The powerful caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors has fallen in line behind its leader and President, General Muhammadu Buhari, with a resolve to hold a national convention to elect national officers.
State, and local officers of the party will also be elected, effectively putting an end to the desire of National and state working committee members to remain in office for another year.
In fact, the 10-member Governor Simon Lalong Technical Committee set up by Chairman John Odigie Oyegun appears ready to throw in its report this Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule leading to speculations of a rail-roading by governors backing President Buhari.
After what seemed to be a sharp division, Tuesday, which the governors are now denying, one of the governors, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State told journalists in Abuja, Wednesday, “Gentlemen of the press, you know yesterday(Tuesday), 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. We had a meeting with Mr. President yesterday, and we extended the meeting today and we followed up with the consultations with the president now.
“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 party constitution, we are going to respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“So, we collectively agreed that we will have congresses at all levels – local, state and national”.
Nine days ago, President Buhari, who had maintained a dignified silence after the National Executive Committee (NEC) endorsed a year’s tenure extension for Oyegun’s NWC and those of states, leaving many to conclude he supported it, dropped a bombshell saying the extension was illegal.
He said: “I think it is important for me to speak quickly on the contentious issue of the tenure of our National and State Executive Officers. As we all know, a motion was moved at the last National Executive Committee meeting of February 27, 2018, to the effect that when the tenure of the current executives expire in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year.
“This motion was duly carried by a majority of members present at the last NEC Meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken up very vehemently against it. Others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my own part, I have taken some time to review and seek advise on the resolution. And what I found is that it contravenes both our party Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC Constitution, in Article 17(1) and 13.2(B), limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), in section 223, also prescribes periodic elections for party executives at regular intervals, which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our Party 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 Caretaker Committee cannot remedy this situation, and cannot validly act in place of elected officers.
“Furthermore, I think if we deviate from the constitutional provisions, 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 nominations and primary elections that they may conduct, can also be faulted.
“This is not to talk of divisions that would arise, and is already arising within the party, when some of our members feel that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions, or that internal democracy is not at play within the party.
“I am therefore of the firm view that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and national constitutions, rather than put APC and its activities at grave risk.
“Fortunately, we have already approved a timetable for the holding of congresses and elections. I think these should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should now be geared towards making them a great success.”
His words threw the party in disarray, forcing many to take positions; but with the governors now lining behind the President and calling for the setting up of a convention committee, observers suggest that the party is in for tougher times