With dissolution of NWC, APC seeks redemption

AFTER a week of seeming self-serving embarrassment, sanity is set to return to the fractured All Progressives Congress  (APC) after a virtual meeting of its statutory organ, the National Executive Committee (NEC) called at the instance of its national leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had instructed his men to occupy the national secretariat of the party in Abuja twice in one week, as the National Working Committee (NWC) became polarised into factions, following the ouster of its erstwhile national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, through a judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Before Thursday’s intervention by the president, the duo of sacked deputy national secretary, Victor Giadom and national vice-chairman, South-South, Hillard Eta, had paraded themselves as acting national chairmen. Eta claimed to be holding the office for the deputy national chairman (South), Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who sadly, was announced dead on Thursday.

At the end of the NEC meeting, a 13-man caretaker committee/ extraordinary convention committee was put in place by a resolution of the NEC.

The immediate past national secretary of the party and incumbent Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, is the chairman of the team which has Senator Akpan Udoedehe as secretary.

The committee, which has six months tenure, was advised by President Buhari to run an inclusive administration by engaging all stakeholders.

Thursday’s meeting became imperative for the ruling APC, following claims and counterclaims by two main factions in the bid to fill the vacuum created by the suspension of Oshiomhole from office.

Crises will lead to APC disintegration —Buhari
President Buhari at the virtual NEC meeting warned that if not arrested, the crises in the APC could lead to its disintegration. He, therefore, admonished all litigants in the party to withdraw all pending litigation against one another and settle for internal conciliation. According to him, “the mutating disagreements could lead to self-destruction with
dire consequences.”

He said the gains of the party could be reversed as conflicts overshadow the primary objective of service to the people while urging members to refocus on the larger picture and place more emphasis on uniting the party. A statement  issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), after the meeting, quoted Buhari as saying:

Fellow party members, this is a very crucial moment in the life of our party and it is with a deep sense of concern that I stand before you today to speak as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,a who has been elected on the platform of our great party – the All Progressives Congress.

“The issues currently confronting our party at this time are such that should worry every party member. At the moment, our great party is faced with internal wrangling; there are ongoing litigations amongst some party members and we cannot clearly ascertain the status of certain NWC members.’’

The president expressed worry over the shifting loyalty within the party and inconsistency in leadership, which had opened the governing party to mockery.

He added: “There are also other associated disputes as to the legitimacy or otherwise of holders of certain national offices of the party.  “The party is also contending with judicial claims and counter-claims, orders and counter-orders and indeed judgments and counter-judgments that are predominantly at cross-purposes.

“Confronted with these issues, it is obvious that the fortunes of the party are currently in jeopardy, administration of our party is becoming impossible and there is consequently an urgent need for intervention to immediately arrest further drifts and internal wrangling which may lead to total disintegration.

“What we see clearly emerging is that we are beginning to self-destruct. This, my dear party members, is not just  regrettable but utterly gut-wrenching.’’ President Buhari proposed that: “The meeting may adopt the developed  resolution as contained in the agenda and pass resolutions including approving the immediate discontinuation of all  pending litigations involving the party and its members; ratifying the primary election conducted in Edo State;  dissolving the current National Working Committee and appointing caretaker/extra-ordinary convention planning  committee for the party.’’ The president also reiterated the need to discontinue all litigations involving members of the party, which were connected to issues of the party, adding that: “The directive had been issued before,  unfortunately, some members failed to heed it.

“Thus, at this time, it must be made a resolution of the party which must be effectively  enforced with dire consequences for members who choose to ignore the directive.’’ The president said in order to return to the “winning ways,’’ the party must maintain cohesion by closing its ranks.

The emergency NEC meeting adopted all the recommendations by President Buhari. Giadom, thereafter, announced the dissolution of the NWC of the party led by Oshiomhole and named Buni as chairman, caretaker/extraordinary convention committee.

He was immediately sworn in by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. Ize- Iyamu remains APC candidate for Edo Briefing State House at the end of the meeting, Kebbi State governor and chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu, gave the resolutions of the meeting, including the ratification of the Edo State primary won by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

He said: “Today June 25, 2020, the National Executive Committee meeting of our great party, APC, held in Abuja was attended by other members in virtual manner consistent with the COVID-19 regulations already in place.

“The meeting was well attended, most importantly by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi  Osinbajo; President of the Senate, deputy Senate president, speaker, deputy speaker, governors from the different APC  states.

“Among other items, the president in his speech called for the dissolution of the NWC and appointed in its place a caretaker committee which at the same time will serve as convention planning committee and membership were proposed and approved by NEC of our party.

“His Excellency, the governor of Yobe State, was charged with the burden of leading the caretaker and convention planning committee. “Among the committee are also other governors. Governor of Niger State, representing the North-Central and Osun State governor, representing the South-West and other illustrious members of the party.

“We are indeed very grateful that the president and the NEC expressed confidence in the governors by appointing this distinguished personalities and we are happy that today, the issues bedevilling our party have been laid to rest by this momentous decisions.

“Equally, the meeting ratified all decisions that have been taken in Edo State primary election and screening and a name will be forwarded properly to INEC, the name of our candidate in the Edo gubernatorial election and equally, the schedule of activities that will commence the Ondo State primary, which by God grace, we will also be presenting a  candidate, will commence under the leadership of the caretaker committee.

“We thank all our supporters for putting faith in our party and our party leaders for all the support they have been giving Mr President to achieve  this wonderful outcome.” Tinubu not the target of NWC  dissolution —Buni Mai-Buni,  briefing State House correspondents, denied that the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, was the target of the current action to dissolve the NWC, just as he promised to ensure that justice was done in the APC.

He said: “As a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well. It’s all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice, there won’t be peace and it is all about team play.

I am a team player, I have a capable team that can work with me. If you don’t manage the crisis, obviously, the crisis will manage you. “So I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth and the process of convening this NEC, I want to tell you that it is a
continuation of the last notice that was issued and we said we have adjourned and now it’s a continuation of the last
adjourned NEC meeting.

“All the notices were issued accordingly. So, in no way are we in any aberration. On allegations that the NWC was sacked to whittle down Tinubu’s influence, he said: “You mention the name of one of our leaders, Bola Tinubu, a  founding father of this party. We are all together to rescue this party from all this. Nobody is happy with the situation under which the party is now operating because we are in court for various problems and crisis.

“So, this decision was taken by NEC to address some of these issues. So nobody is targetted and it is against nobody. Tinubu is one of the leaders of this party and a founding father of the party.” On the lifetime of the caretaker committee, the Yobe governor disclosed: “The duration of office is for six months within which we will do whatever we can as  enshrined in our constitution and ensure that we strengthen the party and cap it up with the convention.”

The thinking within a segment of the power centre in the APC was that the leadership of the party under the leadership of Oshiomhole would flow with the hitherto power equation or sharing arrangement on the ground by retaining the post in Yobe State.

Contenders for the post soon surfaced from Borno, Bauchi and Taraba state backed by powerful caucuses and kingmakers in the APC within and outside the North.  One of the major arguments of those opposed to Yobe retaining the position was that the state already had the post of the president of the Senate in the person of Senator Ahmad Lawan.

However, those leading the pro-Yobe campaign said there was nothing abnormal in the state retaining the state. They buttressed their position with the case of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, from Adawama State. He was replaced by Comrade Mustapha Salihu, also from Adamawa State when he quit office as APC national vice chairman (North-East). Another instance cited by the Yobe caucus was that of a former  national publicity secretary of the party, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi from Kwara State, who was replaced with Malam Lanre  Issa-Onilu, also from the state, as well as the choice of the Director-General of Small and Medium  Enterprises  Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Umaru Radda, as replacement for Alhaji Ibrahim Masari when  Radda, also hails from Katsina State, left the position of APC national welfare secretary to occupy his present office.

Yobe eventually lost out in the frantic effort to retain the seat. There were speculations that the decision to take the position of a national secretary out of Yobe State was at the behest of President Buhari.

In a similar contest on June 18, Tinubu had backed Alhaji Kashim Imam, who is from Borno State, as against the preferred candidate of President Buhari who also comes from Borno, Waziri Bulama, of the defunct Congress for  Progressive Change (CPC).

The other contenders then included Mohammed Bello and Abdulrahman Terab at the June 23, 2018, national convention where Buni won.  It should be noted that Bulama was the deputy director-general of the APC presidential campaign council. Similar intrigues and scenario played out in the choice of a deputy national chairman (South-West) recently.

When the deputy national chairman, Niyi Adebayo, was made a minister, the APC in Ekiti State had insisted that the replacement must come from the state. But the Oshiomhole leadership settled for Oyo State filling the position thereby creating disquiet and antagonism in the party, especially in the South-West.

Edo primary election The decision of the party leaders to ratify the outcome of the primary conducted by the APC  leadership faction loyal to Oshiomhole, where Osage Ize-Iyamu clinched the governorship ticket of the APC for  September 2020 poll was inevitable. This is because of the timeframe for the submission of the list of candidates of political parties to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The deadline is on Monday, June 29. Another reason was the huge logistics demand that would be required to conduct a  fresh primary and the need to prevent further disaffection in the party with grave implications for the APC at election time.

APC constitution stipulates seven-day notice for an emergency meeting. According to the constitution, an EC  meeting can be called by the national chairman or at the request of at least two-thirds of NEC members. According to Article 25 of the APC constitution, “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or any time decided by the national chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of members of the national executive committee provided that no fewer than 14 days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.

“Without prejudice to Article  25 (B)(i) of this constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting  shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”

The membership of the NEC party includes the president, the vice president, the senate president, deputy Senate president, the speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, governors, majority or minority leader.

Bunin’s choice strategic, instructive Buni, who put up a brief appearance at the party secretariat on Thursday, assured the party faithful that he would ensure that peace and camaraderie returned to the APC.

He said: “After being two-time national secretary of the party, I can say I know the party very well. I want to assure every APC member that we will do justice to everyone because we have a capable team.”

He said the decision of the NEC was final and in the best interest of the party, since it remains the next major organ of the party after APC national convention, stressing that the NEC also resolved that all members with suits in courts had been directed to withdraw them in the interest of the party.  Will Buni walk his talk? Tribune Online checks revealed.

 

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