The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) recently inaugurated a 7-member Peace Panel headed by a former national chairman of the party, John Odigie Oyegun to nip in the bud the crisis rocking the party in the South South zone.
Other members of the Reconciliation Committee announced in a statement by the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe on December 16, 2020, are; Lucky Imasuen (Secretary), Chief Sunny Jackson, Dr Maryam Ali, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, Senator Clever Ikisikpo and Dr Emmanuel Nsan.
The Peace Panel was saddled with the responsibility of resolving the contentious issues and uniting party leaders in the zone and tackling crisis bedevilling the states chapters of the party in the region.
The APC has become comatose in the South South axis sequel to the prevailing power struggle and division among the critical stakeholders.
Some state chapters of the party are entangled in crisis over who controls the party’s structures.
Others have been polarised with parallel executives running them to the detriment of the party and its chances of winning future elections.
Some states like Rivers are running parallel executives while the political bigwigs have maintained sealed lips and failed to reconcile their differences to form a united front ahead of future elections.
Crisis in the party began in 2015, when two factions emerged – the Amaechi and Abe factions – following Abe’s interest to fly the party’s flag in the 2015 and 2019 elections, which Amaechi opposed.
Last week, the Igo Aguma-led faction of the APC under Abe, in Rivers State announced the suspension of the Minister of Transportation and former governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi, from the party; a development which deepened the crisis in the state.
The Amaechi’s group had earlier announced the suspensions of Senator Magnus Abe, Igo Aguma, Livingstone Wechie, Wogu Boms and all caretaker committee leaders inaugurated by Aguma.
But Aguma in a statement by his Media Adviser, Livingstone Wechie also announced that Amaechi was suspended from the party alongside Sen. Andrew Uchendu, while a former Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom, was purportedly expelled.
Wechie said the decision to suspend Amaechi was taken at an extraordinary Executive meeting presided over by Aguma in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
But reacting, the Buni-led Caretaker Committee declared that Amaechi’s purported suspension alongside Sen. Andrew Uchendu was a nullity.
The APC also nullified the purported expulsion of a former Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom, from the party.
The Head, Legal Services, at the APC National Secretariat, Dare Oketade, revealed the party’s position in a letter dated December 23, 2020, and addressed to Hon. Aguma.
The letter reads in part: “I am therefore directed by the National Chairman, His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni to notify you, for the avoidance of doubt, that the Rivers state chapter of the party is led by Hon. Isaac Abbot Ogbobula who was duly sworn in at the national secretariat of the party on the 11th of December, 2020, by virtue of the NEC directives issued at its 8th December, 2020 meeting held at the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.”
Pundits say the crises in Rivers and other state chapters of the party in the oil rich region was threatening the party’s chances of winning 2023 elections.
Some of the APC stalwarts who spoke with Daily Trust expressed worry that if the Odigie-Oyegun’s Panel failed to do its job properly, the crises in the South South zone would deepen and spell doom for the party.
Currently, the APC is not in control of any of the six states in the geo-poliitical zone.
Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo and Delta which formed the South South geo-political zone are all in the arms of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo state, the APC was in control of Edo state until Governor Godwin Obaseki jumped ship and pitched tent with the PDP, following his disqualification from the race.
He was granted a waiver by the PDP NWC to contest the primary poll where he win to emerge candidate of the party and consequently won the governorship election for a second term.
It is imperative to state that the South South is an oil rich region which serves as the centre of attraction to all political parties in the nation’s political landscape.
The Oyegun led Peace Panel therefore, has the herculean task of talking to all aggrieved stakeholders and reconciling their differences in the interest of the party.
Competent sources told our correspondent that Oyegun’s panel may achieve little or no results as some political bigwigs in the region are not ready to compromise their position on scheme of things or sheathe their swords.
One of the sources said, “Well, constituting a committee is one thing and getting a positive result is another. But I don’t think the committee can make any inroad.”
“Personal ambition and this issue of pull him down syndrome is what has torn apart our leaders and critical stakeholders in the South South.
“They are not united; they don’t take a common position on issues affecting the region because of personal interest. This started many years ago. So it will take God’s miracle to resolve the issues,” he added.
But a member of the APC National Caucus, Chief Sam Nkire, countered him in a telephone chat with our correspondent yesterday saying Oyegun is an astute administrator who has fatherly touch on issues, controversies and crisis, adding that he would weather the storm.
“There is no political party where there is no internal wranglings. In Rivers State, the feud between Amaechi and Senator Abe, only a man like Oyegun can settle it. So there is nothing beyond repairs in the South South APC.
“We have prominent politicians, former governors who have won elections in the South South; people who make things happen. They ought to have brought half of the population of the South South if not all, to the APC, but because of personal interests and internal wranglings, it has not happenned.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to them; people like Akpabio, Amaechi, Abe, Omo-Agege and others to please, leave personal ambition, personal interest and give peace a chance for our collective good.
“South South is supposed to be an APC stronghold. But what has happened has happened. Let them sit down and give peace a chance.
“They have seen that the disagreement between them has not given the party any meaningful dividend. It has not helped the party. We can’t continue like this.
“The South South had always given their votes in one direction. So if people that made this happen are now all in the APC, what is stopping the party from taking over the South South geo-political zone?
“The problem is that they have refused to sheathe their swords. I’m appealing to them to allow peace to reign,” he said.