Saturday, 23rd September 2023

Crack widens in APC over alleged misuse of N30b, zoning concerns

By Seye Olumide (Lagos) and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
20 April 2023   |   4:22 am
The political landscape is not bereft of high-powered drama. From one party to the other, the infractions have been intriguing and melodramatic. Two days ago, it was the Labour Party.

[FILES] Abdullahi Adamu (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

• Vice chair gives Adamu seven-day ultimatum to summon NEC meeting, threatens to drag chairman to court
• No crack in APC or plans to remove Adamu, says Kekemeke

The political landscape is not bereft of high-powered drama. From one party to the other, the infractions have been intriguing and melodramatic. Two days ago, it was the Labour Party. Just as it happened some months ago with the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cracks in the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, widened after a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, Dr. Salihu Lukman, gave a one-week ultimatum to the national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to render account on how he used over N30 billion of the party’s fund.

In September, last year, some NWC members of PDP had written to the party’s erstwhile chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, informing him of their decision to return the housing allowance paid into their accounts. The party’s crisis continued even after the general elections, culminating in Ayu’s removal from office last month in deference to a court order.

In similar vein, signs that the centre may no longer hold for long in the ruling party emerged yesterday when Lukman, who is the National Vice Chairman (Northwest), in an open letter to Adamu titled: ‘Restoring Constitutional Order in APC – Not Negotiable,’ claimed that mismanagement of over N30 billion were proceeds from the sale of nomination forms to aspirants that vied for various elective seats in the recently held general elections.

According to him, it was embarrassing that after one year in office, Adamu is yet to have a regular National Executive Council (NEC), National Caucus or National Advisory Council (NAC) meetings.

He further alleged that the functions of the aforementioned organs and the decisions expected from them based on the Constitution of the party had been usurped by Adamu, in consultation with the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, adding that the duo of Adamu and Omisore were running the APC NWC like their personal estate.

The Kaduna-born politician said he finds it very difficult to comprehend why APC is not holding meetings of party organs to facilitate smooth transition from the current government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the incoming administration of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He alleged: “As a member of NWC, we have never had any session where we were invited to consider any report of activity in the last one year. Yet, Article 13.4(ii) of our Constitution require that the NWC submit quarterly reports to NEC. We have never deliberated on any financial report even when Article 13.4(iv) require that we present quarterly financial reports to NEC. We have never deliberated on a national budget although Article 13.3A(xiv) require that we present one to NEC and get approval.

“Perhaps, inability to hold quarterly NEC meetings as provided under Article 25.2(i) of the party’s constitution may be the excuse for not having quarterly reports of activities, quarterly financial reports, and national budgets

“With respect to national budget, the closest we came to was when the April 8, 2022 NEC approved the cost for nomination forms for 2022 elections. No proposed expenditure of any kind was presented to any organ of the party apart from the budget for the June 2022 National Convention, which was presented to the NWC on the eve of the June 2022 National Convention.

“Similarly, no report has been rendered to any organ, including the NWC about any revenue received by the party. It is, however, speculated in the media that the party was able to generate over N30 billion from sales of nomination forms to aspiring candidates for the 2023 elections. Our state structures and other lower organs, which statutorily are entitled to shares of the party’s revenue were given very negligible amounts without allowing any organ of the party, including the NWC to make input into what was paid to the states.

“Large scale financial expenditure is being undertaken without any organ of the party, including the NWC not being allowed to perform any form of statutory due diligence. The National Secretariat has been undergoing large-scale renovation and both the costs and details of the contract are not provided to any organ of the party, including the NWC.

“Apart from very clearly unambiguous constitutional directives to the NWC with respect to our responsibilities to NEC and other superior organs, there are other functions such as requirement for electoral guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections for party offices at all levels as provided under Article 13.4(vi) of our constitution.

“This is a responsibility given to NEC, and given the outcome of the 2023 elections, which gave us majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, it is required that NWC develop proposals for the consideration and approval of NEC.”

With about six weeks to the inauguration of the new government, there is no indication that any proposal is being developed. In fact, no indication that a NEC meeting is being contemplated before May 29, 2023.

“Therefore, by this open letter, I am serving you notice of one week from today, being April 19, to take all the appropriate steps required to convene a NEC meeting before May 29, wherein all the issues bordering on the management of smooth transition between the outgoing government of President Buhari and the incoming government of Tinubu can be considered.

“If by the end of this one-week notice, no action is taken to convene a NEC meeting as the first step to restore constitutional order in APC, I will not hesitate to take further actions, including approaching our courts to enforce compliance with the provisions of our party’s Constitution under your leadership. This is not negotiable!”

Efforts to get the reaction of Adamu failed to yield any result. Also, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, was yesterday evasive and declined to comment on the leadership crisis rocking the party.

HOWEVER, the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) of APC, Isaac Kekemeke, said the position of Lukman does not indicate any form of crack in the party’s NWC. He also dismissed insinuations that the party is planning to remove the national chairman based on Lukman’s observations.

He said: “Let me say that Lukman is my very good friend, and he has contributed seriously to the growth of this party as a progressive institution. I also respect him as an activist politician and a defender of what he believes in. I do not agree that our internal challenges cannot be resolved internally.

“There is no crack in the NWC. The committee is composed of knowledgeable people, and we may not be thinking the same way. We are not supposed to be unanimous in our perspective in the way you imagine.

“Those who created the body did so with the aim to bring together people who will disagree to agree. It is normal for people to think differently just like Lukman did, but by the time we will meet, the majority will have their way.”

On the zoning of principal offices of the National Assembly, Kekemeke said: “The zoning of the National Assembly offices is something very technical and we need to pay attention to it because there are many critical stakeholders. We have the president-elect and vice president-elect, who are going to work with the lawmakers. We also have the National Assembly members themselves and we have the Progressives governors. The zoning of the principal officers of the National Assembly is not what the NWC alone can do or should do or will be allowed to do. I am aware that some background consultations are ongoing and in due course, a meeting will be called to address this.”