The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party has successfully concluded its convention and elected new leadership, but two incidents would be hard to forget.
One happened at the beginning, and the other at the end of its two-day long national elective convention.
The blows and thuggery
On the first day of the convention, as President Muhammadu Buhari stood on the podium talking about “healing and cohesion,” and appealing to members to “keep faith with the party”, party members hurled chairs and threw punches at each other at the Imo state stand.
The genesis of that conflict was the party congress in the state where a faction loyal to Eze Madumere, the state’s deputy governor, gained the upper hand over the faction loyal to Rochas Okorocha, the governor. It was the Madumere faction that got the recognition of the outgoing APC national leadership despite the protest and court suit by the Okorocha faction.
However, on Saturday, members of the two factions showed up, both laying claim to being the authentic delegates. With no side letting up for the other, they resorted to violence.
And this happened while President Buhari was delivering his speech. Embarrassing.
In the end, the leadership of the party brokered a political agreement with neither faction allowed to vote.
PS 1: It was not only the Imo delegation that brought violence to the convention venue; the Delta state delegation was also involved in fisticuffs. In fact, they fought on Saturday and continued on Sunday.
PS 2: At the end of the convention, the Gov. Okorocha faction had the last laugh. His preferred candidate for national organising secretary, Emma Ibidero defeated the incumbent Osita Izunaso, who is a member of the faction loyal to the deputy governor. Izunaso got 1,459 votes while Ibediro got 1,770 votes. It was gathered that Ibidero’s victory was facilitated by APC governors who asked their state delegates to support Okorocha’s candidate in order to prevent another embarrassment for the Imo governor who heads the APC Governors’ Forum.
Another ridiculous moment witnessed at the convention occurred on Sunday.
When it was time to administer the oath of office on the new national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, guess who showed up? Abubakar Malami, the nation’s attorney-general.
Although Malami has always been a partisan figure (he competed for Kebbi state governorship in the past), it was expected that his current role which demands impartiality and fairness would tamper his partisanship. It has not.
A country’s attorney-general is expected to show professional independence and impartiality in the discharge of his constitutional duties. He is not only the head of the ministry of justice, but is supposed to be the chief adviser of the government (including the executive, legislature and judiciary). Members of the government in that sense comprises of not just members of the ruling party but opposition members in the national assembly and neutral judicial officers.
The attorney-general is regarded as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, not just of the Federal Government. He also has powers to decide which cases to be prosecuted/instituted and those to be abandoned/discontinued. A situation where he is so overtly partisan may impair his abilities to discharge these duties without fear or favour.
Malami’s unashamed and frequent partisanship which only continued on Sunday, shows a fundamental lack of separation of the government from the party. This does not brook confidence in the government’s “rule of law” mantra. Sad.