Sunday, 15 January 2017

Caretaker Committee is the urgent need of the time for Delta APC. By Godwin Anaughe

Since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled Delta state. And in all the 17 years, it has been a history of missed opportunities to develop the state. Deltans everywhere including civil servants who are owed salaries, are now desperate for a new leadership, new direction and a government that cares for them and their needs.

For the opposition, it has been disappointing too, as they failed to take their chances to oust the PDP, especially in the 2010 re-run and 2011 governorship elections. And after five elections cycle of failure, there is hunger for victory. With the All Progressives Congress (APC) in control of the Federal Government, there is renewed hope and optimism that 2019 is the year PDP will finally fall. 

Now that the opposition has joined forces under the platform of the ruling party at federal level, it seems victory for APC in the 2019 general elections in Delta state is inevitable. However the reality is a little more complicated. And that is because the gap between desire for victory and successful execution is still very huge. Progressives need to narrow it significantly if they hope to capture power in two years time.

Defeating PDP in the 2019 general elections in Delta state won't be a cake-walk. It requires hard work. Delta APC members must be put on alert that the Buhari federal government, unlike PDP federal governments of the past that takes no prisoners in their political battles, will not rig elections for anyone. After all, APC lost elections in Bayelsa and Rivers states last year. 

To defeat PDP and end it's 20 years misrule, Delta opposition forces needed to unite and be stronger. The conflation of members of opposition political parties, no doubt, strengthened APC. But the party is still not strong enough to wrestle power from PDP. APC Delta needs to do more to build the party and get stronger. And this is where it gets complicated. This is so because how far it can go will depend on how well the party proactively manage the complexities of Delta politics, cope with the dynamics of the emerging forces and deal with competition and rivalry within the party.

As a consequence, the party needs to be smart and strategic going forward. Smart in expanding the tent and strategic in nominating winning candidates. Unfortunately these are two words that cannot be associated with the Prophet Jones Erhue State Executive Committee. It's not smart when members of the State Executive Committee of the ruling federal government allegedly takes money from the state government it wants to send packing. Most telling of all is when the Chairman of the party records his very damning conversion about his committee and releases it to the public to bring further shame to his own party. That is unstrategic and disqualifying. And if this is not a wake-up call, nothing else is. It definitely calls for immediate action. 

Clearly, the Prophet Jones State Executive Committee's understanding of the party's best interest is very poor. They have failed to see the harm their continued stay in office does to the party. Holding on to power at all cost may be a good way to be relevant. However, it's not a smart way to defeat an incumbent, especially when you have become the source of disunity in the very party you claim to lead.

Prophet Jones Erhue and his associates have the moral responsibility to resign in the overall interest of the party. But now that they have refused to do what is right, the national leadership of the party should step in to save the party from the iron grip of those who are determined to spoil our groove in 2019. 

Another compelling reason for the present SEC to go is the incompetence of the team. The APC Take Over Delta State task needs a capable project manager who can unite the party, oppose the PDP government relentlessly and ruthlessly, lay out an alternative agenda and set up a contrast for future elections beginning with the local government elections this year by showing to the electorates that Delta APC is the change Deltans want. The Prophet Jones Erhue exco has not provided that kind of vibrant opposition.

What is more, the opportunity cost of its existence is already too high. The crisis it has caused, not only threatens the party's ability to build on the progress made by the conflation of members of APC, Labour and Accord, but also previews the conflicts that could appear if the parties who seek nominations lose unfairly in a congress organised by the present Exco. That could potentially leave the Party too damaged to mount a successful challenge to PDP in the state. It's hard to do well when there is no unity among members.

The argument that the present Exco should remain until 2018 is disingenuous, lame and self serving. For a deeply fractured party, holding a congress so late in the political cycle, long after primary campaigns for 2019 by aspirants have started and just few months before primaries would be disastrous for the party as there would be no sufficient time to heal the wounds of a bruising congress battle and a hard-fought nominating process that will follow immediately. This is even more so, when that congress is organised by a State Executive Committee that is not trusted and accepted by the majority of members of the party. 

And given the political stakes and the need for peace, unity and more strenght, now is the time to get the ball rolling. A Caretaker Committee is the urgent need of the time. The APC constitution empowers the National Working Committee to set it up in place of any organ where there exists (in the opinion of the National Working Committee), a lacunae by virtue of any act or omission done in furtherance of the constitution. 

The subsisting Federal High Court judgment which nullified the 2014 congress that produced the Delta state Exco provides the National Working Committee the legal basis to dissolve and replace the Exco. The process starts by directing all members with pending cases in courts to withdraw them immediately. And should any party fail to obey the directive, the NWC can and should invoke Article 21 (D) (v) of the Constitution of the APC (October 2014 as Amended) which provides for automatic expulsion for erring members. 

For a caretaker committee to be effective and lead to greater unity, and not more rancor, it has to be broad, inclusive of all interests and led by the non-aligned in the party with a mandate to harmonise all organs of the party at the local government and ward levels and run the party until a new congress is held as directed by the Benin High Court that declared the Prophet Jones Erhue led Exco illegal.

#APC #APCdeltastate

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