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APC crisis festers as police cordon off secretariat again

By Leo Sobechi (Deputy Politics Editor), Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Murtala Adewale (Kano)
18 November 2021   |   3:44 am
For the second time in a space of three months, leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, invited the police to secure its national secretariat on Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja...

APC’s caretaker secretary, John Akpanudoedehe

Party scribe insists it’s a precautionary measure
• Marafa dares APC, says expulsion threat empty
• I will not leave APC for Ganduje, Shekarau vows
• Party merely postponing evil day, says Etta
• Group gives 21-day ultimatum to shut secretariat over non-payment of N12.9m advert debt

For the second time in a space of three months, leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, invited the police to secure its national secretariat on Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, to avert possible takeover by the aggrieved party faithful.

The development is coming against the backdrop of a strident call by a party chieftain from Zamfara State for the sack of Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee of the party on the ground that it has outlived its usefulness.

APC National Secretariat, Abuja yesterday


Secretary of the party’s Caretaker/Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, told journalists that the presence of the security agents was a mere proactive formality to avoid any chance occurrence, as it was nothing unusual.

There are, however, concerns that all is not well and a brewing crisis waiting to snowball may be on the offing.

On August 9, 2021, police had been deployed to the party secretariat on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling on the Ondo State governorship election, when the 4:3 split judgment, though affirmed Rotimi Akeredolu as governor, raised concerns about the competence of Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, to lead the party.

Prior to that, the secretariat had last seen the deployment of policemen last year after a court order suspended the former national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in March, barring him from assessing the office.

But Akpanudoedehe said the police were acting on security reports made available to them. “Nothing is happening. They have been there several times whenever we need to safeguard the secretariat. You are not in a position to read security reports, so you cannot ask me. If something happens now, they will say what were they doing?

“Also, we have a duty to protect the people who work here, we read security reports and I’m sure you are fully aware we have every security agency in our secretariat. There is no cause for alarm.”

On the war of words between the Governor Buni-led leadership and a chieftain of the party in Zamfara State, Senator Kabiru Marafa, over the conduct of last weekend’s ward congress in the Northwest state, which the latter dismissed as a charade, the APC national secretariat said the party would not join Marafa in what he called personal trade of words.

He said: “We are not abusive to any member of our party, we are too mature to go into a personal response. Our interest is in the general public and then the party. We are not going to go back and forth with anybody. Any information that is given out, we are duty-bound to respond by stating the fact as it is. Nobody can drag me or the party to the gutter, we are an institution.”

EARLIER, Marafa had brushed off threats by the CECPC to throw him out of the APC, saying doing so would only aggravate the problems afflicting the party.

Marafa, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, urged Buni to respect the rule of law, saying the Yobe State governor should stop deluding himself as the national chairman of the APC, declaring that he is only chairman of the party’s convention planning committee.

He dismissed threats by the caretaker committee to expel him for expressing reservations on its legality, describing it as an empty threat.

Marafa, who represented the Zamfara Central Senatorial District in the last Assembly, had on Sunday, threatened to institute legal actions against Buni’s CECPC over what he termed gross violations of the party’s constitution in the conduct of party’s affairs.

“APC is a political party, not a committee. Committees are created to serve specific functions not to usurp the powers of the entire legal entity. The function of the Buni committee is to plan a convention just as its name implies. Buni is the chairman of the APC convention planning committee and not APC itself,” Marafa said.

According to him, Section 12.3 of the APC constitution lists the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) members “and it made the National Chairman of the party and not the chairman of any committee by whatever name as the chairman of the organ while Section 12.3 (xxxi) lists the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as members only, so the question is; who approved the constitution and subsequent extensions of tenure of office of the illegal and obnoxious CECPC?”

“This is the situation we find ourselves. The Chairman of APC today is an overzealous chairman of convention planning committee only and a sitting governor,” Marafa declared.

The CECPC had in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja through its Secretary, Akpanudodehe, warned Marafa to shape up or ship out. The party threatened to wield the big stick, saying Marafa’s actions and utterances constitute insubordination and reduction of party issues to a personality contest.

Reacting to the threat, Marafa said he cannot be silenced by the caretaker committee. “Expelling me from the party will only aggravate the problem. It will herald the beginning of the agitation; rule of law must be respected.

“The committee is illegal and alien to the constitution of the party. We are building everything on nothing. Rather than the expulsion threat, the committee or the chairman should respond to issues I raised,” he said.

“What does our party constitution say that renders Buni’s committee null and void? Section 17 (4) of the constitution of our beloved party, says ‘no officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently’. Article 20 states the only way the leadership of the party can evolve.

“Mai Mala should choose between Yobe or APC. The combination of the two is no longer tenable,” Marafa added.
YESTERDAY, a chieftain of the party and member of the sacked Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), Chief Hilliard Etta, said it appears the party is merely postponing the evil day by its failure to toe the path of justice, stressing that efforts should be made to ensure that APC does not become history in 2023.

There were concerns that some aggrieved members of the party, most of whom lost out in the recent state congresses, planned to stage a mass protest at the APC headquarters, even as some stakeholders continue to pick holes in the existence of the CECPC.

As in the era of Oshiomhole, the recent state congresses organised by APC threw up parallel structures across the 36 state chapters of the party.

Amid reservations by some members of the Oshiomhole-led NWC, which was sacked by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on June 25, 2020, the CECPC has had its tenure renewed thrice.

The former APC Deputy National Vice Chairman (South), Hilliard Etta, told The Guardian that the party is troubled by its recourse to injustice. “I have said this before and I will continue to say it, if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. Injustice begets injustice; it begets violence and all matters that are uninteresting.

“I have said it over and over again, that until the Supreme Court tells me otherwise, the CECPC is an illegal contraption, unconstitutional and unlawful. That is my position and if Senator Marafa sees it the same way, it is just a case of him being true to the facts. There is no other way to describe that contraption.”

Etta said it was not correct to describe the meeting at the Presidential Villa in June last year, where the APC NWC was sacked as a meeting of the NEC of the party.

“My own position is that the so-called NEC meeting at the Presidential villa was not the NEC of the party. That is the crux of the matter. If you go to the constitution of the party, you will see how a proper APC NEC meeting is convened. That meeting at the villa was not convened in accordance with the constitution of the party.”

ALSO, the Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial district, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, yesterday, vowed to remain in the APC notwithstanding temptation and persistent persecution.

The former governor declared he would rather maintain a sound foot in APC to fix the challenges of bad leadership rocking the party than to succumb to any attempt to frustrate him out.

Speaking at the inauguration of the local consultative council (Shura Council) political structure held at his residence in Kano yesterday, Shekarau said he decided to form a faction within APC because the principles of internal democracy had been violated by the leadership of the party, led by the governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in the state.

According to Shekarau, after the 2019 elections, he had never been involved in the affairs of the party in the state, adding that even the appointment of some of his political disciples was done without his input.

Shekarau stated that he believes in leadership and tried to follow Ganduje as the leader of the party in Kano, but the way the governor was handling the party was the reason why they feel their patience had been exhausted and were compelled to look for the way forward.

Shekarau further stated that he had been “too patient” with Ganduje on how the governor had sidelined him in the party, adding, “we feel that the party had crossed the line, that is why we reacted this way to show that being patient is not cowardice.”

AS the turbulence threatening the corporate existence of APC continued, a group that called itself the concerned stakeholders of the party, last week, sued for the immediate resignation of the Buni-led CECPC.

According to Ayo Oyelowo, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on behalf of the Concerned Stakeholders, the call for the immediate dismantling of the CECPC was to pave way for a genuine reconstruction of the party.

Yesterday, another group, The Justice Group (TJG), threatened to shut down the national secretariat over the inability of the party to offset the sum of N12.9 million for the placement of advertisement in select media outfits in the country.

Led by Abdulahi Abdulahi, the group claimed that the monies were owed by the party when Oshiomhole was at the helm of affairs.

The group claimed the centre-spread advertorial, titled, “Report of the Screening Appeal Committee for Edo State Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, submitted Saturday, June 13, 2020, to the NWC at the party’s national secretariat” was published on Friday, June 19, 2020, in several newspapers.

The group claimed that the Buni-led caretaker committee turned the deaf ear to their pleas to clear the debt, a situation that has led to the sack of one of the journalists involved, while the salaries of several others have been stopped as early as January 2021.

The group stressed that its intervention became imperative when it became clear that the ruling party would rather impoverish the journalists than pay the N12.9 million debt owed media men covering its activities just the same way the party has impoverished Nigerians since coming to power.

“If the APC can be so heartless, if the APC does not even have any empathy considering the financial burden it has placed on the journalists involved, it is an indication that the party should no longer be trusted with the destiny of Nigeria and Nigerians in 2023.”

Vowing to deploy all arsenal at its disposal to ensure that the debt is paid, the group thereby gave the APC a 21-day ultimatum to pay the advert debt, failing which it will be left with no option than to shut down activities at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.