The tale of two estranged APC, PDP spokespersons
IT is no longer news that the deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Timi Frank is not in good terms with the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led national executive over the alleged usurpation of his role as the spokesperson of the party.
Frank’s counterpart in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Abdullahi Jalo is also unhappy with his immediate boss, Mr. Olisa Metuh over sundry issues relating to the way and manner the party was administered.
There could be more to the rant by Frank and Jalo than meet the eye. The duo may have been aggrieved due to the fact that they had been sidelined by both Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Metuh who took charge of the publicity of their respective political parties in the build up to the last 2015 general elections.
Since the appointment of Mohammed as Information minister, the APC has openly blocked Frank from speaking on behalf of the party on various issues of national importance. Oyegun made no pretenses on the issue saying issues relating to the party can only be addressed by himself or the national secretary of the party, Malam Mai Mala Buni.
Acknowledging that the party was feeling the exit of Mohammed, he noted: “ I will start by saying who does not speak for the party, the person you are talking about (Timi) does not speak for the party. Secondly, if there are any issues that need clarification for now, pending when we have a substantive publicity secretary, the national secretary will do so for the party and also when I speak, I speak for the party. It is as simple as that.
“Lai Mohammed exit was a great loss to the Executive but he’s still within the system. He was truly very special and unique but as we speak, the National Secretary of the party has largely on temporary basis taking up the job of communication to the press and myself (as the Chairman) is always available to any enquiry.”
Frank who is piqued with the development insisted that with the exit of Mohammed from the scene, he remains the spokesperson of the party based on the dictates of the constitution of the party.
Said he: “Our party constitution is very clear, today I am the spokesperson of the party, I’m the acting spokesperson of the party I can tell you without fear or favour that when the substantive person in the office of the national chairman or the national secretary or anybody that is not there, the deputy takes over automatically.
“This is the principle of the party constitution. We have this also existing today in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) you could see that when Muazu was not there Secondus became the acting chairman of the party, so there is no difference, Lai Mohammad is not there so automatically I am the acting spokesperson of this party, so I can tell you without fear or favour.
“Any other person issuing a statement on behalf of the party is doing that maybe on a personal capacity but constitutionally I am the acting spokesperson of the party. It is not something I need to lobby for, it is something meant to be the trend and I stand by it.”
A youth group under the aegis of Youth for Change (YC) which put up a strong case for Frank recently threatened that if nothing favourable was done, it would have no option than to mobilise Nigerian youths across the country against the party leadership in a massive protest.
A statement signed by its national coordinator, Mr. Adamu Muhammad particularly expressed disappointment in the leadership of APC for running modern democratic government without any youth in the cabinet.
Its reads: “We are shocked at Chief Oyegun’s act of breaching our party’s constitution and exhibiting this undemocratic act under democratic government by arrogating the role of the party publicity secretary to himself, thereby denying Comrade Timi Frank, who is constitutionally recognised as the spokesperson, in the absence of the National Publicity Secretary.
“We have waited for long before reacting to this development thinking that all well-meaning APC leaders will call the national chairman to order but we have come to realisation that this anti-youth thinking is a grand plan of some selfish leaders of our great party.
“Section 14, sub-section 11 of APC constitution clearly states: “the deputy national publicity Secretary shall assist and deputise for the national publicity secretary in his absence. “We are asking Oyegun to tell Nigerians where he derives power to stop another officer from performing his constitutional duties?
“At this juncture, we cannot continue to fold our arms while the only representative of real youths in APC leadership is denied his constitutional right to assume the office acting National Publicity Secretary. Our NWC should get ready for the wrath of young men and women if in the next seven days Comrade Timi Frank is not reinstated to his rightful position in APC.
“We shall not only mobilise Nigerian youth against the party, the national secretariat of our party will be hot, through our massive protest for anyone stopping Timi Frank,” the statement said.
The youth group also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and other national leaders of APC to call the national chairman, Chief Oyegun and the national secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni to order and respect the party laws.
Signs that all was not well with Frank and the executive members of the party came to the fore in the build up to the election of the leadership of the National Assembly. While Frank voiced his support for the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President, and Mr Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the APC executive members stuck to their guns on the need to have Dr. Ahmed Lawan and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to oversee the upper and lower legislative Chambers respectively.
The situation was further compounded earlier in the year when both Buni and Frank issued out conflicting statements on behalf of the party over the Kogi governorship debacle engendered by the sudden demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC governorship candidate in the November 21 election.
The Baylesa born Frank who is a staunch supporter of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar , was among the vociferous chieftains of the party who worked vigorously to ensure the defeat of the PDP in the last general elections. He is yet to carry out his threat to drag the APC executive members to court as part of effort to enable him carry out his duties on behalf of the party.
As things stand, not much could be achieved in the party’s bid to make peace with Frank as a three-member committee headed by the APC national vice chairman (South), Mr. Segun Oni is yet to achieve the objective. On going moves by the party to fill vacant positions like the national vice chairman (North east) formerly occupied by the secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF) and that of the national publicity secretary of the party at a convention to hold in a few weeks time could provide the panacea to the problem.
Similarly, the deputy national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abdullahi Jalo, wants Olisa Metuh, the party’s spokesman, to quit office based on the allegations of fraud leveled against him.
Metuh has been named among the beneficiaries of the $2.1 billion meant for arms procurement but was allegedly diverted to the campaign of the PDP, an allegation he has denied.
But in a joint statement issued recently, Jalo alongside Okey Nnaedozie, PDP’s Deputy National Organising Secretary; Dennis Alonge-Niyi, deputy national youth leader; and Bashir Maidugu, deputy national legal adviser; accused the PDP top officials currently undergoing trial of “dragging the name of the party in the mud”.
“We hereby strongly dissociate the Peoples Democratic Party from the ongoing trials of Dr. Bello Halliru Mohammed, and Chief Olisa Metuh on various charges by the anti-graft agencies. They are said to have received funds using accounts of their private companies without the knowledge and instructions of any organ of the party.”
The four deputies in the PDP executive are deeply involved in the leadership crisis that is presently rocking the party.