Nigeria's number one man, President Muhammadu Buhari, has broken his silence over the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Garba Shehu, the president warned the leaders and members of APC to desist from “name-calling and backstabbing”.
He reiterated that the party’s national convention would hold on March 26.
The statement issued on Saturday was titled, ‘President Buhari asks for order in the APC’.
The president urged APC members to “remain steadfast and maintain unity if the party is to continue in the path of victory and its dominance at all levels throughout the country”.
The statement also quoted Buhari as asking members of the party to learn from the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Look at the once-powerful, main opposition Peoples Democratic Party now enfeebled and adrift and learn lessons in disunity, mismanagement and corruption,” Buhari added.
He said, “They (PDP) failed in 16 years in power and a failure as opposition.
“Yes, we are entitled to our own share of dissent and intra-party discord. These are common in all parties, left and right all over the world.
“But parties splintered by competing egos destine themselves to the worst possible fate.
“As the country prepares for the long run-up to the 2023 presidential election, we all expect a robust debate on the issues that matter and what is going in the APC should be a reflection of this, not the infighting we are seeing. There must be no more distractions ahead of the convention to choose new leaders.”
He claimed that APC started out with a confidence of victory and enjoyed confidence in nearly two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Buhari said, “This is a party that has been in existence barely for eight years, becoming the dominant party because it has thrown open its doors to defectors from other parties, big and small.
“This alone, in addition to the fact that we didn’t start on the note of arrogance of power, nor see government as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement, to be held at all costs, but a vehicle to bring development to all without discrimination-political, ethnic or regional to our dear country made this success possible.
“Given all that is at a stake, we can expect contests into offices as we are now faced with to be heated although candidates and their promoters for party offices are not so much debating policy differences but differences of management, personality, character, and suitability for the most important leadership roles in our country and therefore the continent.”
The president, however, blamed the role of the media in the crisis rocking the party.
He said, “It is equally clear that over the last week or so, the internal management affairs of the APC have been afforded generous media coverage – over and above its importance to the voters of Nigeria.
“It is important to ask what benefits the poor are getting during the period of intense negative coverage.
“When precisely the party’s convention is held and who is the party’s chairman is hardly a matter for the average voter: vastly more important is who convention delegates will elect as the party’s flagbearer in the coming weeks to take forward the party’s platform to the people in the general election in February next year.
“It is therefore important for the media to put such matters into perspective. No one is debating policy differences here. That is for the general election. None of the declared aspirants and any of those that may step forward will change because of who may be in the party in the chairman’s seat. It is essentially the same party.
“Of course, the media are welcome to comment on the content of the character of the potential APC candidates; discuss their suitability for leadership; scrutinize their offer to the membership. But to focus on the routine internal divisions and magnify them into what they have become today is a waste of everyone’s time, amounting to no more than a discussion over seating arrangements.
“This is not what Nigerians talk of in their communities. They have an inclination only for things that matter.”
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said the president ordered the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to remove Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State as Chairman and replace him with his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Bello.
Later, the Independent National Electoral Commission rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the governing party where Bello’s chairmanship, among other things, is to be ratified.
The commission drew the attention of CECPC to the fact that the letter of invitation was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC, Buni and Dr John Akpanudoedehe, respectively.
It said this was contrary to the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
Also, APC is said to be battling no fewer than 208 court cases with some of them challenging the leadership of the party in various states and the legitimacy of the caretaker committee appointed by the President at a meeting on June 25, 2020, after the dissolution of the national leadership led by Adams Oshiomhole.
The party has battled many crises since the Buni committee took over, with the recent one threatening its March 26 planned convention of the party.