The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday calmed frayed nerves among party faithful, saying in spite of the constitutional issues raised in Wednesday’s minority judgment of the Supreme Court on the legality or otherwise of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee, it would continue to pilot the affairs of the party.
Specifically, the party, through its counsel, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), noted that there was nowhere in the apex court’s judgement of the majority where the efficacy of the office of the national caretaker committee chairman was questioned, even as he wondered why people are giving much attention to the judgement of the minority, which he said is of no value.
In her pronouncement while delivering the minority judgement of the Supreme Court in the suit brought against the election of Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akerelodu, Justice Mary Peter Odilli declared that the leadership of the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party is illegal.
But noting that there was no cause for alarm about that pronouncement, Akintola carpeted the position of minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo (SAN), calling for the immediate dissolution of the committee before it proceeds on the congresses and nation convention of the party.
He said the judgement of a tribunal, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, that holding of party position does not contravene section 183 of the constitution still stands.
Speaking with journalists at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Akintola expressed disappointment in Keyamo, noting that his position has no basis in law, even as he assured APC members that no election conducted by Buni as national chairman would be voided on the ground that he (Buni) signed any document.
He said, “You begin to wonder where they get their interpretations from. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to some of these colleagues and in fairness to them, they claim that they knew nothing about it; that they just based their comments on sentiments and what they heard on the social media. Of course, for those of us who practice the profession, we don’t practice it on the pages of newspapers, television and social media. No. We ply our trade in the courtroom and that is the function of a serious lawyer. A lawyer should not be flippant. A lawyer should be careful because if you make a statement, it carries a lot of weight.
“I told our client, Buni and the secretary, yesterday not to be intimidated by anybody. Our party remains firm; the congresses of the party will go on as scheduled on Saturday. By the grace of God everything that has been put in place will come to fruition. You can imagine the kind of confusion that the country would have been thrown into if the judgement of yesterday had gone the other way.
“It would have meant that everything that we have been doing as a party would have come to naught. The issue of Akeredolu was even too small an aspect in terms of looking at the implications of the judgement of yesterday if it had gone the other way round because those who initiated it like it is said, ‘the hand is that of Esau but the voice is that of Jacob.
“There is nowhere in the judgement of the majority where the efficacy of the office of our national chairman was questioned. If anything, what happened was that the judgement of the tribunal that says that the holding of party position doesn’t contravene section 183 of the constitution still stands. That was the judgement that was given by the Tribunal and upheld by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. I don’t know why people are attributing so much to the judgement of the minority. It is of no value”.
Speaking in the same vein, national secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said the planned Nationwide Ward Congresses would hold on July 31, 2021 as scheduled.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) Ward Congresses to elect party executives will hold across the country on Saturday, July 31st 2021 as scheduled.
“To this end, ward Congress Committees of the Party have already been inaugurated and delegated with the responsibility of conducting, supervising, monitoring the scheduled Ward Congresses”, he disclosed in a statement issued Thursday.
He noted that the clarification is against the backdrop of personal opinions being expressed by some individuals on the status of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and its capacity to conduct the Congresses.
He stated: “While it is not our intention to join issues with these commentators, the Supreme Court’s Wednesday judgement affirming the Election victory of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN had no bearing on the CECPC’s status and its membership”.
“Party members and aspirants should therefore come out en masse and peacefully to participate in the ward Congresses, come Saturday”.
While dissecting the judgement and its implication on the party, deputy president of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, noted that Buni has not breached any known law by combining the two offices.
He noted that since yesterday’s judgement, mischief makers for obviously nefarious intentions have resorted to misinterpreting the said judgment vis-a-vis the purport of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as it affects the APC Congresses scheduled for Saturday.
He said, “The sole question that begs for consideration is whether the appointment of Governor Mai Mala Buni as the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman offends the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)?
“In answering the above question, it is pertinent to reproduce the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) as follows:
“The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.
“In the light of the foregoing exposition, it is humbly and firmly stated that Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) only bars a Governor from holding Executive positions like being a Minister, or any other executive positions for which he shall be paid for. It does not by any scintilla of imagination, render the appointment of Governor Buni as APC caretaker committee chairman incompetent and will not in anyway, affect the legality or competence of the APC scheduled Congresses”.
However, toeing the position of Keyamo, a party member and lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, in a statement Thursday titled, “Why Mai Mala Buni should step down”, said, “It’s no news that the Supreme Court by a split of 4-3 dismissed the Petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party’s Aspirant for the 2020 Ondo State Governorship Election, Eyitayo Jegede SAN against the incumbent Governor of Ondo State and the All Progressives Congress.
“Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state pressistimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the All Progressives Congress in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the All Progressive Congress should immediately step down”.
“My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.
The special adviser to the President On political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and senior special assistant to the president, Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, in a joint statement, urged the party to give a listening ear to Keyamo’s observation.
They noted that while congratulating Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on the majority judgement of the Supreme Court upholding his election by striking out the petition, decisions affecting the legality and Status of CECPC were long delivered.
They recalled the it has long been in contention whether unelected officers of a political party can exercise the powers of party vested in the chairman and officers of the party who ought, by party’s constitution, to be elected at duly convened convention of the Party at the National level and congresses at State and other levels.
Atiku, Wike Mend Fences, Say Only A United PDP Can Take Over Government In 2023
Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State government may have reconciled ahead of the 2023 polls.
Atiku who was in Port Harcourt yesterday said Nigerians were waiting eagerly for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take over power at the federal level in 2023.
The PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential poll said that PDP affairs brought him to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, saying even as he noted that he had spent the time reconciling touching issues with Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The former vice president spoke with journalists in Government House, Port Harcourt, shortly after a meeting with Wike.
He said, “The issues on how to ensure unity and stability in the PDP that are critical for the party in clinching electoral victory in 2023.
“Well, I came here to reconcile with the governor on party affairs and how we can ensure that there is unity and stability in the party so that we can take over the government in 2023.
“I believe that Nigerians can’t wait for 2023 to come, so that PDP will return.”
Speaking on the current insecurity challenges, Atiku described the prevailing situation in the country as bad.
He urged Nigerians to wait for the appropriate time when PDP shall unveil its policies on how it wants to address the issue of insecurity across the country.
He said, “I have never seen it (insecurity) this bad. I am 70 years plus, I have never seen it this bad in terms of security challenges, in terms of economy, in terms of unemployment. This is the worst.
“Why can’t you give us time? We will come up with our policies. We will present them to Nigerians when the time comes.
“We have done that before. Under PDP, we recorded the highest economic growth, the best foreign reserves, we reduced unemployment. You know that we can do it?
Atiku also acknowledged the tremendous leadership success recorded by governor Wike , who he described as a topmost governor among his peers in the party.
He commended Governor Wike for his outstanding leadership and sterling performance in office.