The All Progressives Congress (APC) is enveloped in anxiety as it holds an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today in an atmosphere of division, suspicion and crisis.
Definitely, the NEC members are not in one accord. The outcome of the meeting will have implications for the future survival of a ruling party that has failed to put its house in order and manage its achievements.
Will the outcome calm nerves, restore peace, foster cohesion and resolve the protracted leadership tussle? Or will it escalate the conflicts, heighten the acrimony and lay the foundation for disintegration of the platform?
APC is on trial.The party is on the weighing scale. What is the worth of a big party without an effective and time-tested crisis resolution mechanism? Why is the National Caucus merely existing on paper; incapacitated and unable to forge reconciliation? Where are the founding fathers of APC?
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Yesterday, there was a new twist to the imbroglio. The party leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, threw his weight behind the controversial national deputy secretary, Victor Gaidom, who has been parading himself as acting chairman.
The Commander-In-Chief said he affirmed Giadom’s claim to interim party leadership, following legal advice which convinced him that the Rivers State-born politician is the authentic national acting chairman.
Consequently, as a believer in the constitution and the rule of law, the president also affirmed Giadom’s power to summon an emergency NEC meeting, which he also promised to attend.
Giadom claimed that he only reconvened the disputed March meeting, which was postponed.
Although Giadom, now fully decorated as the sole administrator of APC, had been expelled from the National Working Committee (NWC) on ground of resignation to contest for deputy governor in Rivers State last year, the sack might have been monetarily annulled by the presidential backing while the NWC became a neutralised bull dog.
The presidential acknowledgment also meant that the Deputy National Chairman, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, and National Vice Chairman (Southdouth) Hillard Etta, who had filled the void in lieu of indisposed Ajimobi, are interlopers.
A few days ago, Giadom wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) unilaterally and without recourse to the NWC, that the Edo State APC primary that threw up Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as governorship candidate was illegal. Going by his recognition as acting chairman, the fate of the chapter may be hanging in the balance.
If Giadom’s petition to the electoral agency is upheld, how will the party meet the July 29 deadline for the submission of list of governorship and deputy governorship candidates? APC has limited time for the commencement of new processes leading to a repeated primary.
President Buhari, in a statement by his media aide, Garba Sheu, said the court had recognised Gaidom, who got his order in March, which was renewed in June.
Instructively, there is another order of a Port-Harcourt High Court restraining him from parading himself as acting chairman, which has not been vacated.
The identity of legal minds who advised the president are not disclosed. It is doubtful if they are from the APC Legal Department.
Are they outside the confines of partisanship? Or they harbour interest and agenda to finally nail the suspended national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole? Would it not be disastrous, if the order on which Giadom leans is also rubbished by the court later?
The major puzzle is: why should the president obey one order and not consider the other? Politically, has the president not taken sides in a clearly divisive issue that can destabilise his party?
This reality has clearly polarised the party into the two divides of pro-Giadom camp and pro-Oshiomhole forces who strongly believe that, if the president attends today’s meeting, he may inadvertently be lending support for illegality.
If there are conflicting orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction, would it not profit the crisis-ridden party if the conflict is resolved by a higher court?
Observers also ask: why the hurry when there are still cases in court arising from the protracted crisis? Oshiomhole is approaching the apex court over the affirmation of his suspension by the Appeal Court. What happens if he bounces back?
Also, if the order restraining Giadom is not vacated, would the outcome of today’s meeting not be an exercise in futility?
According to analysts, APC has failed to learn from the past. The party lost Rivers, following the outcome of the faulty congresses on which its rancorous primaries were premised.
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At the Appeal and Supreme courts, there was no respite. Many fear that unless the current delicate issue is properly handled, history may repeat itself in the future.
A bone of contention is how NEC meetings should be summoned. The APC convention supports the meeting of the National Caucus ahead of the NEC meeting. But, the tradition can be set aside due to lack of constitutional basis.
According to the Article 25(b) of the APC Constitution, a 14 day’s notice must be given for the quarterly meeting to be summoned.
Also, the NWC may summon an emergency meeting of NEC at any time, provided, at least, seven days notice shall be given to all those entitled to attend.