Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) on Monday granted resignation waivers to the National Working Committee (NWC) and other executive officers of the party at state and ward levels in order to remain in office and re-contest.
The APC constitution had stipulated that any officer wishing to re-contest a party position must first resign 30 days prior to the expiration of his or her tenure.
According to the party constitution: “No person shall be eligible to contest for any party position, or be nominated by the party to be its candidate at any election, if the person is not a member of the party.
“All nominations into elective offices shall be supported by a specified number of nominators from the relevant Constituencies as may be prescribed or provided for in the Party’s Electoral Guidelines.
“Any Party office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or Party primary for the Office he or she is seeking to contest.”
Dwelling specifically on the waivers, the constitution stipulates that, subject to the approval of the NEC, the NWC may in special circumstances, grant a waiver to a person not otherwise qualified under Article 31(1) of this Constitution if, in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party.
Stating the conditions for granting waivers, the constitution further noted: “A person may be granted a waiver only on condition that he or she has not been convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction for any criminal offence.
“He or she has applied for waiver in writing to the National Working Committee of the Party through his/her appropriate Ward, Local Government Area/Area Council, State, Federal Capital Territory and Zonal Committee. He or she has signed an undertaking to uphold and implement the manifesto of the Party in the event of winning the election.”
Confirming the position of NEC on the resignation waivers granted the national and state officers, the Governor of Plateau state, Simon Lalong, said that the decision was to accommodate every aggrieved member of the party.
“We arrived at the point that it is constitutional valid to conduct congresses, but if in conducting the congresses certain available provisions of the constitution were not going to be fulfilled, it means that some people will be disenfranchised,” Lalong explained.
“We spoke about the 21-days notice and requirements of Article 31 and came to the conclusion that if these provisions are taken care of, then there was no need for anybody to say we cannot conduct congresses within the available space that we have.
“Everybody was carried along and everybody’s interest was considered in this report. It was unanimous… Since the tenure of some ward chairmen has expired, the NEC has accepted that the provision of the constitution that people must resign 30 days before re-contesting, should be waived. So they don’t need to resign their positions before they re-contest their position,” he explained.
Meanwhile, national chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has pleaded with the party faithful to eschew bitterness and personal interests.
“We are looking for ways to minimize rancor in the party ahead of the next general elections, and we are looking for ways to save the party from potential legal booby traps. These are both valid considerations. The challenge that we have faced has been how to reconcile the two in the best interest of the party,” Oyegun said.
“On a personal note, I have had to endure virulent media attacks, malicious insinuations and outright character assassination. However, the responsibility imposed on me by my position as the National Chairman of the party, demand that I rise above my personal pains and refuse to yield to the temptation to react in a manner that potentially complicates the situation for our party.
“However, I will like to urge everyone else to remember that regardless of our ambitions and personal interests, the party is greater than all of us. The experience of the last few days has made clear to us the enormous task in our hands as we go into the elections next year.
“If the progressive ideology that we stand for must be an enduring political order in Nigeria, we who occupy this space now, as founding fathers, must be willing to make real sacrifices to lay a solid foundation for generations to come. These sacrifices require of us to discipline our personal ambitions and selfish interests.
“If we do this, it would be easier for us to forge consensus and reach compromise, even on issues that appear to divide us. I must say that disagreements, debates and contentions are the hallmarks of progressive politics. Therefore, let no one tell you that our party was about to collapse only because we disagree.
“Our strength however will continue to rest on our ability to forge consensus, even from apparently irreconcilable issues. If anything, what our experience in the last few days has confirmed is that we can disagree without being disagreeable; and that our party may be young, but we remain the bastion of progressive politics in Nigeria,” the party leader noted.