President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, warned that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) could collapse unless aggrieved members toed the path to peaceful conflict resolution.
He rang the alarm bells as the party held a virtual emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which dissolved the National Working Committee led by the suspended National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
In its place, the meeting, after adopting all the President’s recommendations, named Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni as Caretaker National Chairman and Senator John Udoedeghe as Caretaker National Secretary.
“The issues currently confronting our party at this time are such that should worry every party member… It is obvious that the fortunes of the party are currently in jeopardy. The 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,” Buhari said.
He noted: “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.”
Speaking further on the need to end litigations, the President said: “The directive had been issued before, unfortunately, some members failed to heed the directive. 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.”
He added: “We must be alive to the time and the task that is before us. As we all know, we are immediately confronted with the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States. Therefore, this is the time to get our acts together.”
Other members of the Caretaker Committee and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee are Isiaka Oyebola (South West); Ken Nnamani (South East); Stella Okorete (Women Representative); Dr. James Lalu (Physically Challenged Rep.); Senator Abubakar Yusuf (Senate Rep.); Hon. Akinyemi Olaide (Reps); David leon (South-South); Abba Ari (North West); Prof. Tahir Mamman (North East); and Ismail Ahmed (Youth).
BUNI, who has since assumed duty, arrived the national secretariat of the party, yesterday, at about 1.30 p.m., accompanied by Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu.
Others, who also came along were Governors Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai (Kaduna); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Abdulrahman Abdulrazak (Kwara); Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger); and Senate President Ahmed Lawan.
For about an hour, Buni spoke with the staff of the secretariat at the party’s conference room, assuring them he would deploy his experience to reposition 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. I am a team player and I am here to manage a crisis. If you do not manage the crisis, the crisis will manage you. Without justice, there will be no peace. So, I am ready to do justice to every APC member.
He said further: “NEC is the highest organ of the party. So, any decision taken by NEC is final. NEC directed that every member in court should withdraw his suit. The party will carry all members along, especially the leaders of the APC. Many of them have paid their dues to the party, so we will carry them along.”
WITH the emergence of Governor Mai Mala Buni as Caretaker Chairman, members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) might have effectively seized control of the party structure from National Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The decision by NEC to dissolve the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC appeared to be the culmination of a grand design to whittle down the powerful influence of Tinubu, who is believed to be nursing a presidential ambition in 2023.
Key PGF members such as Governors Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai, Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu, Simon Lalong, Abubakar Badaru and Atiku Bagudu, believed to have been working underground to achieve the goal, apparently latched on to the leadership crisis that rocked the party to score the momentary victory against Tinubu.
President Muhammadu Buhari had taken the sudden decision to convene the NEC meeting less than 48 hours after the Bagudu-led PGF paid him a visit. With Buni, a colleague, directing affairs for the next six months, the governors seemed to have swung the pendulum in their favour ahead of the 2023 polls.
It is unlikely if Tinubu’s interest would be protected with the presence of just one of his key allies, Governor Gboyega Oyetola, in the thirteen-member Caretaker Committee.
Presidency explains Tinubu’s absence
THE Presidency, yesterday, explained that APC National Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not attend the National Executive Committee meeting because he is not a member.
Bashir Ahmad, Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, made the clarification, saying: “There are some people who need to know that the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is not a member of the National Executive Committee of the party, hence, he doesn’t attend the NEC meetings. This is very clear!”
Party chieftain, others hail NWC dissolution
EDO State APC Chairman Anselm Ojezua said: “I think it (NWC dissolution) is a good way of starting the resolution of the conflicts in the party.” He regretted that the suspended National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole featured in so many conflicts that the NEC “needed to push him out for a meaningful discussion, reconciliation or even resolution.”
On the growing perception that Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki were sacrificed to move the APC forward, Ojezua said: “No, they were not sacrificed. Unfortunately, Obaseki left because Oshiomhole pushed him out. Not the party. Obaseki did not have problems with the party. It was Oshiomhole that had problems with Obaseki. In fact, the President expressed deep regret and pain that Obaseki had to leave the party.”
A former governorship candidate of the party in Ebonyi State, Senator Julius Ali Ucha, said: “That decision was long overdue… It is intended to save the party. A lot of members were already frustrated. Some of us had always made our positions known.
“If a party structure is not disciplined, that is a big problem. But you must be disciplined yourself to be able to administer others. So, I think the decision is a saving grace for the party. Most people are happy about it.”
The forum of state APC chairmen also applauded the decision to dissolve the (NWC). The group’s spokesperson, Lawal Liman, said: “NEC has finally taken a good decision. I am sure all NEC members are happy with the decision. Whoever has this party at heart will be happy about the decision. We have seen so many turbulences.
“We have to give glory to God over what happened, today because it will strengthen the party. We are now moving to a party. The Oshiomhole era is past now. We just can’t cope with so many litigations without compromises and teamwork. These are issues that are not good for any political party.”
A chieftain of the party, Eze Chukuwemeka Eze, said President Buhari has shown respect to the rule of law, which would further deepen democracy within the APC and Nigeria. He called for a convention to elect new NWC members.
ALSO, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a statement, yesterday, where it expressed concern over conflicting court orders involving political parties.
Signed by Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), the statement reads in part: “The Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting court orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.
“Some of the orders were obtained from courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose. The Commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position.
“We urge the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process. It is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.
“These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy.”
A BENIN High Court, yesterday, affirmed that the Edo State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is a registered member of the party.
Justice Emmanuel Ahamojie gave the judgment in a suit filed by the state deputy chairman of the party, Kenneth Asekomhe, Benjamin Oghumu, Mathew Ogbebor and Unweni Nosa, challenging the waiver granted to the candidate to contest the recent APC primary election.
“I hereby declare that the Osagie Ize-iyamu (third defendant) is qualified to contest, being a registered member of the All Progressives Congress,” Ahamojie declared.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Santos Owootori, however, said he would study the verdict before disclosing the next line of action.
Also, members of the APC, reportedly in the hundreds, yesterday, crossed to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Government House Jimfred Obadiku, who led the members at Sobe community in Owan West Local Government Area (LGA), said the development would boost the re-election of the incumbent.
The PDP LGA chairman, David Okoh, welcomed the defectors, promising to carry them along. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) chairman in the area, Moses Imohimi, also crossed to the PDP.
Similarly, a coalition of groups in Edo State lauded the developmental strides of Obaseki and urged support for him. In a statement by its national coordinator, Prince Abdulkareem Ikharo, the League of Edo Patriots said there was a need for “continuity and sustenance of the peaceful atmosphere in the state, economic growth resulting from job creation, prompt payment of pensioners and workers’ salaries, improved health, education, agricultural sectors and the ever-increasing internally generated revenue drive (IGR), which are clear indicators that the state is in safe hands.”
It pledged to sensitise and mobilise support for the September re-election bid of Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Phillip Shaibu.
A female leader of the group, Miss Ladi Ochoala, lauded Obaseki’s “proactive approach and successes against human trafficking.” She noted that hundreds of young women were brought from countries like Libya, Italy and Spain, rehabilitated and reunited with their families, thus giving hope and improving the state’s image.
The groups vowed to “resist imposition and godfatherism in Nigeria’s democracy and support good governance through door-to-door, market and street campaigns and no amount of lies and intimidation would change the confidence and support we have for Obaseki and Shaibu.”