*Presidency can’t confirm Buhari’s presence
*Governors, South South leaders disagree on Oshiomhole’s suspension
*Plot political intrigues for 2023 – Tinubu
By Ezeocha Nzeh (Abuja) and Blessing Ibunde (Port Harcourt)
Tuesday’s proposed emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of crisis-ridden ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) face uncertainty as it cannot be confirmed whether the planned meeting will hold or not.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) had hurriedly fixed the meeting to deliberate on the party’s way forward after an Abuja court had suspended its national Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, following his suspension by his Etsako Ward in Edo State.
APC National Vice Chairman, North East, Salihu Mustapha led other five members of the party to approach an Abuja court presided over by Justice Danladi Senchi, who granted their prayer that the embattled National Chairman should be barred from all party activities following the suspension.
Following the court order, some anti Oshiomhole members of the NWC swung into action to implement the injunction against him, when they claimed to have met with President Muhammadu Buhari, who approved their request for the NEC meeting.
In preparation for the party, the NWC members held several meetings and have since commenced the renovation jobs at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, in preparation for the March 17 NEC meeting, which is expected to seek the way forward for the party.
But investigations by The AUTHORITY shows that it is not clear yet whether the NEC meeting would go on or not as there have continued to be series of meeting by both the pro and anti Oshiomhole camps of the party to either frustrate the NEC meeting or ensure that it holds as planned
While the Acting National Secretary of the party, Victor Geidom, who signed the party’s invitation for the meeting has maintained that there is nothing that will stop the NEC from meeting on Tuesday, some other pro Oshiomhole NWC members and stakeholders have continued to meet and lure some other party chieftains to shun the NEC invitation, with the fear that the embattled chairman may be replaced at the meeting
Gaidom, who confirmed that the presidency will be present at the NEC, also stated that all the members of NEC have been notified of the meeting.
“As NWC, we just finished our meeting, just to inform the public that the NEC meeting scheduled for the 17th March will still hold and every preparation towards that meeting is in top gear. I want to use this opportunity to invite all NEC members to attend the meeting.
“I can tell you that every member of NEC is prepared to attend this meeting,” assured Gaidom, who was said to have met with Federal Government on Friday to secure final clearance and assurance for the meeting.
But as the Acting National Secretary may have assured that the meeting will go on as planned, it was not clear as at the weekend, whether President Muhammadu Buhari will be present a at the NEC meeting or not.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, could not confirm this when he was approached on Saturday for comment.
“Honestly, I don’t know if the President will attend. I have no Information concerning that at the moment,” he said.
It could not also be confirmed whether the pre NEC caucus would go ahead today as constitutionally required, as circular to that effect was yet to be confirmed as at press time.
Governors, South South leaders disagree on Oshiomhole’s replacement
But should the NEC meeting hold as planned, The AUTHORITY can reveal that plots and meetings have been in top gear on the possible replacement for the embattled Adams Oshiomhole as APC National Chairman.
At a meeting convened by the Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki in Abuja, the APC South South stakeholders insisted that even at the removal of their kinsman, the zone must be allowed to complete their tenure, which will end in June, 2022.
The meeting, which was attended by majority of the party’s leaders from the zone, which included five serving minister, seven senators, former National Assembly members, zonal executive committee members, and several other South South APC leaders, endorsed the NEC meeting for Tuesday, even as they also endorsed the current Acting National Secretary, Victor Geidom, from Rivers State to be elevated to the position of Acting National Chairman as Oshiomhole’s replacement.
“At the meeting of the leaders of the South South zone of APC which met on the 12th March, 2020, we deliberated extensively on the situation in the party and at the end of the meeting we adopted the following resolutions:
“That as a party, we commend our brother, the acting chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Victor Giadom for rising to the occasion by providing leadership for the party in this trying times. We fully support the convening of the NEC meeting on Tuesday March 17, 2020 as the NEC is the only recognised organ under the Constitution of our party to resolve this crisis.
“We insist that the party should respect the present zoning arrangement by retaining the Chairmanship of our great party in the South South zone, even in acting capacity.
“We also resolved that the most senior party officer from the zone being the Acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, should be confirmed Acting Chairman for the time being.
“As we urge all our brothers and sisters from the zone to fully embrace the National Executive Committee meeting and not boycott the Emergency NEC meeting which has been slated for Tuesday March 17th, because, boycott in a democratic environment is always counterproductive,” stated the Edo state Governor and convener, Godwin Obaseki, who read the communiqué of the meeting.
The South South leaders’ position was further endorsed by a chieftain of the party in Rivers State, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, who also called for the appointment of the Acting National Secretary, Victor Giadom as the substantive National Chairman to lead APC to the next level.
Eze, who was a former National Publicity Secretary of nPDP, in a statement, issued in Port Harcourt, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for endorsing the March 17 emergency NEC meeting.
“The forthcoming emergency meeting of APC NEC should mark the end of the Oshiomhole era of brigandage and a fresh impetus for the change mantra that ushered in the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“President Buhari must have seen the need for this much needed new beginning when he endorsed the March 17, 2020 NEC meeting, thereby strategically saying bye-bye to Oshiomhole’s crisis-ridden reign.
“In setting the stage for the envisaged new beginning, it would be in the interest of the party to allow the current Acting National Secretary, Victor Giadom, to serve as the bridge between the reckless Oshiomhole era and the search for a meticulous substantive National Chairman to lead APC’s march to the Next Level,” he emphasised.
But the position of the South South stakeholders on who takes over from Oshiomhole has been criticised by some members of the APC Governors Forum, who are also in the fight against Oshiomhole.
While some of the governors, it was gathered, however, preferred that the position of National Chairman should move to the North West, with either the former Zamfara state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, or the Deputy National Chairman, North, Lawan Shuaibu, taking over, others agreed that the South must be allowed to complete their tenure, even as they are not aligned to the choice of Victor Geidom. It was gathered that most of the anti Oshiomhole governors however preferred either former Governor of Cross River State, Clement Ebri or former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, to complete the remaining part of Oshiomhole and South South tenure
Tinubu backs Oshiomhole, blames 2023 for party crisis
Meanwhile, leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has declared support for the embattled national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, over the crisis rocking the party.
The former Lagos state governor, in a statement he signed on Sunday, said those behind the crisis were preparing for the 2023 general election.
According to him, “While Corona has been presently contained in Nigeria, we must be alert to another sickness that seems rampant within a certain segment of society. That sickness is old Ambition-virus 2023. This illness afflicts many in the political class along with their allies in the media. Those touched by this malady find that their ability to tell time and discern the difference between the present and the future has been strongly impaired. The primary symptom of their malady is the driving tendency to believe the events of 2023 will be decided before we even exit the year 2020.
“Consequently, everything they say and do is geared toward obsessive jockeying for position to control and manipulate a race still three years away. In doing so, they recklessly undermine the very party which they claim to serve and weaken the administration of President Buhari to which they claim to be loyal. They line up to run a race for which the track has not even yet been constructed.
Continuing he noted, “It is against this backdrop that we should view the present ploys and plots to undermine the APC National Chairman. The Chairman is human; thus, he has his merits as well as his flaws. Yet his humanity cannot be grounds for his dismissal. If so, the position will forever go vacant.
“The Chairman has been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party. He has steered the party through difficult elections. His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude. It is no secret that the Chairman and Edo Governor Obaseki are in dispute. This is unfortunate. However, the party has moved through proper procedures within the proper organs of the party to hopefully resolve this spat. All party members know this. Such decisions are part and parcel of internal party governance. Yet, motivated by ambitions that have nothing to do with the quality of the Chairman’s performance, people shunned the agreed party reconciliation mechanism and resorted to other means to oust him. These self-help attempts are unwarranted. These attempts reveal more about the mala fides of their perpetrators than they do about the Chairman.
“The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions. People went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures.
“We even had a national deputy secretary improperly call for a NEC meeting on the basis that he believed himself to be the acting national chairman. Clearly, this man would not have summoned the temerity to make such a move had he not been instigated by powerful individuals who he thought would reward or, at least, protect him for committing the wrongful act.
“Those engaged in these manoeuvres see themselves as clever or cunning. They do so because they only understand the mean craft of political intrigue. They have yet to understand the value and long-term utility of democratic governance. Thus, they embark on the strangest of quest. They would rather dismantle and weaken the institutional core of their party just to gain control of that weakened edifice in order to pilfer the party nomination, which they crave. This is more than sad,” Tinubu added.