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APC NEC: Why El-Rufai, Akeredolu, Bello, Others Are Backing Oyegun

•Six issues which will dominate APC NEC meeting
•Buhari, APC leaders set to determine Oyegun, others’ fate
Fresh facts emerged yesterday that some governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some party leaders are adamant on the retention of the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) because of some personal reasons including survival for the 2019 polls.

The governors are: Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna); Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi); Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); and Simon Lalong (Plateau).

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) who used to be pro-Odigie-Oyegun, allegedly changed his mind at the March 27 National Executive Committee meeting.

Others linked with Odigie-Oyegun are some leaders of the National Assembly; Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, and the National Legal Adviser of APC, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN).

But following the President’s advisory, Amaechi has opted for elective convention too.

Sources close to some of the governors said they are afraid that the congresses could be rancorous and that this can have a negative impact on the APC in next year’s election.

Extensive checks however show that this is a smokescreen.

The real motive is the fear that due to their dwindling influence, they may not produce the next executive committees of the party in their respective states.

Some of the governors are said to be upset that President Muhammadu Buhari was allegedly conceding to some national leaders of the party, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Their calculation is that they are already losing out in Buhari’s kitchen cabinet.

The pro-Odigie-Oyegun governors are not happy that having invested so much in the APC national executive members they may not be there for them in the build-up to the 2019 elections.

Some NWC members were said to be seeking favours from a few of these governors and leaders including juicy contracts and trips abroad.

A highly placed source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Some of those governors rooting for Odigie-Oyegun and NWC members have virtually hijacked the structure of APC and thoroughly compromised the leadership.

“The rot began gradually as soon as the NWC led by Odigie-Oyegun was inaugurated and a thanksgiving was done.
“This was why the NWC was helpless on some issues including the now resolved June 2015 stalemate in the National Assembly over the choice of principal officers.

“Some governors have also allegedly influenced decisions of the NWC on the legality of their State Working Committees.

“There is more to the backing of Odigie-Oyegun than meets the eye. It is a case of he who pays the piper dictates the tunes. Many times, two Northern governors have bailed out the APC National Secretariat by paying the salaries of staff which is about N17million monthly.”

For instance, findings confirmed that El- Rufai is Oyegun’s favourite. Many APC watchers don’t understand the basis for the cosy relationship.

It was gathered that at a stage, Odigie-Oyegun was always using every opportunity to sing the praise of el-Rufai who he once described as “an achiever” to the envy of others.

A source said: “If you look at Odigie-Oyegun, he is fond of putting el-Rufai in strategic committees of the party. He believes that as a favourite of the President, el-Rufai is a way to Buhari’s heart.

“All interventions in Kaduna APC by the National Secretariat were mere cosmetics because el-Rufai is Odigie-Oyegun’s anointed political loyalist. It is an open secret.

“And el-Rufai in turn takes undue advantage of the party to seal the hope of his opponents, especially Senators Shehu Sani and Othman Hunkuyi.

“As long as Odigie-Oyegun remains in office, el-Rufai will control APC machinery in the state and his second term ticket is assured. So, it is a case of survival in 2019 in Kaduna

“With his loyalty to the President and backing for Odigie-Oyegun, el-Rufai can be likened to a polygamist managing two wives. He was one of those instrumental to the February resolution by NEC on tenure elongation for Odigie-Oyegun and the NWC.

“The same el-Rufai dealt with the National Vice Chairman (Northwest) of APC, Inuwa Abdulkadir to check any attempt to use the zone to undermine his political aspiration.”
A source in el-Rufai’s camp however said el-Rufai’s support for Odigie-Oyegun was meant to keep the APC united for the 2019 re-election bid of the President.

The source said: “El-Rufai does not do things in half measures. He is only being a party man to the core by serving Odigie-Oyegun led NWC at any time.

“He suspects that those who want to wreck the party were behind the elective congresses and National Convention so that APC will be in turmoil before the 2019 polls.

“He also detests the attitude of some of his colleagues. For instance, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari invited el-Rufai and his colleagues to a meeting without any agenda on the invite. He only got to the meeting only to be confronted with the options of either tenure elongation or elective congresses and convention. He felt bad.

“All I know is that he has no differences with the President. He is not opposed to the idea of the president on the conduct of state congresses. He will not be on a different wave length with the President.”

Yahaya Bello
For his part, Governor Yahaya Bello’s second home is the National Secretariat of the party since he became the governor.
Having secured the confidence of Odigie-Oyegun and his team, the governor relates with only a factional APC in the state led by Ibrahim Ahovi.

In spite of a pronouncement by the National Working Committee, the authentic state chapter of APC being headed by Hady Ametu has been operating largely from Abuja.

It was gathered that the governor invested in the splitting of APC because of alleged desperation for a second term ticket.
Another source said: “Left to Bello, he prefers Odigie-Oyegun’s retention in order to be able to take total control of the party’s structure in the state and seal his second term ticket.

“Apart from assisting the party, the governor recently renovated the Press Centre in the APC National Secretariat. The renovation is causing ripples as those in the administration felt sidelined. But no one knows how much Bello gave to the party till date.

“Bello is close to the first family but he has spread his tentacles to APC secretariat in order to cage his opponents who may have to look for another party. His only challenge is how to win his re-election bid because Kogi East, with a huge voting strength, is waiting in the wing to reclaim the mandate conceded to it through the late Prince Abubakar Audu.”

But Bello on Wednesday made a volte face when he said: “I am an ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari who has said that we must stick to the 1999 Constitution and APC Constitution. If Buhari asks me to jump into fire, I will not hesitate to jump into it.”

Simon Lalong
For Governor Simon Lalong, who is interested in a second term, he has been following the footsteps of his godfather, Rotimi Amaechi (the Minister of Transportation) who backed his election. Amaechi, who feels comfortable with any of the camps in APC, is only interested in a united APC and he wants to have a say in the party affairs to protect the interest of the President.

A source close to Lalong said: “The governor has no personal commitment to Oyegun other than being a party faithful. He has no problem to be cringing at the doorsteps of either the APC National chairman or NWC members.

“Lalong was for tenure extension to avoid the friction that comes with congresses and National Convention. He believes tension associated with elective convention can lead to bad blood which may cause the exit of some party leaders.

“He said in an election year, no party can afford a convention crisis. He also said since it was a general decision in February to extend the tenure of Odigie-Oyegun and others, it is better to abide by it.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “There is no intra-party crisis in APC in Plateau State to warrant Lalong shuttling to Abuja for party protection. We had a noise maker who everybody ignored.”

Mohammed Abubakar
Concerning the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, it was learnt that he initially supported Odigie-Oyegun because President Buhari was backing the man.

A reliable source close to him said: “My understanding which may be limited, the governor is a firm believer of Buhari and he was with Odigie-Oyegun because the president was also supporting him. It makes political sense to align with Buhari because the political climate here has shown that the President is still massively being followed.

What will following Odigie-Oyegun fetch Bauchi State or the governor?
“Locally there is a strong opinion that the state chairman of the party must go but people close to the governor want the status quo to remain. They are power brokers. A lot of people want to be party chairman but the current holder was the governor’s school mate.

Investigation revealed that Amaechi initially backed Odigie-Oyegun for continuity because as the Director-General of Buhari’s Campaign for 2019, he does not want any rumpus in the party.

“But immediately the President stamped his feet on elective convention, he withdrew his support for tenure elongation”.

Asked if Amaechi opted for Odigie-Oyegun to control the party structure in the state, the source added: “It is indisputable that the Minister is the leader of the party in the state.

“What we are doing is to reunite everyone including Sen. Magnus Abe who felt aggrieved at some point.”

Governor Akeredolu’s preference for Odigie-Oyegun is described by a source, as a case of “one good turn deserves another.”

Having gone through stiff opposition to secure the party’s governorship ticket, the governor is said to be overwhelmed by the “fairness of Odigie-Oyegun and the NWC.”
The source said: “You know he contested for governorship primaries without the control of the party’s structure. He believes he owes the party leadership some support.

“Also, Akeredolu and his strategists feel that it is time to consolidate their grip on APC in Ondo State more so when there are still issues in court by one of the gubernatorial aspirants, Dr. Segun Abraham, at the September 3, 2016 governorship primary election.

“He believes some leaders of the party are behind the lingering court case on the primaries and he has to lean on the national leadership of APC in case of any upset.”

To Governor Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), who is a close political ally of the President, there is no need changing Odigie-Oyegun’s NWC. He strongly suspects the anti-tenure elongation agenda is being floated by some leaders from the South-West.

A party leader said: “Although efforts were made recently by the President to reconcile Amosun and some aggrieved South-West leaders, it is still a cat and mouse game.

“His ultimate objective is to anoint his successor and he thinks the status quo can make it a reality. If a new leadership emerges, it can be a different permutation.”
Six issues which may dominate APC NEC meeting.

Six issues will largely determine the course of events when the national executive committee (NEC) of APC convenes tomorrow in Abuja on the future of Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the national working committee (NWC).

President Buhari, whose intervention seems to have punctured the move to give Odigie-Oyegun a tenure extension, will be joined at the all important meeting by other top wigs of the party.

Notwithstanding, last minute consultations are continuing by Odigie-Oyegun supporters, led by some state governors, to save the day for him.

Party sources hinted yesterday of a plot by some APC members who feel threatened by Odigie-Oyegun’s possible exit to dump the party and form a New APC.

The Nation gathered yesterday that Buhari’s speech at the last meeting of the APC NEC in which he drew attention to the illegality of tenure extension for Odigie-Oyegun and others will form the basis of tomorrow’s deliberation.

The meeting, according to party sources, will also revolve around the report of the Governor Lalong-led Committee on tenure elongation and constitutional matters; the power of the NEC to establish a committee; the composition of the National Convention Committee and the timetable for state congresses and National Convention and whether or not Odigie-Oyegun’s NWC members will be asked to resign.

Buhari at the March 27 meeting had said: “I have taken time to review and seek advice on the resolution and what I found is that it contravenes both our party’s constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While the APC constitution in article 17(1) 13.2 (b) and 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 election for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.

“Furthermore, Article 31 of our great party’s 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.”

Some sections of the APC Constitution which also be discussed are: Articles17 (1), 13.2, 3 (b); 20 and 31.

Section 13.3 says: “The National Executive Committee of the Party shall be the Principal Executive body of the Party and shall perform the following functions:
1. Summon or convene the National Convention and prepare its agenda;

2. Discharge all functions of the National Convention as constituted in between National Conventions;

iii. Decision of the National Executive Committee shall be binding on all organs and all, members of the Party, except the National Convention;
1. Consider reports from National, State and Local Government Area/Area Councils Chapters of the Party and take such decisions as are necessary to protect, advance, and consolidate the gains and interests of the Party;

2. Exercise control and take disciplinary actions on all organs, officers and members of The Party and determine appeals brought before it by any member or organ of the Party;

3. Create, elect and appoint any Committee it may deem necessary, desirable or expedient and assign to them such Powers and functions as it may deem fit and Proper;

iv. Examine the actions taken or legislation proposed or passed by any Government, Legislative House or Local Government Area/Area Council and determine what further actions the Party should take;

v. Secure at all elections the return of as many Party candidates as Possible, so as to generally have control of the Legislative and Executive arms of Governments in the Federation, States and Local Government Areas/Area Council
1. Raise adequate funds for the management and sustenance of the Party;

2. Ratify the type, nature and membership of Standing Committees to be set up by the National Working Committee;

3. Approve the national budget of the Party;
Article 17 (i) says: “Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all officers of the Party elected or appointed into the Party’s organs shall serve in such organs for a period of four (4) years and shall be eligible for re-election or re-appointment for another period of four (4) years only, provided that an Officer elected or appointed to fill a vacancy arising from death, resignation or otherwise shall notwithstanding be eligible for election to the same Office for two terms.

“No member shall serve in the same office for more than eight (cool years continuously, except a member of the Board of Trustees or a person who first came to the office by filling a vacancy.

Article 20 reads: “All Party posts prescribed or implied by this Constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective National Convention or Congress subject, where possible, to consensus, Provided that where a Candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.’

Article 31 borders on the omnibus provisions in APC Constitution which make it compulsory for Odigie-Oyegun and all NWC members to resign at least 30 days prior to the date of nomination or Party primary for the Office he or she is seeking to contest.

The omnibus provisions of the APC Constitution stipulates thus : “Provided always that in pursuit of all the provisions herein contained in this Constitution, the following shall ensure that:
1. No person shall be eligible to contest for any Party position, or be nominated by the Party to be its candidate at any election, if the person is not a member of the Party.

2. All nominations into elective offices shall be supported by a specified number of nominators from the relevant Constituencies as may be prescribed or provided for in the Party’s Electoral Guidelines.

3. 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.

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