By Omeiza Ajayi
Concerned Stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC have kicked against the consensus option being deployed by the national leadership of the Party to elect party officials from the Wards, Local Governments to the States levels, saying such must not be used for the National Convention.
At a news conference Wednesday in Abuja, convener of the group, Abubakar Usman Sidiq also lamented that the party has now deviated from the goals of its founding fathers.
Other stakeholders at the briefing were Elemo Damilola, Ayobami Oyalowo, Rahamat Abdullahi, Aliyu Audu Adagu, Senbanjo Ikeoluwa and Rahamatulai Goldfish.
Reading the text of a prepared speech, Sidiq said; “We take the courageous step of admitting that the APC has deviated from the ideal political party our founding fathers envisioned during its formation in 2013. Having succeeded in winning the elections and enthroning the government in 2015 to birth the radical change that was in urgent need in the country, the onerous task of managing the party as a true and progressive political party began to hit brick walls as early as the party came into power.
“Much more than not, the APC has functioned as an association run and operated in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of whichever group that is dominant at any particular period. If it seems like the APC is headed in the wrong direction today, it is because we laid the foundation and nurtured it towards that trajectory many years ago. We cannot continue in this manner, and we believe it is time for the APC to rebirth and reinvent itself as a true, progressive and reform-minded political party that is constantly evolving in accordance with its philosophical objectives and the yearnings of the majority of its members”.
It asked the APC leadership to learn from the mistakes of the past where some political parties attempted to micro-manage their affairs, leading to implosion.
On the adoption of Consensus, the stakeholders said; “As part of activities leading to our National Convention, we have held Ward and Local Government Congresses in a very undemocratic way, clearly imposing leadership on members at the grassroots in the guise of the so called ‘consensus’ candidate.
“While we acknowledge that consensus is one of our party’s Constitutional provisions, it is an irrefutable fact that the APC Constitution did not envisage a situation where certain individuals, whether as governors, former governors or party leaders would coerce members into accepting a premeditated outcome as a mutually agreed option. A forced outcome is never a consensus, because any procedure that does not uphold the freedom of choice of individuals cannot be said to embody the progressive politics that APC ought to represent.
“We may have missed the opportunity to right these wrongs at the two levels where congresses already held, but the forthcoming national convention presents a perfect opportunity that we must take advantage of. Consequently, these Concerned Stakeholders demand that open contestation must be the only option for every position in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, rather than the imposition of anointed candidates in the name of consensus as was the case with the party’s recent Wards and Local Government congresses.
“We demand that the set of leaders that will emerge from the forthcoming national convention must be those who do not only have what it takes to give a new life to the APC in the interest of all members, they must be people with unquestionable characters and proven records of progressiveness. Therefore, stringent conditions must be given as criteria qualifying anyone to hold a national office in the All Progressives Congress. The question of the many ex-this and ex-that having to run the affairs of the party despite their glaring failures in previous responsibilities must not be entertained.
“We equally charge the party’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) with ensuring that the National Convention’s date, guidelines, and other arrangements are made public prior to the state Congress slated for October 16th, 2021. This will not only dispel the widely held belief that the Buni-led committee is playing out a script with its continuous stay in office, it will ensure proper and adequate planning for the convention. Conducting this national convention and handing over to a duly elected and constituted National Working Committee is even more germane at this point in time that many legal challenges have been mounted against the Caretaker Committee in the court of law”.
Meanwhile, National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe has urged the stakeholders to stop playing to the gallery.
He asked them to work with other party leaders to achieve their desired objectives.
According to him, “people have aspirations and if they fail or not met, they are bound to form associations”.
“We will always look for credible candidates to win. People must make themselves to love the party. What people should be talking about is the performance of the party in giving dividend to Nigerians. It is their right to vent anger but consensus allows cohesion and cohesiveness.
“Those God wants to be there will be there. The beauty of this CECPC I’d to ensure rancour free process and we are doing that. But not everybody will be happy. I want to advise them to stay in the party and associate with the stakeholders and lobby them.
“We followed the Constitution of the party to conduct the process. The report before us don’t give impression that the processes were flawed. People should stop playing to the gallery. We set up appeal panels and I am not sure they explored the channel for redress. Even when they go, they can’t prove their case.
“The national secretary also dismissed claim that party faithful were not being carried along. We will continue to mend fences. I won’t say people are being carried along hundred percent but I can say the party is owned by the people now, not by power blocs or minority.
They must trust the chairman of having the elasticity to accomodate everybody and bringing everybody together. People will always complain when they lose.
“This Caretaker Committee can say since inception, we have never had it so good as a party. We have stabilized the party and brought more people to the party.
Instead of vilifying us, they should be praising President Muhammadu Buhari”.