John Odigie-Oyegun did not have a solid base when he contested for the APC chairmanship in 2014. It took hours of negotiations far into the night and the political maneuvering of APC leader, Bola Tinubu, for him to win the election against Tom Ikimi.
Scorecard: On most objective indicators, Odigie-Oyegun’s tenure has been bleak.
- Weak: Directives of the party under Odigie-Oyegun have been easily disregarded by its members. A good example was the APC’s position on the national assembly leadership positions which was pooh-poohed by the lawmakers without consequence. (READ: I remain loyal, but I had to do it: Saraki’s letter to APC on why he defied leadership again)
- Ineffective: The early days of the Buhari presidency were characterised by flat-out denial of campaign promises which the party made. The policy directions proposed by the party have not carried much weight in the government.
- Infighting: Both within the National Working Committee (NWC) and the party in general, Odigie-Oyegun’s tenure has not led to the perfection of the union among the party’s different power blocs. More than two years after the party’s election victory, the party still looks more like a congregation of strange bedfellows than an umbrella of like-minds. (READ: The three main power blocks of the APC are at war with each other)
- No Board of Trustees: A party with arguably the largest membership in the country still does not have a board. This is partly due to the point highlighted above.
- Outdated constitution: Since 2016, the party has been talking about amending its constitution. It hasn’t happened. A 10-member committee led by Dr. Muiz Banire, which was inaugurated to review the constitution has since submitted 85 proposals to strengthen the party around “powers, responsibilities and functions of party organs; composition of organs; disciplinary procedure; definitions, financial management; membership; organizational structure and tenure.” The process for ratification of those recommendations has stalled for a while.
- Broke: The APC does not have a lot of money as the former ruling party had when it was in power. Pres. Buhari has adopted a hands-on approach and seemingly does not believe in funding the party from state’s coffers. That’s where an inventive chairman and party ought to have come up with creative ways to raise funds. Not Odigie-Oyegun.
- Violated constitution: Article 25 (A)(i) of the APC constitution: The National Convention of the Party shall be held once in two (2) years at a date, venue and time to be recommended by the National Working Committee and approved by the National Executive Committee subject to the giving of the statutory notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission and at least fourteen (14) days notice given to members eligible to attend. The last APC convention held in 2014, three years ago, clearly violating the constitution. Since then the party had attempted at least twice (April and August) to hold a convention but failed.
On the positive side: Important to note that the APC won its overwhelming election victory in 2015 under Odigie-Oyegun’s leadership. How much of that can be chalked to his ability is a matter for debate.
One last chance: In a recent interview, Odigie-Oyegun said this about plans for a national convention, “We hope in November. There is no tentative date yet, but we are certain. The NEC and Caucus will hold next month, that is, October.“
The convention is important for many reasons:
- It is the highest decision-making organ of the party. It is at the convention that the national officers are elected or removed. To cut it short, the fate of a party is usually decided at the National convention.
- Even if the party members are fighting, it is safer for these to spill into the open earlier. The longer it delays, the shorter the time the party may have to iron out differences before the elections. Recall how the downward spiral of the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) commenced at one of its conventions.
- The 2019 race has begun (Dele Momodu wrote about it HERE). Once things get more heated, it will become even more difficult for Odigie-Oyegun to push through reforms, constitution amendments, among others, as every action would be looked at with intense partisanship. It may even be too late already.