the chairman of the reconciliation committee of bias, saying he should do justice to the issues without fear or favour in the overall interest of the party.
In a statement jointly signed by the state secretary of the faction, Alhaji Isiaka Agboji, and the publicity secretary, Mr Ibrahim Sharafdeen, the faction said Adamu's body language and conduct were at variance with the stated objectives of the committee.
They said Adamu's comment that he would not accept anything that could discredit the administration of the APC-led administration in the state was a "prejudicial remark from a man expected to be neutral in view of the volatile nature of his assignment."
Their statement added, "We view such a belligerent tone as a prelude to what should be expected as the outcome of his input to the committee’s report. It is our belief that anyone who uses reason to escape history will end up repeating history.
"As a prudent statesman heading a reconciliatory committee of this nature, we expect that he would have approached this assignment with caution and tact rather than resorting to emotions by referring to his primordial relationship with one of the parties to the dispute. This, we consider as a clear case of a judge descending into the arena of dispute.
"Needless to say that prior to the arrival of the committee in the state on January 10, 2022, the parties had been requested to make their presentations in writing which was done. However, while we appreciate the intervention of the committee in finding lasting solutions to the lingering crises in the Kwara APC, we noticed the unpleasant body language and conduct of the chairman were at variance with the stated objectives of the committee.
"Further, even if the Committee Chairman has a long-standing relationship with the patriarch of Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq’s family, we consider it indecent to use the venue of the meeting to express such sentimental attachment."
The statement described the committee members as persons of impeccable character and that the faction would not impugn their integrity in any way. However, they said, "Having done what is expected of us by articulating our position on the matter at hand and proffering what we consider as way forward to the committee, we hope the leadership of the party at the national level will do justice without fear or favour in the overall interest of the party."
Mohammed's group lists demands
In a related development, the deputy chairman of Lai Mohammed faction, Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, who led members to meet the committee, told Sunday PUNCH that they were still expecting to hear from the committee. He told one of our correspondents the requests presented by their faction before the committee.
He said, "Our requests: we urge this committee to ensure immediate registration of our members who are in the majority but were prevented from participating in the last party registration and revalidation exercise in the state. We also want our members to be included in every arrangement of the registration process by the national body.
"We urge the committee to recognise the executive produced by the congress conducted by the three tendencies (Alhaji Lai Muhammad, Senator Gbemisola Saraki and Mr Iyiola Akogun group) from wards, local government and the state.
"We also want the committee to sanction Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq for his complicity in the anti-party conduct and his failure to adhere to all reconciliation moves."
In Lagos State, the party's spokesperson, Mr Seye Oladejo, told one of our correspondents in an interview on Thursday that the party was at peace as a result of the intervention of the National Caretaker Committee from Abuja.
Oladejo said, "Reconciliation in any political party remains work in progress. The internal mechanism of the party for crisis management is always the most active organ of the party. The only aggrieved party to the best of my knowledge expectedly defected true to their script. The party is at peace."
A faction of the party, called the APC Democrats, however, faulted the reconciliation committee, saying their intervention was selfish and insincere, adding that they would meet in court.
The chairman of the group, Mr Fouad Oki, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said, "First of all, the reconciliation committee did not inform anybody of its coming to Lagos. No information whatsoever. Secondly, they came to see Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as far as we are concerned, because it (meeting) was held at the governor's house.
"Thirdly, they told a lie that there were no memoranda from Lagos. That is far from the truth. At the appropriate time, we will take them up. I have called the secretary to tell him that we will all have our day in court. Not that we were surprised though, we knew the reconciliation committee was not really good and they were not reconciling anything other than their pockets.
"As far as our party in Lagos is concerned, there was no reconciliation. In fact, in our records, they never came to Lagos. I am sure even selected media outlets were allowed to cover it. That is enough for the intervention to be questioned."
In Ogun State, the reconciliation committee about a week ago held separate meetings with two factions; one loyal to Governor Dapo Abiodun and another loyal to his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Findings from the members of the factions showed that the issues had yet to be resolved, even though they showed optimism that there would be reconciliation soon.
However, the chairman of the faction loyal to Amosun, Chief Derin Adebiyi, said he was optimistic there would be reconciliation. "Definitely, I am optimistic that there will be unification in the party.
When asked about the outcome of the meetings with the factions, Adebiyi declined comment, saying he would not disclose the demands and conditions given. "I prefer to keep it in the interest of unification of the party," he added.
Attempts to get the reaction from the faction loyal to the governor failed as neither the factional chairman, Yemi Sanusi, nor the publicity secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, answered several calls made to their mobile lines.
In Gombe State, the Publicity Secretary, Moses Kyari, said the recently held reconciliation had helped to douse disaffection within its rank. In an interview with one of our correspondents, he debunked insinuations that there would be a repeat of congresses in the state.
He said, "Reconciliation has taken place. However, there was never a time that there was contemplation for a repeat of congresses in Gombe State on the basis that (former Governor Danjuma) Goje made a request. It is not true and it has been addressed by the Press Secretary to Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State that there was nothing like that."
Speaking about those who resigned their appointments over the crisis, Kyari added, "They have left their offices and will not come back because nobody asked them to leave the party."
Attempts made by our correspondent to reach Goje’s loyalists proved abortive as some of them claimed they had yet to be briefed by the former governor, who now represents Gombe Central in the Senate.
In Kano State, despite the visit by the reconciliation committee, the two factions: one loyal to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, and the other loyal to a former governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, appear to be comfortable with the status quo as the group that went to court has yet to withdraw the case.
A top official of one of the factions who does not want his name mentioned because he was not permitted to speak on the matter said despite the committee’s effort to ensure peace reigned, the feud in the party had continued unabated.
It was gathered that the reconciliation committee members were in Kano about two months ago, but failed to reach a compromise as a result of the pending appeal in court. As of the time of filing this report, the factions also refused to speak on the matter because the matter was subjudice.