•South-south leaders back embattled Oshiomhole
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will today make a final decision on the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled for Tuesday next week, a competent presidency source told THISDAY last night, saying although the president sanctioned the meeting, constitutional issues raised around it have made him to seek clarification from relevant stakeholders.
The acting National Secretary of the party, Mr. Victor Giadom, had last week issued a notice of meeting of the second highest organ of the APC for March 17, to discuss raging issues affecting the party, including the suspension of the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, by an Abuja High Court.
Although Oshiomhole had dismissed the court ruling as ineffectual, waving a counter court ruling from the Federal High Court, sitting in Kano, which asked all parties in the crisis to revert to status quo ante bellum, Giadom and the National Vice Chairman, North-east, Mr. Mustapha Salihu, had insisted that the suspension of the national chairman subsisted.
But three other national officers: National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Legal Adviser, Mr. Babatunde Ogala; and ‘National Secretary,’ Mr. Waziri Bulama, in a statement at the weekend, declared the proposed meeting unconstitutional on the ground that it was not called in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
However, THISDAY reliably learnt last night that Buhari authorised the March 17 meeting on the strength of a written request by Giadom, asking the president for a date for NEC meeting to resolve outstanding issues plaguing the party.
The president was said to have given him the date.
“The party secretarial wrote a letter, requesting the president to give it a date for a meeting of NEC. March 17 was subsequently given,” the source said, adding: “In the circumstances, the president has authorised the meeting.”
According to him, “It would appear, therefore, that those opposing the meeting are a challenging the authority of the president, and that matter would have to be dealt with tomorrow (today) after further consultations with relevant stakeholders.”
THISDAY further learnt that upon the statement of Issa-Onilu and two others, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, was directed to look into the constitutional issues raised and advice the president on the appropriate course of action.
Meanwhile, Giadom insisted yesterday that he acted constitutionally in calling the NEC meeting, explaining that as the highest ranking member of the National Working Committee, he was authorised by the party’s constitution to summon the second highest organ of the APC.
He said in a statement yesterday in Abuja that the statement issued on March 7, and jointly signed by Ogala, lssa-Onilu and Bulama was aimed at misleading members of the NEC and the general public.
He explained that Article 14.4 (i) of the constitution of the party states that the Deputy National Secretary is empowered to act as national secretary in the absence of the National Secretary, stressing that all the actions taken since the emergence of the former National Secretary, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, as Governor of Yobe State were taken in his capacity as the acting National Secretary.
Giadom added that by Article 14.3 (ii) of the constitution of the party and being the acting National Secretary, he has the power to issue notices of meetings of national convention, NEC and NWC meeting of the party.
He stated: “For the purpose of clarity and putting the issue in proper perspective, I wish to state that the decision to call for an emergency National Executive Committee Meeting for March 17, 2020 was taken in strict compliance with the constitution of the party.
“It is on record that the erstwhile National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has been suspended by a court of competent jurisdiction. The two deputy national chairmen are no longer in office. The next most senior party office should be the Secretary General of the party. But as we all know, the erstwhile National Secretary in the person of Hon. Mai Mala Buni is now the Executive Governor of Yobe State. Hence, as the Acting National Secretary, I have the constitutional power to steer activities of our great party.
“This is the power I exercised on the March 6 and March 7. 2020, calling for an emergency National Executive Committee of our great party in line with Article 25 (B) (ii) of the Constitution of our great Party.”
He urged the members of the NWC to attend the meeting slated for March 17, 2020, adding that it would serve as an avenue to find solutions to the present state of quagmire the party had found itself in.
He argued that Bulama, who purportedly signed the document as the party’s national secretary is not a member of the NEC and NWC as his alleged nomination as national secretary of the party has no legal footing, because it failed to meet the requirements provided by Article 20(l) (a) of the party’s constitution.
Also speaking yesterday, Mustapha insisted that there was no going back on the emergency NEC meeting, adding that the NWC would start sending invitation letters to NEC members today.
According to him, “The party and any serious organisation are not run on the pages of newspapers and on the screen of televisions and the waves of radio; parties are run in the office. We have issued a statement and we have approval from every quarters and stakeholders that we are going to hold NEC meeting. We followed all the procedures and as we speak, we are at full swing working at the secretariat producing invitations and what have you to go round.”
He said NEC would soon resolve the lingering controversy over the leadership of the party.
Mustapha added: “If it is confirmed that they are the ones that actually put out this communication to bring disharmony, the NEC will now take appropriate action. I don’t believe they are the one, but if it is confirmed, the disciplinary action will be taken by NEC.”
When reminded that the said statement was jointly signed by National Legal Adviser of the party, National Publicity Secretary and the National Secretary, Mustapha said those that signed the statement are not operating within the party, because they have not been to the party secretariat in the last week.
He replied: “That’s what I’m saying – these people, where are they operating from? They are not in the office; none of them came to this office. For the past week, we have not seen them in the office and we have not held any NWC meeting and decided that National Legal Adviser should sign any statement – neither did we agree at any meeting that the National Publicity Secretary should sign the nomination of one Ajimobi and other people. When we saw it, it was a shock to us. Neither did we agree that there is another person who will act as National Secretary that will even now start signing documents.
“But as for us, our NEC is going on and the preparation is in full swing; we worked throughout yesterday (Saturday) at the secretariat; we left there late at night; we will work today, by tomorrow (today) letters will go round and we are operating from the office. The NEC is going on, preparation is in full gear.”
South-south Leaders Back Embattled National Chairman
Joining the fray, the Vice Chairman of the party in the South-south, Mr. Hilliard Eta, has said that the APC leaders in the zone are solidly behind Oshiomhole.
The zonal vice chairman in a statement issued yesterday debunked reports in a national daily that the people of the region had abandoned the embattled national chairman, adding that he is enjoying the support of the leaders of the zone contrary to reports in the media.
He said: “I was surprised when I read that report that the South-south has abandoned Oshiomhole, that is completely untrue and being fuelled by those plotting evil against the national chairman. I am the national vice chairman of the party in the South-south zone, and I know better.
The political leader of the zone, who is the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, was not contacted by anyone to know the position of the zone.
“So, I wonder where that newspaper got its information from. As I speak with you, the zone is implicitly behind the National Chairman of our party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole. We are fully in support of our chairman and people from outside of our zone will not tell us how we will manage our office that was zone to our region.”