The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will today go into another round of National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
Many stakeholders have said the outcome of today’s session could well determine the fate of the party ahead of the 2019 election.
The highly anticipated meeting will be held at the party’s secretariat in Abuja and will have in attendance President Muhammadu Buhari, who had earlier opposed the one-year extension granted the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) by the NEC.
Following the president’s rejection, the party had insisted that the extension remained valid as only the NEC which approved the extension, in the first place, could reverse its decision, and not the president who is only a member of NEC.
Though the party had set up a 10-man technical committee led by Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, which submitted its report last Friday, it was reported that Odigie-Oyegun had refused to disclose the report to the party members, insisting the details would be made known at today’s NEC meeting.
However, party sources revealed that in order not to embarrass the president, who by virtue of his position is the national leader of the party, the committee had rejected the tenure extension and had recommended congresses at the state level and a national convention.
Our source disclosed that there were hints that governors loyal to Odigie-Oyegun such as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, and some other key stakeholders in the party were scheming to get assurances from President Buhari to back Odigie-Oyegun if he decides to seek re-election.
“Having moved from the issue of tenure extension and having failed to persuade state chairmen of the party to stage a coup insisting on the extension, Odigie-Oyegun loyalists which include governors, ministers and key National Assembly members are reaching out to President Buhari to declare support for Odigie-Oyegun who is likely to throw his hat in the ring again for another term.
“Odigie-Oyegun is much at home with the cabals and they all want him back, but given President Buhari’s stance when it comes to election matters, it remains to be seen if the president, who sees himself as the father of the party, will buy the idea.
“As usual of him, he may ask all the intending aspirants to go and do their homework, promising to support whoever emerges winner during the convention,” our source said.
Odigie-Oyegun’s fate on the sidelines would be confirmed later today as the NEC meeting of the APC in Abuja considers the recommendations of the technical committee impaneled to advise it on the merits and demerits of the tenure elongation debate.
While some party stalwarts see a continuation of the life of the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC as guarantee of some measure of control of party structures in some of the states, others who have lost popularity in their domain view a fully-fledged congress and national convention as one way to unsettle party structures in their states.
This sad reality, a source at the APC secretariat hinted, is what makes today’s meeting of the NEC a “do or die” for Odigie-Oyegun and his backers.
This is as feelers last night hinted that a strong loyalist of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC national leader, is being tipped to head the party’s national convention.
Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Badaru, the Jigawa State governor, our source disclosed, is tipped to head the national convention committee, barring any last minute changes.
Badaru’s supporters, it was gathered, are poised to push through their interest and quicken the exit and influence of the party’s executive.
“The meeting is a make or mar one for Chief Odigie-Oyegun and the NWC.
“If they accept the recommendations of the committee, then it is a bye for him.
“Already, governor of Jigawa State has been tipped to head the convention committee.
“Governor Badaru is a loyalist of the APC national leader. The moment the convention committee is named, expect that it will take over control of powers of the NEC, even if their tenure is still running.
“The convention committee list has already been drawn and is in the safe hands of the president.
“That is why I told you that Monday’s meeting will make or mar Odigie-Oyegun and also the ruling party as we take major decisions that will steer the party to 2019 general elections,” stressed the source.
The party chieftain also revealed that Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, and some other governors had accepted to pick the bill of the party’s national convention.
Our source, who wants to remain anonymous, expressed sympathy for Chief Odigie-Oyegun who he said never wanted to extend the tenure of the executive but was lured by the governors.
“That was why the coup by the governors truly ruffled him.
“They were the ones that wanted the extension of the life of the NWC, of course for their own interest.
“They are still the ones who pulled the rug off his feet after meeting the president,” stated our source.
Former governor of Abia State and chieftain of the APC, Orji Uzor Kalu, said Odigie-Oyegun did not at any time ask for the extension of his tenure.
Kalu also said President Muhammadu Buhari, who insisted that the party should hold congresses at all levels, has no conflict with Odigie-Oyegun but based his position on the party constitution.
The former governor, speaking with newsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the end of his peace and advocacy visit to the state, declared that the APC would continue to be guided by its constitution.
Kalu, who had during his two-day visit to the state visited the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, and the Osemawe of Ondo kingdom, Oba Victor Kiladejo, said the support given to the current administration by the traditional institution was second to none.
“No one asked for tenure extension for Odigie-Oyegun. Odigie-Oyegun himself did not at any time ask for the elongation of his tenure as the APC national chairman.
“Our party is guided by constitution and members of the party have respect for the constitution,” the statesman said.
“President Buhari himself insisted that the constitution of the party must be followed to the letter in any matter affecting the party.
“So, the issue of tenure extension does not occur,” Kalu stated.
According to him, the leaders of the party would emerge through congresses in all state chapters, while the convention of the party would produce leaders at the national level.
Credits: Tony Ezimakor, Temidayo Akinsuyi
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