Will Adamu Have a Smooth Sail?

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After the emergence of the former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdulahi Adamu as the Nation Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the question on the lips of many is whether he will have a smooth sail throughout his tenure or the fate that befell his predecessors await him. Adedayo Akinwale writes:

Following the emergence of the former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the air of uncertainty blowing within the party has ceased and the  party may be enjoying a new lease of life.

Adamu, the anointed candidate of President Muhammadu Buhari emerged through consensus on March 26, following the decision of other chairmanship aspirants to subsume their ambition out of respect for President Muhammadu Buhari and out of love for the ruling party.

In his acceptance speech, he said  the members National Working Committee (NWC) of the party  accepted the onerous responsibility that members have placed on their shoulders. He assured that the NWC  would work hard to ensure that they  fulfill the expectations of members for the greater good of the party and of the country.

Adamu noted that as politicians, they  are not strangers to gains, losses and disappointments with the outcome of every political contest. He said there was a need to show maturity and good sportsmanship and accept the outcome of the convention with grace.  

To him, there was a need to renew the faith of members in the party and its leadership at all levels in order to herald a new dawn. Adamu urged party members to commit to the resolution of the crisis within the confines of the party constitution. He said they must resist the temptation to blow every minor personal disagreement into a major  crisis, insisting that  It is time for them to do things differently. 

Why Adamu was preferred – Bello

The Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello has said that the need to have a strong personality with historical knowledge of Nigerian politics informed the choice of Adamu.

He said APC as the party to beat wants to win all elections and the party must be  strategic, stable and must be solid. Bello was of the opinion that if the party had decided to go by sentiment, it would have been consumed and  there wouldn’t have been APC today.

He said: “And as such, we require such an experienced personality, irrespective of where he or she comes from. Forget about what is put out there as whether zoning or no zoning. What is important is who is that man who will be the leader and put the party together and that quality was found in Senator Abdulahi Adamu.

“And the party will not want anything that is going to disrupt any process that was going to make him emerge. We had a rancour free election and we have a solid party today being led by Senator Abdulahi Adamu. He happened to come from North-central, so be it. What we want is certain qualities that are going to bring the party together.”

 “In the wisdom of the leadership of the party under Buhari and all the governors, leaders and members of the party, we all keyed into that issue of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that such a quality personality takes charge of the party.

Banana Peels: Probe of APC Finances

Few days after he assumed the leadership of the party,  Adamu said he would commence the probe of the secretariat and directors of the party after the Transition Committee submits its report. He stated categorically that he would like  to know the state of finances of the party.

He said: “We want to know where the party is exactly so that we don’t get taken by the exuberance of winning an election and just plunge into the pool or not know how deep or the temperature of the water.”

“As for you, the director of admin, you have no hiding place. We will count on your loyalty to the party. It is in God’s pleasure that we are here at the helm of affairs of this party. We’ve come with a very open mind but you have to reciprocate in the same spirit. We will definitely by the will of God Almighty, the Secretariat, we need to look at you but am not saying anything today until the transition committee submits its report.”

Reversal of Buni’s Decision

Adamu had also commenced reversing some of the decisions taken by his predecessor and Caretaker Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni. Before leaving office. Buni had given standing instructions to lawyers representing the APC to appeal court judgments challenging the conduct of congresses supervised by the caretaker committee.

In a letter signed by the Head, Legal Services of the APC, Dare Oketade which was addressed to Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) & Company dated April 6, 2022, it was stated that Adamu had directed that all cases appealed by Buni’s committee be immediately withdrawn from court.

The letter titled, ‘Notice of Withdrawal of Instruction’, relates to a case marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1635/2021 between Stephen Ntukekpo and three others vs. the APC and three others

It read: “I have the instruction of the National Legal Adviser to convey the decision of the leadership of the party to obey the judgment in respect of the above captioned suit having been served with the same. Our instruction on the above matter was terminated at the Federal High Court. Consequently, the party is not interested in pursuing the appeal in respect of the above matter.

“I have further instructions of the National Legal Adviser to request that you withdraw all the processes filed on behalf of the party and H.E. Mai Mala Buni, the erstwhile National Chairman of the CECPC, at the Court of Appeal.”

However, the court ordered that the status quo be maintained until the determination of the motions for jurisdiction and stay of execution, which comes up on May 17.

One of the appealed judgments was that of the Federal High Court recognizing the Akwa Ibom State faction of the APC led by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over that of the erstwhile Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe.

Defiant Akpanudoedehe Fights On

However, Akpanudoedehe appeared not to be deterred by the decision of the party to discontinue with the appeal as he has vowed to fight on.

Akpanudoedehe, who responded to the Notice of Withdrawal through his counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN) & Co. Solicitors & Advocates of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a letter addressed to Oketade dated 7th April titled, ‘Re: Notice of Withdrawal Instruction’,  said the former national secretary will exercise his right to appeal the case.

The letter read: “We received your letter in respect of the aforesaid subject matter dated 6th April 2022, though made available to us on the 7th of April, 2022 in chambers at about 9:25am.  We agree with you as stated in your letter to wit: “Our instruction on the above terminated at the Federal High Court”.  Surely that is correct and on that note It will be appreciated if you could pay us our outstanding fees per our letter of acceptance dated 14th January 2022. 

“Meanwhile, please note for the records that after the delivery of the judgment, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe who is a natural person and was sued as the 3rd Defendant in the action engaged our services to prosecute an appeal against the judgment on his behalf. Indeed, he personally funded the production of the record of proceedings among other logistics and that led to appeal NO:CA/ABJ/353/2022 which he is the Appellant and All Progressives Congress is a Respondent among others, as entered in the Court of Appeal. 

“Accordingly, we are of the firm view that having been sued eo nomine as a natural person at the trial Court, he can constitutionally exercise a right of appeal through any Counsel of his choice against a judgment which he was a party, therefore we counsel that it would be appropriate if you could refer your request for the withdrawal of his processes from the Court of Appeal to him. 

“While we mean no disrespect to the office of the National Legal Adviser, we regret to observe that your letter to us dated 6th April 2022, ought not be copied to the Counsel on the other side as well as the Registrar of the Court of Appeal as was done by you. We say no more. Kindly extend our sincere regards to the National  Legal Adviser.” 

However,  a party source  said Adamu’s new approach could destabilize the party.

According to him, The best thing for Senator Adamu to have done was to allow the cases to run their course. There are over 200 cases in court at the moment. He should have let them continue.

What the new national chairman is doing now is to reverse Buni’s actions and those who feel slighted will be forced to leave the party,” the source said.

Adamu’s Corruption case

Going into the 2023 elections, the N15 billion corruption case hanging on Adamu’s neck will be a vital campaign tool for the opposition party to take advantage against the ruling party. Especially, considering the fact that the party that promised to fight corruption now has a chairman tainted with the same menace it promised to rid the country off.

Adamu, who served as governor of Nasarawa between 1999 and 2007 was in March 2010 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Federal High Court in Lafia. The EFCC had instituted N15 billion fraud allegations against Adamu and others.

The EFCC said Adamu was arrested over the fraudulent award of contracts mostly on capital projects during his eight-year rule as governor of Nasarawa. Adamu and his co-accused, however, filed a motion countering the charges on the grounds that since the funds alleged to be embezzled belonged to the state, the EFCC was out of line in its investigation. The defendants also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But the then presiding judge, David Okorowa, ruled that Adamu would stand trial as he had a case to answer. In 2013, the senator and other defendants filed a suit at the Court of Appeal, challenging the decision of the lower court. In 2018, Adamu claimed the EFCC had dusted his file on alleged case of corruption since 2016

Unending Court Cases

In spite of the fact that an elected NWC is now in charge of the day-to-day running of the party, there are barrages of court cases it met on ground. The litigations are against the APC at different levels.

Some of the cases were filed challenging some actions of the Buni-led caretaker committee, while some cases were instituted as a result of parallel congresses held, some cases were instituted as a result of the factionalisation of the party.

For instance, a chieftain of the party, Okosisi Ngwu had in July approached an FCT High Court seeking an order stopping the ward, local government and state congresses of the party in Imo State. The case is yet to be discharged.

In the same vein,  the factions of ex-governor Aliyu Wamakko and Senator Abubakar Gada in Sokoto State are facing a Supreme Court date after the Court of Appeal upheld the Wammako-led executive.

In Kano, the appeal by the APC faction of Ibrahim Shekarau in Kano State over the ward and local government congresses against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is pending before the Supreme Court after the appellate court upheld the Ganduje-led exco.

Also,  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking the nullification of the APC national convention and the deregistration of the political party.

The PDP is contending that the APC as a political party failed to meet the requirements of sections 222(a), 223(b), and 225 of the Nigerian Constitution. 

Adamu’s Perceived Tribalistic Tendency

While the ruling APC has no justification not to zone its Presidential ticket to the South ahead of the 2023 elections,  last September, Adamu without an inkling that he would become the chairman of the party vehemently kicked against zoning the presidency to South or any part of the country during elections, describing it has wishful thinking.

Adamu while responding to a question on power shift to the South  said there was nowhere in the Nigerian constitution that says any public office should be zoned.

He said, “There is federal character, but not that parties must zone positions for presidency during election. The constitution is being reviewed. If you want a specific provision that a presidential position be zoned, you say it, and tell us how you want it to be zoned.

“You can’t just wish away a situation that is fundamental to a country. You can’t talk of merit and talk of zoning. You can’t. Let’s just go by merit. Let every party find a way of selling itself in a manner that will garner the votes that will win the election. It’s as simple as that.”

“Yes, somebody is saying the South-east has not had a president. I agree, and I sympathize with them. But the constitution says you can only become president through the ballot box. And we have been saying it during elections that every vote must count. So, why do you want to zone? Zone your mind if you want to zone.”

While Adamu is still enjoying the honeymoon as the newly elected  chairman of the party. Political analysts believe that  he will be confronted with the same  scenario that befell the former Chairmen of the party like Chief John Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole await him.

Though Oyegun spent four years, he wasn’t allowed to go for a second term because some governors and some interest groups within the party who stood against him.

Similar dose was served to Oshiomhole when he was unconstitutionally removed from office after just two years. Though the crisis was plagued with  crisis under Oshiomhole, the governors were unanimous in sending him packing.

Analysts were of the opinion that Adamu’s case won’t be so different considering his rigid style. They think he will fast track the collapse of the party under his watch.