*Hold talks with party chairman, others
*Stakeholders want Ken Nnamani as successor
By Ezeocha Nzeh and By Chesa Chesa
Opponents and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, have shifted their supremacy contest for the soul of the ruling party to its forthcoming elective congresses.
Soon after the governors bowed to President Muhammadu Buharia��s pressure to hold elective congress, The AUTHORITY learnt that ardent supporters of Odigie-Oyegun regrouped and vowed to work for his return as the APC national chairman at the congress.
Among those pushing for the return of the APC chairman are 16 governors who earlier mobilised support for him at the tenure elongation meeting where Odigie-Oyegun garnered 104 votes against four. The APC has 24 governors.
The APC NWC tenure will end on June 3, 2018, after which congresses would be held to pick leaders to manage the party affairs at the local, state and national levels.
While majority of the governors, the non-National Working Committee (NWC) members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, as well as its state chairmen voted for a tenure elongation at the partya��s 5th NEC meeting, a section of the APC stakeholders, led by former governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, protested the decision.
Some members of the pro-Tinubu camp from Lagos and Zamfara states also dragged the NWC and NEC to court, seeking redress on its decision to extend the tenure of the NWC.
While the case went on, President Buhari, who was present at the 5th NEC meeting when the decision was taken, withdrew his support for the tenure elongation, citing constitutional breaches.
Addressing the APC NEC at its 6th meeting on March 27, President Buhari cautioned the members on taking decisions that could expose the party to litigations, which he warned could jeopardise its chances of winning the 2019 general elections.
President Buhari in recanting, remarked that the contentious issue of the tenure of our National and State executive officers was moved by a majority of members present at the last NEC meeting even though some of the party members spoke vehemently against it, while others went 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 at regular interval which must not exceed four years.
a�?Furthermore, Article 31 of our partyA?s Constitution provides the any principal officer wishing to re contest, or contest for another post, must resign from his current post at least one month before the electiona�?.
The development led the party to inaugurate a 10-man Technical Committee, headed by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, to consider the NEC decision vis-a-vis the Presidenta��s new position and advise the NEC on the way forward.
The APC governors held series of meetings with the President since Tuesday and yesterday, resolved to heed Buharia��s advice on adherence to the partya��s constitution to conduct an elective congress to replace the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC, as soon as their tenure ends.
Sources close to some APC governors however confirmed to The AUTHORITY that majority of the governors are rooting for the return of Odigie-Oyegun, former governor of Edo State, at the congress.
It was gathered that while the governors who have completed their two terms in office are disposed to sacrificing Odigie-Oyegun, majority of the one-term governors are behind the APC chairman and have begun underground work to re-present him for the seat.
It was further gathered that while the governors who have completed their tenure would prefer a new party leadership that could be their loyalists, to enable them actualise their plans of either making it to the Senate or installing their preferred candidates, the one-term governors preferred that the status quo should remain as ladder to secure their second term ticket.
a�?Yes the governors may have yielded to pressure from the Presidency and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, but I can confirm to you that the game is not yet over.
a�?Since the first meeting with President Buhari on Tuesday and today (yesterday), the governors have been meeting in camps, and I can tell you that majority of them have resolved to present Chief Odigie-Oyegun for re-election as national chairman.
a�?Though it is going to be a tough battle as the pro-Tinubu governors are also mobilising, Odigie-Oyegun is still not out of the picture as he may possibly return at the end of the congress,a�? one of the sources disclosed.
It was also learnt that a group of APC stakeholders are pushing for the re-allocation of the NWC positions, with a section favouring the South East producing the next national chairman.
They argued that zoning the position to the South East would sell the APC to the zone. This group have commenced their lobbying of former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, for the job.
Meanwhile, Odigie-Oyegun, who briefed newsmen after the meeting between the NWC and the Progressives Governors at the partya��s headquarters asserted that all the disagreements in the party had been resolved.
Before the meeting, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulazeez Yari, announced that the governors had agreed to conduct congresses instead of extending the tenure of the executives.
Odigie-Oyegun said: “Today, the governors and the NWC of the party decided to look at the issues that are seemingly dividing us. I want to say with absolute satisfaction and pride that all the issues you have been commenting about in the last two days have been resolved. We are back in business as one united and happy family.
“I want to say also that yesterday we set up a Technical Committee as ordered by NEC. From the very first minute that we called them to section, they have worked non-stop because I emphasised when I was inaugurating them that their report was time sensitive.
a�?It is sensitive because we have already sent out notices for the meeting of NEC which will hold on Monday.
“I am glad to say that the chairman of the Technical Committee has reported that his report will be ready this evening or tomorrow morning. This report will be placed before NEC on Monday, April 9, and appropriate decision will be taken.
“Thereafter, we will announce to you the further steps that we are going to take resulting from NEC consideration on the recommendations when we receive them”.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdulahi, said: “It is left for the NEC to decide and if the committee recommends that the position of NEC should be maintained, then there would be no need for an elective convention and then the president and those who are concerned that the decision we have taken is correct or not, will have more confidence in the position of the party.
“But if the committee recommends that congresses should be held then NEC will consider the report and at then decide whether to reverse itself or not,” he said.
Governors who attended the meeting were Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Akinwunmi Abode (Lagos), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Adamawa Statea��s Jubril Bindo, and the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Mohammed Ahmed Ketso, as well as the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Ado Dogowa. Benue State governor was absent and was not represented at the meetings.
As a follow-up, the APC has concluded plans to write the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the new schedule for congresses into the wards and states executives.
The governors met last night and brought their resolutions to Buhari at a meeting in his office on Wednesday morning after which they briefed State House correspondents.
At the briefing were the governors of Zamfara, Imo, Kano (Abdullahi Ganduje) and Ogun.
Yari said: a�?Gentlemen of the press, you know yesterday we left you in the dark after the meeting and today we have seen so many captions that there is disagreement between the governors over the issue of party Chairman or about the party leadership. No.
a�?We had a meeting with Mr. President yesterday (Tuesday), and we extended the meeting tonight and we followed up with the consultations with the President now.
a�?We consulted and all the 24 governors of the APC are on the same page with Mr. President that we are going to respect our partya��s constitution. We are going to respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, we collectively agreed that we will have congresses at all levels a�� local, state and national,a�? he said.
*Hold talks with party chairman, others