The chairman of the reconciliation committee of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, Bisi Akande, has warned that the many court cases filed over disputes in the party are “harmful to the party in compound ways.”
Mr Akande stated this in a statement sent to journalists early on Sunday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the different court cases by members of the party for and against the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole, the embattled national chairman of the party.
A court in Abuja ordered the suspension of Mr Oshiomhole based on an earlier controversial suspension by the APC in Edo, Mr Oshiomhole’s home state.
Hours after the suspension, the APC announced three new members of its National Working Committee, including Waziri Bulama as acting national secretary, a move condemned by some leaders of the party.
A federal court in Kano later gave a different order that Mr Oshiomhole should continue in office.
Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, is appealing the suspension as well as the attendant decision to deny him access to the party’s national secretariat.
Amidst the controversy, the assistant national secretary of the party, Victor Gaidom, circulated a statement announcing a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on March 17.
But a counter-statement issued by some top officials of the APC enjoined party members to ignore Mr Gaidom saying his action fell outside the party’s constitution and jurisdiction. The statement was jointly signed by Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party spokesperson; Babatunde Ogala, the national legal adviser; and Mr Bulama.
Mr Gaidom, however, continued to insist he is the next in line in the party hierarchy following Mr Oshiomhole’s suspension and the absence of a substantive national secretary. The party’s former national secretary is now the governor of Yobe State.
On Wednesday, a high court in Abuja restrained party members – specifically Messrs Issa-Onilu, Ogala, and Bulama – from disrupting next Tuesday’s NEC meeting.
However, a court in Lagos Thursday ruled that a NEC meeting of the APC cannot hold except the trio of Waziri Bulama, Abiola Ajimobi, and Paul Chukwuma are in attendance. The three were the appointments announced after Mr Oshiomhole’s suspension as acting national secretary, acting deputy national chairman and acting national auditor respectively.
Amidst the various court cases and the uncertainty surrounding the NEC meeting scheduled to hold on Tuesday, Mr Akande said he is “a bit taken aback by the swift resort to the courts by some members who seek external decisions on what are intrinsically internal matters best determined by the deliberative process that is part and parcel of democratically-oriented party politics.”
The former Osun governor did not speak on the controversial NEC meeting but called on party members to “allow the committee to do its work and should stop seeking judicial intervention in matters under the purview of the special committee…”
Read Mr Akande’s full statement below.
I have noticed with growing concern the increasing number of court cases being filed pertaining to disputes regarding the leadership of our party, the All Progressives Congress. Competition and different views on leadership are inherent in political parties. Thus, the fact that all party members do not agree on all things is not abnormal. Politics after all is, in significant degree, the art of resolving conflicts and disputes in a manner that strengthens institutions as well as relationships between the people who share those common institutions.
The APC is a democratic body. This means we seek to resolve internal conflict through dialogue, deliberation and ultimately through open and transparent voting procedures. Consequently, I am a bit taken aback by the swift resort to the courts by some members who seek external decisions on what are intrinsically internal matters best determined by the deliberative process that is part and parcel of democratically-oriented party politics.
I do not know the motivations behind this litigious conduct. It is not in my nature to ascribe negative or harmful motives to anyone. Those seeking access to the courts to decide what are basically politic questions perhaps think they are doing the right thing. If this is the case, I must state that they are innocently in error.
Their actions are harmful to the party in compound ways. First, the subject matter they bring before the court is not amenable to judicial pronouncement. The manner by which court decisions are rendered – one side wins, the other loses – is not the best way to resolve political disputes. Again, such disputes are better treated by dialogue and the give-and-take that dialogue engenders. Courts do not proceed in such a manner. Second, to resort to the courts casts the party in a negative public light. Third, this penchant for litigation undermines party discipline, internal dispute resolution mechanisms and institutions.
I must remind party members the party constitution requires that all internal dispute resolution measures be exhausted before a member carries a matter to court. I dare say this provision has not been honored either in spirit or in letter by those initiating these court cases seeking to oust party officials.
More specifically, along with several other respected party members, I have been appointed as a member of the party’s special reconciliation committee. I have been given the further honor to be the committee chairman. This committee was the product of discussion and deliberation of party organs such as the NWC and NEC. No one has contended that this committee was improperly established.
The committee mandate was to investigate and submit recommendations regarding the dispute in Edo state involving National Party Chairman Oshiomole and Governor Obaseki as well as inquire into disputes in other states that might weaken the party. All party members are aware of this decision. Thus, it runs contrary to the explicit decision of the party and is severely premature for members to seek judicial intervention in areas that form the very subject matter of the special committee’s mandate. To do this even before the committee has had time to do and finish its work not only insults the committee, it offends the NWC, NEC and the entire party.
Consequently, I call on all party members to honor the rightful and correct decisions of the party leadership. Members should allow the committee to do its work and should stop seeking judicial intervention in matters under the purview of the special committee until the committee has done its work and the party leadership has acted upon its recommendations. For members to act otherwise would be to discard the party constitution and ignore the tenets of deliberation and compromise upon which all successful political parties are founded.