Efforts by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) to consolidate the party’s base in the South South geopolitical zone got a major boost yesterday as minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi and his Petroleum Resources counterpart, Timipre Sylva, yesterday settled the rift between them.
The ministers, after meeting behind closed doors with the party caretaker committee chairman and Yobe State governor at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, resolved to work together to reposition the APC in the geo-political zone.
Amaechi and Sylva who are former governors of Rivers and Bayesla States respectively disclosed their resolve to forge a united front to journalists after the closed-door meeting with Buni.
Both chieftains of the party from the Niger Delta region had been maintaining a sour political relationship for some time, while APC’s inroads in the South-south zone suffered a setback after it lost Bayelsa State through a Supreme Court judgment.
The governing party also lost Edo State after Governor Godwin Obaseki defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, as part of moves to fortify the party’s structures across the country, the Buni-led caretaker committee had initiated reconciliatory moves which yielded a major success yesterday.
Indications that the reconciliation process between the two South South party chieftains was on course manifested when the minister of Transportation, Amaechi, arrived at the APC national secretariat around 1:15 pm.
He however left the premises shortly after few minutes and returned to the party secretariat with Governor Buni to join the minister of state for Petroleum, Sylva, at about 2pm for a closed-door meeting that last almost an hour.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Amaechi who was accompanied by Sylva said, “We have agreed that both of us will work together.”
Kalu Seeks Tenure Extension For Caretaker Committee
Meanwhile, chief whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, yesterday urged the National Executive Council (NEC) of the ruling APC to extend the tenure of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee to March 2021.
Kalu who made this known in a statement by his media aide, Mr Kunle Oyewumi, said there was no need for fire brigade approach towards the party’s convention scheduled for December.
Kalu added that winning the Edo governorship election should be paramount to the party at the moment.
He argued that the caretaker committee of the party cannot offer its best due to time constraints, adding that majority of the participants would be busy with their national tasks during December period.
Kalu said lawmakers at the National Assembly with ministers would be engaged in budget preparation and defense and as such would not be in better position to offer their best to the party.
He stated: “It is with deep patriotic concern and the growth of our great party that I am appealing to the NEC to consider extending the tenure of Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker Committee to March 2021 against the December proposed period.
“This is to give the caretaker committee members the needed time to put things in order and hand over properly to a new leadership in the end. I do not see any need for fire brigade approach for them to hand over to a new leadership by December.
“The committee is expected to focus their attention on Edo because the election will determine the strength of any new leadership.”
The former governor of Abia State said that holding the convention in December would not also give the party the desired results needed.
According to him, this is because the National Assembly will soon enter budget presentation and defense and ministers will begin to make appearances at the National Assembly from October until November.
“Some of the ministers will also need to travel to their wards and make adequate preparations for the congress”.
PDP Plotting To Use Ex-INEC Staff To Rig Edo Gov’ship Poll – APC
Meanwhile, the APC yesterday accused the PDP of colluding with a former senior INEC staff to rig the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
In a statement by chairman of the state’s APC media campaign council, Mr John Mayaki, the party alleged that Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, a first-cousin to Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, who recently retired as INEC’s director of Voter Education, “has been identified in a plot to trade sensitive inside information on the results collation process of the electoral body with the PDP in exchange for unnamed benefits.”
The party further alleged that Osaze-Uzzi had initially refused to bow out of INEC despite the expiration of his tenure at the electoral commission but was forced out following the revelation of his strong ties with the Edo State governor and “his secret plot to stay put at the commission to gain access to sensitive information on the Edo election.”
The statement added: “Nonetheless, the APC says Governor Godwin Obaseki has discreetly named Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi as a private consultant in his re-election campaign with a mandate to provide tactics and strategies, using his experience at INEC, on ways to manipulate the election and substitute real results obtained at the polling units with fake results pre-written in the Edo State Government House.
“As an upgrade to the server scam that failed the PDP in the 2019
General Election because it ignorantly went with the fraud without insight on the result collation process of INEC, the party of tax-collectors, having lost all hopes of winning the Edo election in a fair contest, are concluding plans on another rigging strategy with the recent secret conscription of one Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi.
“Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Obaseki’s first-cousin who served for many years at INEC and had to be forced out of Commission despite his stalling tactics to stay put until the conclusion of the election which he had planned to manipulate by offering sensitive inside information to his cousin, has now fully joined the Obaseki campaign, though secretly as a private consultant.
“His mandate and those of others assigned to serve as his aides in the secret location where he has been lodged, is to develop strategies and tactics for the party on how to substitute results obtained at the polls with fake, pre-written ballots and a corresponding reflection of the electoral fraud in any electronic transfer, using his experience at the Commission.
“We have been reliably told by numerous sources at the Commission of Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi’s strange enthusiasm and stubborn insistence to be a part of every meeting held at INEC, even sensitive ones outside the remit of his former position as Voter Education Director, before an internal disquiet at the Commission left him with no other choice but to tender his resignation”.
But in a swift reaction, publicity secretary of PDP in Edo State, Chris Nehikhare, dismissed APC’s allegation as laughable, stressing that such a scenario was the practice when the former APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, held sway as governor of the state.
Nehikhare said, “Is the Edo government house now INEC office?
How on earth can a state government that has no control over INEC, police, DSS, NSCDC or military influence election results? This is laughable to say the least.
“We are, however, not surprised by the allegation because such was the practice when Adams Oshiomhole held sway as governor. Edo people can still recollect how that same government through EDSIEC announced election results when collation was still ongoing.
“Indeed Edo people and Nigerians know the party that is plotting to rig the election. They watch the video of Adams Oshiomhole talking about arresting some people.
“The PDP also raised an alarm over the redeployment of a compromised NSCDC commandant to Edo State for the purpose of the election. We shall continue to expose their evil plots as time goes on”.
Court Orders Substituted Service On Gov Buni, 11 Others In APC NWC Dissolution Case
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered substituted service of court summon on APC caretaker committee chairman and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, and 11 others in a suit challenging the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered that the summons for the governor being the APC National Caretaker Committee chairman be pasted at the entrance of the national secretariat of the APC at No. 40 Blantyre Street, Wuse, Abuja.
The order followed complaints by plaintiff in the matter, Barrister
Kalu Kalu Agu, that the respondents have been evading service of court summons since they got wind of the suit.
Others who are also affected by the order on substituted service are Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State; former Senate president, Ken Nnamani; Isiaka Oyebola; Dr James Lalu; Senator Abubakar Yusuf; Hon Akinyemi Olaide; Bayelsa APC governorship candidate, David Leon; Professor Tahir Mamman; Ismail Ahmed and Senator Akpan Udoedehe.
In a short ruling after an exparte motion was argued by the plaintiff on behalf of himself, Justice Taiwo ordered that the originating summons and other processes in the matter be served on 3rd to 14 defendants by posting same on the entrance gate of the APC headquarters in Abuja, since the party is the second defendant in the matter.
The judge further ordered that the service, when effected by the court bailiff, shall be deemed good and proper service.
Accordingly, he adjourned hearing on the matter to September 4, 2020.
Kalu, a youth leader of the APC in Abia State, is challenging the powers of the APC NEC to sack the national leaders barely two years into their constitutionally-guaranteed four-year term of office.
In the suit with number: FHC/ABJ/ CS/736/2020, the plaintiff is praying for an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, setting aside the dissolution of the NWC by APC’s NEC meeting held at the presidential villa last month.
He is also praying the court for an order restraining the National
Caretaker Committee members led by Buni from parading themselves as national officers of the APC and from usurping the functions of the party’s NWC.