There are strong indications that the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress has dumped the Chief Bisi Akande-led APC National Reconciliation Committee.
A highly placed source in confidence on Sunday said that the leadership of the party had opted for smaller committees and allowed the Akande-led panel to “die a natural death.”
It was also learnt that the caretaker committee had started compiling a list of the APC members who refused to withdraw court cases despite the directive of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting on June 25, 2020.
At the NEC meeting, the President directed the APC members with pending court cases to withdraw them and embrace reconciliation.
The PUNCH reliably learnt that the party had already written to the state chapters twice on the need to ensure compliance with the presidential directive.
Findings indicated that the APC might expel members who shunned the Presidential directive that cases members filed against one another and the party should be withdrawn.
Recall that the immediate past National Working Committee of the APC headed by Adams Oshiomhole, had on February 12, 2020, set up the Akande-led panel to resolve crises in its state branches including Zamfara, Edo, Ogun, Bauchi, Imo and Rivers.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown, the committee said it had collected 170 petitions from the aggrieved members of the party.
But its Secretary, Senator John Enoh, in an interview with The PUNCH, on June 22, explained that the lockdown stalled the meetings of the committee.
He also said the committee had made unsuccessful attempts to make use of the information and communication technology to hold its meetings.
But a top member of the party, who confided in one of our correspondents, said the interim leadership opted for smaller committees because it had a short time to complete its assignment.
He said, “You know the Akande-led panel has yet to start its assignment and the new caretaker committee started its six-month tenure in June. Even, if the interim committee gets a tenure extension, the Akande committee cannot complete its reconciliation because it has to go to all parts of the country. We don’t have that luxury of time.”
Since its assumption of office, the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee has set up no fewer than three committees to reconcile aggrieved members in specific states.
Among them is the reconciliation committee headed by a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, to reconcile aggrieved members in Edo State. The second one is headed by the governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, to reconcile aggrieved party members in Ondo State.
Buni also on Friday set up a five-member committee chaired by the Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, to reconcile aggrieved members in Ogun and Imo states.
Attempts to get a reaction from the Secretary and spokesman for the Akande-led panel, Senator John Enoh, were futile.
He neither picked nor returned calls to his mobile telephone. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report.
However, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yemiki Nabena, in response to inquiries by The PUNCH about the fate of the Akande panel, said, “At this point in the APC, we have a new structure; that is why you can see that even in Edo, we have a reconciliation committee in Ondo. We also have a reconciliation committee headed by the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello. They are still working to get people together.”
It was further gathered that the national caretaker committee had warned members who refused to withdraw court cases against the party and other members.
A top-ranking member of the party confided in The PUNCH that “the party does not have the luxury of time. The committee is seriously considering invoking provisions of Article (D) V of our constitution.
“The caretaker committee has already written two letters asking state chapters to ensure compliance, the third may be a call for action.”
“After the first letter dated July 1, 2020, which was sent to states on the issue, the Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator John AkpanUdoedehe, wrote another letter dated August 14 titled, ‘Request for documentary evidence of compliance/non-compliance’, which he personally signed.
“In the letter, the secretary said, ‘Further to our letter dated July 1, 2020, wherein we directed that you coordinate with your state legal advisers and secretaries to encourage all members who have instituted any matter in court against the party to withdraw the same and steps to be taken towards reconciliation.
‘It is however with dismay that several state chapters have not yet sent their reports in line with our earlier request.
‘In view of the above, you are hereby directed to forward to the National Secretariat, within 14 days of the receipt of this letter, the following: List of all litigation between party members in your state chapter.
“Also to be submitted to the party secretariat are the documentary evidence of compliance with the National Executive Committee directive on withdrawal of all pending litigation and names of litigants who have refused to withdraw from the court any matter which may have been filed against the party in your state.”