#POLITICAL CRISES: STAKEHOLDERS RALLY TO SAVE APC, PDP

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…APC govs pass vote of confidence on Buni

…Party explains Supreme Court judgment as crises in Osun, Enugu fester

…PDP BoT sets up reconciliation committee

…We’ll resolve PDP crisis with internal mechanism – Ortom

Wike storms PDP BoT meeting; Atiku calls for calm

Sacking current NWC portends danger for PDP — Secondus

By Clifford Ndujihe, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu, Peter Duru & Dennis Agbo

Wary of what approaching the 2023 polls with divided fronts portend for their electoral fortunes, critical stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, stepped in to address the worsening crises in both parties.

Governors elected on the platform of the APC threw their weight behind their Yobe counterpart and National Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Mai Mala Buni with regards to his appointment into such capacity by the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party.

The governors made their position known in a statement by their Chairman, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State just as the APC hierarchy restated the validity of the Buni-led CECPC, saying such has never been questioned by the Supreme Court or any court of competent jurisdiction. The party stated this at a news conference by a member of the CECPC and its Legal Adviser, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN.

In like manner, leaders of the PDP set up a reconciliation committee to resolve the current crisis threatening the soul of the party.

The meeting, which had in attendance prominent party stalwarts including Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, two former Senate Presidents, David Mark and Bukola Saraki, failed to broker a truce, thus, culminating in the decision to constitute a reconciliation committee to resolve outstanding issues.

Vanguard gathered that at the meeting, Governor Wike denied having any personal issue with the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, but admitted that the party is heading in the wrong direction.

Earlier this year, the BoT and National Executive Committee, NEC passed a vote of confidence on the Secondus-led National Working Committee, NWC. However, events of the past few months have been quite challenging for Secondus, as some party chieftains continued to call for his resignation, even as some national officers and members of the BoT resigned this week.

The BoT is particularly interested in seeing Secondus staying on his post until December when an elective convention to elect new leaders will hold. It is however not clear if it will throw its weight behind the national chairman in the event that he seeks a re-election.

Why we set up reconciliation panel – Saraki, Mark

Addressing newsmen after the BoT meeting, Dr. Bukola Saraki said: “We agreed to set up this committee urgently and within the next 48 hours, they will meet and at the end of that meeting, the country will see the direction the party is going. The commitment of everybody to attend that meeting and subject themselves to the decision of that meeting shows the interest of everybody.”

Also, David Mark said the committee will be peopled by respected men and women drawn from various leadership layers of the party.

“The committee is made up of governors, members of the BoT, members of the National Assembly, all members of the National Working Committee, former governors, former ministers, so that they can holistically resolve the problems.”

While admitting that the committee may not succeed in addressing all issues affecting the party, he expressed optimism that “it will lead into providing a better environment to make us far more united and stronger as a party.”

He also clarified that Governor Wike is a statutory member of the BoT.

Atiku sues for peace, says PDP bigger than members

Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has called for calm in the wake of the crisis rocking the party.

In a release by his Media Aide, Paul Ibe, the former vice president enjoined party members not to forget that a fragmented PDP cannot achieve its aim of rescuing Nigerians from the misrule of the ruling APC.

He explained that he was lately involved in reconciliation efforts within the party across the country and has backed reconciliation processes aimed at diffusing tension in the party.

He noted that the interest of the PDP far supercedes that of any individual, insisting that the party will overcome its current travails as long as all hands are on deck.

“The PDP is greater than our individual ambitions. We have to consolidate the party first before we talk about our ambitions. We have to be careful not to play into the hands of the ruling party. We can’t afford a one-party system in Nigeria that denies our people a viable alternative for true change in 2023,” he said.

The former PDP presidential candidate warned that lack of unity and internal cohesion could help the ruling party more than the PDP, and that “those who want Nigerians to continue with the current hardship in the land will be eager to fuel the crisis in the PDP for their political advantage.”

The meeting was attended by Prince Uche Secondus; National Secretary, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri; and Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Suleiman Nazif.

Others include former Senate presidents Abubakar Bukola Saraki, David Mark and Adolphus Wabara.

Also in attendance were former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Makarfi; former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu; former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki; Chief Tom Ikimi; former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema; former Cross Rivers State Governor, Liyel Imoke; former Osun State Governor, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and former PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh.

Wike causes stir at PDP’s BoT meeting

Earlier, the BoT meeting took a dramatic turn with the unexpected entrance into the venue by Governor Nyesom Wike.

The governor, seen by many as the singular most potent force fighting for the removal of Secondus, made a grand entrance into the National Executive Committee, NEC hall of the party decked in white attire with ox-blood cap to match.

Although it is not clear if the BoT invited the governor, his presence is not unconnected with the ongoing efforts to manage the crisis ahead of the elective convention in December.

However, Dr Saraki later justified Wike’s presence saying he is a member of the BoT.

Sacking current NWC portends danger for PDP — Secondus

Meanwhile, Prince Uche Secondus has counselled party organs to resist the temptation of doing away with the current leadership of the PDP, noting that doing so portends ills for the party.

Addressing members of the BoT at the Wadata Plaza national secretariat of the PDP, yesterday, Secondus acknowledged that those picking holes with his management style are entitled to do so but pleaded that misunderstandings should be resolved internally.

While reminding leaders of the party that his leadership has less than four months to go, the PDP boss called on all organs of the party to come together in the interest of the party.

He said: “Anything contrary to the smooth running of our party towards the remaining three months will not be good enough for our party. Any dislocation will cost an infraction that will result to several unknown issues that we may not be able to come out of.”

According to him, the past three years and eight months he has been in the saddle have been very peaceful, adding that the issues now rocking the party are not new.

In a veiled dig at his detractors, Secondus pointed out that forms for the various leadership positions will soon be on sale, saying “after the main state congresses, both the public and our party were looking forward to a smooth and peaceful convention, which is coming up in December. We believe the preparation is being done in the office of the National Organizing Secretary. Soon, the schedule of events, the time-table and other things shall be presented before the Caucus, BoT, NEC and all organs of our party for action leading to the convention.”

He lauded incumbent NWC, saying for the first time, leadership was provided without rancour until recently, even as he informed the party leaders that the seven national officers who earlier in the week tendered their resignations, have been attended to.

BoT counsels party to learn from history

Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, urged PDP leaders to be guided by the crises which led to the ouster of past chairmen, with a view to drawing sufficient lessons.

Walid bemoaned the current crisis, regretting that while Nigerians are earnestly looking up to the PDP to rescue the nation from the stranglehold of the ruling APC, the party itself is engulfed in needless squabbles.

He called on members to unite ahead of the 2023 elections, saying “in order to achieve complete success, we must do away with any personal interest and unnecessary in-house fighting aimed at killing the objectives set by the party.

“Please, let us examine why many past national chairmen did not complete their tenure successfully — Chief Audu Ogbeh, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Ahmed Mua’zu. Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff and now the deputy national chairman, threatening to resign,” he added, assuring that the party will come out of the current crisis stronger.

PDP remains only hope for Nigerians — Ortom

Indeed, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday, assured Nigerians that the PDP will deploy its internal conflict resolution mechanism to resolve whatever disagreements it has at the national leadership level of the party.

He assured that the issues will be surmounted in no time, saying that the PDP remains the only hope for Nigerians.

The governor spoke when he received in audience a former APC senatorial candidate in the state, Chief Mimi Adzape-Orubibi and the chairman of the party in her area as well as the party’s executives who will formally decamp to the PDP, on Saturday.

The Governor said: “I want to assure Nigerians that despite the leadership challenge we have, we are till together and we will resolve it soon. We may recall that even the tongue and teeth sometimes fight but they settle.

“And so, PDP is going to deploy its internal conflict resolution mechanism and we shall rise up from there because Nigerians are fed up. They are tired of being taken from the top to the bottom since 2015. Have you not heard what Mr. President said that he was going to take Nigeria from top to bottom and he has actually done that?

“How much was the Dollar in 2015 when President Buhari took over from Goodluck Jonathan? N180. Today we are battling with over N500. Can you imagine? On security, we were battling with only Boko Haram then, but today, we have Fulani bandits, we have Fulani herdsmen, we have Fulani mercenaries, we have Fulani kidnappers, we have Fulani armed robbers, we have Fulani thieves, we have Fulani AK-47. And then they will deceive us that they are tackling them. So we want a leadership that will take us from bottom to top.”

Why APC govs backed Buni

Vanguard learned that the APC governors arrived at the decision to support Buni after series of consultations among themselves and other stakeholders.

On July 28, 2021, the Supreme Court had pronounced its split decision on the appeal and counter appeals before it in the judgment of Ondo Governorship Election petition.

Prior to release of the written judgment, the governors said a lot of analyses and interpretations had been made, with some clearly mischievous.

Part of the statement by Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Bagugu of Kebbi State, read:

“We thank the Supreme Court for this landmark judgement, which among others have dealt conclusively with legality of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, its composition and all its decisions. The Supreme Court upheld the finding of the Court of Appeal that the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee was set up to act on behalf of the National Executive Committee to temporarily carry out the function of the National Working Committee until new members were democratically elected.’

“The Supreme Court upheld further the ruling of the Court of Appeal that ‘it is evident that the said Governor Mai Mala Buni was appointed only in an acting capacity on a temporary basis to temporarily carry out and fill in the seat of the National Chairman of the party pending the elections of new members.’ The holding of the Court of Appeal was not appealed against by the appellants i.e. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the last election in Ondo State and the Peoples Democratic Party.   According to the Supreme Court, by not appealing against this holding, the parties herein accept it as correct, conclusive and binding upon them.’

“The judgment has also settled the legality of the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee. The court has correctly ruled that in line with Section 13.3 of the APC Constitution, the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee was constituted by the National Executive Council of the APC to act as the National Working Committee. This ruling is consistent with the legal advice available to APC in creating the Committee and we commend the Party’s legal team for the proper and lawful guidance.

“Governor Mai Mala Buni was appointed in acting capacity, on a temporary basis to temporarily carry out and fill in the seat of the National Chairman of the party pending the election of new National Chairman. This has settled conclusively that the APC National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and its composition is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is consistent with provisions of the constitution of the APC.

“We congratulate all Nigerians, in particular APC members and supporters across the country. We celebrate this landmark judgment together with all APC leaders, especially President Muhammadu Buhari whose zeal to bequeath a democratic party built bottom up for the benefit of Nigerians.

“We congratulate our colleague, His Excellency Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for the reaffirmation of his electoral victory, which has now ended all electoral disputes around the Ondo State 2020 Governorship elections.

“We equally extend our appreciations to the APC National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni for the commendable management of the affairs of the party, which has minimised distractions from the task of rebuilding the party. Under the Committee, the Party has continued to be strengthened and attract more Nigerians.

“Most recently, reports of the July 31, 2021, Ward Congresses from all parts of the country has demonstrated once more the commitment of party leaders and members at all levels to the process of rebuilding the APC. The congresses were highly successful.

“We appeal to all members and supporters at all levels to remain resolute and continue to support all initiatives of the APC Caretaker Committee under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni.”

APC’s position on S-Court judgment

The APC said until now, it had avoided making statements/pronouncements on the raging controversy with regards to the legality of the CECPC and that of its chairman.

“On both issues, we will state the position and decision of the Supreme Court only. The decision here is the majority judgment of the Supreme Court which is now the Law.

“The decision and judgment was read and concurred to by the justices who were in the majority. Any other statements in their various additional contributions by the justices complement the lead judgment.

“It is therefore right to say that the issues and ratio in the lead judgment reflect the views of the majority. The minority judgment, although important as it is, is not the judgment of the court,” said Professor Mamman.

According to him, the Supreme Court in its judgment affirmed the legality of the CECPC, adding: “The court stated that the NEC under Article 13 (3) IV of the APC constitution has power to create, elect and appoint a committee and endow it with powers and functions. It drew a parallel with Article 33(3) of PDP constitution (2012) with similar powers granted to its National Convention which in turn appointed a National Caretaker in 2016, which the Supreme Court ruled legal in Sheriff VS PDP.

“On the status of the Acting National Chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, the Supreme Court held that he was appointed only in acting capacity, on temporary basis to carry out and fill in the seat of the National Chairman, pending the election of new officers.

“The apex court also held that Mai Mala Buni’s position as Acting Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee is not contrary to the provision of Section 183 of the CFRN because the appointment, ad-hoc, is on a temporary basis which is not akin to Executive office or paid employment as envisaged by Section 183 of the CFRN.

“In any case, the Court ruled, the 2nd respondent, a registered political party being a voluntary organization, the question of who should hold offices in it, whether it can appoint its members to hold office in acting capacity or authorize a member to exercise the powers of an office and whether it has violated its own constitution by appointing a member to hold a particular office in it or discharge the functions of that office, cannot be entertained by any court. Those questions deal with the internal administration of the affairs of the political party. Those are non justifiable questions. Courts have no jurisdiction over the internal affairs of a political party except where a statute expressly gives a court jurisdiction to deal with any internal affair of a political party.

“Furthermore, upon consideration of the full judgment of the Supreme Court, the apex court held that “the law is and still remain that the provisions that govern sponsorship and nomination of candidates in an election are: Sections 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.

“That there are no provisions in the Electoral Act prescribing any form for forwarding or submission of the sponsored candidate of a political party in an election.

“Sections 177 and 182 of the CFRN which make provisions for qualifications and disqualification of candidates for Governorship election are exhaustive and leave no room for any addition.

“That no other Law/Act can be relied upon to disqualify a candidate in an election save for the provisions of Section 182 of the CFRN.

“That non-compliance with INEC directives (regulations, guidelines or manuals) for the purpose of election but which is not contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act shall not of itself be a ground in an election petition.

“Paragraph 17 (a) of the First Supplementary to Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections cannot be relied upon as ground to question the return of a candidate in an election.

“Finally, in the light of these clarifications, we call on all APC members who have sued the party to withdraw their cases and use the mechanism of reconciliation to address their grievances. We also advise members to focus on all upcoming congresses, ensure unity and harmony in the party.

“The dying PDP on its part should focus on the logs in its eyes and leave the APC alone.”

Crisis festers in Osun APC

Meanwhile, the crisis in Osun and Enugu states chapter of the party continued, yesterday.

In Osun, a group within the party, Progressive Coalition Against Injustice said ward congresses did not hold in the state

Coordinator of the group, Mr Jide Alabi disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja.

He accused the chairman of the Committee of the APC ward congress in Osun State, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye of working in concert with Senator Iyiola Omisore to do the bidding of Governor Gboyega Oyetola.

“Senator Omisore is facilitating the actualization of Elegbeleye’s ambition to secure the ticket of the party for Ondo North Senatorial District, come 2023.   We knew that the Ward Congress would not be fair and transparent with Elegbeleye heading the committee as his ambition and relationship with Omisore would not allow him do the right thing expected of an umpire,” he said.

However, the Osun State governor and APC have insisted that the congresses were free and fair.

Stalwarts decry inauguration of ward excos in Enugu

In Enugu, some chieftains of the party have faulted Tuesday’s inauguration of ward executives by state chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye in alleged violation of congress guidelines.

Nwoye had on Tuesday, inaugurated a five-man party executives in the 260 political wards at the party’s state secretariat, claiming that there was no provision in the APC constitution that forbids him from inaugurating them.

“The leadership of the party gave us the go ahead to conduct the congress and there is nothing in our constitution that prohibits me from inaugurating you.”

But APC chieftains — General Chris Eze, retd; an APC BoT member, General JOJ Okoloagu, retd, and former governorship aspirants — Chief Tagbo Ogara, Chief Ben Eche and Mrs Ginika Tor as well as other party leaders like Ejike Njeze described the action of the chairman as “a show of rascality.”

They said it was wrong for Nwoye to have inaugurated the ward executives even when the results of the ward committee had not been submitted by the Ward Congress Committee to the CECPC.

Addressing journalists in Enugu, the APC chieftains accused the outgoing chairman of acting ‘ultra vires’ because, according to them, he did not have the approval of the national secretariat of the party.

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