Last week, the All Progressives Congress, emerging from an emphatic victory at the just-concluded 2019 presidential election, wielded the big stick on some errant members of the party that have conducted themselves in riotous manners since the kick-off of the 2019 election. It was variously described as the day of the long knives as the party demonstrated an unsmiling posture in its effort to arrest gross indiscipline and the anti-party conducts in its ranks and file. Among those suspended or penciled to be queried by the party are the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Minister for Niger Delta Ministry, Usain Usain, among others. The party’s National Working Committee made recommendations to the party to expel both Amosun and Okorocha in a move that is seen as a desirable effort to instill party discipline and warn those intent on violating the party’s disciplinary code.

The action of the party is in order and long overdue in taming the rash of indecorous conducts that has festered among the membership of the party and arrest the drift to factionalisation which riddled the party during the nomination processes. It was a desirable notice that the party would no longer tolerate its members to behave in ways that suit them and disrespect the organogram of the party in pursuing their personal interests and wishes. It was a credible response to the feeling of some members that they are above the party and are untouchable. This had been what many members of the party, peeved at the riotous conduct of some members, have been praying and asking for, especially since after the primaries. 

On the day Senate President, Bukola Saraki connived with PDP members to steal the leadership of the senate, I had written an article calling on the APC to slam down heavily on Saraki for such anti-party conduct because, as I stated in the article, the party needed to send a direct message to other party members that they can’t violate the party’s disciplinary code and go scot free. I had argued that such message was very necessary for the party to rein its guards and prevent an internal implosion in the future where every party member behaves as lord unto himself without check. I had argued in the report that the party needed to wield that big stick so as to guard against future acts of indiscipline that might implode the party. Sadly, the party, perhaps through the weakness of the erstwhile leadership, played deaf ears to this and the Saraki monster blossomed to nearly rupture and sink the party and the government it is running. Perhaps, it was in response to the need for a strong and capable leadership to wield the big stick as and when due that necessitated the emergence of the Adams Oshiomhole leadership and the enthusiastic way the members of the party embraced his emergence.  

Now, with Oshiomhole, it is no longer business as usual and he was able to tame the Saraki monster which led to Saraki’s humiliating defeat in the February 23 National Assembly election and the emphatic victory the party scored at both the presidential and national assembly polls last week. Again, one other monster Oshiomhole needed to cage was that of some people that felt they own the party and reserve the right to lord it on other members of the party. He was able to deal with this by introducing a direct primary option for the emergence of candidates for various elective positions. This itself bred a huge uproar as those who feel their power to dictate and impose candidates were tempered by that option. Coming very close to a critical nomination period, it was predictable that it met APC with a combustible effect as the primaries were fraught with widespread discord and acrimony among party members. 

Despite the afore-mentioned challenges, the party, albeit stretched to its possible limits by the aftermaths of the primaries, was up to the task especially in brokering amity and peace among the various factions of the party. In Ogun State, Amosun’s insistence on handpicking his successor and those to go for other elective positions was challenged by the insistence of the rank and file of the party to have an open contest where whoever wins hoists the flag of the party in the elections. Amosun remained adamant and insisted on his choice or nothing else. That was the same situation in Imo where Rochas Okorocha was fixated on having his son-in-law to succeed him as governor contrary to the position of other party stakeholders. The situation was almost the same in other states but the party, through fence-mending, diplomacy and other forms of peace making, resolved every other case except those of Ogun and Imo just because Amosun and Okorocha remained implacably committed to forcing through their wills. When the party made final decision on its choice for the two states, the duo directed their supporters and followers to defect to other platforms while they remained in APC to pursue their own senatorial ambitions. While Amosun directed his followers to join Allied People Movement, Okorocha directed his followers to join Action Alliance and they made loud noise of their readiness to work against APC in every other election except the presidential and their own senatorial election.

This flagrant display of gross indiscipline and anti-party was taken notches higher by the duo when during the presidential campaign rallies in their respective states, they sponsored their followers to barge into the venues and disrupt the rallies with cat calls and other forms of antics. That of Ogun was particularly bad as Amosun instructed his followers now members of APM to cause widespread mayhem; of the magnitude that embarrassed both the President and the party. It was just natural that with the critical elections approaching, the party endured these and waited till after the election where it went home with the star prize.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the suspension of both governors. In fact, many members of the party have called for this big stick before now. Many members of the party felt that the party needed to send the signal they sent last week earlier than when they did because party supremacy remains a central ingredient in party politics. That Amosun and Okorocha deliberately remained implacable to all the reconciliatory efforts of the party and continued to cause egregious embarrassment to the party shows they feel they are above the party. This is wrong for no member, not even the President, should be above the party that gives them the platform to contest. For the duo to believe they could be given elastic tolerance to carry out anti-party activities from within the party is silly and the present action of the party against them should warn them that they are not above discipline. The party should go all out to enforce its moral code not only on the duo but other errant members of the party who continue to conduct themselves in aberrant manners that embarrass the party.

I am fully in support of the actions the party had taken against Amosun, Okorocha and other misbehaving members. Let other members learn from it and fall I line. That is the idea behind the concept of party supremacy and whichever party loses this important control over its members is headed for doom. 

 

Peter Claver Oparah

Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: [email protected]

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