• APC camps flex muscle over contentious NEC meeting
• We must abide by party constitution, says Gombe gov
There were indications on Sunday that governors and other chieftains of the All Progressives Congress supporting the embattled National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, had stepped up moves to prevent his removal.
The PUNCH gathered that pro-Oshiomhole forces and those opposed to him were locked in a bitter supremacy battle for the control of the party.
It was learnt that the first test of supremacy by the two sides would be the National Executive Council meeting, which the anti-Oshiomhole forces in the National Working Committee had scheduled for Tuesday next week.
The PUNCH learnt that as part of moves to stop Oshiomhole’s removal, governors who were sympathetic to him would this week meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to prevent next week’s NEC meeting.
But the APC National Vice-Chairman (North East), Mustapha Salihu, insisted that the NEC meeting would hold as scheduled.
The crisis in the APC came to a head last week when two courts of equal jurisdiction gave contradictory judgments on Oshiomhole.
While Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abjua, on Wednesday suspended Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC, Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa, sitting at the Federal High Court in Kano, on Thursday, voided his suspension.
The court orders triggered a flurry of actions and counter-actions by the pro-and anti-Oshiomhole forces in the APC last week.
While the NWC members loyal to Oshiomhole appointed a former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, as the deputy national chairman; Waziri Bulama as the acting National Secretary and Mr Paul Chukwuma as the national auditor, those opposed to the national chairman fixed the party’s NEC meeting for March 17.
Since Wednesday, armed policemen have been deployed in the party’s secretariat and none of the two sides was allowed access to the building.
Pro-Oshiomhole govs meet Buhari this week
One of our correspondents on Sunday learnt that state governors, including, Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Babagana Zulum (Borno); Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babajide-Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), would meet the President this week to ensure the return of Oshiomhole as the APC chairman.
A top member of the party’s NEC, who is sympathetic to Oshiomhole, confided in The PUNCH on Sunday that the governors would meet Buhari this week.
Recall that shortly after Thursday’s court order, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Chairman, Progressives Governors Forum, Mr Atiku Bagudu; and the Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Badaru, met with the President.
On Sunday, the APC NEC member, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “Governors Ganduje, Zulum, Oyetola, Sanwo-Olu and Abiodun are scheduled to meet with the President this week to brief him on all the issues.
“Our constitution is clear. Party members have to exhaust our internal conflict resolution mechanism before going to court. This was not the case with those who took our party and chairman to court. The constitution is clear about what should happen to such persons.
“The President respects the constitution. Our President, as the leader of the party, will have to intervene in because some of us see him as the rope holding our party’s broom together.”
Buhari’s intervention will end APC crisis –Kano commissioner
Ganduje, speaking through his Commissioner for Information, Sports and Culture, Mallam Muhammed Garba, said, “Whatever is happening within our party today is a family affair. We are all members of one big family and there are bound to be internal squabbles now and then, but our situation has not got as bad as that of the former ruling party (the Peoples Democratic Party).
“We are convinced that with the intervention of Mr President, all these issues will be resolved and we will return bigger, better and stronger to face all other political parties in 2023.”
March 17 NEC meeting, an illegality, says National Vice-Chairman, South-South
But the APC National Vice-Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, described the March 17 NEC meeting as an illegality.
He stated, “I will not attend the illegal NEC meeting because it is an illegally convened meeting. The moment your conscience is clear, you will have no fear. Those who summoned the meeting have no powers to do so.
‘People with presidential, vice-presidential ambitions after Oshiomhole’
“I can tell you for free, those fueling this plot to remove Oshiomhole are out to weaken the APC ahead of 2023 just because of their selfish presidential and vice-presidential ambitions.
“They want to destroy this party to move our members to other parties to achieve their aim. They know that with someone like Oshiomhole, they don’t stand a chance to get the ticket using illegal means.”
He also debunked claims that the South-South zone had abandoned the chairman, saying such claims were the handiwork of individuals seeking to cause disaffection across Nigeria.
According to him, the political leader of the zone, who is the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, was not contacted by anyone to know the position of the zone.
He stated, “As I speak with you, the zone is implicitly behind the national chairman of our party, Adams Oshiomhole. We are fully in support of our chairman and people from outside of our zone will not tell us how we will manage our office that was zoned to our region.
“We should be mindful of the consequences of our actions because they are distracting our President, who is settling down after he won his second term to provide dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
“I know there is this move by some of these people to weaken the party and get some people out so that they can form another political group to challenge the party in 2023. But that can be done without heating up the polity the way they are doing now.”
However, it was learnt that governors and other members opposed to the national chairman were going ahead with plans to hold the NEC meeting next week.
We are going ahead with NEC meeting –National Vice-Chairman, N’East
The APC National Vice Chairman (North-East), Salihu, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said, “We are going ahead with the meeting as scheduled. Notices have been sent out in line with our constitution, nothing has changed.”
Another member, who is also opposed to Oshiomhole said, “We are waiting for them (pro-Oshiomhole governors). This meeting will hold. There is no how he will come back. There is no how any right-thinking person will ask him to come back. It is not possible.
“The alternative is to have a convention and you can’t just have a convention. There has to be somebody to act first. That’s what the constitution says before a choice is made. If you go and bring somebody worse than Oshiomhole then what happens to the party? All the damage this man has caused us as a party should not be allowed to continue.
“In spite of all the propaganda, I can tell you governors supporting Oshiomhole are not more than five or six at the most. Let them continue to deceive themselves. The NEC meeting will go on as scheduled. We are also going to meet the President; Mr. President knows more than people think.”
No going back on NEC meeting –Anti-Oshiomhole NWC members
The acting National Secretary of the APC, Chief Victor Giadom, distanced the party from a notice issued by the party’s National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala, and its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, and Bulama on the proposed NEC meeting.
Giadom, in a statement in Abuja, on Sunday, said, “The notice is not only aimed at creating mischief but it is aimed at misleading the esteemed members of the National Executive Committee and the general public.
“For the purpose of clarity and putting the issue in proper perspective. I wish to state that the decision to call for an emergency National Executive Committee meeting on March 17. 2020 was taken in strict compliance with the constitution of the party.
“It is on record that the erstwhile National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has been suspended by a court of competent jurisdiction. The two deputy national chairmen are no longer in office. The next most senior party office, should be the secretary-general of the party. But as we all know, the erstwhile national secretary in the person of Mai Mala Buni is now the executive governor of Yobe State. Hence as the acting National Secretary, I have the constitutional power to steer the activities of our great party.
“By Article 14.4 (i) of the constitution of our great party, the Deputy National Secretary is empowered to act as National Secretary in the absence of the National Secretary and all the actions taken since the emergence of Hon. Buni Mai Mala as Executive Governor of Yobe State are taken in my capacity as the acting National Secretary.
“By Article [4.3 (ii) of the constitution of the party, being the acting national secretary, l have the power to issue notices of meetings of national convention, national executive committee and the national working committee of the party.”
The acting secretary noted that Bulama, who “purportedly signed the document as the party’s National Secretary,” lacked legal footing to do so.
Some governors also commented on the crisis rocking the APC and called for caution to ensure the survival of the party.
We must abide by our constitution –Gombe gov
The Governor of Gombe State, Inuwa Yahaya, urged key actors to maintain the rule of law.
Yahaya stated this on Sunday through his Special Adviser, Communications and Strategy, Dr Anas Kubalu, in an interview with one of our correspondents.
He said the party was a legal entity, adding that everyone must be guided by the spirit of the law.
He said, “The governor’s body language is that the party should maintain the rule of law because we operate based on the rule of law. We have our constitution which states how the actions and behaviour of everyone should be. Governor Inuwa Yahaya’s prayer is that every hand must be on deck.
“Governor Yahaya will not tell anyone to resign, or continue neither will he say anyone should be appointed. He has been talking about the need for the rule of law to prevail.”
It’s is a legal issue, says Katsina APC
The Katsina State APC Publicity Secretary, Abu Danmusa, on his part, said Oshiomhole’s issue had become a legal matter and the state chapter of the party would not comment on it.
Danmusa said, “The issue of our party’s national chairman has become a legal issue. A court in Abuja said he should step down. Another court in Kano said he should continue. Since it has become a legal issue, we would not want to comment on it.”
Katsina APC yet to take definite stand on Oshiomhole –Chieftain
But an APC leader in Katsina State, Senator Abba Ali, called for caution. He said, “We should act in the best interest of our party.
“Oshiomhole is a leader who can lead a party. He is courageous and has a background of being a labour leader and two-term governor. These have increased his experience in life. But he needs to realise that he now leads those who have been ministers before; those who have been governors before and a head of state before. There are other eminent personalities in the party that he needs to be flexible and diplomatic with.”
Ali said the APC in Katsina State had not taken a definite decision on the national chairman as of Sunday.
He said, “To the best of my knowledge, as of today (Sunday), our party in the state has not taken any definite decision on the national chairman. “
Bello dismisses alleged plot against national chair
But the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, dismissed the alleged plot by some governors to remove Oshiomhole.
Bello, who spoke through the state Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Kingsley Fanwo, described the plot “a mere speculation”.
He said Bello as a party man, whose interest had always been the peace and stability of the party, would never take any action that could affect the peace and cohesion of the party.
He stated, “The list of those in support or against the national chairman is a mere speculation as no governor has come out to confirm or deny the speculation.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Osun State Governor, Ismail Omipidan, said his principal, being a member of the reconciliation committee (of the APC) would not want to comment on the issue.
Omipidan said, “Governor Oyetola is a member of the reconciliation committee, so, we will not comment on the issue because of that.”
But the Special Adviser to the Ogun state Governor, Dapo Abiodun on Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said he could not react on behalf of the governor over the crisis.
Hazzan said, “I will not want to react to the issue on behalf of the governor. The governor has the prerogative to speak on it.”
I won’t attend illegal NEC meeting –Oyo APC Chairman
The Chairman of the APC in Oyo State, Chief Akin Oke, said on Sunday that he would only follow the constitution of the party in attending a national executive council meeting convened by the chairman of the party and not by just any other person.
Oke spoke on Sunday in reaction to the proposed March 17 NEC meeting, saying he had yet to receive an invite for the said meeting of the party in Abuja.
He said, “We don’t need to pretend; we currently have crisis in the party. To call the National Executive Council meeting, the constitution is clear. As far as I am concerned, I will follow the constitution. Under our constitution in the APC, the national chairman of the party has the prerogative to call NEC meeting.
“As of today, I did not receive any invitation. If there should be an invitation at all, I would follow the constitution of the party. We want our democracy to grow and for it to grow, you will follow the constitution. If the invitation for NEC meeting were to emanate from Adams Oshiomole, who is the national chairman of the party, of course, I will honour it because he is supposed to be the convener of the meeting.”