APC’s ‘doctrine of necessity’ and implications on Nigeria’s democracy
The Making Of New APC By PMB, MMB
The relationship between politics and governance in a multi-party constitutional democracy is akin to the one between egg and chicken. Which comes first?
To the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), since any disturbance or turbulence in the political platform leads to dissonance in the government, politics should take precedence.
Last Thursday, June 25, 2020, the party proved true its choice by putting governance aside to settle its political problems, namely, recriminations over the national leadership.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a statement announced the postponement of the National Economic Council meeting due to APC National Executive Committee meeting scheduled same day by the party’s then controversial Acting Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom.
Incidentally on the D-day, the proceedings of the APC NEC that displaced NWC, took place in the Executive Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa.
Prior to the NEC meeting, the disputations and divisions that trailed the Appeal Court’s ratification of Oshiomhole’s suspension reared their ugly heads, creating doubts as to whether the meeting would hold, as well as, the legitimacy of such convocation.
Citing a court order that authorised him to act as National Chairman of the party, Giadom had released the notice of the NEC meeting.
He stressed that the court order also mandated him to preside over all meetings of the NWC and NEC; saying, “I hereby reconvene the NEC meeting that was earlier billed to hold on March 17, 2020, but was postponed.”
Giadom also specified that in keeping strictly with the COVID-19 guidelines, the reconvened NEC shall hold by virtual means and that “codes would be communicated to NEC members through text messages.”
But whether on account of the fact that the meeting held by virtual means or that the organisers did not want to disclose the details of the proceedings, it was not known whether Giadom presided over the NEC meeting before President Muhammadu Buhari, as the leader of the party, announced the dissolution of the APC NWC, with the demand on those that instituted litigations in court to withdraw them.
However, those for and against the NEC meeting had sustained their opposing stands until the meeting held and produced far-reaching results.
The Senator Abiola Ajimobi/Hillard Etta opponents of the NEC meeting had taken out newspaper advertorials to give constitutional stipulations that sanctioned their stance.
Warning members to disregard invitation to the meeting for the sake that the signatory of the notice, Giadom, was not a member of the NWC, the APC National Secretary, Architect Waziri Bulama, disclosed that Giadom voluntarily resigned from his former position as deputy national secretary.
Bulama stated: “The President is renowned for insisting on compliance with our constitution and rule of law. It can therefore not be true that Mr. President supports the convening of such an illegal NEC by a non-member of APC’s NWC.
“We urge all to disregard the said Notice as neither the NWC nor the NEC has called for such meeting.”
He cited an order of court that affirmed Giadom’s non-membership and barred him “from parading himself as a member of the NWC” that was granted against him on June 22, 2020 in the case of Dele Moses & Anor V APC (Suit No: PHC/360/2020).
While noting that Giadom had equally been suspended by the Rivers State Chapter of the party, which communication he said the NWC received on June 21, 2020, Bulama faulted the invitation to the NEC meeting for making copious references to the NEC meeting Giadom sought to convene on March 17, 2020 with a view to resurrecting same to hold on June 25, 2020.
Bulama stated: “This proposed NEC meeting was also infected by the same bug that rendered the former void, which is Article 25 (B) of APC Constitution, which provides: “(1) The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that less than 14 days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“(ii) Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee may summon meeting at any time, provided that an emergency of at least seven (7) days Executive notice of the Committee meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
The former national secretary contended that there was no way the invitation that was issued on June 23 for a meeting on June 24, could meet the constitutional provision, which required the National Secretary to give 14-days notice to all persons entitled to attend.
“We concede that a shorter Notice period of 7 days is allowed under our Constitution as stated in 25(b)(ii) above, however, a majority of the members of NWC must have voted to summon such a NEC meeting and that was not the case in this instance,” Bulama declared.
Emergency, Doctrine Of Necessity
In what seemed a perceived acknowledgement of the constitutional shortcomings of the abrupt NEC meeting, some stakeholders of the Legacy political parties that fused to become APC met and came out with a strong statement.
In the statement titled, “Reconvened National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting: APC’s Doctrine of Necessity,” the stakeholders welcomed the meeting with open arms and appealed to members to attend or participate virtually.
While hinging their appeal on the fact of the “collective interest of all and the survival of our great party,” the stakeholders noted, “This crucial meeting is Doctrine of Necessity and the last hope of the recovery of the soul of APC.”
Those who signed the statement were: Saliu Mustapha, Polycap Udah, Capt. Bala Jibrin, Ray Morphy, Umar Kachalla Zubair, Dr. Slyvanus Amechi, Shaba Emangi, Emeka Enechi, Charles Idahosa, Mohammed Aboki Mahmud, Prince Maxkor Shaka Momodu and Yusuf Omobeni.
They explained how they complained bitterly, wailed and lamented helplessly to see “our great party sliding dangerously down from 24 state governors in 2019 to the benefit of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“This is why PDP national Chairman, Hon. Uche Secondous gloriously hailed our suspended national Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as their oxygen supplier,” the stakeholders lamented.
The stakeholders explained that Article 13.1 of the APC constitution informed their ranking of the reconvened NEC meeting as a Doctrine of Necessity.
“Going by Article 13.1 of APC’s Constitution, NEC is the principal executive body of our party. This being the case, since politics is jaw-jaw, and negotiation is imperative for the resolution of any conflict, the meeting therefore presents a golden opportunity for us to resolve most of the intractable issues bedeviling our great party.”
They remarked further: “We restate that this is a win-win meeting, let’s take the message and leave the messenger. This is more so, when Mr. President has graciously, not only consented to the meeting, but also provided a seamless venue.
“We do not want to belabour our esteemed leaders with the truism that the deliberate ineffectiveness and utter redundancy which the NEC was rendered in the last two years, contributed immensely to the sordid scenario we found ourselves.”
They argued that if only the party’s NEC had met, the issue of all manners of culture of impunity, arbitrary appointments, waivers and unapproved party primary regulations could not have arisen, stressing that time was of the essence.
“Accordingly, we appeal that we utilise the golden opportunity provided by this doctrine of necessity to participate in the meeting without let or hindrance,” the stakeholders demanded.
Indeed, the NEC meeting made the best use of the opportunity by setting the machinery in motion to reset or recalibrate the APC structure.
Between PMB And MMB
The decision to sack the party’s NWC came out as the middle course between two dangerous variables. If Giadom had expected that his position as acting national chairman would be ratified, that would have amounted to sustaining the division in the NWC.
Even at that, if Bulama and his group expected that the NEC would upbraid Giadom and uphold their plea of constitutional breaches, they were utterly disappointed, because that would have amounted to succumbing to their intimidation and affront against the leader of the party.
On the surface, the dissolution of the NWC could appear as not conferring any special advantage to either of the factions, but the ultimate beneficiaries were the state governors.
Right from the days of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, governors elected on the APC platform had always wanted to have a strong say in what happens at the party’s headquarters.
But, for the fact that at inception, the party’s nucleus revolved around two persons – the paradoxical Buhari and phenomenal Asiwaju Bola Tinubu-all attention was trained at the supremacy battle between the newPDP tendencies and the progressives.
The failure to hold a midterm convention as stipulated by the APC constitution during Oyegun’s tenure could be traced to the fear of likely implosion and nPDP causing more havoc in the party before the 2019 poll.
And so, having succeeded in grabbing a second term, the governors recalled how one of the tendencies that formed APC was scheming for the 2023 election cycle, they decide to make a move.
The APC governors began to view the suspended national chairman with suspicion following the adoption of cloudy direct primary to punish rivals and indirect option to protect allies of a particular tendency.
Irked by the denial of a second term ticket to one of their own, Akinwunmi Ambode, as well as the electoral debacles in Zamfara and Rivers states, the governors rallied round their Edo State counterpart as he tussled with the national chairman, Oshiomhole.
Not prepared to have one of theirs disgraced without appropriate reprisals, the governors provided the idea of suspending the national chairman as a setback to his excesses.
But, as the erstwhile national chairman refused to be restrained, the suspension provided the armour that led to his eventual removal alongside his allies in the NWC.
Yet, the decision to sack the NWC was targeted at the two big masquerades behind the two camps, which were engaged in shadow boxing for ascendancy preparatory to the 2023 presidential contest.
If the making of APC in 2013 was credited to Buhari and Tinubu, five years into the government the party formed at the centre, the emergent or new APC would be formed by President Buhari and Governor Mai Mala Buni, who doubles henceforth as governor and caretaker chairman of the party.
The situation in APC after the 2019 election was compounded by schemes propelled by loyalists of Tinubu, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the former Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.
While Kyari worked underground for the possible emergence of a presidential candidate from Northeast in a joint ticket with a running mate from Southeast, Amaechi believed that power should shift to the politically disadvantaged zone, southeast, in 2023.
On his part, Asiwaju Tinubu, reflecting on the various discussions that preceded the arrangement that gave birth to APC, believes that the Southwest deserves a shot at the presidency in recognition of the zone’s contribution to the electoral triumph of President Buhari in 2015 and 2019.
At the build up to the 2019 election when Tinubu fell out with Oyegun, some APC chieftains said it was because Oyegun, as national chairman, was working against the former Lagos State governor’s interest as evidenced by the outcome of the Kogi State gubernatorial consideration in 2015.
Two years after, Oshiomhole, who replaced Oyegun got into trouble partly because party stalwarts believe that he was too inclined to doing the bidding of Tinubu, especially during the Osun and Lagos states’ gubernatorial primaries.
With the APC NEC’s sacking of the NWC, observers say that the composition of the Caretaker/Convention Planning Committee points to the emergence of a new APC.
Representatives in the committee chaired by Governor Buni (MMB), were selected from different subgroups, including women (Stella Okorete) and Physically challenged.
Other members are, Isiaka Oyetola, former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani (Southeast), Governor Sani Bello (North Central), Dr. James Lalu, Sen. Abubakar Yusuf (Senate Rep), Hon. Akinyemi Olaide (Reps), David Lyon (South-South), Abba Ari, Prof. Tahir Mamman and Ismail Ahmed.
Senator Akpan Udoedehe is to serve as Secretary, which leaves the impression that while Northwest and Southwest held sway from 2015 through 2023, Northeast and Southeast, in the thinking of Buhari, might be in focus.
The rescue of APC by President Buhari was however seen as the ultimate victory of governors elected on that platform, particularly those in their first term. They were said to have become apprehensive that Oshiomhole’s boast about party supremacy and selective adoption of the direct governorship primary, which was becoming a pattern, could hurt their second term aspiration.
The thank-you-visit by the Progressive Governors Forum to President Buhari and the appointment of Buni as caretaker chairman, underscored that point.
Speaking to State House reporters shortly after, the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Senator Atiku Bagudu, said, “the governors were at the State House to appreciate the President for intervening in the leadership crisis rocking the party.”
On the threat by some of the dissolved NWC members to challenge the dissolution in court, Bagudu dismissed it as an empty threat created by the media.
His words: “The media say a lot of things, but Mr. President was very clear that he received due legal advice and remember, before the 2019 primaries, Mr. President demonstrated to everyone that he will never sacrifice due process for expediency.
“Even when it was convenient to extend tenure of the previous executives (led by Oyegun), to avoid a convention and primary at the same time, Mr. President refused, saying, no matter how tough it is, we were going to do the proper and legitimate thing.”
Criticisms, Implications On Democracy
Nonetheless, although a cross section of party faithful saw the sacking of the APC NWC as a saving grace, the process and venue of the NEC meeting have continued to elicit criticisms.
First to pounce on the measures adopted by the APC NEC was the opposition PDP, which claimed that not only was the meeting held in a strange location, its decisions were also strange to the APC constitution.
Special Adviser to the PDP National Chairman, Secondus, on Strategic Communication, Mr. Osita Chidoka, in a statement said the entire proceeding, for which President Buhari was being commended by the governors was undemocratic.
PDP said: “Today, the All Progressives Congress National Working Committee organized a strange meeting in a strange location, Federal Executive Council Chamber and took a strange decision not known to the APC constitution to wit: dissolution of NWC.
“The Party also set up a strange body called a caretaker committee, sworn in by a strange person, Attorney General of the Federation, who by APC constitution is not allowed to hold a party position.
“The APC constitution provides in Article 18(iv) “No officer in any organ of the Party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently.”
The opposition party remarked that the word dissolution is not in the APC constitution, stressing that the action of dissolution is unlawful and illegal.
“Dissolving elected party administrators in a wrongly constituted meeting is a coup against the constitution of the party,” PDP noted, noting, “the Caretaker Committee membership is also a violation of the Article 18(iv), which forbids an elected governor from holding a party position.”
Further, the opposition party disclosed that this “illegal appointment and oath administered to the governor of Yobe is a violation of his oath of office as governor and a gross abuse of his office as governor. He should resign and rescind that oath immediately.”
Also, a former National Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Lai Olurode, demanded that parties should keep to their constitutions.
Olurode added that “obedience to party’s constitution in the context of re-socialization along ethical politics can alter political behaviour for good as it can abort political alienation and oligarchy within parties.”
The professor of Sociology and Anthropology in the University of Lagos declared: “Rather than having constitutions that would be honoured in the breach, it’s better for political parties to remain arbitrary and resort to recklessness in decision taking.”
He called for the retirement of all godfathers and moneybags, saying they are obsessed with acts of impunity and lack respect for internal party democracy.
“There is much deficit of trust and integrity in political parties. Floor members’ voices had since been drowned. Genuine love of ideology and principles are gone. Preference aggregation sacrificed.
“Most party leaders across board are their own grave diggers. Hence, the flourishing of the Slaughter’s Slab as a Metaphor,” he stated.
Now that the APC governors have gotten what they had always wanted, the question, which they (governors) could only answer is, what becomes of governance as succession and 2023 politics would dominate their time henceforth?