APC in Tenure Elongation Mess


While President Muhammadu Buhari has obviously pacified some All Progressives Congress’ heavy weights by raising objections to the decision to extend the tenure of the party’s executives at all levels, he has nevertheless infuriated others, writes Tobi Soniyi

For those opposed to extending the tenure of the All Progressives Congress’ executives at all levels,it is time to celebrate.

This is because they now have among them one man who wields enormous power: President Muhammadu Buhari‎. Although the National Executive Committee of the party has yet to act on the president’s directive no one is in doubt as to the fact that the party does not have a choice but to fall in line.

‎Buhari had last Tuesday asked the NEC to reverse its decision on the extension of the tenure of national and state officials of the party.

The president said the NEC decision should be reversed as it makes the party susceptible to litigations and was unconstitutional.
According to him, the decision violates the party’s constitution as well as the 1999 constitution.

The president said: “As we all know, a motion was moved at the last National Executive Committee meeting of February 27, 2018, to the effect that when the tenure of the current executives expire in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year.

“This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my own part, I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution. And what I found is that it contravenes both our party Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Citing sections of the party’s constitution to back his point, Buhari called for the reversal of the decision and conduct of a fresh election.

The party’s NEC‎ had last month extended the tenure of the officials by one year, a move that irked the likes of Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the party.

Other members of the party who were dissatisfied with the decision to extend the tenure of all the executives went to court. The cases have not yet been determined.

While Tinubu and his anti-extension co-travellers are celebrating the position taken by the president, ‎others who stand to lose if a congress is held to appoint new leaders are already in sober mood.

From the way the coup to extend the executives’ tenure was planned and executed, it would appear that those who wanted the extension are in the majority while those opposed to it are in the minority. In the absence o‎f an actual census, it is difficult to tell though.

As the president switched position, those who wanted the extension including the party’s National Legal Adviser, Dr Muiz Banire, Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the National Chairman of the party, Dr John Odigie-Oyegun to mention just a few, may have suffered some set back. However, nobody should expect them to go down without a fight.

Above all, the party remains divided. In fact the president has just raised the stakes. The warring factions will return to their bases and plan how to take the fight to the next level.
‎An elective congress before the next general election will be turbulent for the APC. The party has not demonstrated any dexterity in managing crisis and may find it difficult to resolve the disputes that will arise before, during and after the congress.

If nothing else, reversing the tenure elongation already offered to the executives on a plater of gold will make the task of reconciling aggrieved members ‎of the party which was entrusted into Tinubu’s hands a hard nut to crack.
For a party that was already swimming in trouble water, the idea of allowing all the executives to do another one year in violation of the party’s constitution should not have been allowed to fly at all.

Besides, why did it take the president over a month to discover that the decision violated both the party’s constitution and the 1999 constitution as amended? Was pressure brought to bear on the president before he changed his mind?

The party had thought that it was better to postpone the evil day by the extension but with the president’s sudden change of heart, time is a luxury the party does not have. The earlier it confronts and addresses its internal crisis the better. Given the level of acrimony that usually follows the conduct of an elective congress among political parties in Nigeria, those who fear that the APC may implode are not given up yet.

Nevertheless, the party still has a window of opportunity to take a decision that will not further widen the gulf between the losers and the winners.‎ The technical committee set up to advise the party can make this happen.
Speaking at the end of the NEC meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Bolaji Abdullahi, said the NEC had set up a small technical committee to advise the party on the matter.

He said the committee was expected to submit its recommendations latest by last Wednesday meaning that the committee ought to have submitted the report.

Pending that time, however, he said the last decision to extend the tenure remains.
“Members of NEC thanked the president for his graciousness. Of course we had a situation because we recall that after the last NEC and this decision was taken some members felt aggrieved and they went to court.

“Of course you know that any issue that goes to court is sub-judicial. Then that also presented its own complications so the NEC decided to set up a small team that will advise the party on the way forward.

“At the moment there is no decision taken. So the position of NEC still stands from the last meeting. There is a technical committee at the moment that is looking at it. That position may change tomorrow but as it is today that is the position of NEC.”

The biggest challenge for the party will be how to find a way to address the fear of those who will lose if the tenure elongation is set aside.

While those who would lose are eerily quiet, the winners have already rolled out the drums.
For instance, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani said APC had been in shambles since it won the general elections in 2015.

While commending Buhari for saving the party from an impending disaster, Sani warned that the aftermath would be ‘disastrous if the party fails to heed’ the president’s advice.

He said: “We can literally say that President Buhari saved the party from an ill-fated flight. He was able to exorcise a demon that was planted and growing in the womb of the party by some persons for their own selfish interest. He was misinformed to have accepted the extension in the first instance and now he saw the light and reversed.

“If we go along with that extension and then someone from the opposition party goes to court after all the processes of congresses and primaries have been done, we may end up without a presidential candidate, governorship candidates and without candidates at all legislative arms of government.”

He said the president was initially misled to believe that the tenure elongation was in consonance with the party’s constitution.

“What happened was that there were people who misled the president, the party and tried to use that extension to achieve their own ends. The party has been in shambles in the last three years. Since the victory of 2015, it was clear that the party was no more united as it was.

“I can’t imagine that a party that has made promises to change, to restore things and to cleanse this country now regressed to extending illegally something that doesn’t exist within the constitution of the party.

“Most of the crises the PDP faced that led it to loss was as a result of this kind of internal wrangling and illegality, imposition of candidates, manipulation of party constitution, extension of tenure all others, now here we are deepening it.

“There are people within the party, particularly governors. You see them mostly every Fridays coming to the villa, they felt that the party belongs to them, they are closer to the president than any other person. They antagonise people who fought to see APC to be in power today.

“After 2015, the unity of the party ended. They marginalised people like the senate president, they eliminated people like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as if nobody matters. It is not about washing our dirt in the public, but it’s a truth and we have to say it out.”

Tinubu also felt vindicated. He said Buhari had spoken in a clear, straightforward manner.
According to him, Buhari had confirmed that APC is a party that is based on the rule of law coupled with a firm adherence to internal democracy.

He said: “While it would have been easy to allow the ill-conceived motion of 27 February to stand, President Buhari showed principle and courage by steering the party back to its original and correct path.
“The president has spoken. Today is a good day for those who cherish democracy and legality.”

He said the action of the president would also serve to strengthen the party by allowing party members, including present incumbents, to seek to contribute to the party by vying for executive offices as they see fit.
He believed the president decision would also help in advancing the process of internal reconciliation that he said was underway in the APC.

He said it was time for the party to move forward and begin to plan and organise the needed congresses according to the existing timetables.

He said: “After all, a party bearing the name All Progressives Congress should be the last party to resist holding congresses in which all its people have a fair say and fair chance to aspire to any position in the party for which they are qualified to hold.

“Again, this is a good day for the APC and democratic political practice in Nigeria. We shun the politics of old to move toward a new and better way of governing ourselves and this nation.”
‎Events in coming weeks will determine if other members of the party share Tinubu’s optimism.

The biggest challenge for the party will be how to find a way to address the fear of those who will lose if the tenure elongation is set aside.