The Presidency has debunked the widespread insinuation that the decision reached at the emergency meeting of the National Working Committee (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to constitute a caretaker committee in place of Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) is a calculated move by President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail the rising influence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the party.
A statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, described the allegation of a frosty relationship between the President and Tinubu as a cynical commentary, saying ‘nothing can be further from the truth.’
He said the suggestion put to the NEC by President Buhari to dissolve the NWC which was unanimously adopted was intended to rescue the party from the brink, rather than targeting any individual, stressing that the relationship between the president and Tinubu still remained very cordial.
It reads in part: “The very essence of the requests put to the Emergency National Executive Committee meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, which were unanimously approved aim to pull back the party, faced with an existential crisis from the brink of collapse, follow the constitution and take everyone along.
“While this action has been widely accepted with great relief by lovers of democracy and the rank and file of the membership, we are concerned that political vulturism masquerading as “smart analysis” is selling the commentary that this is a Buhari-Tinubu “showdown.” Nothing can be farther from the truth.
“To put the records straight: In the formation of this great party and giving it leadership, President Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is reckoned as the founding fathers of the APC are both inspired by democratic norms, national interest and not at all by partisan motivations. These are the qualities that have made them move past cynical distractions.
“They are in touch with one another. Their relationship remains as strong as ever and between the two of them, only they know how they manage their enviable relationship.
“This whole exercise, that should lead to massive reform and overhaul of the leadership of the party, as he said in that brilliant speech, was ‹›to save the APC from the imminent self-destruction. We have to move ahead. We have to take everyone with us and ensure that the party is run in accordance with democratic norms and with consensus. We have to work for the benefit of the country.”
Meanwhile, Tinubu in a similar statement acknowledged that the party had gone off the track contrary to the ideals of its founding fathers.
In a release issued yesterday, Tinubu said: “We must acknowledge that something important has gone off track. 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.
Tinubu further blamed the sorry plight of the APC on the personal ambition of some people. “Those most intimately involved in founding the party remain faithful to this benign, timely assignment. Sadly, many members have lost their balance. Their personal ambition apparently came to greatly outweigh the obvious national imperatives,” he said.
He said the President Buhari was compelled to intervene due to the failure of the players to explore the option of peaceful resolution, adding “with lawsuits so numerous one needed a spreadsheet to keep track, President Buhari has reasonably decided that he has seen enough.”
His words: “I do not lament his intervention or its outcome. I lament that the situation degenerated to the point where he felt compelled to intervene.
“He cares about the condition of the party as any parent would care for its offspring. President Buhari has done what any parent in his position and with his authority would do. The more troubling consideration is that so many trusted people acted in such a way as to force the president to put aside the issues of statecraft in order to address these problems.
“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 the 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 said in spite of Oshiomhole’s shortcomings; he did his best for the victory of the party in the last general elections. “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,” he added.
While lamenting the challenge of governance amidst COVIC-19 pandemic, Tinubu urged President Buhari to rise to the issues of insecurity, poverty, infrastructure deficiencies, among others.
He said: “Even in the best of times, Nigeria is beset by myriad challenges. Poverty and economic inequality, insecurity, lack of infrastructure are longstanding obstacles that have blocked our access to national greatness for too long.
“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 the position is a poor substitute for seeing politicians working for the benefit of all.
“I appeal to all former members of the National Working Committee and all members of our party to sheathe their swords and look to the larger picture,” he concluded.