Romanus Ugwu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The suspended national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, was finally uprooted at the virtual emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Presidential Villa, with the dissolution of the National Working Committe (NWC), yesterday.
Governor of Yobe State, Mai-Mala Buni, was named chairman of the caretaker/extra-ordinary convention committee and Akpan Udoedehe as secretary of the 13-man team whose core mandate is to organise a national convention with six months.
Bunu was immediately sworn in by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF).
With the move, acting national chairman, Victor Giadom, was also ousted.
The Oshiomhole-led NWC had announced boycotted the meeting, describing the president’s decision to support Gaidom as ill-advised.
Other members of the committee are Ken Nnamani, Stella Okorete, James Lalu, Abubakar Yusuf, Akinyemi Olaide, David Leon, Abba Ari, Tahir Mamman and Ismail Ahmed.
The APC was thrown into a leadership crisis after the Court of Appeal upheld the suspension of Oshiomhole as national chairman.
Gaidom had declared himself as acting national chairman but the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole called him an impostor and tussled with him over the leadership of the party.
Actions not targeted at Tinubu -Buni
Chairman of the caretaker/extra-ordinary convention committee has said he will not allow crisis to fester in the party.
He was responding to a question on how he intends to carry aggrieved party members along at the end of the NEC meeting.
“My plans for the party? As a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well. It’s all about doing justice to every member, 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 can work with me. If you don’t manage crisis, obviously, crisis will manage you. So, I won’t allow any crisis to fester. Henceforth and the process of convening this NEC, I want to tell you that it is a continuation of the last notice that was issued and we said we have 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,” he said.
On allegations that it was done to whittle down the influence of the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, the Yobe governor said all efforts were being made to rescue the party.
“We are all together to rescue this party from all this, nobody is happy with the situation under which the party is now operating because we are in court for various problems and crisis. So this decision was taken by NEC to address some of these issues. So nobody is targeted and it is against nobody . Asiwaju is one of the leaders of this party and a founding father of the party,” he said.
Pro-Oshiomhole NWC members head to court
Meanwhile, some NWC members loyal to Adams Oshiomhole have resolved to challenge the action in court.
A member of the pro-Oshiomhole NWC told Daily Sun in confidence that arrangements have been concluded to seek legal redress over the dissolution, insisting that, apart from the non-provision of a caretaker committee in the party’s constitution, there were several lapses in the decisions by NEC.
“They are actually making more mistakes and I sympathise with with them because PDP will be the biggest beneficiary of their action. Everything they do from now, the opposition party will just go to court.
“There is no validity in their actions and, even if you check our constitution, there is no provision for caretaker committee. NWC is part of NEC and if you dissolve NWC will you also dissolve NEC? The modality of convening that NEC meeting is also fundamentally wrong and faulty. What it means is that the product of that meeting is faulty and cannot stand.
“Again, and more importantly, our constitution clearly stated that any member appointed or elected cannot be a national officer. It is wrong to appoint a serving governor to head that committee and that was why Victor Giadom had to resign his membership of the party to contest election in Rivers. It is even worse for an elected political officer to head the committee. There are many legal lapses in the decisions taken during NEC. It is, however, left for the court to strengthen the decision,” he said.
Describing the decision as a humiliation to Oshiomhole, the NWC member said: “Despite Oshiomhole’s lapses, was it right to just throw him away? Couldn’t the president have invited him and accord him the honour of resigning? What did he do to deserve that kind of treatment. He faced a situation that will not allow him to retrace his steps.”
However, the dissolution was greeted with wild jubilation by members of staff who had been living in fear for their future with the ruling party amid the crisis. They pulled down Oshiomhole’s portraits in all the offices and at the reception.
Momoh, Ozekhome, Izunaso, others react
Former Minister of Information, Chief Tony Momoh, said the party’s NEC had the constitutional power to dissolve the NWC.
He explained that NEC could take such decisions when some pending issues in the party could not be resolved by the NWC.
The former minister, however, said it was not for him to say whether the dissolution was good for the progress of the party or not.
“In the party’s hierarchy, NEC is higher. So, it can take certain decisions that will be binding on NWC; again, such decisions will have to be ratified by the party’s convention. So, I can’t say whether the dissolution is good or not, but what is clear is that the NEC can take decisions to resolve lingering issues in the party.”
Momoh explained that anybody, including members of the dissolved NWC, could still aspire to leadership positions of the party at the national convention.
Human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome described the action as a civilian coup d’etat.
“What has happened today has affected the interest of some powerful people in the party, including Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, among others. In the coming days, Nigerians will see the reaction of those affected by the civilian coup d’etat that we just saw today,” Ozekhome said.
When Daily Sun sought the reaction of former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, he simply said: “No reaction, as I am not a politician. I have no clue why they dissolved, so it’s best you ask politicians.”
Another senior lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, told Daily Sun that “it calls for a studied silence.”
But APC national organising Secretary, Osita Izunaso, said: “Mr. President has demonstrated leadership and we are very proud of him and I am happy that this interim committee is made up of credible party members capable of steering the affairs of the party in the next few months, until we hold convention for the party to take off on proper footing.”
Osinbajo, 15 govs, Lawan, Omo-Agege, Kalu in attendance
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and 15 governors were present at the meeting which kicked off at 12:00.
Other attendees include National Deputy Chairman, Lawal Shuaibu; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase; House Majority Leader, Hassan Dogowa; Orji Uzor Kalu, Senate Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Nnenna Ukeje.
Governors in attendance were Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule; Niger, Abubakar Bello; Jigawa, Atiku Bagudu; Yobe, Mai-Mala Buni; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Kogi, Yahaya Bello; Gombe, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya; Osun, Gboyega Oyetola; Ogun, Dapo Abiodun; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Kwara, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq; Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu and Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai.
Giadom was the first to arrive for the meeting, as he was sighted at the venue as early as 8:30 alongside National Deputy Chairman-North of the party, Lawal Shuaibu.
Other attendees apart from those present at the Presidential villa were participating virtually in respect of protocols of COVID-19, which promote social distancing. Pro-Oshiomhole group presently at the venue were Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and Deputy Majority Leader of House of Representatives, Peterson Akpatason and Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
In his remark at the meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari had urged members of the party to withdraw all pending litigations, and settle for internal conciliation.
He warned that the mutating disagreements could lead to self-destruction, with dire consequences.
He further warned that the gains of the party could be reversed as conflicts overshadow the primary objective of service to the people, urging members to refocus on the larger picture and place more emphasis on uniting the party.
“The issues currently confronting our party at this time are such that should worry every party member. At the moment, our great party is faced with internal wrangling; there are on-going litigations among some party members and we cannot clearly ascertain the status of certain National Working Committee (NWC) members.
“There are also other associated disputes as to the legitimacy or otherwise of holders of certain national offices of the party. The party is also contending with judicial claims and counter-claims, orders and counter-orders and indeed judgments and counter-judgments that are predominantly at cross-purposes. Confronted with these issues, it is obvious that the fortunes of the party are currently in jeopardy, administration of our party is becoming impossible and there is consequently an urgent need for intervention to immediately arrest further drifts and internal wrangling, which may lead to total disintegration. What we see clearly emerging is that we are beginning to self-destruct. This, my dear party members, is not just regrettable but utterly gut wrenching.’’
The President said, in order to return to “winning ways,’’ the APC must maintain cohesion by closing its ranks.
“We must be alive to the time and the task that is before us. As we all know, we are immediately confronted with the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo states. Therefore, this is the time to get our acts together.’’