- The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is threatening to tear the party apart ahead of the 2019 general elections
- The party ignored warnings from some of its senior members about its impending implosion
- The deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, Comrade Timi Frank, was one of those who raised the alarm early
This past week, President Muhammadu Buhari designated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as part of efforts to improve cohesion within the ruling party.
The national leader’s assignment involves resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation.
Tinubu's experience in politicking is expected to galvanise APC members across the nation to unite ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The president’s intervention is coming over a year after the deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, Comrade Timi Frank, urged the president to intervene in the crisis.
On Sunday, October 2, 2016, Comrade Frank wrote an open letter to the president in which he chronicled the activities of some party officials, which he alleged had affected the unity within the party.
The Bayelsa-born politician specifically accused the chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of deepening the crisis in the party and taking sides with certain elements who were hell-bent on ensuring he is not appointed as the party’s spokesman after his immediate boss, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was appointed Nigeria’s information minister.
Part of the letter read: “All my efforts to plead with the party leadership to redirect its affairs fell on deaf ears as no one took me seriously at the time. You may recall Mr. President, that the origin of this crisis began when the issue of the National Assembly leadership arose and the decision of the party at the time against party members, especially against the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representative.
“I foresaw the impending cracks at the time when the party leaders ignored the injustice against these two persons and I subsequently raised viable concerns which still fell on deaf ears.
“Again, when I raised concerns against the manner in which Chief Odigie-Oyegun handled the conduct of the Bayelsa state governorship primary that produced the APC candidate, no one listened to me, and alas, the outcome of that election became a clear testament to my alleged fears.
“Subsequently, when my immediate boss, Alhaji Lai Mohammed became the minister of information, I was supposed to immediately fill in the gap and act in his stead as enshrined in our party constitution as the acting national publicity secretary of the party, but this was not to be as I was out rightly being persecuted for reasons unknown and perhaps for selfish interest.
“I was deprived from performing my duties and my duties were assigned to themselves. It is worthy to note that today, we are witnessing the same concerns and fears being expressed by one of the founding fathers of our great party, who also doubles as a national leader agreeing with my earlier call that Chief Odigie-Oyegun should resign as the national chairman.”
Despite the fact that the letter was widely published by the Nigerian media, Comrade Frank never got a response or intervention from the presidency.
Similarly, on September 19, 2016, in a letter titled "Urgent Need to End This Impunity against Saraki," Comrade Frank warned the president that the political persecution of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, will spell doom for the party.
He called on the president to intervene in Saraki's trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, stressing that the trial was precipitated by the former governor of Kwara state emergence as Nigeria's number three citizen.
Comrade Frank urged Saraki's detractors to let him continue doing his work in the interest of Nigeria.
“Mr President, it is worthy to note that Saraki in recent times has been treated as an outcast. This is very bad development which if not carefully managed will consume the All Progressives Congress and doom our democracy. What has happened unfortunately does not reflect the change we promised Nigerians.
“Is Senator Saraki the only former governor in Nigeria? Are there no other former governors especially from the South West and other zones that are not just enjoying their booty but are integral part of the government? Yes, Saraki is not the anointed candidate for the Senate presidency, but his colleagues elected him. So, why don’t we allow him some peace to deliver on the promises of change?
“Mr President, the executive needs the legislature; hence, the relationship must be cordial because if this situation is not properly managed, Nigerians will be disappointed in us as a party, a development that portends unfavorable results when we go to the polls in 2019.
“As far as Nigerians are concerned, it is very difficult to convince them that this orchestrated onslaught against Saraki is not a case of witch hunt. Nigerians are more politically aware now than ever,” Comrade Frank wrote.
The appointment of Tinubu to resolve the disagreements in the party is a move that is perhaps too late as the cracks in the ruling party have reached a boiling point.
Some chieftains of the party have also noted that Tinubu himself is the most aggrieved member of the APC, stressing that his appointment won’t make any difference in the party.
“How can you ask the number-one aggrieved member to lead reconciliation? The national leader is the most aggrieved person in the party today. Who will reconcile Tinubu with the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun?
“Are you not aware that Tinubu himself is aggrieved? He also needs to be pacified, especially in his grievance against the president,” a chieftain of the party from the South-south region, Barrister Frank Okon told the New Telegraph.
Buttressing Okon’s point, another APC chieftain from Adamawa, Alhaji Yinusa Inuwa, explained that the person bestowed with the responsibility has many enemies within the party, as such, the job may be difficult.
“Tinubu has issues with many people in the party, especially those who went against him during the elections under the leadership of the National Assembly.
“He is fighting the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and many senators who supported Saraki. He is also fighting Yakubu Dogara and Governor Aminu Tambuwal over the speakership. Who will reconcile him with those lawmakers? Is he going to reconcile himself with them?” he queried.
Already, Comrade Frank’s prediction that a major defection will hit the APC if the party’s crisis is not resolved has started manifesting.
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Friday, November 24, 2017, dumped the ruling party for the Peoples Democratic Party.
Two weeks ago, a former deputy-director of the Buhari Support Organizations( BSO), Chief Blessing Agbomhere and over 26,000 members and supporters of the APC in Etsako central local government area of Edo state defected to the PDP.
This past week, Honourable Jagaba Adams representing Kagarko/Kachia federal constituency in the House of Representative, left the APC and joined the PDP.
The situation is the same is states like Bayelsa, Abia, Niger, Sokoto, Borno, to name but a few.
The ruling party is also grappling with rumours that some of its notable chieftains are on their way out of the party.
Names bandied around by political analysts include Senators Bukola Saraki and Rabiu Kwankwaso, Governors Aminu Tambuwal, Samuel Ortom and Abdulfatah Ahmed.
There is a need for the APC to immediately kick-start the healing process in the party, as any further delay will lead to an impending doom.
History will be kind to Comrade Frank for standing by the truth at all times especially when many chieftains of the party choose to be quiet.
It is also a reminder for the APC to always hearken to the voice of tested politicians like Comrade Frank who have been on both sides of the divide and have constant interaction with members of the public. Politicians of his ilk are rare in these times.
Comrade Frank has always stood on the side of the Nigerian people at all times even at the expense of hurting his own party. This is why some mischievous chieftains of the ruling party are uncomfortable with him around them.
There is a need for the presidency, the party leadership and the indeed, the Tinubu reconciliation committee to reach out to Comrade Frank, seek his forgiveness, redress his grievances and bring him on board as the party prepares for the 2019 general elections.
It is to his credit that the APC leadership has been kept on their toes to ensure financial transparency in the party affairs, respect for rule of law, discipline of party members, respect for party elders and the need to shun imposition.
Finally, political watchers and Nigerians at large will be hoping that the APC hearken to the voice of Comrade Frank and resolve its challenges, so as to focus on delivering the dividends of democracy at all levels of government devoid of petty distractions.
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Watch our interview with Comrade Frank where he spoke about political and national issues on Legit.ng TV