The All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently the living proof of “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. Before we begin, it’s useful to remember that the party was created in 2013 when some existing parties merged to become one. Something like this:
The APC was scrapped together like a knock-off Avengers with the simple goal of snatching power from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Skip to 2022 and the APC has been in power for years, but its bid to remain in power first needs to survive a civil war that’s ripping it apart.
POV: You’re watching APC’s internal politics
Civil war ke?
When Adams Oshiomhole was removed as APC chairman in June 2020 after months of internal crisis that stressed President Buhari enough to step in, the party created a caretaker committee to manage its national affairs until a national working committee (NWC) can be elected.
That committee can only be elected at a national convention which the caretaker committee was also charged with organising. The caretaker committee was led by Mai Mala Buni who is also the serving governor of Yobe State. The committee was supposed to conduct the national convention before December 2020. That was two years ago, and the party is yet to have a national convention or new leadership.
What’s causing the delay?
The short version of why the APC has not conducted a national convention looks like this:
Imagine a very noisy room.
The delegates that vote for new leaders at the national convention are mostly officials elected at congresses of state chapters. But many of APC’s state chapters have their own mini civil wars going on. More than a dozen of them have two different sets of elected executives claiming to be in charge of the party’s structure.
Buni’s slice of heaven
The APC was really close to conducting the national convention on February 26th, 2020 but it was postponed to March 26th. Many people were not happy with the postponement.
Buni is considered the biggest factor for why a national convention has not happened. The popular theory is that he enjoys the warmth of the seat too much and wants to stay in it for longer. Many people within the party have raised dust about his continued stay in office and tried to uproot him. Even the PDP has tried. But Buni has enjoyed Buhari’s support so he’s stayed on. Until now.
A palace coup
The governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, suddenly announced himself as the acting chairman of the caretaker committee after a meeting with other members on March 7th, 2022. He made the announcement while Buni was out of the country on medical leave.
And this is where the story gets confusing. Strap in.
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, announced in a televised interview that Buni will not be returning as chairman. He accused his colleague of scheming to keep postponing the convention. The message was clear — Buni out, Bello in. But when Governor Bello invited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the emergency meeting of the APC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the commission said:
INEC recognises only Buni as the party’s chairman and has refused to accept Bello’s invitation. This wrinkle means APC may need Buni to quickly recover from whatever he’s treating abroad and return to steer the party to the convention.
Where does this end?
Things have moved fast in the APC since Governor Bello took over. Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, sparked some anger when he said “Yahoo Yahoo” governors in the party helped Buni overstay his welcome. The situation has been so chaotic that Buhari, all the way from London, has had to tell everyone to chill out. He also rebuked the Nigerian media for focusing too much on the crisis, in which case we imagine he’s not too happy with this extra article talking about it.
The APC is in a delicate position. There are over 200 active cases against the party, including at least nine that are trying to block the convention. If the APC messes up the crisis, the party could be ineligible to present any candidates for the 2023 general elections.