Despite the resolutions agreed to at the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday, not all stakeholders appear to be satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, with some chieftains of the party warning that the congresses and convention of the ruling party may be deliberately set up or frustrated in order to extend the tenures of executives of the party by subterfuge.
At the NEC meeting of the party on Monday, where President Muhammadu Buhari had declared his intention to seek re-election in next year’s polls, the party reversed its February decision to extend the tenure of its executives by one year, and directed that the processes for the conduct of congresses and a convention should commence.
But it wasn’t a winner takes it all for those opposed to the tenure elongation, as the NEC also granted a waiver that would enable the current party leadership to seek re-election while retaining their various positions.
Briefing the press after the meeting, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, who chaired the technical committee set up by the party last week to review the tenure elongation issue, had cited Article 31(111) of the APC constitution, which states: “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may in special circumstances grant a waiver to a person not otherwise qualified under if, in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party.”
The NEC also approved the recommendation of the Lalong-led committee, which advised that in the event that there is a problem and the congress and convention becomes inconclusive, the party will ask the current leadership of the APC to remain in office, but in an acting capacity.
However, the approvals given by the NEC of the party may not have gone down well with some of its stakeholders, who informed THISDAY Tuesday that the proposed congresses and national convention of the APC may be deliberately set up or frustrated to achieve tenure elongation through the backdoor.
The sources, who preferred to remain unnamed, said the approvals had a hidden motive – to sustain the one-year tenure elongation initially granted APC national and state executives.
Citing a memo by the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, which encapsulated the report of the Lalong committee and was approved by the NEC at its Monday meeting, the sources revealed that the national leadership of the party had anticipated certain circumstances that might make the decision to hold congresses and the national convention impossible to implement.
Oyegun, it was gathered, referencing the findings of the Lalong committee set up by him, had maintained in the memo that the February 27 decision of NEC neither violated the constitution of the party nor the Nigerian Constitution.
The fifth point raised in the memo by Oyegun, as approved by NEC, stated that the February 27 decision would be upheld in case of unforeseen contingencies arising from the congresses/convention.
The memo stated: “If for reasons of inability to fulfill constitutional and or legal conditions requisite for the conduct of a valid elective congress or convention, then the party may as a last resort leverage on the NEC resolution of February 27, 2018, which in our view is lawful in the circumstances.”
But a party source, who spoke on the issue, disclosed that the approved recommendation, also contained in the Lalong committee report, may become a trigger for disaster, especially if the proposed congresses and convention are not held or stage-managed.
“I suspect a plot to frustrate and subvert the congresses and convention, especially since waivers have been given to the NWC (National Working Committee) to supervise the exercise and re-contest in the intra-party elections.
“In such circumstances, those conducting and supervising the congresses and convention will either formulate rules to favour them as contestants or there may be no commitment to successful congresses and the convention. Which ever way, the exercise can be programmed to achieve tenure elongation through the backdoor,” he explained.
Other recommendations approved by the NEC include a 21-day statutory notice for the holding of elective congresses and the convention to be given to INEC immediately; the current zoning formula for party offices be retained; requirements of Article 31(111) be waived in line with the provisions of Article (13,4(xv) to avoid disruptions in the management of party affairs at all levels; and all pending suits in respect of this matter be withdrawn.
In the memo, Oyegun further noted that on February 27, the NEC voted to authorise all elected officials to continue in acting capacities for a period not exceeding 12 months from the day of the expiration of their tenure.
He said that the president had observed that the NEC decision might have been in contravention of the extant provisions of the party constitution and the Nigerian Constitution.
He stated that following the president’s observation, the NEC had authorised him to set up the Lalong committee to advise the party on the way forward.
On this, the party chairman wrote that the 10-man committee was mandated to examine the president’s position and recommend a course of action consistent with the constitutions.
Oyegun said the committee affirmed the “constitutionality and legality of the NEC Resolution of February 27” and the “need for elective congresses and convention”.
Quoting the report of the committee, Oyegun had said: “After citing relevant statutes and authorities, the committee concluded that the decision taken by the NEC at its meeting of February 27 did not violate either the constitution of the party and that of the federation.
“In essence, APC is competent, through its relevant organs, to constitute caretaker committees to run the affairs of the party upon the expiration of the tenure of its elected party officials where, for some reasons, it is impracticable to hold elections before the requisite effluxion of time.
“The committee is of the view that it is the requirement of the constitution that the party should hold democratic congresses and convention every four years.
“The issue, however, is whether or not this requirement accommodates certain exigencies or circumstances that might prevent or make the holding of the congresses and conventions impracticable.”
Oyegun went on to say that the Lalong committee had recommended as follows: “That although the decision taken by NEC on February 27 is legal and constitutional, and violated neither the party constitution or that of the federation, it is still in the best interest of the party to conduct congresses and convention.
“However, in doing so, all reasonable measures should be taken to minimise opportunity for acrimony or rancour while ensuring that all prescribed constitutional and legal conditions are met.”