Buhari, Govs Deepen Grip on APC as NEC Dissolves Party’s Organs

With the dissolution yesterday of organs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the state, zonal and national levels, President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the party have tightened their hold on the party.

The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) had risen from its emergency meeting in the State House, Abuja with a resolution dissolving the party’s organs.

The NEC also extended by six months the tenure of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, headed by Yobe State Governor, Mr. Mai Mala Buni.

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The caretaker committee was raised in June following the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC), led by Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, whose suspension plunged the party into a leadership crisis with two factions of the party laying claims to its interim chairmanship.

The caretaker committee, saddled with the task of reconciling factions in the party and organising a national convention that will birth a new party leadership, was given till December 25 to conclude its assignment.

The NEC also announced the expulsion of the party’s former National Vice Chairman (South-south), Mr. Hilliard Eta, who had gone to court, seeking a judicial review of the sacking of the Oshiomhole-led NWC.

It was also gathered that the NEC queried the summon of the president by the House of Representatives and prevailed on him to rescind his decision to appear before the joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow to brief the lawmakers on what his administration is doing to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.

With the dissolution of the party’s structures, the president, along with the governors, who form the two major power blocs in the party will play dominant roles in picking candidates to fill the various posts when the structures are being reconstituted.

Analysts said yesterday that the reconstitution of the party structures will give the president and the governors leverage in deciding how the party’s candidates will emerge ahead of the 2023 general election as they will ensure that only people whose loyalty they can count on emerge as party leaders from ward to national levels.

But briefing journalists after the NEC meeting, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, along with his counterparts in Imo and Ondo States, Senator Hope Uzodinma and Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, said the committee also directed the immediate reconstitution of the dissolved organs in an acting capacity.

“NEC approved the immediate dissolution of the party’s organs at the polling unit, ward, local government, state and zonal levels as well as the non-National Working Committee component of the National Executive Committee as well as their immediate reconstitution and composition of the dissolved excos to serve in their respective offices in a caretaker committee capacity but excluding the non-NWC members of NEC,” el-Rufai said.

He explained that the party extended the tenure of the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party by another six months.

The committee had been constituted by the last NEC meeting of the party on June 25 to address lingering crises plaguing the party, and to conduct a national convention of the party within six months with the deadline being December 25.

But about six months after, the committee failed to unveil agenda for the convention, culminating in accusations by some party members that it had deliberately opted not to conduct the convention within the stipulated time in order to elongate its tenure.

But el-Rufai said the tenure of the committee had been extended for another six months, expiring on June 30, 2021 during which it will conclude its assignment.

He explained that the party granted the power of waivers to the caretaker committee in accordance with Articles 13.3, sub-section 5 and 13.3 sub-section 6 of the APC Constitution to empower the committee to grant waivers to new entrants into the party so that they can contest elections and enjoy the privileges of party membership.

The waiver will clear the legal hurdles for recent defectors to the party such as former House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, to vie for elective positions on the party’s platform.

El-Rufai said NEC also expelled Eta for instituting a suit against the party and ignoring the party’s directive to members to withdraw all court cases.”

Eta, however, dismissed his expulsion and dared the party.

The governor said the meeting was a combination of both physical and virtual participation of Buhari, all APC governors and members of NEC in the National Assembly.

He added that the council condemned calls by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the resignation of Buhari over the increasing spate of insecurity in the country.

According to him, even though security crisis threatening the country is regrettable, it requires the collaboration of all to overcome it.

“Finally, the NEC condemns in very strong terms, the call by the PDP leadership and some of their cheer leaders for the resignation of Mr. President.

“NEC observes that security challenges, though regrettable, can only be addressed when all interest, civil and military governments and opposition, security forces and indeed all citizens collaborate irrespective of party affiliation. This is not the time to politicise security,” he added.

In his speech at the meeting, Buhari said he was satisfied by the performance of the caretaker committee and highlighted some of its achievements.

He added that initiatives of the committee since June had resulted in progress and renewed hope.

He canvassed the need for the party members to rekindle the spirit that led to the success of mergers of 2014, which eventually culminated in the party’s victory at the polls by respecting resolutions of the party.

Buhari, who acknowledged the recent defection of Umahi, to the party, said various approaches and strategies, which sustained the mergers and APC’s eventual triumph, should be reinvented.

According to him, there were mutual respect and trust among members at the time, pleading with members to rekindle such spirit and make sacrifices aimed at rebuilding the party.

He said: “I want to appeal to all our party members and leaders at all levels to try and make the required sacrifices so that we are able to collectively restore our progressive and democratic political party, which can nurture and give expression to our collective dream of building a strong, united and developed Nigeria.

“May I use this opportunity to remind all of us of the need to recreate our negotiation secret of 2012, 2013 under our legacy parties. What guided our success to achieve the merger that produced the APC was the respect we were able to have for each other.

“In those times, decisions reached at both formal and informal consultations were respected with trusted initiatives taken and believed that they were needed to produce the required political platform that could guarantee electoral victory.”

Buhari stated that the party’s quest for unity should not be subjected to debate, adding that “our shared vision is to ensure that we are able to produce leaders that will not inherit the problems that led to the decision to dissolve our last national working committee.”

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