*As succession crisis rocks Party
*Ajimobi, Gaidom fight dirty
*NWC names Gov. Uzodimma head of Edo guber primary
By Ezeocha Nzeh
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently engulfed in a succession crisis that could reshape the party’s fortune ahead of both the September 19 and October 22 governorship election in Edo and Ondo states, as well as the Party’s chances in the 2023 elections
The crisis emerged as three leaders of the party are currently laying claims to the National chairmanship position, following Wednesday’s Appeal Court affirmation of the suspension of the National Chairman of the Party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by his Etsako Ward in Edo state.
The leadership crisis worsened on Wednesday when the three contenders to the position hinged their proclamations on the party’s constitution.
Relying on Section 14(2)(iii) of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) the National Working Committee NWC of the party had named the Deputy National Chairman, South, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi as acting National Chairman, few hours after the Appeal Court judgement was made public on Tuesday.
Ajimobi, the immediate past governor of Oyo state, who accepted the appointment did not waste any time, when he in a statement said to have been issued by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji, indicated that he had assumed office by that morning. Section 14(2) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates the duties of a Deputy National Chairman of the party among which is to assist the National Chairman in the discharge of his duties.
In Section 14(2)(iii), the constitution states that, “the Deputy National Chairman shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.
Bolaji Tunj in the statement which was released through APC media department said his principal had assumed the reins of leadership in the aftermath of the order of the Court of Appeal affirming the suspension of the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He also sued for peace among party faithful, stressing that he would soon announce a date for the APC National Executive Committee meeting to address all the issues that led to the party’s crisis.
But in reaction to the statement credited to both the APC NWC and Senator Ajimobi, the Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom proclaimed himself the acting National Chairman.
Giadom, who quickly addressed the media few hours after the Ajimiobi statement, announced a takeover of party affairs, even as he declared the nullification of all processes which led to the disqualification of Gov. Godwin Obaseki from the June 22 APC primary in Edo state.
Giadom who arrived the secretariat at about 10am with a retinue of security aides said he was relying on an earlier High Court judgement which recognized him as the APC Acting National Chairman in March.
He was flanked at the media briefing by the Deputy National Organizing Secretary of the party, Muhammad Sani Ibrahim, a non- NWC member.
Giadom said; “Consequently, I bring to your notice that on the 16th of March 2020, Hon Justice S.U. Bature in suit no FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 had ordered that, with the earlier suspension of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomohle, I, Chief. Hon Victor Giadom should act as National Chairman of our great party. That Order could not be immediately affected at that time because of the temporary reprieve Adams Oshiomohle got from the Court of Appeal on the same date.
“However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday by the Court of Appeal and considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vacuum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as Acting National Chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the Court.
“I, therefore, most humbly solicit the support of the entire leadership and members of our great party in achieving this very important responsibility. I want to assure all party members that the All Progressives Congress will obey court orders/judgements as to bring sanity to our great party.
“Our party, the All Progressives Congress, will no longer allow local quests for the control of power to influence our decisions. As your Acting National Chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we, therefore, cancel the decision of the Screening and Appeal Committees of the former Chairman of the party on the Edo primaries. This is in strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that forbids anyone who is interested in a cause to be a judge in that same cause. Asks aspirants to report for fresh screening
“It is a brazen rape on the Rule of Law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the former Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshlomohle to preside and select Committees in respect to the Governorship primaries in Edo State being a key player in the crisis in that State. Whatever role the former Chairman was given to play in that process by the APC Constitution, it cannot override the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which governs all of us.
“We, therefore, ask all aspirants in the Governorship Primaries to report for fresh screening between today and tomorrow. I call on all aspirants to remain in the All Progressives Congress as we guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned. The schedule and time for each aspirant shall be communicated.
“In addition to the above, the Deputy Organising Secretary of the All Progressive Congress, Hon. Muhammad Sani Ibrahim shall immediately resume office as the Acting National Organizing Secretary in compliance with the judgement of the Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2018 which removed the former National Organising Secretary Mr Emmanuel Ibediro since 24th of September 2018. This is to ensure strict compliance with the Rule of Law”, he said.
NWC backs Hilliard Eta to act in Ajimobi’s absence
But few minutes after the Geidom briefing, about 16 member of the NWC of the party later and using the same meeting hall of the National Executive Committee NEC, announced the endorsement of National Vice Chairman (South South), Hillard Etta to oversee the affairs of the party on behalf of Ajimobi, who is reportedly indisposed.
The NWC said it met on Wednesday morning to take the decision, asking Eta to act on behalf of Sen. Ajimobi. Those who signed the statement conveying the agreement were the National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama, Hilliard Eta, the National Vice Chairman Southeast, Hon. Emma Eneukwu; National Vice Chairman, Southwest, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana; National Vice Chairman, Northwest, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Vice Chairman, North Central, Alhaji Suleiman Umar Wambai; National Organizing Secretary, Barr. Emma Ibediro and the National Legal Adviser, Babatunde John Kwame Ogala. Others were the National Welfare Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Kabir Masari; National Treasurer, Alhaji Adamu Fanda; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Financial Secretary, Alhaji Tajudeen Bello; National Auditor, Paul Chukwuma; National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa Umar-Eluma; National Youth Leader, Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar and National Disabled Leader, Misbahu Lawan Didi.
Eta told the media that the NWC reaffirms Sen. Ajimobi, as the acting National Chairman of the party, but that in his absence, the NWC resolved that he (Eta) should pilot the affairs of the party. He also announced the decision of the NWC to declared Gaidom’s Deputy National Secretary seat vacant, saying he had earlier resigned from the position to participate in the 2019 general elections as running mate to the party’s governorship candidate in Rivers State, Pastor Tonye Cole.
He quoted Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) which he said, stipulates that; “Any party office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or Party primary for the Office he or she is seeking to contest”.
Eta said “as the zonal chairman and leader of the party in the South South, I am not aware that the Zonal Executive Committee had at any time met and re-presented Giadom as their candidate for the office of Deputy National Secretary.
“The NWC also noted that Chief Victor Giadom had resigned to contest as Deputy Governor of the party in the last election and that the party has no recollection that the South-south zone of the party had re-presented him.
“Therefore, the NWC has now asked the South-south zonal chapter of the party to present a member of the party to fill this position”.
Gov. Uzodinma heads Edo Primary Election C’ttee
The NWC also named a seven-member primary election committee for Edo state, headed by the Imo state Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodinma. According to Hillard Eta, Barr. Prof. Mustapha Bello would serve as the Chairman of the Appeal Committee for the primary election.
The Edo state Governorship Primary Election has been scheduled for Monday 22nd June, 2020, the Election Appeal is scheduled for Wednesday 24th June, 2020. Members of the primary election committee are: Sen. Ajibola Bashiru (Secretary), Alh. Abdullahi Abass, Hon. Ibrahim Sabo, Hon. Ocho Obioma, Hajia Amina Lantana Muhammed and Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye.
Other members of the Primary Election Appeal Committee are Dr. Kayode Ajulo (Secretary), Hon. Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Ibrahim Junju and Hon. Rasaq Mahmud Bamu.