Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been engaged wide consultations and lobbying ahead of today’s virtual National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the governing party billed to hold at the presidential villa.
Newsalertafrica gathered top on the NEC’s agenda is the fate of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) whose initial six-month mandate elapses this December.
Sources privy to the intrigues playing out ahead of the NEC meeting revealed that the demand for the extension of the Buni-led caretaker committee had been an issue of serious concern within the party.
The pro-Buni-led CECPC members pushing for a fresh six months extension for the caretaker committee to accomplish its task have sited the gains achieved over the past months, including the defection of political heavyweights from the opposition camp to the party as well as the reconciliatory efforts described by many as successful.
But another influential group within the party is insisting that the CECPC remains an aberration which the APC constitution does not accommodate.
This comes as concerns have continued to mount over alleged plot to shelve the conduct of the party’s national convention.
To this end, a pressure group within the APC known as Concerned Members yesterday accused some governors of hijacking the party.
The concerned members, in a statement signed by their spokesman, Abdullahi Dauda, said that in a bid to have a firm grip on the party structure at the centre, governance in their respective states have suffered.
They however expressed satisfaction that the Caretaker Committee and other party leaders have decided to address some of their concerns.
Dauda said, “This party started with a promise to bring change in the way we play politics in Nigeria. Only Nigerians can say if this promise has been fulfilled. Our demands for transparency in the way our party is run and for the release of a timetable for our national convention is a patriotic call to save the APC from destruction.
“We are all witnesses to the way the former ruling party, PDP was chased out of power in 2015. Their party leaders were no longer listening to the people they were leading. They failed to respect agreements and expelled those who disagreed with them. As a party of change, we cannot behave like that”.
The members further said they were aware of the plan to postpone the planned national convention and do a fresh registration.
They stated: “The question we are asking is: what happened to the party register? Has the party been operating without one? How did we come about the 16 million members we told Nigerians in 2019? Is this registration not another plan to remove people who those controlling the party now don’t like?
“Has it now suddenly become critical and urgent that if we don’t do new membership registration and regularization and even dissolution of party structures, we cannot do Convention?
“We believe strongly that Mr President always believe the stories these Cabals tell him without any ulterior motive. We do hope that the undertakers will be available when these gang up against the wish of the people start to negatively manifest itself sooner or later”.
Beyond the issues of tenure elongation, it was also learnt that the party would also have to address the legal hurdle initiated by a former national vice chairman (South) and ex-acting chairman of the APC, Hilliard Eta.
Eta had asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare the Buni-led caretaker committee a nullity and declare him (Eta) the acting national chairman of the party.
In a suit he filed on November 26, 2020 through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Eta is challenging the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led NWC, which he was part of.
He also asked the court for an order of injunction to restrain the caretaker committee from taking any further decision for the party in form of administration, including planning the national convention.
However, an APC leader who pleaded anonymity told LEADERSHIP that the tenure of the CECPC will be extended by a minimum of six months considering the achievements it has attained in the last six months.
The party chieftain said, “Certainly, their mandate will be extended. Forget all these conspiracy theories. They have seen that what they couldn’t do is being done within a short period of time.
“The party is in a sure footing now as both old and new members are returning, reconciliation processes are on-going across the states and we are emerging from the relics of the leadership tussle that threatened to scatter the party. Of course, all these must be expected because they did not see things going the way they expected”.
But former national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, distanced himself from the legal action instituted by Eta challenging the dissolution of the immediate past NWC by the NEC.
Oshiomhole dismissed speculation that he may be interested in returning to the chairmanship of his party, saying his chapter as national chairman has been long closed.
Oshiomhole who said such insinuation was far from the truth, added that that chapter of his life is closed.
He pledged loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari whom he said encouraged him to contest the chairmanship of the party.
The APC NEC had in June this year dissolved the Oshiomhole led-NWC, following a leadership crisis which was worsened by the Edo State governorship election.
The NEC further appointed the present Buni-led caretaker committee.
Despite accepting the decision of the NEC, Eta filed a suit on November 26, 2020 at an Abuja High Court challenging the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led NWC of the APC which he was part of.
He prayed the court to restrain the Caretaker Committee from running the party.
Reacting to the suit yesterday, Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, refuted attributions that the plaintiff is an “ally of Oshiomhole” or an “associate of Oshiomhole.”
Oshiomhole, in a statement titled, “My position has not changed”, said the court documents are clear on who is the plaintiff, adding that the 21-member NWC under his leadership largely worked cohesively and harmoniously and the only exceptions were those of the three members used by forces desperate to take control of the party.
He said, “They contrived a crisis and abused the judicial process to undermine the constitution and integrity of the party. The majority of 18 members worked as a team and not as allies or loyalists of any body.
“When the National Executive Committee (NEC) in its wisdom dissolved the NWC, I immediately announced publicly that I accepted the decision, regardless of its illegality or otherwise, as it affected my position as national chairman.
“I was the only one at the press conference where I made the announcement for personal reasons. The reason, of course, was that some of my colleagues in the dissolved NWC obviously didn’t share my position not to contest the dissolution in court. I can only accept responsibility for my own decision.
“Subsequently, I instructed my lawyers to withdraw the suits challenging my purported suspension from office by the proxies of those bent on removing me as chairman.
“It is, therefore, the height of mischief to insinuate, as it is being done in some quarters, that I would publicly accept the decision and later surreptitiously seek to contest it in court.
“That chapter of my political life is closed. Even if another NEC decision or a court order reverses the dissolution, with utmost humility I will decline to return as APC chairman.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the NWC under my leadership and I am grateful to the principled 18 members who worked as a team committed to the cause of the party.
“Above all, I bear no grudges against any one for the manner of my removal. Instead, I am grateful and loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari who encouraged me to contest the chairmanship of the party.
“I am also very much appreciative of the support of President Buhari who encouraged me to assert the authority of the party without fear or favour. Indeed, I would not have lasted as long as I did as national chairman but for the President’s and support for me. I will continue to support his administration to succeed in serving the common good of the people of Nigeria”.
Governing Party Tackles PDP Over Call For PMB’s Impeachment
Meanwhile, the governing APC has described the call by the factional leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Kingsley Chinda, for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari as insensitive and callous.
APC deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, warned Chinda against playing politics with the grief of citizens in the aftermath of the recent, gruesome and condemnable killings of some defenceless farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State by Boko Haram.
The APC insisted it will not join Chinda and his PDP backers on what it termed “the evil and ignoble road.”
The party added: “We have since learnt that Chinda does not even have the support of any of the PDP House factions he claims to head. He is a lone, rejected voice.
“The House of Representatives has already dismissed Chinda’s rant as illogical, self-serving and a ploy to derail the proposed visit of the President to the House.
“The leadership of the National Assembly, the President and Armed Forces which the president heads as Commander in chief are on the same page in tackling emerging security situations in the country and ensure the safety of all Nigerians”.
But in a swift reaction, the national leadership of PDP yesterday backed the call by its caucus in the House of Representatives to commence impeachment process against President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it is constitutional and democratic.
The party stated that the call is a direct reflection of the mood and desires of the Nigerian people, given President Buhari, manifest failure in all spheres of governance and particularly in failing to provide an effective leadership that can guarantee the security of the nation and rescue the economy, which has collapsed in his hands.
The national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who reacted to the call by PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, said, “As a party, the PDP had always called on our federal legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate, irrespective of political affiliations, to stand on the side of the people by deploying the legislative instruments provided in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to rescue the ship of state.
“The Buhari administration had already accepted failure as reflected in the declaration by one of its officials, that the nation is now at the mercy of bandits and terrorists, a development that signals that is has outlived its usefulness.
“President Buhari is elected by the people; his stay in office is also dependent on the people as vested on them by the Constitution, through their elected representatives in the National Assembly. The PDP therefore urges Nigerians to eschew all primordial sentiments and stand for the nation at this critical time”.