The All Progressives Congress has been embroiled in crisis in Rivers State and nothing at the moment seems to show that the party can settle its rift.
There are two factions of the party with each faction seeming to owe loyalty to someone in the party and this has increased division in the party expected to make political relevance in the forthcoming elections. One of the factions of the party is led by Hon. Igo Aguma and the other led by Dr. Sokonte Davies who have been in disagreement over leadership of the party. But the thing to do should be how to resolve the party's crisis and bring the leadership under one fold so that the party could become one political family in the state.
One of the factional caretaker chairmen in the state had written to the party's acting national chairman of National Working Committee to wade into the crisis. In his petition to the party's acting national chairman, Mai Bala Buni who is also governor of Yobe State, Igo Aguma invited the acting chairman to end the factionalization of the party in the state. He had urged the party's acting national chairman to set up an independent committee to tackle the issue of factionalization in the party and had expressed worry that there were still litigations going on in the party contrary to directive by the president and leader of the party that all litigations should cease.
“It proposed to the National Caretaker Committee the need to set up an independent committee to deal with the factionalization of the party in the state with a view to bringing about peace and reconciliation to the party,” the caretaker chairman reportedly said in a statement.
The caretaker chairman who became the party's chairman based on a court judgement also said that there were recommendations on what would promote genuine peace and reconciliation in the party meaning that peace and reconciliation is possible. And peace and forgiveness are vital ingredients in the party to bring full reconciliation among members who are divided in their loyalties and ambitions.
“The situation report also contains far-reaching recommendations on factors that will promote genuine peace and reconciliation in the state chapter of the party and revive the state structures along the lines of constitutional politics and democratic inclusiveness”, the caretaker chairman further said in the statement.
This echoes an open letter written by him back in December 2019 in which he complained to the then national chairman of the party that the crisis in the party in the state was disheartening. Igo Aguma had said in the letter that his loyalty to the party in the state moved him to complain and added that the party would have done well in that year's elections if the national leadership handled with seriousness the crisis in the party in the state. This moment will be an opportunity for the caretaker chairman to demonstrate loyalty and concern for the party and do his utmost to bring peace and reconciliation into the party. This will also be expected of other players in the party.
In the open letter written in 2019, Igo Aguma, a former member of the House of Representatives said: “The current crisis of the All Progressives Congress and the lukewarm attitude of the APC family is very disheartening. My loyalty to the party and concern has moved me to cry out through this open letter as a founding member of the party in Rivers State. The performance of the party in the presidential elections even without having candidates for the National Assembly elections shows that we could have done better and won seats had the national secretariat handled the crisis in Rivers State with the seriousness it deserved.”
This opportunity at hand to settle the crisis in the party should not be missed this time. Recalling that the party could not present candidates for any elective positions in last year's elections, the All Progressives Congress in the state should do everything it could to solve its internal crisis and prepare for the elections and every leader in the party should play his part to bring full reconciliation so that the crisis could be ended .
A former senator who is also one of the leaders of the party, Senator Magnus Abe, also spoke about the need for the peace and reconciliation in the party. He said that peace was needed and that people should do things differently to get different results. He had said he was prepared to do anything needed to be done to bring peace to the party and had recognized the leadership of the Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, in the party. This is as it should be so that there will be no leadership crisis in the party in the state and in the absence of crisis, the party will be able to function as a political party.
“We need peace in the party and if we can change our language and stop talking the way we do, do things differently we can have different results,” he reportedly said in a statement released in early January.
The former senator believes that the former governor of the state, Chibuike Amaechi is the leader of the party and that the party needed to bring everyone together. This should be the way to go so that the All Progressives Congress in the state could be one big united family. The party is at the moment scattered and not united and no such party could win in any election which has been the experience of the party in the state.
“I have been circumspect about my choice of words when talking about Rotimi Amaechi and have said it over and over again that he is the leader of the party. But a leader must lead in such a manner that your supporters and followers can have confidence in the leadership. As far as the party is concerned, we need to bring everybody together,” he reportedly said in the same statement.
Most persons believe that Senator Magnus Abe and the transportation minister are two leaders around which the crisis in the party revolves and this may mean that they would need to make up to bring reconciliation to the party. They were friends and should continue to remain friends in the interest of the party. If they remain friends and work together for the interest of the party they will largely contribute to full reconciliation and there will be no more factions in the party. But whether this will happen soon or later is what no one can say but the best should be that they reconcile.
The former senator had reportedly said that he and the transportation minister and others helped one another and were friends.
“We supported Amaechi. We have helped one another and we are all friends,” he reportedly said at a rally.
And this should be the spirit of reconciliation in every member to build a united front. The party needs to be united and to make this happen every leader will be required to sacrifice.
The transportation minister reportedly said in a statement that he did not know what was happening in the party in the state. This would be to refute claims that he was at the centre of the crisis. As leader of the party, his interest would be that the party remains united to achieve its political goals. He once advised persons who claimed to be his supporters to avoid violence and use legal means to address any grievances.
“If you say you are my supporter, you will know that I don't just respect the law, I fear the law. Breaking the law can put you in jail. So if you think that what the state judiciary is doing is wrong then you go to the Court of Appeal, you go to the Supreme Court and ensure you exhaust the due process. No matter your frustration, you don't have the right to take the law into your hands,” he reportedly said.
This should be the posture of any leader who would want those who claim to be his followers to do what is right. What is being expected is for the leader of the party to reconcile primarily with the former senator and other members of the party. However, a chieftain of the party believes that it would be tough for the two leaders to come together. The chieftain who is also a former governorship aspirant of the party believes that the crisis in the party was orchestrated by those opposed to the leader of the party.
“For those of us who belong to the “peace faction”, we are very realistic. We don't see them as coming back together like before. This is why Amaechi has his opponents in Abuja. They see him as a threat in 2023 so they will do whatever they can to promote his worries at home,” he reportedly said in press interview.
The other caretaker chairman, Dr. Sokonte Davies who also leads a faction of the party in the state should also be willing to work for the interest of the party and pave the way for full reconciliation so that the party can end its internal crisis. If every member of the party sees the interests of the party far above their personal interests then nothing should stop full reconciliation. On Wednesday, a High Court judge struck out the case of contempt filed against Chief (Senator) Andrew Uchendu and Dr. Sokonte Davies who are senior members of the party. In political circles, this should be seen as an opportunity to forget wrongs done against one and pursue full reconciliation in the party's effort to end the crisis.
Senior members of the party should encourage full reconciliation in the party as this would bring members of the party together ahead of the 2023 elections so that the party in the state could contest in the elections and present candidates for various elective positions at both state and national level and the political environment will be competitive as parties compete for various elective positions in the forthcoming elections.