Buni Committee Has Power of NEC, NWC, Says Akpanudoedehe
*Dismisses summoning NEC to ratify convention date
*Again, court strikes out suit challenging legality of CECPC
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Segun James
National Secretary of Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, yesterday said the Governor Mai Mala Buni leadership of the party had the power of both the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Akpanudoedehe said the committee would not summon a NEC meeting for the approval of the convention date finally fixed for February 26.
That was as a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt struck out a suit challenging the legality of the Buni-led CECPC. A High Court in Delta State had earlier struck out a similar case against the APC governing body.
APC recently fixed February 26 for the party’s national convention after a series of postponements.
Article 25 (I) of the APC constitution states, “The National Convention of the party shall be held once in two (2) years at a date, venue and time to be recommended by the National Working Committee (NWC) and approved by the National Executive Committee (NEC) subject to the giving of the statutory notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and at least 14 days’ notice given to members eligible to attend.”
However, asked if the caretaker committee would summon a NEC meeting, Akpanudoedehe said the NEC of the party had seceded its powers to the committee and as such, the committee could sit as NWC and as NEC of the party.
“We are NEC and we are the caretaker committee,” he said, adding, “We have the power of NEC and NWC.”
According to the party’s constitution, members of NEC are National Chairmen, Deputy National Chairman (North), Deputy National Chairman (South), National Secretary, Deputy National Secretary, Six National Vice Chairmen, one from each geo-political zone of the country (to be also known as zonal chairmen), National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Legal Adviser, and National Treasurer.
Others are Deputy National Treasurer, National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Financial Secretary, National Organising Secretary, Deputy National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, and National Welfare Secretary.
There are also Deputy National Welfare Secretary, National Auditor, Deputy National Auditor, National Women Leader, Deputy National Women Leader, National Youth Leader, Deputy National Youth Leader, Special (physically challenged) Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, and States’ Chairmen of the party.
Members of NEC include the president and vice president, who are members of the party, senate president and deputy senate president, speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, governors, majority or minority leader, party whip, and their deputies in the senate and house.
The NEC membership further includes two serving senators from each geo-political zone of the country, who are members of the party, to be nominated by the senators from such zone, three members of the House from each geo-political zone, who are members of the party, to be nominated by members from such zone, among others.
Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Legality of Buni Committee
Meanwhile, delivering judgement on the suit no: FHC/ABJ/857/2021, Justice Pheobe Msuen Ayua struck out the name of the national chairman of the party, the CECPC, and the national secretary, CECPC, sued as the second, third and fourth defendants, respectively, for being non-juristic persons.
A Delta State High Court had on October 15, 2021 struck out an action filed by Elvis Ayomanor and others, challenging the APC ward, local government, and state songresses. The court presided over by Justice G.B Briki-Okolosi had also on December 22, 2021 struck out Suit No: A/139/ 2021, between Chukwusa Edafe Matthew and 14 others Vs. APC and others, to set aside the APC ward, local government, and state congresses in Delta State.
The court held that the action was non-justiciable and incurably incompetent, noting that the substratum of the matter bordered on the internal affairs of the ruling APC.
The latest ruling by the Federal High Court puts to rest issues surrounding the legality of the Buni-led Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee.
The ruling corroborated a Supreme Court judgement, which held, “that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party is empowered to create, elect and appoint committees (including the instant CECPC) or any other committee it may deem necessary to act in any capacity.”
The ruling party had been enmeshed in crisis, with leaders divided into power blocs, as the struggle for the control of the party structure heated up ahead of the 2023 general election.
However, a chieftain of the party and Commissioner for Information and Communications in Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo, dismissed the notion of a crisis in the party. Fanwo, who made the clarification while speaking to newsmen at the weekend, said what was happening in the party should be expected.
He stated, “The party is not in any form of crisis. What we have is an attrition of interests, which is normal in a ruling party that many believe will continue to lead Nigeria beyond 2023.
“The Mai Mala Buni leadership of the party has done very well in stabilising the party and attracting political heavyweights into the party. PDP is saying there is a problem in APC, and their governors, senators, and other heavyweights are dumping their party for the ruling APC. Who is in crisis here?
“Crisis-ridden parties are not naturally attractive. So Nigerians know which party is struggling and lamenting. If they think Nigerians have forgotten how they destroyed this country, they will know better in 2023.”