By Kelechi James
A former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu on Saturday accepted the dissolution of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which saw his close ally, Adams Oshiomhole, ousted as national chairman of the party.
Tinubu, who praised members of the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee for leading APC to “great and important victories, not least the vital second mandate handed to President Buhari,” said the new leadership should now dwell on building upon the victories to advance both the country and party to their better future.
In a statement made available to newssnow.com, the APC national leader acknowledged that the party has been going through difficult times, adding, “we must acknowledge that something important has gone off track.”
He said, “For some months we have experienced growing disagreement within the leadership of the party. This unfortunate competition had grown so intense as to impair the performance of the NWC, thus undermining the internal cohesion and discipline vital to success.
“Some people have gone so far as to predict the total disintegration of our party. Most such dire predictions were from critics whose forecasts said more about their ill will than they revealed about our party’s objective condition. Predictions of the APC’s imminent demise are premature and mostly mean-spirited. However, an honest person must admit the party had entered a space where it had no good reason to be.
“The trouble is not that we would forfeit our collective existence but whether we were in danger of losing our collective purpose. In some ways, this possibility is of greater concern. A political party that has lost sight of the reason for its existence becomes but the vehicle of blind and clashing ambitions. This is not what drove the APC’s creation.
“Those who believe Nigeria can be forged into a better nation and deserves good governance must harken back to the establishment of our party. Those who were there and contributed the most to the party’s genesis embraced a common vision. Not only did we believe the venal, purblind PDP was leading the nation into a pit, we sincerely held a common vision of progressive good governance. This was the overriding reason for the APC.”
He regretted that although most of the founders of the party remained faithful to APC’s mission of providing good leadership for Nigeria, many other “members have lost their balance. Their personal ambition apparently came to greatly outweigh the obvious national imperatives.”
Tinubu said Nigeria has been hampered longstanding obstacles that have blocked its access to national greatness for too long. These, he said, include poverty and economic inequality, insecurity and lack of infrastructure.
He added: “Through no fault of our own, we now live in a moment of heightened difficulty. We did not ask for COVID-19, but it has found us. We must deal with it and navigate its rude economic consequences.
“At the same time, we must grapple with the violent insecurity caused by increasingly desperate terrorists and criminals. People need concrete help from us. We must focus on building roads and creating jobs. For the average man, watching politicians wrestle for position is a poor substitute to seeing politicians working for the benefit of all.
“Yet, such intramural fighting has come to occupy the attention of many high-ranking party officials and members.”
He traced the party’s recent troubles to the conflicts in the National Working Committee, saying, “Those who disagreed with one another stopped trying to find common ground. Attempts were made to use the power of executive authority to bury each other. I must be blunt here. This is the behaviour of a fight club not the culture of a progressive political party.
“Some members went against their chairman in a bid to forcefully oust him. In hindsight, his fence-mending attempts were perhaps too little too late. I believed and continue to believe that Comrade Oshiomhole tried his best. Mistakes were made and he must own them. Yet, we must remember also that he was an able and enthusiastic campaigner during the 2019 election. He is a man of considerable ability as are the rest of you who constituted the NWC.
“It had been my hope that the disagreements could be resolved. After all, a political solution should not be beyond the ken of leaders of a major political party. But such resolution has failed to materialise. It was as if some unseen but strong force continued to stoke the embers. Instead of calling a prudent ceasefire, too many people sought more destructive weapons against one another.”
Tinubu justified President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention in the crisis when he “reasonably decided that he has seen enough.” He said, “I do not lament his intervention or its outcome. I lament that the situation degenerated to the point where he felt compelled to intervene.
“President Buhari is much more than a mere beneficiary of the party. He is one of its founding fathers. The APC does not exist in its current form without his singular contributions. That is not opinion; it is undisputed fact.”
The former Lagos State governor added: “The President has spoken and his decision has been accepted. It is now beholden on all of us, as members of the APC, to recommit ourselves to the ideals and principles on which our party was founded. While we recognize that people have personal ambitions, those ambitions are secondary, not sacrosanct. Members must subordinate their ambitions to health and well-being of the party. Never should our party be defined by one person’s interests or even the amalgam of all members’ individual interests. A successful party must be greater than the sum of its parts.”
He appealed to all former members of the APC National Working Committee and every member of the party to sheathe their swords and look to the larger picture, adding, “We have governorship elections around the corner in Edo and a primary and elections in Ondo. On these important events we must concentrate our immediate energies. In the longer run, we must restore the collegial nature to the party so that it should be in the practice of coming to support the President instead of him having to rescue the party from itself.”
He congratulated Oshiomhole for his equanimity and loyalty to the party, while urging him to return to Edo State to energise the campaign for the election of Pastor Ize-Iyamu as governor of the state.
On the preparations for governorship elections in Ondo State, Tinubu charged APC’s interim leaders to set the procedures for fair and transparent primaries to show Nigerians the party has left turmoil behind.
Tinubu, who told those rejoicing that the latest developments in APC has derailed his presidential ambition, said he had never expressed the desire to contest for the position.
“I am but a mere mortal who does not enjoy the length of foresight or political wisdom you profess to have. Already, you have assigned colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is not yet even born.
“At this extenuating moment with COVID-19, I have made no decision regarding 2023 for the concerns of this hour are momentous enough.
“Those who seek to cast themselves as political Nostradamus’ are free to so engage their energies. I trust the discerning public will give the views of such eager seers the scant weight such divinations warrant.
“Personally, I find greater merit trying to help in the present by offering policy ideas, both privately and publicly, where I think they might help. I will continue in this same mode for the immediate future. 2023 will answer its own questions in due time.”
It is widely believed that Tinubu’s ambition to become Nigeria’s president had been dealt a crushing blow by Oshiomhole’s removal as APC chairman and President Buhari’s recognition of Victor Giadom as interim chairman.
Giadom was on Thursday replaced by a caretaker committee chosen by the party during an emergency meeting in Abuja. The caretaker committee, headed by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, will oversee run the party and organise a convention later in the year to select its new executives.
By Kelechi James