The impasse created by the tenure extension hitherto granted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) had necessitated the convention of a technical committee to advice the party on the appropriateness or otherwise of the extension. Andrew Essien & Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, writes that the committee’s work may have been done before it started.
It is an understatement to say that the recent weeks has been rather intense for the ruling party occasioned largely by the endorsement of the NEC for the National Working Committee (NWC) to stay on for a period not more than 12 month effective from when the tenure is expected to end in June.
This has boomeranged into a serious process of questioning the legality of the process which, in no small measure, exposed the fault lines that are increasingly being widened along interest lines so much so that analysts are questioning the preparedness of the party to face more challenges as it moves towards 2019.
However, In a the continued search for a lasting solution occasioned by the quagmires the extension generated, the party, inaugurated the much expected technical committee to make recommendations to the National Executive Committee (NEC) on issues arising from the one year tenure of extension which was given to the party’s leadership at the national and state levels.
The committee immediately began making efforts to convince the populace that the extension which was agreed upon at the February 27 NEC was not to elongate the NWC and state chairmen’s tenure but merely an adoption of a motion to allow the party leadership to work on an acting capacity for 12 months.
As innocent as their move was, political onlookers were already of the opinion that the committee was just a “make-up”, as the future of the current leadership of the party had already been sealed after President Muhammdu Buhari’ remarks at the last NEC meeting of March 27, exactly a month after the extension was agreed upon at a similar NEC.
At another level, despite the fact that State Governors elected under the party’s platform met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, maintaining sealed lips on the outcome of the meeting, it was also gathered that the governors are divided over the issue of tenure extension for the APC national executives and could not reach a consensus over the issue and had to adjourn so as to get a unified front.
After intense negotiations and meetings, The leadership eventually ‘agreed’ to conduct its National Convention as the tenure of the National Working Committee NWC of the party draws to an end which will be agreed to at the upcoming NEC.
This has also generated its own issues as more information have emerged that some governors are behind the move to bring the NEC together within a period that is not agreed to by the constitution. This is presenting a whole new and different argument on the convocation of the NEC.
ithin all these, the party has scheduled another meeting of its National Executive Committee NEC to “discuss” the report of its 10-man technical committee set up in the wake of the crisis generated by its earlier decision recommending that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party be allowed to continue to act in acting capacity for one year when their current four year tenure lapses in June.
The governors of Zamfara, Abdulazeez Yari; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Imo, Rochas Okorocha; Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje and Ogun Ibikunle Amosun also met with the president on Wednesday morning. Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting with the president, Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari said all the governors have decided to throw their weight behind the president’s stance that the tenure elongation of Oyegun was illegal.
He said contrary to reports, the meeting with the president was not deadlocked adding that the governors collectively agreed to that have congresses at all levels – local – state and national. He said “Gentlemen of the press, you know yesterday we left you in the dark after the meeting and today we have seen so many captions that there is disagreement between the governors over the issue of party Chairman or about the party leadership.
“No. We had a meeting with Mr. President yesterday (Tuesday), and we extended the meeting to night and we followed up with the consultations with the President now. “We consulted and all the 24 governors of the APC are in the same page with Mr. President that we are going to respect our party constitution, we are going to respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So therefore, we collectively agreed that we will have congresses at all levels – Local – State and National.
And the committee set up by the National Secretariat of our party headed by governor of Plateau State, is presenting its report later today. The governors are also meeting with the working committee today so that we come up with convention committee names as well as timetable of the election.
“So, there is no deadlock in our meeting, we have progressed and very soon you will have the names of the convention committee members as well as the timetable.” Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Okorocha dismissed insinuations that there is crisis in the party advising the media to stop spreading rumours of crisis in the party. He also hinted that some members of the Oyegun- led National Working Committee can still seek for elections as they have not done badly in their first term.
He explained , “I just want to let you know that there is no crisis in the APC at all. And we want to use this opportunity to advise the media operatives to stop spreading rumors of crisis in APC. There is no single crisis in APC.
“The issue was one of people who believe that we did not have enough time to organize a party congress and run election. Some people felt that it was a good idea but the most important thing is that, if we do that we will be contravening both our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is the major issue that we have that they call crisis. We do not have virus.
“This morning we met with Mr. President to fine-tune issues, one regarding the congress and we have resolved that the congresses at all levels and the Chairman of the elongation committee, is also fine-tuning the arrangement in the same line. To this effect, the convention committee will be set out, it will be announced.
“But let me correct one impression, the issue of congress and convention does not mean that the previous people who have served the party have done badly. And it does not mean that they cannot come back or that they cannot re-contest, that is not it. We are simply saying that their tenure has ended and those who wish to re-contest can re-contest and can be elected into our party structure. So we are all one as family and we are set to go for 2019 elections in victory,” he stated .
What has further been canvassed is that the APC Governors after meeting with Chief Odigie-Oyegun, asked him to align with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue of tenure elongation with both parties agreeing in principle to a convention subject to ratification of NEC and adoption of the report of its 10- member technical committee which we learned has recommended Congresses and convention.
Information that seeped out of the meeting, said the national chairman accepted the stance of the governors even as he however gave a caveat that the NWC be allowed a free hand to set up structures to conduct the national convention and congresses.
It was also gathered that one of the participants at the meeting had reportedly tipped the Jigawa state Governor, Abubakar Badaru to chair the convention committee while an NWC member had reportedly urged the governors to correct the impression that the tenure elongation issue was the idea of the NWC.
Interestingly, hours after their second meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, governors of the party had made straight for the national secretariat where they held a closed door meeting with the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee NWC of the party.
At the meeting, the NWC had submitted a proposed budget of about N1.5 billion for the national convention and the process leading to it. At the end of the Wednesday meeting, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said all issues have now been resolved.
“Today, the Governors and the National Working Committee of the party decided to sit and look at the issues that seemingly dividing us. I want to say to you with absolute satisfaction and pride that all the issues you have been commenting about in the last two days have been completely and totally resolved. We are back in business as one United and happy family.
“I want to say also that yesterday, we set up a technical committee as ordered by NEC. From the very first minute that we called them to section, they have worked non stop because I emphasized when I was inaugurating them that their report was time sensitive. It is sensitive because we have already sent out notices for the meeting of NEC which will hold on Monday. I am glad to say that the chairman of the technical committee has report d that his report will be ready will be ready this evening or tomorrow morning. This report will be placed before NEC on Monday, April 9 and appropriate decision will be taken. Thereafter, we will announce to you the further steps that we are going to take resulting from NEC consideration on the recommendations when we receive them.
“The bottom line is that the APC leadership is back as one happy United and focused party. Strongly behind our president and strongly behind our governors in all the states”, he said.