There is subtle but serious outcry among members of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over an alleged move by the national leadership of the party to whittle down the influence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s national leader, in the ongoing membership registration, revalidation, and update exercise.
Key leaders of the party, who spoke exclusively to Daily Independent on Sunday, said the national leadership of the party, led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, is carrying out the exercise without Tinubu’s input despite the major role the former Lagos State governor played in making the party what it is today.
On January 23, the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, headed by Buni, announced the list of chairmen, secretaries and members of the Membership Registration Committees for all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to conduct the registration.
For Lagos State, Dr. Mohammed Bashir Ruwan Godiya is the chairman while Chief Anthony Ogah is the Secretary.
Other members of the committee are Hon. Abiodun Ambali, Tilewa Sijuwade, Ibrahim Isiaka, Abiodun Mafe and Wasiu Doyin Banjo.
The exercise formally kicked off on January 25 while President Buhari had his registration last weekend in Daura, Katsina State.
Speaking with our correspondent, a key leader of the party who is an ally of Tinubu said it is surprising why the national body of the party would send officials from Abuja to conduct the registration exercise in states.
According to him, it beats logic why governors, some of whom were in PDP when APC was formed, are at the forefront of the exercise while the founding fathers of the party like Tinubu are not carried along.
“Reconciliation is a continuous exercise. It is more of a grassroots and ward thing.
“To many of us here, we don’t know why registration should be centralised and it is the national body that is now giving directives.
“They can give directives but why should they be sending officers from Abuja to come and conduct registration of members at states, local governments and ward levels?
“The president is talking about imposition, was he not more or less imposed on the party?
“There are people who will account for the soul of the party. A political party is not formed by the generality of the people.
“It is formed by like minds, few people. After forming it, they come out with the mission, vision, manifesto, and ideology. Then, people will start joining.
“Are you now saying those people who are pathfinders should not have any role to play?
“It is like that in developed democracies in Europe and America. I don’t know why that of Nigeria and APC is different.
“See what they are doing to Asiwaju Tinubu, sending members from Abuja to come and conduct membership registration in Lagos without his input.
“Could you do this to Awolowo in his days? Could they do this to the likes of Shehu Shagari, Adisa Akinloye, Adamu Ciroma in their days?
“Could they do this to Azikiwe or Sam Mbakwe in their days?
“I don’t know why they are turning things upside down. We know they are doing all this just because of one man, Asiwaju Tinubu.
“By the time they would have overdone it, they would realise that they have crippled the party and battered the structure.
“There must be leadership and leadership doesn’t end in NEC or NWC. The people who are leaders may be in the background but they are the moral voice of the party.
“They form the party, they know why they formed the party. They have their agenda.
“So, because the party has now given birth to governors, senators and ministers, those who laboured to form the party should now be pushed to the background or treated as if they are inconsequential? It is unheard of and that is our grouse in Lagos APC.”
Speaking from Abuja, a member of the Caretaker Committee, who also asked not to be named, said it is a lie for anyone to claim that the APC leadership is attempting to sideline Tinubu.
According to him, the Buni-led committee enjoys Tinubu’s backing.
“These people like crying more than the bereaved. Has Asiwaju ever said our committee sidelined him or never carried him along?
“If you recall, when we were inaugurated in June last year, one of our major assignments was to come to Lagos where we met Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“Governor Buni himself led the delegation. We know the influence he wields in the party and we will never undermine him.
“On the membership of the committee to conduct the registration exercise in Lagos, a member of the committee is Abiodun Mafe, a former council chairman in Lagos.
“Is he not Asiwaju’s loyalist? Did those complaining bother to find out why Mafe’s name was included in the list?”
Also speaking, another APC leader from the Northern part of the country said the membership registration is crucial as it will foster transparency within the party.
“You see, the membership registration exercise is needed to clarify certain things.
“During the APC governorship primary of 2019, it was said that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had 970,851 votes while (Akinwunmi) Ambode scored 72,901 votes.
“These are over one million votes by APC members but during the main election which was participated in by all Lagosians, Governor Sanwo-Olu got less than 800,000 votes.
“That means something is wrong somewhere. That is one of the things the registration will address.
“Also, if you recall, few months ago, it was alleged that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had seized the membership register of the party.
“They also alleged that the APC Registration Server had been based in the old ACN office in Abuja since 2013 which Tinubu controls.
“If that is true, then it is unfortunate because no individual is bigger than the party.
“Let the party conduct a fresh registration and keep the documents. It is the property of the party, not an individual’s,” he said.