What manner of reconciliation in APC?
By Hamisu Abubakar
It was recently said of Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi that he frowned at the conduct of the last All Progressives Congress (APC) national convention, and in his usual belligerent manner, spoke out against what he saw, but others already knew, as unfair. After Amaechi's comments hit the internet space, the government's aides denied the comments, but the Governor's appearance at the Reconciliation Committee of Atiku Abubakar appeared to put a lie to the denial by the Rivers government.
These were the telling words credited to Amaechi shortly after the APC convention but which were denied: “Let it be known, that I didn't just join the APC, I was wooed by the legacy parties and four other PDP governors then. Naturally in every bargain, interests must be spelt out. Of course they did promise me the Vice Presidential ticket in the forth coming election with a condition to sell the party and make President Jonathan unpopular. The initial arrangement was to pair me with Hon. Tambuwal (Speaker of House of Representatives).
“But when other entrants like Atiku and others entered the party, everything changed. It was Gov. Nyako that opened up to me on the recent changes, and pleaded with me to take the position of the National chairman of party, that it will be zoned to the South-South. And I grudgingly accepted. Now, in every political convention, consensus building is needed to harmonize all interests.
“So I initiated a platform for the 16 APC governors to talk in Port-Harcourt last week. And in that meeting, the 13 governors and their deputies that were in attendance reassured me that I will be given the national chairmanship slot. But when I asked Gov. Adams to ask Chief Ikimi and John Oyegun to step down for my candidate, Adam's quietly told me “My brother, I know the bad name they have called you in the South-South and Rivers in particular. Again, I sympathize with you because I know how much you have put-in in APC, this Yoruba and Hausa people can't be trusted, they said you couldn't build the APC in Rivers State and that only 95,633 out of the 1.3 million membership you claimed have passport photographs. That everything was doctored by you.
“I find it very disappointing, that we no longer have men of trust, and integrity, men whose words should be their bond in politics. So last night, I made my position clear, that if the other candidates didn't step down for Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, then there was no point picking the expression of interest form. I feel deeply betrayed”
Going by happenings in the APC, which have been further brought to the fore by the loss in Ekiti, and with Tinubu running around with a bloodied nose to mend fences with aggrieved members, it was no surprise that newspapers were awash with the story that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has been appointed as the head of the Reconciliation Committee of the party.
Party spokesman, Lai Mohammed, explained that the committee was saddled with the responsibility of reaching out to aggrieved party members with a view to reconciling them with the party “in the interest of our dear nation,” whatever that means.
Amaechi's presence, though not explained by the party was seen by observers as part of efforts to ensure “that he did not return to the sweet vomit in the PDP.” Embittered members who may not return to the APC include Minister Ibrahim Shekarau, former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State, and Femi Fani-Kayode, since they have joined the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while others like Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Annie Okonkwo, and other Edo party chieftains, among others, don't look like they will agree to a reconciliation with a party about which they have made disparaging comments.
And as part of the reconciliation process and to prevent fallout of what transpired in Ekiti State where APC was beaten pulp, governors of the States controlled by the party are reaching out to the people. In fact, in Edo State, what started as an effort to redeem the education sector has been put on hold by Adams Oshiomhole, who is desperate for popular support as he faces the political fight of his life. Rauf Aregbesola has suddenly remembered to pay compensation to owners of demolished structures in the State while rushing to pay delayed teachers and civil servants.
The Edo Government cancelled the planned competence test for teachers in the state and recalled the 936 teachers whose names had been deleted from the payroll over certificate discrepancies and age falsification. So, in Edo today, certificate forgers and age falsifiers are teachers. Governor Adams Oshiomhole, during a meeting with the teachers' unions and the Nigeria Labour Congress, explained his bizarre decision.
Read him: “Coming from my own background, I had obligation to restore dignity to the educational sector in the state. Basic Education is like the foundation of a house. If the foundation is weak, the building will collapse. The state government's commitment to carry out competency test was informed by these broad facts having discovered that some of our teachers were not qualified or up to date with recent teaching methods. Our insistence on the fact that competency test must be seen in this light. However, having listened to all suggestions and consultations with various groups, Government has agreed to set aside the Competency or Assessment test in order to re assure Edo workers that government has no intention to sack anyone.”
How the APC plans to reach out to the womenfolk, which they have treated with disdain remains to be seen. Notorious for trampling on women rights, except when it caused a woman to be elected as Chairman of Adamawa State, the party invited loquacious Oby Ezekwesili to speak at its launching, but she ended up firing salvos at the party bigwigs for not treating women fairly. Even in Adamawa, cynics remember its chairman was the one who acted more than a woman by attacking a man and tearing his clothes on network television. “That is not a woman they have as chairman,” an observer quipped.
Hamisu Abubakar sent this piece from Abuja.