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APC warned of ‘bigger crisis’, ahead tomorrow’s NEC meeting

By Seye Olumide (Lagos), Adamu Abuh (Abuja), Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) and Emmanuel Ande (Yola) 
08 April 2018   |   4:30 am
The Adamawa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned that the proposed convention could jeopardise the chances of the party at next year’s general elections.

President Muhammadu Buhari and APC chieftain Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the State House Abuja. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Akande Flays Oyegun Over ‘Worst Case Of Corruption’

The Adamawa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned that the proposed convention could jeopardise the chances of the party at next year’s general elections.

The warning came as the National Executive Council (NEC) prepares to hold a meeting tomorrow, where it is widely expected to reverse itself on the tenure elongation it proposed for the National Working Committee (NWC), opting instead to hold congresses.

The organising secretary, Alhaji Ahmed Lawan, said in Yola, yesterday: “We in Adamawa are not against the decision of the NEC to conduct a fresh convention. It is a constitutional provision. But my advice is that the members of NEC should use wisdom in handling the issue because there are deep potholes along the road that may cause political accident for our party. I advise them to be very careful, in order not to push our party into a bigger crisis ahead of the general elections.”

The Guardian reliably gathered, yesterday, that the leaderships of the party, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari and others including governors, have come to terms with the legal implications of the extension.

It was said that the elongation of tenure would not fly tomorrow because it would damage further the popularity of the party and the government, and undermine due process. It would also contradict both the APC and the federal constitutions.

The need to attend tomorrow’s strategic meeting might have compelled Buhari to change his travel schedule. What remains unclear, however, is whether the governors and other stakeholders, whose political future depend on the outcome of planned congresses, would align with the president’s alleged position to sacrifice incumbent National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun for the peace, integrity and progress of the APC.

The technical committee headed by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, tasked with advising the NEC on the tenure issue, submitted its report in Abuja on Friday. The content of the report, which remains unknown, will be tabled at the meeting.

There are speculations the committee recommended that NEC reverse itself while the party holds a national convention for the election of new officers.

A top NEC member told The Guardian, yesterday, that it was true every member of the party, including Buhari, have seen the serious implications of the tenure elongation and that nobody was averse to its reversal. He, however, added: “If anybody tells you that this or that is the content of the report of the technical committee, such a person is only speculating.”

It is believed tomorrow’s meeting will be a battle between forces loyal to former Lagos State governor and National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and persons loyal to Oyegun. Also, if Tinubu loyalists prevail and congresses hold, Oyegun and some principal officers including the National Legal Adviser Dr. Muiz Banire, the National Publicity Secretary Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, Chairman Lagos State APC Otunba Oladele Ajomale and others, who allegedly played roles in the tenure elongation controversy, may not be re-elected.

Mr. Fouad Oki, convener of Broom United Movement (BUM) dismissed speculations that the opposition to the elongation of tenure has anything to do with personal issues between Tinubu and Oyegun, and that the reversal of the decision was not a presidential order by Buhari.

“It is only the NEC, of which President Buhari is a member, that has the power to reverse itself, not even the technical committee. The legality and illegality of the tenure elongation is also the paramount factor that determines the enormity of resistance, and not about two individuals in the party.”

Citing Article 17 of the party’s constitution on Tenure of Office, Oki said: “All officers of the party elected or appointed into the party’s organs shall serve in such organs for a period of four years and shall be eligible for re-election or re-appointment for another period of four years only. No member shall serve in the same office for more than eight years continuously. By virtue of this provision, Oyegun and any of the officers can still stand for re-election.

“This is considering the fact that as former members of the NWC, they were also automatic delegates to the convention. It is, therefore, wrong to say Oyegun or any of the incumbent members of NWC cannot return or be re-elected. It depends on what happens at the convention.”

Former Interim National Chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, meanwhile, has alleged that Oyegun is the brain behind the tenure extension, saying he went about coaxing people to facilitate it. He described the elongation as the worst case of corruption in the world, wondering why a leader would refuse to step down at the end of his tenure.

Pundits believe Buhari’s belated position on the issue was a deft move aimed at securing the support of Tinubu, who could muster decisive South West votes for his re-election.

Tinubu, who has never hid his disdain for the Oyegun-led NWC, described Buhari’s position on the matter as straightforward. He was quoted as saying: “President Buhari’s action saved the party from a serious legal turmoil. If the elongations were deemed illegal, then all subsequent party actions, including the nomination of all of our candidates for elective offices, might also be of questionable legality. Such a predicament would constitute an unnecessary and a mortal blow to the party and its role in promoting progressive governance in Nigeria.”