Why Atiku withdrew from BoT contest
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has again postponed the formal meeting of members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) earlier scheduled for Tuesday, March 22 to Thursday, March 31.
The National Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, who confirmed the new date to THISDAY late yesterday evening, however, assured that the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party would still take place on Thursday, March 24 as scheduled. The inauguration of the BoT has continued to drag five months after the party announced its composition.
While reacting to an enquiry on the preparations for the meeting of the organs of the party, Buni said: “Yes, NEC is scheduled to hold on Thursday, March 24 and BoT on March 31”.
However, THISDAY gathered that there are indications that the NEC meeting may also be rescheduled following the complaint by one of the party leaders that they were yet to be formally invited to the meeting.
Already, THISDAY gathered that the meeting of the party’s national caucus earlier scheduled for Monday has also been shifted from Monday to Tuesday.
A highly reliable party source which did not want his name to be mentioned due to the sensitive nature of the issues, told THISDAY that the party was facing dire times at the moment, notwithstanding the pretence to the contrary.
“Normally and in line with provisions of the constitution of the APC, members of the party’s BoT or NEC are to be formally notified of the meetings of the organs two weeks before the date but this has not been done,” he said.
However, efforts by THISDAY to get a response from Buni, who also doubles as the party’s spokesman, failed as he was not available for comments.
The party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had insisted that the meetings of its major organs would go ahead as planned. Speaking to journalists on resumption of work after a two-week leave, Oyegun had said the meetings would go on as scheduled.
Oyegun said: “Yes, all the scheduled meetings of the party will run as planned, the caucus on the 21st, the BOT on the 22nd and NEC on the 24th. Everything will go on as planned.” He listed issues to be tackled during the meetings to include election of the BoT chairman and approval of timetable and modalities for the organisation of party congresses to fill vacant positions in the NWC.
But an APC stalwart at the weekend spoke about a growing uncertainty over the fate of Odigie-Oyegun who from all indications has been under pressure trying to navigate in-between vested interests and power blocs that had emerged since the inauguration of the APC administration.
He said the chairman appeared not to be in the good books of loyalists of the national leader of the party and former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
According to the top member of the party from the South-west, Odigie-Oyegun fell out with the influential Tinubu group following the manner in which the party handled the crisis that was generated by the leadership tussle in the National Assembly.
He said one of Odigie-Oyegun’s sins was the fact that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and those who supported him against the party’s position were yet to be punished by the leadership.
Another source of trouble for Odigie-Oyegun may have come from the Presidency. It was learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari had raised questions over the utilisation of the N7 billion that accrued to the party from sale of nomination forms since the 2015 general election.
It was gathered that following the financial crisis that hit the party, and the subsequent move to get assistance from the presidency, President Buhari asked Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the NWC to go back and develop an in-house method of generating funds to run the affairs of the party.
Meanwhile, the decision of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar not to participate in any contest for the post of the chairman of the party’s BoT has been confirmed by one of his very close associates who pleaded not to be quoted.
As one of Atiku’s political strategists, he said the decision to lie low was to avoid being seen as competing for political space with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“What he was trying to avoid is his being misconstrued or misquoted by those who are seeking to profit from any strained relationship with the president.”
On whether Atiku will be seeking to vie for the chairmanship of the BoT, the source said the ex-Vice President had made it clear that he will not contest for the position.
He said Atiku would accept it as a consensus offer coming from the party and its leaders rather than step into a contest for the post.
“Our leader has made it clear that he will not be contesting for the chairmanship of the BoT and this position has been communicated to the party.
However, if the leadership of the party in its wisdom feels that Atiku can
positively impact on its affairs by holding such position, then, of course, as a man who is a democrat and who has the interest of the party at heart, he may soft-pedal and take up the offer. But aside from that he would not want to present himself for any election for the BoT chairmanship,” he said.
Although the APC has announced the composition of its BoT, formal sitting of the body has remained on hold due to anticipated leadership squabbles it may generate. Political gladiators like the former Vice President, former APC interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and former PDP chairman, Abubakar Baraje, were among those that showed interest in occupying the chairmanship seat.