Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hilliard Eta, has insisted that inasmuch as the ruling party would have loved to convene an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to resolve the myriad of crises rocking the party, the violation of COVID-19 pandemic protocols prohibiting public gathering has made it impossible.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the APC National Vice Chairman (South-South) also dismissed claims by former Deputy National Secretary Victor Giadom that he was given a waiver to contest in the 2019 Rivers State governorship election, insisting that Giadom was no longer a member of the National Working Committee (NWC), having resigned.
Responding to the clamour from party members to convene an NEC meeting, Eta replied: ‘It is at the root of all of the controversies; if there must be a permanent resolution to the mirage of controversies, then we must hold an NEC meeting. The NEC meeting is a statutory requirement of our constitution.
‘I do not believe that there is anybody afraid or scared of convening an NEC meeting. I think what has been militating against constituting an NEC meeting in the recent past is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic that has stopped everybody from gathering more than a certain number of persons.
‘As you are all aware, we have over 120 members of NEC and it would amount to breaking the COVID-19 protocol as established by the Nigeria authorities prohibiting gathering of more than 50 people at a time. It will take our breaking that protocol for us to have an NEC meeting. But if it is possible to have a waiver so to speak to be able to have an NEC meeting, we can explore that.
‘There is nobody afraid of having NEC meeting. For those who want to build this party, who want this party to outlast this present government, they are such in number that there is no fear of convening NEC meeting. The only thing militating against convening it is, of course, the current world pandemic. There is no way the ruling party will voluntarily disobey or break rules it is part of making,’ he defended.
While taunting Giadom to head to court to reclaim his membership of the NWC, Eta said: ‘There is no way you can contest any election as a member or an executive officer of the APC without resigning your office. That is the constitution of our party. You can do that and return, but the NWC will transmit a letter to your zone, noting that in view of this vacancy predicated upon this, can you present someone to occupy an office that has been zoned to your own geopolitical zone.
‘I am the head of that zone, I have not heard any such letter till today from the NEC and I have not acted because there was no such communication. I have not been able to act because I cannot act on my own.
‘But in the wisdom of the NWC, which I am just the acting chairman, we had 15 members out of 20 in attendance that unanimously agreed that because Giadom had resigned to contest as Deputy Governorship, it is on record, we transmitted his name to INEC, he printed posters and he could not have done so, we could not have transmitted his name, he could not have campaigned for the position without first resigning his office.
‘The constitution of our party is not a voluminous book, it is just a few pages and it was stated that Victor Giadom, based on his resignation, has ceased to be a member of NWC. You can now find out whether anyone can be given a waiver from resignation.
‘We don’t even have it in our constitution anymore; we have deleted that part for political expediency. But we have it in our guidelines that if you are going to contest this kind of election that you must be a member of the party for a certain period of time.
‘That is the only place that you need a waiver, you cannot take a waiver for resignation. I am saying that if it was done, it was done in errors. It is a human organisation, susceptible to error. But it cannot vitiate the positions and the provisions of our constitution. I was not the national chairman until recently and if as acting national chairman I have discovered that errors were made I have to correct them.
‘If Giadom feels very bad or very strongly about what the resolution of the NWC, of course, like he is always doing, like his like are always doing, he can proceed to court, but that is the resolution of the NWC,’ he taunted.