*Orders APC to hold elective congress in June
*NEC decision still stands a�� Party
*Action saves APC from legal turmoil – Tinubu
By Ezeocha Nzeh
More facts have emerged on why President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday overturned last montha��s decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which gave the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) tenure elongation for one year.
Odigie-Oyegun and his NWC members had on February 27, 2018, secured the tenure extension when the NEC voted 104 against four, to back the decision.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, who briefed the media at the end of that meeting, cited Article 13 of the APC constitution to back the NEC decision.
The NEC decision had attracted negative reactions, including a court action from members believed to be loyal to the APC National Leader, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The AUTHORITY hade exclusively reported on Tuesday before the meeting, that Tinubua��s men were bent on upstaging the tenure elongation at yesterdaya��s meeting.
Tinubu, who Buhari appointed as the head of APC Reconciliation Committee, had accused Odigie-Oyegun of undermining his assignment.
In a letter he wrote to President Buhari, Tinubu demanded the removal of Odigie-Oyegun.
It was against this backdrop that Buhari yesterday at the APC’s 6th NEC meeting in Abuja, sacrificed Odiegie-Oyegun, under the guise that the decision would hunt the party because it was unconstitutional.
The AUTHORITY learnt that Tinubu vowed not to work for Buharia��s re-election if Odigie-Oyegun remains the APC chairman.
Key supporters of Buhari were said to have advised him to take Tinubua��s threat more seriously because he has more electoral value than Odigie-Oyegun.
In a swift reaction, Tinubu said that the Presidenta��s action has saved the APC from serious legal turmoil.
Tinubu, in a statement he issued immediately after the meeting, said that if the elongations were deemed illegal, then all subsequent party actions, including the nomination of all a�?our party candidates for elective offices might also be of questionable legalitya�?.
The Presidenta��s action was also a sharp deviation from the agreement reached at the party’s caucus meeting on Monday night, when Odigie-Oyegun and his NWC members, narrowed the NEC meeting agenda to two items: amendment of APCa��s constitution and deliberation on true federalism.
Buhari in his speech asked the delegates to review their earlier decision on tenure elongation, which he described as the most contentious issue at the meeting.
He disclosed that he had consulted widely and sought legal advice, since the decision was taken, adding that all his consultations had proved that the tenure elongation was not only against the APCa��s Constitution, but also against the 1999 Constitution (as amended), especially in elective positions.
The President warned that if the decision was not revisited, it could give the opposition an undue advantage over the ruling APC.
He said: “In particular, I think it is important for me to speak quickly on the contentious issue of the tenure of our national and state executive officers and we all know a motion was moved in the last NEC meeting of February 27, 2018, to the effect the when the tenure of the current executives expires, they should be allowed to continue in office for one year.
“This motion was moved by majority of members present at the last NEC meeting even though some of our party members have since spoken up vehemently against it; others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my part, I have taken time to view and seek advice on the resolution and what I find is that it contravenes the partyA?s Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“While the APC Constitution in Article 17 (1) and (2) limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution as amended in Section 223 also prescribed periodic election for party executives which must not exceed four years,” Buhari said.
The President said that “furthermore, Article 31 of our partyA?s Constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest, or contest for another post, must resign from his current post at least, one month before the election.
“In this circumstance, what is expected of us is to conduct fresh elections once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end,a�? he said.
The President maintained that a caretaker committee cannot remedy the situation in the party, adding that it cannot validly act in place of elected officers.
“I think if we deviate from the constitution of the party, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party. If the tenure of our party executives can be legally faulted, then it means that any nomination and primary elections they will conduct can also be faulted.
“This is not to talk of issues that will arise and are already arising within the party, with some of our members feeling that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions or the internal democracy is not at play within the party.
“I am therefore of the firm belief that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and the nationa��s constitution rather than put the APC at a grave risk. Fortunately, we have already approved a timetable for congresses and elections; I think this should be allowed to go,” he said
In a chat with the media after the meeting, the APC National Publicly Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, said that the NEC appreciated the President for his concern on the unity of the party, even as he added that the NEC agreed to set up a committee to deliberate on the processes to review the decision, taking note of the fact that the matter is pending in court.
Abdulahi maintained that the last NEC decision still stands, pending the determination of the committee.
“Of course, we had situations; remember that some people went to court after the decision was taken at the last NEC meeting, and you know that discussing any issue that is already in court will be sub judice. So, NEC decided to set up a team to advise the party on this matter.
“At the moment there is no decision taken, so the position of NEC still stands. However, that position may change tomorrow,” Abdulahi stated.
In his reaction, Governor Bello described the issue as a family matter which must be settled in the interest of the party.
He argued that the earlier NEC decision did not negate any provision of the APC’s Constitution or the Constitution of the Federal Republic, but was taken to avert possible crisis that may arise after party primaries ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Let me quickly make it clear that we are not discussing a matter that is already in court, It is a family matter between brothers and sisters. So, we have to sit down and address it, with a view to solving the problem,” Bello said.
*Orders APC to hold elective congress in June