The moves by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to reconcile its members ahead of the 2023 general elections appear to have hit the rocks following unresolved issues and latest upheavals in some state chapters of the party.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the APC in February 2020 named Chief Bisi Akande, the former Interim National Chairman of the party as the Chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee of the party.
The initial chairman, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, was dropped after some party members, especially in Edo APC, accused him of alleged bias in the political crisis that rocked the state before the governorship election.
Other members of the Akande-led committee included governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello; Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola; Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase; Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura; Sen. Kashim Shettima; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Alh. Nasiru Aliko Koki; Sen. Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazaq, and Sen. Binta Garba.
Credible party sources said the committee has not achieved much since its formation and party members are worried that the party may go into the 2023 elections more polarised than it is presently.
While some party members have blamed the outbreak of the COVID-19 as a major impediment to the committee’s work, others blame the indifference of Akande to the assignment owing to the latest developments in the party, especially alleged attempts by some power brokers to humiliate his ally, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos and the party’s national leader.
According to a credible source in the party, who was asked to compare the pace of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Reconciliation and Strategy Committee led by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and that of the ruling party, many APC members are not really feeling the impact of the reconciliatory efforts of the Akande-led committee and are calling for change.
Aside some unresolved crisis in states like Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, Zamfara, and Rivers which are being managed silently, they also cited the latest developments which led to an open confrontation between Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazak of Kwara State and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the altercation between Governor Hope Uzodimma and Senator Rochas Okorocha.
He said: “As you are aware, the Akande-led committee was inaugurated in February 2020.
“That was when COVID-19 outbreak started in Nigeria and this greatly affected the work of the committee as they couldn’t do much.
“Some have said the committee could have deployed the use of technology such as zoom, but we all know that in resolving crisis, that method of virtual meeting won’t be as effective as having a one-on-one meeting where the warring parties will sit together and even embrace after the issues are resolved.”
However, another party source said Akande is not really keen about the task after he and other leaders’ opinion were not sought before the party leadership embarked on the ongoing party registration and revalidation exercise.
Akande had publicly criticised the exercise as an aberration and a waste of money considering the economic situation of the country.
“Many of us in the party believe that Papa Akande is not really keen about the reconciliation exercise owing to certain developments in the party.
“The first is the sidelining of party leaders by the current national executives of the party, led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, especially on the ongoing membership registration exercise.
“The second is also the issue of alleged attempts to humiliate his ally, Asiwaju Tinubu, over his perceived presidential ambition.
“If you remember, Akande, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, and Dr. Abayomi Finnih visited the president in Aso Villa in November 2020 and many believed this was the issue they discussed, even though it was not revealed made public.
“The issue is the party cannot keep watching while everything is in disarray and the committee set up by the president is not doing its job of reconciliation.
“We have seen what is going on in the other party and this is a source of worry to us as 2023 is around the corner.”
In the PDP, a member of the Saraki committee said they had achieved 50 percent success rate in reconciling aggrieved members ahead of the 2023 elections.
He said the major crisis rocking the party is the crisis in the South-West chapter of the party which, he believed, would be amicably resolved.
According to him, with the support it has received from all PDP stakeholders so far, especially the National Working Committee led by Prince Uche Secondus, the committee is confident that all grey areas would be sorted out and the party would be in good shape ahead of the 2023 elections.
Also speaking, Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, has hailed the Saraki-led committee on its ongoing efforts to unite the party and return it to winning ways in future elections.
Speaking with Daily Independent at the weekend, George, the Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, who hailed Saraki’s maturity in handling the assignment, said he was highly impressed with the fact that the former two-time governor of Kwara State had been speaking truth to power without mincing words on the way to go for the party to reclaim its place of pride in Nigeria’s political arena.
He said: “The national reconciliation committee set up by the party headed by Dr. Bukola Saraki is doing a very wonderful job.
“I’m highly impressed with Saraki’s handling of the responsibility so far. He is calling a spade a spade and telling the truth to power.
“Saraki is like an elephant in the room, saying the truth the way it should be said.
“When I listened to him, I was very, very impressed that he has really grown and developed. He is no longer the ‘Bukky’ that I knew when he first came to the Villa. He is very mature, very intellectually sound, and very deep.
“He is now making a special name for himself and I said, Oh, we thank God, we are getting to be fathers now but all is not lost. If we have the younger ones like him coming up that we can handover the baton to, why not?
“I had a one-on-one meeting with him in my office here. He never minced words when it comes to speaking the truth and I believe that is what the PDP needs at the moment.”