The leadership crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) has deepened following President Muhammadu Buhari\s directive that the tenure elongation granted Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other National and State Executive officers of the APC should be reversed.
Giving the directive at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting (NEC) yesterday, Buhari described the elongation of their tenure by one year as unconstitutional , but in a swift reaction, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party rejects the directive of the President, insisting that the decision to extend the tenure stands.
Reacting to the directive of the President, the National Executive Committee (NEC) said it is yet to take a final decision on President Buhari’s call for a reversal of its earlier stance on tenure of party officials.
The NEC on February 27, 2018 extended the tenure of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) by one year, amidst dissention from party bigwigs like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Senate President, Bukola Saraki were absent at the NEC meeting.
Although those who absented themselves from the meeting have kept mum, an aide to Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, yesterday said the APC chieftain did not attend the party caucus meeting because he had another event organised to mark his birthday.
Tinubu had complained against the decision, saying that it infringed on the rights of other APC members to seek to occupy elective offices across all tiers.
Addressing journalists at the end of the NEC meeting, Bolaji Abdullahi, the party’s spokesperson, said the NEC has set up a small technical committee to advise the party on the matter.
He said the committee is expected to submit its recommendations on or before today.
Pending that time, however, he said the last decision to extend the tenure remains.
“Members of NEC thanked the president for his graciousness. Of course we had a situation because we recall that after the last NEC and this decision was taken some members felt aggreieved and they went to court.
“Of course you know that any issue that goes to court is sub-judicial. Then that also presented its own complications so the NEC decided to set up a small team that will advise the party on the way forward.
“At the moment there is no decision taken. So the position of NEC still stands from the last meeting. There is a technical committee at the moment that is looking at it. That position may change tomorrow but as it is today that is the position of NEC”.
Buhari had told the National Executive Committee meeting of the party in Abuja, yesterday, that he had reflected on the elongation and also sought advice, and had come to the conclusion that it was unconstitutional.
Nuhari said, “This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeing, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
“I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution. And what i foud is that it contravenes both our party Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC Constitution, in Article 17 (1) and 13.2(B), limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), in Section 223, also prescribes periodic elections for party executives at regular intervals, which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our party Constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another post must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.The APC had in its NEC meeting on February 27, 2018, extended the tenure of members of National Working Committee (NWC) led by John Odigie-Oyegun by one year.
Speaking, yesterday, Buhari said, “This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
Buhari said he was optimistic that the on-going meeting would provide an avenue to resolve the outstanding issues and consolidate plans towards making APC stronger.
The president explained, however, that it was expected that a fresh elections be conducted once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end.
“A caretaker committee cannot remedy this situation, and cannot validly act in place of elected officers.
“Furthermore, I think if we deviate from the constitutional provisions, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party. If the tenure of our party executives can be legally faulted, then it means that any nominations and primary elections that they may conduct can also be faulted.
“This is not to talk of divisions that would arise, and is already arising within the party, when some of our members feel that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions, or that internal democracy is not at play within the party.
“I am therefore of the firm view that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and national constitutions, rather than put APC and its activities at grave risk.’’
He said that a timetable had already been approved for the holding of congresses and elections.
“I think these should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should now be geared towards making them a great success,’ Buhari added.
Meanwhile, over 2,500 supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Etche Ward 3 in Rivers State have dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The defectors, including men and women, said that the decision to dump their party for the PDP was to ensure that Governor Nyesom Wike returned to Government House in 2019 to continue with his people-oriented projects.
Receiving the decampees, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Engr Samuel Nwanosike thanked them for making the right choice, stressing that the party will give them all the privileges accorded to old members.
Nwanosike charged them to work for the victory of the governor and the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019.
Meanwhile, the former chairman of the APC in Etche Local Government Area, Chief Musa Elekwa has backed the state government’s Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law.
Elekwa, who expressed his support in an interview with newsmen at the event, said that the law will bring peace to the state.
The former Etche APC chairman said that the defection of the APC card-carrying members also marked the end of the party in Igbo-Etche Ward 3.
Also, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Igbo-Etche Ward 3, Chetuchi Owume said that with a stronger PDP, the party will take the over 60,000 votes in the area in the 2019 elections.