Ahead of the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the All Progressives Congress, APC, scheduled for this month, a fierce battle for the control of the soul of the ruling party has ensued between its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Working Committee, NWC, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
It is an open secret that Tinubu is determined to ensure that Oyegun is removed as the National Chairman of the party following the shift of loyalty by the latter, but recent attempts by the party leader to achieve the feat has failed woefully.
The last of such moves was during the February 27 NEC meeting. Rather than being ousted at the gathering, Oyegun, like a cat with nine lives secured a year extension of tenure for himself and the entire party structure from the local to national level at the expiration of their tenure by the end of June.
This was achieved through an overwhelming 104 to 4 votes at the NEC meeting attended by President Muhammadu Buhari; his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo; state governors and Tinubu among other party leaders. For that feat, hell was let loose, with supporters and proxies of the National Leader threatening court suits to block the tenure elongation for the party chairman and his NWC, which they claim is against the party’s and the 1999 constitution.
To beat the fresh onslaught against his continued stay as the party’s chairman, Oyegun and his exco have prepared a new strategy document to foil any court action and get the next NEC meeting to ratify the committee’s one-year extension.
According to a source involved in the counter move and a member of the NWC, any court suit against the tenure of the party’s leadership will fail because “there was no party instrument or communiqué containing the phrase ‘tenure elongation’ for the NWC.”
To further confound their ‘enemies’, the NWC will at the next meeting “present an instrument for NEC to ratify the decisions taken at the February 27 meeting, which mandated the party’s executives from the ward, local government, state and national officers to continue in acting capacity or as caretaker committees as against the choice of tenure elongation being touted by people opposed to the current leadership.”
To justify NEC’s decision to have the party’s various officers at all levels continue to act in office upon the expiration of their tenure, the strategy document states that “the NEC is presently swarming with petitions, complaints and other forms of expression of dissatisfaction received from members of the party from various Ward, Local and State chapters of the six geo-political zones of the nation.
A cursory look at these complaints shows that the strife and disaffection within the party at these different levels pose a clear and present danger of snowballing into major crises for the party if not well managed. Beyond this, intelligence reveals that some disgruntled elements within the system only await the commencement of congresses and eventual National Convention as a platform to allow all hell break loose without any form of regard to the interest of our great party.
“These discord and challenges within the party necessitated the recent moves to reconcile warring factions and aggrieved members of the party through the setting up of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Committee on Reconciliation. In order to achieve the desired reconciliation and put an end to the challenges that threaten to cause an implosion within the party, it is important to give reasonable allowance to the persons responsible with the reconciliatory efforts and avoid setting the party on a path that can only spell misfortune for it. In fact, the Reconciliation Committee ought to be allowed to finish its assignment, reconcile all aggrieved members before the commencement of congresses.”
The party leadership further believes that Article 13(3)(i) (ii) and (iv) of its constitution empowers it, to among others: “summon or convene the National Convention and prepare its agenda; discharge all functions of the National Convention as constituted in between National Conventions; consider reports from National, State and Local Government Area/Area Councils chapters of the party and take such decisions as are necessary to protect, advance and consolidate the gains and interests of the party”
As a result of these provisions, Oyegun and his strategists believe that the NWC has not breached any part of the party’s constitution and as such the NWC will not need any constitutional amendment or a National Convention to stay in office till June 2019.
It added that since there are lots of petitions and complaints for the “Reconciliation Committee of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to work on”, it is in the party’s interest “to put in abeyance the holding of the congresses and the National Convention so as to allow the members of the NEC and other Executive Committees at other levels to continue to hold their respective positions in acting capacity pending the time that the atmosphere within the party will be conducive to hold the congresses and the National Convention, but not for more than 12 months.”
“The decision taken by the NEC does not require taking any step like amending the Constitution which is a long process, organizing a congress at all levels which may lead to further breakdown of law and order and which may complicate the present situation of the party.
The decision to retain all officers at all levels to continue acting in their various capacities pending the convening of a convention allows a seamless continuity of activities within the party without any form of security breach and does not amount to tenure extension. Consequently, there is no infraction of any law. Therefore, unlike the other options, invoking Article 13.3(iv) of the party constitution appears to be best suited for protecting the interest of the party and consolidating the gains of 2015 general elections.”
The NEC decision, the party leadership notes “is analogous to setting up caretaker committees which we are all conversant with. The law, and even nature, abhors a vacuum.”
Apart from getting the reaffirmation of the last NEC decisions on the vexatious issue at the next meeting, scheduled for a yet to be confirmed convenient date for President Buhari in March, the party’s NWC will also have to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on its decisions.
When asked to react to insinuations that the NEC meeting scheduled for March was to enable the NWC amend the party’s constitution in order to validate the exco’s tenure elongation, another national officer dismissed such as idle talk.
“The coming NEC meeting has about two or three items on the agenda. One is to formally submit the Governor Nasir El-Rufai led committee report on restructuring; another is to consider the Muiz Banire led constitution review committee report, which of course has no shred of tenure elongation item in it and lastly is the reaffirmation of the NEC decisions taken at the last February 27 meeting.