By Raphael Innocent
In the wake of the announcement of the suspension of the national chairman of the APC by the Edo state chapter of the party, in November 2019, the existing structure of the APC has been put under review by stakeholders and party faithfuls, while it’s leadership continue to be in contention.
The call for the suspension of the former governor of Edo state was occasioned by a vote of no confidence passed on him by the Edo state Chapter of the party, when incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki raised concerns about Oshimole’s interest in the upcoming Edo state gubernatorial elections as the cause of his disqualification from participating in the party primaries which he said is in favor of Pastor Ize-Iyamu; the anointed candidate of Oshiomole.
Mr. Oshiomole’s suspension as the APC national party chairman became formal as ordered by a federal high court in Abuja in March and recently at the Appeal court earlier this month, as the Appeal court upheld his suspension.
In view of the prevailing circumstances surrounding the great party, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday the 16th of June, met after the Court of Appeal vacated an earlier High Court ruling that affirmed the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Oshiomole, who was also in attendance for the meeting declared to journalists that he had no ill feelings about the turn out of events and noted that disagreements were bound to happen once in a while in political setups, but that it shouldn’t occasion a disintegration of the party.
Deciding on the step forward, the NWC declared the appointment of Sen. Abiola Ajimobi the deputy national chairman as acting chairman of the party, pending the resolution of matters on ground. However, due to the unavailability of Mr. Abiola Ajimobi who was hospitalized for an ailment, Mr Billiard Eta, the National Vice Chairman (South-South) stood in his stead as acting chairman of the party.
Earlier in the year, following the federal high court ruling on the suspension of Mr Oshiomole, Mr Victor Giadom, the national secretary of the APC declared himself the acting chairman of the party. He declared that he was backed by a court order.
Mr Giadom, while declaring himself chairman, went ahead to announce the ‘cancellation’ of the APC screening which led to the disqualification of the Edo governor, Godwin Obaseki, from contesting the party governorship primary in Edo state, but Mr Obaseki has since after his disqualification defected from the APC to the PDP where he hopes to secure a ticket to run for re-election in September.
In a bid to control the situation, the APC NWC moved to suspend Mr Victor Giadom from the party. Hilliard Eta, the National Vice Chairman (South-South), who is standing in for the acting chairman, Mr Ajimobi, who is hospitalised at the moment, told journalists Tuesday night, “As we speak, the membership of Victor Giadom has been suspended by a competent court of jurisdiction in Port Harcourt this afternoon.
“Not only is he no longer a member of the NWC, for today, his membership has been suspended,” Mr Eta added.
Notwithstanding, Victor Giadom, the sacked deputy national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), went ahead to issue a notice for the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC. Note that there was a push for the party’s NEC to hold in March, which would have decided the fate of Mr Oshiomhole, but for the intervention of Mr Buhari, who postponed it indefinitely.
President Muhammadu Buhari reckoned Victor Giadom was acting within his powers of jurisdiction and gave credence to the authenticity of the National Executive Committee meeting scheduled by him, while stating he’ll be in attendance.
At the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on Thursday 25th June 2020, based on the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved, while a caretaker and convention committee comprising 13 members, headed by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni was inaugurated.
The new appointees into the caretaker committee are
- Mai Mala Buni, chairman of the Committee: Mr Buni is the current governor of Yobe State. He had served as national secretary of the party before his election as governor in the 2019 general elections.
- John James Akpanudoedehe, the secretary of the NCC . Mr Akpanudoedehe is a former senator for Akwa Ibom North East (1999-2003) on the platform of the PDP and a former Minister of State for FCT in the administration of late President.
- Ken Nnamani: Mr Nnamani is the representative of the South-East geopolitical zone in the NCC . He was Senate President between 2005 and 2007 during which the upper legislative chamber achieved some level of independence.
- David Lyon: He represents the South-South geo-political zone. Mr Lyon was the governorship candidate of the APC in Bayelsa State in the November 18, 2019 election.
- Governor Gboyega Oyetola: He will represent the South West zone in the committee. Mr Oyetola is the governor of Osun State. He assumed office in 2019 having won the September 22, 2018 governorship election on APC ticket.
- Governor Sani Bello: The Niger State governor is the representative of the North-Central zone in the committee. He was first elected as governor in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 on the platform of the APC.
- Tahir Mamman: A professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Mamman will represent the North East Geo-political zone in the NCC.
- Abubakar Yusuf: Mr Yusuf will represent the Senate in the committee. He is a two-term member representing Taraba Central Senatorial District. He is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa and NEPAD.
- Akinremi Olaide: Mr Olaide is the representative of the House of Representatives in the committee. Mr Olaide represents Ibadan North Federal Constituency of Oyo State.
- Stella Okorete: Mrs Okotete, who hails from Delta State, is to represent women in the NCC . She is the Executive Director (Business Development) of Nigerian-Export Bank (NEXIM).
- James Lalu: He represents the physically challenged in the committee. He hails from Plateau State. Mr Lalu served as senior special assistant to former Governor Jonah Jang for eight years.
- Ismail Ahmed: He will represent the youth in the committee. Mr Ahmed is a lawyer and has served as the interim chairman of the APC Youth Forum (APYF).
The move by President Buhari to attend the NEC meeting convened by Giadom and dissolving the party’s NWC has been greeted with different interpretations on the implication for the party and the coming gubernatorial elections in Edo state which was an ignition in this whole drama.
It is widely speculated that the decision of the President to dissolve the party’s NWC did not go down well with loyalists of the National Leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was rumoured to have declared his support for the embattled National Chairman of the APC amidst a rumoured interest of his in the the presidential race come 2023.
However, on his part, the suspended National APC chairman Oshiomole has come out to state that he is fully in agreement with the decision of Mr. President and has pledged his allegiance. Adams Oshiomhole said he has taken a bow and accepted the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) which he held by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
While stating that he has instructed his lawyers to withdraw the case currently pending at the Supreme Court to challenge the judgement of the Appeal Court which upheld his suspension as sustaining the legal action would be tantamount to disobeying one of the decisions that the President had made.
“As a demonstration of my loyalty to Mr President, loyalty to our party and loyalty Nigeria nation, I have decided to accept the decision in good faith and to maintain my loyalty, my respect and admiration of President Muhammadu Buhari”, he said.
In the same vein, the National leader of the All Progressive Congress Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reacted to the recent happenings in the party and stated that he accepts completely the decision of the president’s intervention in the politics of the party which saw the exit of former national chairman Adams Oshiomole from his position.
He further cleared the air about rumors making the rounds that he had not been active during the time the party was in crises and concerning his supposed 2023 presidential election ambition.
“The president has spoken, and his decision is accepted. I have foiled for this party as much as any other person or perhaps more than most. And to those who have alleged that the outcome of the NEC meeting has ended my presidential ambition in 2023, I pity them, because this political ambition they speak of has not yet been born,” he stated.
Meanwhile, President Muhammad Buhari on Saturday released a state through his spokesperson on media and publicity on his relationship with the APC national leader.
Garbage Shehu, in his statement, affirmed that the relationship between the president and the APC national leader is intact and firm. The statement also claimed that the two political heavyweights are in constant communication with each other.
In all the happenings, it remains to be seen if either Mr Victor Giadom the suspended deputy national secretary and convener of the NEC meeting which ousted him out as acting national chairman or Mr. Billiard Eta the national vice chairman will challenge the decision of Mr President.
Most importantly, is the APC set to witness a new era and chapter of leadership with the unfolding circumstances?