*As Buhari endorses March 17 NEC
*Why Ganduje, Zulum still back embattled chair
*Ebri, Ndoma, Yari tipped to complete Oshiomhole’s tenure
By Ezeocha Nzeh
For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), last week’s court suspension of its national Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole may have commenced the race over who picks the party’s ticket for the 2023 presidential election.
The crisis rocking the ruling party escalated last Wednesday, when an Abuja court presided over by Justice Danladi Senchi granted an interlocutory order as sought by the party’s National Vice Chairman, North East, Salihu Mustapha, and five others to activate the suspension of Oshiomhole as announced by his Etsako Ward 10 in Edo state.
The embattled National Chairman, who had survived earlier gang ups against his remaining as chairman of the party, has since the suspension fought hard to no avail to vacate the order, including a Kano High Court order vacating the Abuja court decision, which a section of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) have however questioned its authenticity, and declined to obey it.
Sources close to the party told The AUTHORITY that some governors under the APC platform have resolved to use the suspension of Oshiomhole to square up for a fight against some national leaders of the party who they accused of using the continued stay in office of the embattled chairman to perfect their strategy ahead of the party’s 2023 presidential election primary.
It was also gathered that some of the progressives governors who have insisted that Oshiomhole must not return as APC national chairman included the Nigeria Governors Forum Chairman, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, Governors Nasir El’Rufai of Kaduna State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Atiku Abubakar Badaru of Kebbi state, Simon Lalong of Plateau state, Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa state.
The AUTHORITY further gathered that while the likes of Fayemi and El’Rufai were reported to have an eye on the 2023 presidency, the others are fighting to remove the suspended National chairman following allegations of his high handedness in handling party affairs, as well as his fight against their colleague governor from Edo state, whom Oshiomhole has sworn never to allow seek a second term on APC platform as far as he remains the party’s chairman.
For the presidency in 2023, the governors are said to have united against the ambition of APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is also seen as a strong contender.
It was gathered that while a good number of the APC governors may have united to oust Oshiomhole, the embattled National Chairman still enjoys the support of the governor of Kano State, Abdulahi Umar Ganduje and his Borno counterpart, Babagana Zulum.
The AUTHORITY gathered that while Governor Ganduje also has an eye on the Vice Presidency under the South West leaders of the party should the APC cede the party’s ticket to the South, Governor Zulum is supporting Oshiomhole, because his principal and former governor, Kashim Shettima is also positioning himself to run as vice to the same possible presidential aspirant from the South West as Ganduje. The South West leader with his camp is seen as the major supporter of Adams Oshiomhole to remain in office, hence the two Northern governors have keyed into the support.
Ebri, Yari, Ndoma Egbe considered to complete Oshiomhole’s tenure
The AUTHORITY gathered at the weekend that two former governors, Clement Ebri and Abdul Aziz Yari, as well as former Senate Leader, Ndoma Egba are been considered by the governors as possible replacements to complete Oshiomhole’s tenure. Yari was the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, while Senator Ndoma Egba who served as Secretary of the Convention Committee that returned Oshiomhole as APC national Chairman, also failed in his bid to return to the senate at the last election.
Sources close to the governors, which confirmed that consultations have been going on in the states, added that the governors will meet again next week on how to pick his successor, which will be ratified at the proposed March 17 national Executive Committee meeting in Abuja
Buhari endorsed March 17 NEC meeting, NWC members reveal
Meanwhile, while a section of the party’s NWC loyal to Oshiomhole has denied knowledge of, and urged members to ignore the circular for National Executive Committee meeting on March 17, some NWC members have disclosed that they consulted adequately before arriving at the date.
Three NWC members: Mr. Babatunde Ogala, National Legal Adviser, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, National Publicity Secretary and Arc. Waziri Bulama, National Secretary, on Saturday issued a statement countering the earlier statement issued on NEC by the Acting National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom.
The trio in a statement issued at the weekend, said the “constitution of the party had provided the process and procedure to be followed to convene such a meeting as stipulated in Article 25 (B) (i) and (ii).”
The article states, “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than 14 days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“ii. Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an Emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
They argued that “neither the National Chairman nor the resolution of two-thirds of members of the National Executive Committee has directed nor made any request to summon a National Executive Committee Meeting of the party”.
But the Deputy National Chairman North, Senator Lawal Shuiabu, who have suddenly staged a come back to the affairs after he was allegedly suspended by the Oshiomhole led NWC has said that those who signed the statement are not members of NWC except Babatunde Ogala, the National Legal Adviser.
Shuiabu said, in the names of NWC members domiciled with the Independent National Electoral Commission only Ogala’s name is there.
He argued that the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu and the National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama were admission of the suspended National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, which he said did not pass any party convention.
He said, “Such persons cannot sign a letter and you expect it to have effect.”
Also, in a statement issued Sunday, the Acting National Secretary, Victor Gaidom stated ‘’For the purpose of clarity and putting the issue in clearer perspective, I wish to state that the decision to call for an emergency NEC meeting for March 17,was taken in strict compliance with the constitution of the party.
‘’By Article 14.4 (1) of our great party, the deputy national secretary is empowered to act as the national secretary in the absence of the national secretary and all the actions taken since the emergence of Hon Mai Mala Buni as executive governor of Yobe state, are taken in my capacity as acting national secretary.
‘’By Article 14.3 (11) of the party constitution, being the Acting National Secretary, I have the power to issue notices of meetings for National Convention, National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party’’.
Similarly, the APC National Vice-Chairman (North-East) Mustapha Salihu, dismissed Ogala and Onilu’s statement, describing it as “doing the biddings of their principal” .
He said, “Why are they (the Oshiomhole group) not operating from the party’s national secretariat? We are in the secretariat working tirelessly towards a successful NEC meeting as you can see. These people are hiding somewhere trying to confuse the public.”
“As you can see from the announcement we’ve made, we have written to the President and he duly responded and we have a date fixed for the meeting.
“This is an emergency meeting; the main issue is the state of our party in the light of the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole, and you know the agenda of such a meeting is a collective one.” He said the NWC members met last week to arrive at the date for the NEC meeting, adding that they sought for and got the approval of the President before sending out the invitation.
The NWC members who met last week were: Acting National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom, National Women Leader, Hajiya Salamatu Baiwa, National Vice Chairman, Comrade Salihu Mustapha, National Youth Leader, Hon. Abubakar Sadiq and National Secretary for Disable, Alhaji Shuaibu.
According to the NWC member, the 6-member working committee that met last week formed the constitutional 1/3 of the present 15 member NWC, to sit and take decisions for the party.
It was learnt that the consultations would continue this week, as the pro Oshiomhole camp disclosed that they are scheduled to meet with the President early this week to further plead his case.
“We will be meeting the President this week to ask him if he is aware of a letter being bandied about by some of these people seeking to force our chairman out. They are claiming that he consented to attending the illegal NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting they called for March 17.
“We will also want to find out if he is aware that this whole thing is a plot to destabilise his government, because these people don’t mean well for our party.”
“We want to tell the President that enough is enough, we will not allow the ambition of individuals who don’t mean well for our party to destroy us. These are the people telling the President lies about Oshiomhole.
Meanwhile, security men have continued to lay siege on the APC National Secretary, which they completely took over on Friday, barring both factions, staff and journalists from gaining access to the premises.