Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have agreed to keep Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni as Interim Chairman of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), while Niger State Governor Sani Bello functions as de facto chairman, though, in acting capacity while Buni remains away.
Buni had travelled for medical reasons and transmitted power to Bello in writing to act as the CECPC chairman. It was gathered on Sunday that the party is maintaining the letter of transition remains in force even as Buni remains interim caretaker chairman.
However, it is not clear what they would ultimately do with Buni, as there is a move by some party stakeholders to have him impeached. Also, the fate of the CECPC Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe remains uncertain in all the permutations and intrigues playing out.
Just last weekend, as part of intense lobby going on in the ruling party, former leaders of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) stormed London, where President Muhammadu Buhari is currently undergoing routine medical check-up, to persuade him to give more room to members of CPC, one of the legacy parties that merged to form the APC before the 2015 general election, claiming they have been thoroughly marginalised in the scheme of things.
Interestingly, according to observers “central London Mosque, was overtaken by Nigerians, including ministers, governors, and many high net worth people, during Friday jumat prayers. As politicians have flown to London to lobby the President ahead of 2023 elections..”
Under the new arrangement, Buni officially remains the interim CECPC chair as he was never legally removed in the first place, and since he transmitted a letter to Bello to act in his absence, that automatically confers his powers on Bello. And Bello would continue in his acting role which by implication means he would be carrying out the day to day running of the party. Meanwhile some of Buni’s supporters believe he may return to the country this week while others want him to remain abroad until after the convention.
The Party’s National Convention slated for March 26, Moneycentral learnt will hold as planned. Reliable sources in the presidency disclosed these yesterday, stressing that only a properly constituted National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party can remove the Buni-led CECPC.
Bello had announced a few days ago that he had taken over affairs at the APC national headquarters, disclosing that he was acting as Chairman in the absence of Buni.
He has called a NEC a meeting which INEC said was out of order because the letter was not signed by Chairman Buni and the Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe
In the turn of event the President’s Legal Adviser may have appealed to him to allow Buni remain as interim chair while Bello continues as acting chairman.
According to one of the sources, some of the president’s associates noted that by the framework of the Party’s NEC, Buni was never removed as CECPC chairman. “You cannot even be talking of return, when he was never removed, in the first place,” a presidency source said.
The alleged removal of Buni had unsettled the party, causing division among APC governors and top stakeholders, with some alleging that the Yobe State governor was plotting to scuttle the party’s national convention.
While some expressed satisfaction with the development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of the party’s NEC, where Bello’s chairmanship was to be ratified.
What has become apparent is that majority of the governors, in their bid to oust Buni by all means, failed to reckon with INEC. They thought they had succeeded, well, almost, and they had started to celebrate victory, until INEC threw a spanner in the works.
The commission’s position, among other issues, led some from Buhari’s inner circle of advisers to meet with him at the weekend.
Shedding light on the outcome of the meeting with the president, a source pointed out that Buhari informed those in attendance that his desire was to see that the convention was held as planned. Buhari also wanted to see a smooth, democratic and popular contest that would lead to the birth of a brand new National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, the source said.
According to the source, “The president was persuaded that there was a process that needed to be followed to remove the Buni-led CECPC. The NEC of the party is the highest administrative organ of the party, which takes very important decisions in terms of removal and appointment of the party leadership. Buni was not appointed by an imperial authority with the power remove him.
“Since the decision to appoint him was taken by NEC, it is only NEC that can remove him. So, Buni was never removed, in the first place. Certainly, if he personally withdraws, resigns or a NEC meeting takes place to remove him, then we can be talking about having a new CECPC chairman.
“None of that has taken place; so the idea of removal does not arise. However, the party may come up with an arrangement to allow for certain processes to take place, particularly relating to conventions.
“But Buni may decide to take the back seat to allow the convention process to take place, if he does that, then fine. However, the idea of concluding that he has been removed does not arise.”
Buni was blamed for withholding information from Party leaders about a court injunction stopping the party from going ahead with the convention. The Party has since set machinery in motion to have the injunction vacated this week to enable the convention hold.
A faction of the APC governors was alleged to have complained bitterly to the president that Buni was not inclined to holding the convention as rescheduled, because there were no preparations on the ground to indicate so. Apparently miffed by the what he was told, the president was said to have immediately directed that Buni be removed and replaced. Buni is currently in Dubai for medical reasons and was not around to defend himself.
Another source at the meeting explained that Buhari was convinced of the need to allow Buni to to continue as interim chairman which the president was said to have accepted to save the party from danger.
The source also revealed that another contentious issue that was discussed was the president’s purported endorsement of former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu, for the position of APC National Chairman.
There have been intense lobby for the President to drop Adamu and allow for a contested convention. Most of the other aspirants have kicked against the President’s purported endorsement of Abdulahi Adamu. The lobby to drop Adamu was said to have intensified at the weekend as some governors are preparing to jet to London to mount pressure on Buhari to change his mind on Adamu.
Buhari had assured party members before departing the country for his medical trip, that he would do everything to ensure the convention holds as scheduled on March 26.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress Youth Development and Solidarity Network (APC-YDSN) has alleged fresh plot by some APC Governors to get a court injunction to effectively sack Buni as CECPC Chairman.
The Secretary General, Mr. Tobias Ogbeh, made this allegation while addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday.
The group said after the failed leadership change in the party, there had been concerted efforts to use the instrument of the court to achieve their objective of effecting a change in the leadership of the party.
The group stated: “As we may be aware, some governors within the party have attempted to change the leadership of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee under Governor Mai Mala Buni.
“As despicable as this might sound, there has been an attempt at effecting a change in the leadership of the party, not on the strength of the interest of the party, but in furtherance of a blind ambition towards taking over the party structure through the back door in the buildup to the 2023 general elections.
“We wish to state that we have it on good authority that since the humiliation suffered by the sponsors of the failed leadership change in the party, there have been concerted efforts to use the instrument of the court to achieve their objective of effecting a change in the leadership of the party.”
The group warned judges and other officers in the legal profession to refuse to be used as pawns to truncate the democratic processes in Nigeria.
The group informed all APC stakeholders and members of the general public that part of the new plot was to secure a court judgement through the back door that would sack the party’s leadership from office.
The scheme, the group alleged, was heavily funded by a serving minister and presidential aspirant from the south.
The group, therefore, called on the general public to be on the watch as the manifestation of this plot would gather steam soonest.