‘APC crisis may breed a third force’



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‘APC crisis may breed a third force’

Prince Tonye Princewill is an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Rivers State. In this interview with TONY AKOWE, he urges party leaders to resolve the lingering intra-party crisis to prevent its escalation and the decimation of the platform.



The APC NEC meeting has been fixed for Tuesday but with counterclaims, leaving the NWC and the party polarised.  Do you see the meeting holding?

Yes, of course. Even before the courts reaffirmed it, I was sure that the opposition to it was pointless. I mean only those who are afraid of a discussion will be afraid of the convening of the NEC. As a victim of court rulings, it surprises me how quickly politicians run to the court, but I guess if you don’t go, others will, so it’s best to go first. All those who want a discussion to take place are saying let the NEC meet, discuss the way forward and put the party in line for a mini-convention, where the proper things are done the proper way.



You are from the Southsouth. Is your zone going to the meeting as one united family to defend Oshiomhole because there has been insinuation that the zone is already shopping for his replacement?

I am quite disappointed with the performance of the Southsouth zone and the inability of our leadership to bring the benefits of democracy to our people. If it is not one fight, it’s another. There has been a struggle for supremacy, a competition for villa access or key leaders getting in each other’s way. As a result of this, we have suffered a mixture of intra and interstate disharmony which has left us in one case, without candidates in a whole state, in another – losing a governor-elect while in Edo State, a national chairman and a governor are in open warfare. This alone calls for drastic change at the highest level and for those of us that know who did what and when the buck stops at the table of the National Chairman. For us to make progress, he has to step aside while the leaders have to sit down and get their act together. Enough is enough. We have a President who can move mountains for us if we sing from the same hymn book. Instead, we are self-isolating like coronavirus suspects. The rank and file is not happy with the leadership and if it continues like this, they will make life very uncomfortable.

Comrade Oshiomhole at a session with State House correspondent last week fingered a certain Minister from his zone as the arrowhead of the agitation for his removal. Some alleged that it is Rotimi Amaechi. He is the leader in Rivers. Is Rivers really angry with  Oshiomhole and why?

I wish he knew how much Amaechi has defended him. From the days of Magnus Abe to now, Amaechi has been telling us that he trusts Oshiomhole and that if he has any flaw, being a puppet to another man’s negative agenda is not one of them. When people told him Magnus was working with Oshiomhole, he said they were wrong. When they told him Oshiomhole was working with Wike, he told them to relax. The list goes on. In fact, that’s how much he tries to stay away from politics in the Southsouth. His influence became a threat to his fellow Southsouth leaders, so he decided to focus on his ministry and mind his business. Look at NDDC, Amnesty and even the issue of the National Chairman. Until recently when Oshiomhole tried to replace Giadom, Amaechi has learnt that you can struggle to place people somewhere and those same people will deny you tomorrow, so why make unnecessary enemies? Just live and let live. It’s the rank and file that is not happy. Call a mini-convention and you will see.

Ahead, 2023, some perceives the NEC of Tuesday as a make or mar meeting. That the resolution of Oshiomhole fate will lead to a chain of other reactions which could divide the party. What is your take?

We have to try and avoid dividing the party, but the freedom to associate means people will only remain where they are most comfortable. The issue before us is a potential catalyst for a third force. But if it is not addressed, a third force will most definitely emerge and it will be stronger and bigger. I still feel we can get beyond this if all sides accept that the status quo won’t work and agree to make changes that reasonable minds can live with. Our decline must stop.

Buhari has said he won’t meddle in party affairs.  To some, it is a sign of weakness and selfishness. They claim he doesn’t need the platform again and doesn’t care what happened to it or what the contending forces do with it?  

He has never been the meddling kind. All of us know that. Many would like him to meddle, but he’s a product of a time when power was absolute, so he knows the implications of using it too freely. I believe the term extreme democrat has been used. Unfortunately, he can’t afford to sit this one out and I don’t believe he will. Politics affects governance, especially in the last few months to the end of a term. In the case of APC, 2023 affected even 2019. That’s way too soon and shows a dangerous level of indiscipline among the troops. Only one person can restore order. If he doesn’t, it will overflow into governance and affect it even more. That we cannot afford.

As an aside, the state of the economy is a worry. Oil is now $30 per barrel. Considering our mono-cultural bias, aren’t we going to recede to another recession? What measures would you recommend to absorb the shock?

We are looking at two separate issues which are the cause and effect of each other. The first is the coronavirus which is impacting and will impact the global economy, resulting in negative growth across the board. Nigeria is no exception. Current forecasts put our expected growth rate at 2 per cent as opposed to the 2.5 per cent earlier predicted. The second issue is the Saudi – Russia crude cuts debate and the impact of a crude war. That sent the price tumbling. But, Russia has since indicated a willingness to talk so the oil price is recovering slowly again. It’s important not to panic. Oil prices will go above our estimated oil price of $57, but it may take a while for that to happen and we are losing time. The government will be under pressure to devalue the Naira, but it shouldn’t subscribe to knee jerk reactions. One month from now, things will be a lot clearer. In the meantime, our handling of the coronavirus issue is our biggest currency.

APC doesn’t have Rivers, Bayelsa has slipped off its hands, Edo is threatened by internal dissension. Is the claim to penetrate the Southsouth not becoming an empty boast?

No, it’s not. We all know why we didn’t win Rivers and we all know that we won Bayelsa. In both cases, the court reigned Supreme. So, let’s not debate our acceptance in the zone. Instead, let us debate our acceptance in the courts. We need to look inwards. Tuesday’s NEC meeting is a beginning. I remember when I was running around INEC in 2019 to find out why INEC was not ready to put us on the ballot. I bumped into some people in the legal department and we had a heart to heart on our matter. They said you are here, but nobody from the APC secretariat comes here. We only see in court. Reflect on that. Edo state is already an APC state, so penetration there is already a concluded affair. What is of concern to us now is returning Obaseki, but we can’t do it if his party is fighting him. Again Tuesday is a step in the right direction.

How best do you think the party crisis can be resolve considering the two-state governorship elections ahead?

I believe I have answered you. But let me try and spell it out for the avoidance of doubt. Obey the preliminary court order, set up a caretaker committee, set a date for the convention and put in place fresh leadership. APC needs to become a well-oiled machine again.

The Bisi Akande Reconciliation Committee has been silent since the unfolding drama in the last two weeks. Is it Morning Yet on Creation Day?  Can we say it has crashed before taking off?

I won’t go that far. The recent developments would have no doubt impacted on the progress the committee would have made. The need for reconciliation remains, so the need for the committee will remain as well. How the recent dynamics will affect things remain to be seen, but I foresee a delay, not a denial of the reconciliation mandate.

 

 

‘APC crisis may breed a third force’

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