Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by President Muhammadu Buhari were, Wednesday, running against time to resolve the crises that have partly stymied the ruling party’s moves to fully constitute the executive and legislative arms of government.
The troubleshooting efforts were, however, almost derailed when the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) came out of its shell to blast the erstwhile interim national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande over his depiction of the APC crisis as a conspiracy against the Yoruba.
The northern social-cultural organisation flayed Akande, a former governor of Osun State and a right hand man of the APC’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of diminishing his status as an elder statesman with his assertions.
Akande in a response said he would not respond to those who hold an exaggerated interpretation of his words.
Buhari leads peace offensive
The peace offensive was led by President Buhari, who had been persuaded that combative actions of the party towards reversing the elections of presiding officers and principal officers of the National Assembly cannot be achieved through democratic or parliamentary means.
In that effort, the President, it was learnt, was last night locked in a meeting with a 30-man delegation of APC lawmakers belonging to the Femi Gbajabiamila group. The progress of the meeting scheduled to commence at 8.30 p.m. could not be ascertained at press time.
Sources said the President would use the opportunity to calm members of the Gbajabiamila group and appreciate their loyalty to the party even as he prepares them to the fact that nothing again can be done to remove their foe, Speaker Yakubu Dogara from office.
“The President has been appraised of the fact that under parliamentary and democratic conventions, nothing can be done to reverse what has been done in the National Assembly,” a source privy to the meeting said last night.
The meeting with the Gbajabiamila group, it was gathered, was to set the stage for the President to lead the peace moves at tomorrow’s scheduled National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.
That meeting would provide the stage for the first open meeting between the President and the two presiding officers of the National Assembly, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara. Both presiding officers are automatic members of the NEC and the belief in the party is that it would be inconvenient for the President and the party to enter the NEC meeting with two of their leading members being treated as rebels.
ACF blasts Akande
The charm offensive nonetheless, the ACF formally responded to last week’s assertion by Akande that the emergence of Saraki and Dogara was the product of a conspiracy by the North against the Yoruba.
Akande last week alleged that “most Northern elites, the Nigerian oil subsidy barons and other business cartels who never liked President Buhari’s anti-corruption political stance, are quickly backing-up the rebellion against the APC with strong support. While other position seekers are waiting in the wings until Buhari’s ministers are announced, a large section of the South-West sees the rebellion as a ‘conspiracy of the North against the Yoruba”.
Describing the statement as “disappointing, reckless and unbecoming of an elder statesman of Chief Akande’s status,” the ACF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary Muhammad Ibrahim said: “The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the election of the National Assembly Presiding Officers and the composition of principal officers is not only of concern to the ruling party, but to all Nigerians in view of the ugly development in both chambers of the National Assembly.
“It is sad that an elder statesman in the person of Chief Bisi Akande, who worked so tirelessly with other Nigerians to form APC which subsequently won the 2015 elections at the Federal level and in many states, to now say that the crisis in the National Assembly is a “conspiracy of the North against the Yoruba,” this is most disturbing.
“Why should the North comprising more than 230 out of 250 tribes in the country single out only one of the tribes, the “Yoruba,” to conspire against? For what?
“Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) considers such statement as uncharitable and a deviation from the main agenda of Change which Nigerians voted for. The era of tribal and religious politics or inciting one tribe over the other has no place in our present political focus.
“ACF, therefore, appeals to our elders and all Nigerians to show decorum and civility in their utterances, as all hands should now be on deck to move the nation forward.
“President Muhammadu Buhari needs the support and understanding of all Nigerians, especially his party men and women, to clean the mess he inherited. Nigerians expect so much from Buhari’s administration. Please help and allow him to perform.
“We are of the opinion that the crisis in the National Assembly should be addressed through the party’s internal mechanism of resolving conflicts and not through reckless and unguarded statements by elders that are supposed to be reservoirs of wisdom.”
Responding last night, Akande in a telephone interview said: “I don’t want to comment on an exaggerated interpretation of what I wrote and I don’t take abuse for good argument.”