THE crisis ravaging the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, assumed a fresh dimension as the party dared the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and vowed to proceed with its March 26 National Convention.
The party has dismissed a letter written to it by the electoral umpire on the need to give the Commission a fresh 21-day notice for its national convention slated for March 26. It also faulted INEC’s position that the letter by the acting Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, is legally defective.
This was as the APC clarified that Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni remains the National Chairman of the CECPC, saying the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello is only operating in an acting capacity.
The clarification came about 24 hours after Governor Bello denied knowledge of any letter from Governor Buni authorising him to act as national chairman.
The spokesman of the party’s CECPC, Mr Ismaila Ahmed, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja, yesterday.
He said: “It is pretty simple. I don’t know why this is a complicated issue for a lot of people to understand. Since the inception of this CECPC on June 25 2020, whenever the chairman is not around and Governor Sani Bello is around, he acts on behalf of the chairman.
“He is our acting chairman and that has always been the case. That has never changed. And now we have a Convention on 26th March, the Chairman wrote a letter for his leave to go for medical treatment. Those are two emergencies. He has a medical emergency that cannot wait for the Convention and we have a Convention that cannot wait for him to be healthy. So, one has to leave for the other.
“The chairman transmitted a letter and Governor Bello has been acting as appropriate. He is acting with the full authority of the CECPC and with the full authority of the stakeholders and leaders of the party and with the full consent and knowledge of Governor Mai Mala Buni. If anybody has any issues with any of our decisions, you can take it to court. For now, we know we are doing it with the full backing of the law. There is no ambiguity in this.”
According to him, the APC has given appropriate notice to INEC for its March 26 national convention.
He said the party had earlier intimated the commission of its intent to conduct its national convention on February 26 and that what is now required for its new date of March 26 is simply a notice of an adjustment and not a fresh 21-day notice.
“Convention will hold on 26th March.
I am not only a Youth Leader or an interim Spokesperson of the party, I am also a lawyer and we have served a notice to INEC for the 26th of February earlier and we served that notice on 5th February. That was the required 21 days. If you are going to make any adjustment to that date, all you need is a letter making an adjustment to the date.
We don’t need another 21 days and that letter was written about two weeks ago. Immediately we realized that we couldn’t hold it on the 26th of February.
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“The moment the CECPC agreed on the 26th March, that letter was written to INEC and they have accepted the letter. So, that is long gone. It is not an issue. The issue of the date of the Convention is not an issue, not in INEC, not certainly with us. That is settled. It is sacrosanct. We have complied with all the requirements and we have notified INEC as appropriately expected of us,” he stated.
Indeed, Buni, as exclusively reported by Vanguard on Wednesday, has visited President Muhammadu Buhari, in London, to tell his side of the story on happenings in the APC and to hear directly from the head of state on his status in the CECPC.
Ant-Buni forces claimed that President Buhari sanctioned Buni’s ouster as CECPC national chairman and the take over of the position by Bello.
Buni reportedly went to London from his sickbed in Dubai. The outcome of his meeting with Buhari is expected to shape the action of pro-Buni forces in APC.
Bello’s letter not recognised, illegal – INEC
INEC had in a letter dated March 9, 2022, and signed by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony drew the attention of the APC to the need to comply with extant regulations.
The letter reads: “Please refer to your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/022/32, dated 8th March 2022.
“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC (Buni and Akpanudoedehe) contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
“Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires ‘at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective offices.’
“While hoping these issues are noted for compliance, please accept the assurance of the Commission’s warm regards.”
NEC meeting to ratify the convention
On the National Executive Committee NEC meeting slated for next Thursday, the party said it is basically for ratification of the March 26 Convention date and to also update the house on the journey so far.
Ismaila Ahmed said the party’s Legal Adviser, Prof. Tahir Mamman, will address the public once some issues regarding the NEC meeting are clarified, adding that notices had been sent out for the NEC meeting.
Meanwhile, the CECPC has excluded its National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, from the list of members saddled with fresh responsibilities.
Ismaila Ahmed said: “I was tasked with the responsibility for Media and Publicity; Prof. Tahir Mamman will be overseeing the Legal Department, Hon. Stella Okotete and Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf will be overseeing the Organizing Department, and then Dr James Lalu and Chief David Lyon will oversee the Finance Department; and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Senator Abba Ali will be overseeing the Policy, Strategy and Research Department.”
Ex-PGF DG advocates vigilance
On his part, the immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has asked the party to probe some governors who he accused of working with Governor Buni to frustrate the party from holding its national convention. He said: “There are known collaborators of His Excellency Mai Mala who have colluded with him to ensure that all attempts to organise the APC National Convention are blocked.
“Three Governors who are known and must also be called upon to account for their roles in undermining decisions to organise the APC National Convention are His Excellency Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, His Excellency Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and His Excellency Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.
“There are other party leaders, including Senator Uzo Kalu who have actively supported His Excellency Mai Mala to undermine the decision to organise the National Convention of the party. March 17, 2022, APC NEC should initiate processes of a disciplinary hearing in line with provisions of the APC Constitution to sanction all these leaders, if found guilty.”
He also advocated constant vigilance by all stakeholders of the APC, saying the days leading to the March 26 national convention could sound the death knell for the party or give it an exhilarating breath of fresh air.
Lukman noted that beyond electing new leaders and setting the stage for the 2023 electoral contests, how the APC navigates through attempts by some of its leaders, “including Gov. Mai Mala Buni and his collaborators to block the Convention from either holding as scheduled or electing new leaders who support and respect decisions taken by a broad section of leaders and members of the party will be the main test.”
According to him, since Monday when Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello and the other ten members of the 13-member APC CECPC announced their resolve to ensure that the March 26 APC National Convention holds, there have been deliberate attempts to question the legitimacy of decisions taken by the APC.
“Perhaps, it is important to recall that the decision to set up the CECPC with His Excellency Mai Mala as Chairman was taken by the APC NEC on June 25, 2020. With the initial tenure of six months, the NEC of December 8, 2022, extended it expectedly another six months. From six months, it became one year, and as it turned out to be, it is now endless, with the risk of eventually terminating the political life of the party. All these happened because both President Muhammadu Buhari, other party leaders and members trusted that His Excellency Mai Mala will provide honest leadership and implement every decision taken, leading to the emergence of new leaders for the APC. Had His Excellency Mai Mala lived up to the trust invested in his leadership of the party, at the minimum APC Convention would have been history and there wouldn’t have been any debate questioning the legitimacy of any serving Chairman of the party.”
Buni deserves better treatment from APC – Bukar
A former member of the House of Representatives from Yobe State, Mr Goni Bukar, has faulted the way Governor Buni is being treated in the APC, saying that the embattled CECPC leader deserves better treatment.
According to him, the people of Yobe State remain proud of Buni despite the current happenings at the leadership of the party because of his achievements in stabilising the party and setting it on a sound footing for the next general elections.
Speaking with journalists in Damaturu, yesterday, Bukar called on the APC to be more honourable in handling the leadership crisis than the way it is going about it.
The APC under Gov. Buni, he noted has attained greater success and unprecedented unity which the party cannot afford to compromise within a few days to her national convention.
“Every member of our great party has no doubt in the capacity of Gov. Buni in the running of the affairs of this party since he took over as the acting chairman.
“In 2020, when the APC was in complete disarray, submerged in leadership crises and confusion at all levels, the President and the party knew Governor Buni was the only Nigerian Politician with the requisite capacity of rebuilding the party. They begged him to take the job and to the glory of Allah, he has done that fantastically well with passion and energy. We are proud of the APC today because of his work. Our confidence as a political party in retaining power in 2023 lies on Governor Buni’s landmark work for the party…
“We, the people of Yobe State stand with our governor and the party 100 per cent. As sons and daughters of Yobe, we will continue to rally around our governor as well as our resolve and trust in our dear party, the APC, we shall surely enjoy victory across Nigeria come 2023,” he said.
Al-Makura’s group faults the adoption of Adamu as a consensus candidate
Meanwhile, a support group within the APC under the aegis of the Alliance of Northern Progressive Youths, ANPY has kicked against the imposition of candidates in the guise of consensus arrangement, faulting the purported endorsement of a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as consensus national chairmanship candidate.
The group at a news conference in Abuja noted that another former Governor of the state, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura who has been in the race for a long time is the best option for the position of the national chairman of the party.