Eighteen (18) of the National Working Committee members, NWC of the All Progressives Congress, APC, loyal to the party’s sacked National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday, insisted that the APC National Executive Committee meeting attended by the President Muhammadu Buhari, was illegal.
The NWC members, who said this in a statement signed by the acting National Chairman, Hillard Eta, and the acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, stated that they were consulting their lawyers and other stakeholders on the dissolution of the NWC and other decisions taken at the NEC meeting on Thursday.
They insisted that the NEC meeting was illegally convened by the suspended Deputy National Secretary of the party, Victor Giadom.
A few hours after the NWC was dissolved at the instance of Buhari, the 18 members dared the President and others at the NEC meeting by issuing a statement where they referred to themselves as officials of the party.
Before the end of the virtual NEC meeting, which began at noon on Thursday at the State House Abuja, Buhari’s social media aide, Bashir Ahmad, in his Twitter handle, said the dissolution of the NWC was based on the recommendation of the President.
He wrote, “Following the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress has been dissolved. Details to come…”
At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu, in an interview with State House correspondents, confirmed that the NWC had been dissolved.
He was joined by other state governors elected on the platform of the party, when he disclosed this to journalists.
He also disclosed that the party had set up a national caretaker committee headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Other members of the caretaker committee are the Osun State Governor, Isiaka Oyetola, representing the South-West; a former Senate President Ken Nnamani, (South-East), Stella Okorete (women representative), Niger State Governor, Sani Bello (North-Central); Dr James Lalu (the physically challenged), Senator Abubakar Yusuf(Senatè), Akinyemi Olaide (House of Representative), David Leon (South-South), Abba Ari (North-West), Prof Tahir Mamman (North-East) Ismail Ahmed (Youth) and Senator Akpan Udoedehe (Secretary).
Bagudu, who is also the Kebbi State governor, said with all the decisions taken at the meeting all issues confronting the party had been laid to rest.
Narrating what transpired at the meeting held behind closed doors at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Bagudu said Buhari in his opening remarks at the meeting called for the dissolution of the party’s NWC.
With the dissolution, he said NEC resolved to put in place a caretaker committee which would at the same time serves as convention planning committee.
He said, “Membership of the caretaker committee were proposed and approved by NEC of our party.
“The Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was charged with the burden of leading the caretaker and convention planning committee.”
Bagudu said NEC also ratified the recent processes leading to the emergence of Pastor Ize Iyamu as the party’s governorship candidate in Edo State.
He stated, “The meeting ratified all decisions that have been taken in Edo State primary election and the screening committee and a name will be forwarded properly to INEC.”
Caretaker chairman promises justice for all party members
Buni, in his first press interview after emerging the party’s caretaker committee chairman, promised to ensure justice for all party members.
Having served as the party’s national secretary, the governor said he knew the party well enough to do what is right.
He said, “As a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well.
“My plan is all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice, there won’t be peace and it is all about team play.
“I am a team player. I have a capable team that will work with me. If you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you. So, I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth.”
Commenting on the process of convening the NEC meeting, Bunu said the process was “a continuation of the last notice that was issued and we said we had adjourned and now it’s a continuation of the last adjourned NEC meeting. All the notices were issued accordingly, so in no way are we in any aberration.”
Decisions not meant to whittle down Tinubu’s influence
Answering a question on the belief that the latest developments in the party were designed to whittle down the influence of the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, the governor said there was no truth in the claim.
He stated, “You mentioned the name of one of our leaders, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is a founding father of this party.
“We are all together to rescue this party. Nobody is happy with the situation under which the party is now operating because we are in courts for various problems and crises.
“So, this decision was taken by NEC to address some of these issues. Nobody is targeted and they are against nobody.”
Bunu said his committee would work for duration of six months within which “we will do whatever we can as enshrined in our constitution and ensure that we strengthen the party and cap it up with the convention.”
On the crises rocking the party across the states, Bunu said, “NEC is the highest organ of the party if not convention and by our constitution, NEC can act for convention in-between.
“Whatever that happened during the last NWC culminating in Edo primaries has already been ratified by NEC. So, we are good to go. All litigation will be withdrawn.”
Shortly after the appointment of Bunu was announced, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), inaugurated him.
The meeting also had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and state governors elected on the platform of the party.
Others in attendance are National Deputy Chairman, Lawal Shuaibu; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase; the House majority leader, Hassan Dogowa; and the Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha.
State governors that attended included those of Nasarawa, Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Plateau, Kogi, Imo, Gombe, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Kwara, Ekiti, Kano and Kebbi.
Giadom was the first to arrive for the meeting as he was sighted at the venue as early as 8.30am alongside the former National Deputy Chairman-North, Lawal Shuaibu.
Apart from those present at the Presidential Villa, some other NEC members participated virtually in accordance with the protocols of COVID-19, which promote social distancing.
NWC members loyal to Oshiomhole fault Buhari, NEC
Faulting the NEC meeting, the pro-Oshiomhole NWC members in their press statement, stated, “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress wishes to reiterate its earlier position that Chief Victor Giadom has no authority whatsoever to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee of our great party.
“Article 25(B) of the constitution of the APC is explicit that only the National Chairman or the National Working Committee is given the prerogative of summoning meetings of the National Executive Committee of the party either for statutory quarterly meetings or for emergency meetings. The same provision of the constitution makes it compulsory for a notice of minimum of 14 days in respect of statutory quarterly meetings and seven days in respect of emergency meetings.
“We note that Chief Victor Giadom had convened and conducted a virtual meeting purportedly to be a National Executive Committee meeting of our party wherein certain far-reaching resolutions were purportedly reached. While the National Working Committee is studying the unfolding drama, it will be consulting with stakeholders and team of lawyers on the next line of action
“Therefore, all members of our great party and concerned Nigerians are urged to remain calm pending the outcome of the consultations.”
According to Eta and Bulama, other NWC members who were “part of this press statement” include the National Vice Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Vice Chairman (South-West) Pastor Bankole Oluwajana, and the National Vice Chairman, (North-Central), Alhaji Ahmed Wambal.
But the forum of state chairmen of the APC applauded the President and members of the party’s NEC for dissolving the NWC.
Spokesperson for the group, Mallam Lawal Liman, who is also the Zamfara State Chairman of the APC, said, “We have said the APC is a strong party because we have a strong leader and the NEC has finally taken a decision which we are confident about.
“We believe all the NEC members are happy with the decision because when the leader of the party was giving his speech, many things were listed, some of us were nervous, we were touched that whoever has this party at heart will be happy about this decision.”
Earlier, armed officers and men from the Federal Capital Territory Police Command sealed the main entrance of the APC national secretariat. Two patrol vehicles were parked strategically in front of the main entrance. Staff, journalists and visitors to the secretariat were politely turned back.
At about 10.38am, operatives of the Department of State Services all dressed in black outfits rode 10 motorcycles and a patrol car in what was apparently a show of force.
Bulama, who arrived at the secretariat at about 10: 50am in a black Toyota Land Cruiser Sports Utility Vehicle with registration number Abuja, Abj-140DN, was equally denied entry.
He stepped out of his vehicle and asked for the leader of the team after which he called the FCT Commissioner of Police.
In a brief interview with reporters shortly afterwards, Bulama said, “I came here this morning to resume work and met policemen who said they had instructions from above to seal the secretariat. I have called the commissioner of police and he said he would send a senior officer to see what is happening. The workers of the secretariat are servicing over 16 million members of this party across Nigeria.”
He explained that he didn’t attend the NEC called by Giadom because it was not convened in accordance with the party constitution. The police later withdrew their men from the secretariat.
The APC crisis worsened on Tuesday last week when the Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld Oshiomhole’s suspension by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The judgment divided the party as 17 NWC members loyal to Oshiomhole appointed a former Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, as the acting chairman, while Giadom, who cited the Abuja court judgment, declared himself for the same position.
On Tuesday, Giadom convened the NEC meeting which was held on Thursday.
The crisis took a fresh turn on Wednesday when Buhari declared his support for Giadom and said he would attend the NEC meeting.
The pro-Oshiomhole NWC members faulted the President, saying he was blackmailed to take the decision. They said they would not attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, Buni on Thursday wrote the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The letter with reference number: APC/NHDO/INEC/19/020/013 titled “notice of conduct of primaries” which was also signed by Buni and Udoedeghe, read in part, “Please be informed that we have scheduled to hold our party’s primary election in respect of Ondo State governorship election on 20th July, 2020. Kindly arrange the monitoring of the exercise accordingly.”
The letter was in response to an earlier decision by INEC to reject an earlier letter written to it on the subject where only Bulama signed.