Worried by the impact of the judgment of the Supreme Court on the fate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, directed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to meet with all ministers who are lawyers in his cabinet.
The move was meant to douse the tension sparked by the minority ruling of the apex court on the legality of actions taken by the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
But many of the state chapters of the party were still in the grip of tension last night as they prepared for the ward congresses today.
At least one state, Kwara, may hold parallel congresses despite the threat yesterday by the CECPC to sanction anyone organising a parallel congress.
Sequel to Buhari’s directive, Osinbajo summoned a session with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), Works Minister Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo (SAN) and Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed.
The session debated the status of the CECPC chairman and whether the party should proceed with the ward congresses beginning today.
Buhari was awaiting feedback from the Vice President to enable him to give a clear directive.
A reliable source said the majority of participants at yesterday’s session “spoke in the right direction and supported the suspension of the congresses in order to avoid any consequence on the party’s fortunes in 2023.
“They also favoured a proposal to ask Buni to step aside in the light of the judgment.
“But Malami at the meeting said there won’t be any legal or constitutional obstacles if Buni leads the caretaker committee to conduct the congresses. They were of the strong opinion that the judgment does not affect the status of Buni or APC.
“Those concerned also pleaded that Buni should not be disgraced out of his seat. They demanded an ingenious way of resolving the aftermath of the judgment of the Supreme Court.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The VP is expected to get back to the President on the aggregate opinion of the meeting. Although the President mandated him to take appropriate decision, he will still defer to the number one leader.”
The President was yet to take his final decision at press time.
It was also gathered that there had been no communication between the Vice President and Buni on the next step by the party.
However, Buni, in a statement through his Director-General for Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed, insisted that the Ward Congresses would go ahead.
He pleaded with APC members nationwide to be peaceful during the congresses.
He asked members to “place the party and members interest above personal interests” and warned that the APC would “not hesitate to take decisive measures against anyone who deliberately sabotages the congresses.”
“We have come a long way repositioning the party. We have reconciled many groups and individuals. We must not allow personal interests in this election to divide us and draw us back,” he said.
The Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, in a similar warning, said the party would sanction any individual or group that holds a parallel congress.
Akpanudoedehe reminded all party members and stakeholders of the National Executive Council (NEC) resolution of 8th December 2020, which he claimed subsists and extends to the conduct of party members during the congresses.
He said: “For purposes of clarity, may I re-state the relevant point in the resolution to wit: All pending litigations instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution as enshrined in the party’s constitution.
“Consequent upon the above, party members should please note that:
“(i) All activities that may be carried out by persons to put the party and its officers in a bad light before, during and after the congresses should be jettisoned.
“(ii) All activities or processes leading up to the congresses and thereafter which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that: any purported; parallel congress, a parallel party organ, and or parallel party office, is, to say the least, a nullity.
“These divisive activities will not be tolerated.
“(iii) For the avoidance of doubt, the party shall deploy the full weight of the law as stipulated in section 21(D) of our party’s Constitution on anyone who perpetrates such unlawful Act(s) and also on their sponsors.
“All persons who are affected by Article 31 of our Constitution should apply for waivers as stipulated under sub. Section 3 of the said Article 31, is also clearly spelt out in the “Special provisions” of our guidelines.”
Also yesterday, a member of the CECPC, Prof. Mamman Tahir, at a press conference at the party’s national secretariat, told newsmen of the resolve of the committee to go ahead with the exercise, having obtained the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
He said the party relied on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for guidance and it was convinced that the party was doing the right thing.
His words: “I am here to reconfirm that our Congresses are on course to hold tomorrow and this Committee is working closely with the Attorney-General of the Federation. And he has offered advice that we are on good ground and we are comfortable with that position. So our programmes will continue to roll on in the normal course of things.
“So we want to assure teeming members of the APC across the country to come out and elect officers at the ward level. This party believes so much in grassroots politics, grassroots democracy; that is the strength of the party.
“So we encourage all members to come out tomorrow and elect leaders of their choice at that level before we move to the next stage of our democratisation process and constitution of the leadership of the party.
“This is in a nutshell the message from the party and the Secretariat. That the court hasn’t made any pronouncement or any judgement that undermines our position. And you don’t go into speculating what the courts will do in the future. So, we’re comfortable with our position.”
It was also learnt that governors elected on the platform of the APC held an emergency meeting in Abuja on Thursday night to review the situation, and proceeded to endorse the position of the CECPC
The meeting, which took place at the Asokoro residence of one of the governors, also resolved to call for a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as soon as the President returns from his UK trip.
Loyalists of Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed in the Kwara State chapter of the party said yesterday that they had secured nomination forms for all its aspirants in the state.
The caretaker legal adviser of the party in the state, Barrister Ladi Mustapha, told reporters in Ilorin that the Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa-led faction was prepared for the congresses provided every other thing remains constant.
He said the Bashir Bolarinwa Omolaja-led executive of the party had notified relevant agencies as required by the Electoral Act 2006 (As Amended).
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Supreme Court ruling on Jegede Vs. Rotimi Akeredolu Governorship election should be bold enough on the wall of justice that Hon. Bashir Ọmọlaja Bolarinwa’s chairmanship is as solid, in law, as the Rock of Gibraltar,” he said.
Court stops APC congresses in Imo
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday warned the APC to desist from proceeding with today’s ward congresses in Imo State pending the hearing of a suit filed by Okey Anyikwa, APC Chairman in Ideato South Local Government Area.
The Applicant had approached the Court for an injunction restraining the APC from going ahead with the congresses because of the judgment of the Appeal Court that upheld the tenure of the State EXCO elected in 2018.
Justice Valentine Oriji threatened to invalidate the outcome of congresses should the party disregard the position of the Court.
Oriji ordered that all actions regarding the APC congresses in the state should be stayed, pending the hearing of the application slated for August 10.
But Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State said the congresses would be based on the party’s guidelines that make the process an open contest.
He said the exercise should be devoid of writing and submission of list of favoured members by party leaders.
He said that the congress must be that of the people and for the people and that the least that can be tolerated is affirmation of preferred candidates by the people in line with the APC guidelines.
The governor spoke on Friday at the Government House Owerri during a stakeholders meeting of leaders of the party drawn from the 27 LGAs of the state.
He seized the opportunity to congratulate the APC leaders for their solidarity and show of interest in the affairs of the party so far, thanking all for the successes recorded in the past one year and the synergy and harmonious relationship currently being experienced in the party.
Governor Uzodimma informed that the APC in Imo State today represents a new order of inclusiveness, poised to work together to win all elections in the state.
APC sues for peaceful congress in Lagos
Ahead of the ward congresses, the national leadership of the APC yesterday implored leaders and members to cooperate with one another to ensure a peaceful congress in Lagos State.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting organised by the APC National Committee on Ward Congress for Lagos State with party leaders in Ikeja yesterday, the committee chairman, Dr. Bashiru Ruwangodiya, said the congresses would be done in line with the guidelines set by APC Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) for election of 26 ward executives in each of the 377 wards in Lagos State.
Party executives who are expected to emerge through the ward congresses in the 377 wards in Lagos on Saturday are: Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Legal Adviser, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Youth Leader, Women Leader and Auditor, among others.
Ruwangodiya said the the mode of electing the party executives at ward level is either through consensus or election as stipulated by the party’s constitution, adding that the winner would be determined by simple majority of votes cast.
However, the party’s Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo, said the party had agreed on a consensus arrangement for its ward executives.
Oladejo said the consensus arrangement was agreed at the stakeholders meetings held in all the 20 local government areas (LGAs) and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs).
According to him, stakeholders in each of the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs agreed on consensus arrangement to produce ward executives in order to engender unity.
“The meeting was sequel to the directive of the National Caretaker Committee to bring all party leaders and members together to rub minds on the forthcoming congresses towards achieving cohesion and acceptable consensus.
“The various meetings agreed on the desirability of a consensus arrangement that will consider all interests and unite the party as we count down to the next national elections,” Oladejo said.
The spokesman said that stakeholders admonished all members to participate actively in the congresses and uphold party discipline at all times.
Oladejo said the event at various council areas gave the newly elected local government chairmen, vice-chairmen and councilors opportunity to express their commitment and appreciation to the party for the mandate to serve the people.
APC youths protest in Osun over consensus congress
Scores of APC members in Osun State under the aegis of Youth Wings yesterday protested against the arrangement for today’s ward congresses. The protesters claimed they had no access to nomination forms for the various elective offices.
The protesters moved from Aregbe junction at about 4 pm to Ogo-Oluwa area with placards and banners, chanting democracy songs. The protest led to a gridlock on the road.
Some of the placards carried inscriptions such as: “We say no to consensus”; “We want free and fair congress”; “We say no to imposition”; and “We say no to party members’ harassment”.
The Chairman of APC, Osun State Congress Committee, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye yesterday denied a rumour that he and other committee members were kidnapped by bandits or hijacked by some people in the state.
Elegbeleye during a meeting with Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and other party leaders in the state ahead of the ward congresses said logistics forced them to arrive the state late.
“The idea that Osun Committee members have been kidnapped is a lie. I have not been kidnapped by any bandit. We are just arriving in your state. Nobody kidnapped us,” he said.
Governor Oyetola stressed that the congresses should not be used to create problems in the party and that is why the National Secretariat advised the way of consensus.
Earlier, the APC Caretaker Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun explained that “as recommended by the National Secretariat we have adopted consensus in Osun for the purpose of the smooth running of the party.
“Things have been properly done. Our homework has been done properly. Our fathers and leaders have scrutinised the 332 wards that we have in Osun.
“We have concluded the exercise that will lead us to a very good congress tomorrow. The state government has provided adequate security across the state. We are peace-loving.”
Consensus list ready in Ondo
The list of party ward executives to be affirmed during the ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State is ready.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and other stakeholders of the Ondo APC had agreed to conduct the congresses using the consensus method.
The purpose was to avoid rancorous elections that might lead to litigations and factions.
It was gathered that the Ondo APC also set up committees to look into complaints of some members that they were not carried along in compiling the list.
Acting Chairman of Ondo APC, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, said the ward congresses would be conducted in a family way.
Adetimehin said leaders of the party want to remain united after the congresses.
He said the Supreme Court ruling affirming the election of Governor Akeredolu has further united the party.
Abe asks loyalists to boycott ward congress
A former Senator representing Rivers South East, Mr. Magnus Abe, yesterday asked his loyalists in the party to boycott the congresses in the interest of peace and tranquility.
Abe is currently locked in a battle for the soul of the party in the state with Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi.
Addressing his supporters in Port Harcout ahead of the congress, Abe said that all efforts to restore peace within the party in the state had failed.
He appealed to them to bury the hatchet and allow peace to prevail during the exercise while he continues to engage the national leadership of the party on settling the issues.
The Rotimi Amaechi faction of the APC in the state yesterday accused the faction led by Senator Abe of plotting to stop the congresses of the party in the state through a court order.
The APC faction, through its spokesman, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, claimed that at about 4 pm yesterday, members of Abe’s Unity House in the company of their lawyers were spotted at the premises of the Judiciary in furtherance of the plot.
Nwuke said: “We have learnt that at about 4pm today, Friday, 30th July, 2021, Senator Abe’s lawyers were filing papers to stop the APC from going along with its planned congress as approved by the National Secretariat.
“We have further learnt that the Chief Judge of the State who was still within the court premises may any moment from now assign the matter to a judge who would be expected to issue a restraining order.
“We are not surprised by the existence of the plot which was put to the test before the 2019 elections by Senator Magnus Abe and his external collaborators.
“It has become necessary to inform members of the public, including our teeming supporters, of the existence of the plot that is being hatched to obstruct the conduct of the congress.
“It is quite clear by now that each time the APC plans to deepen its internal democracy through processes that would enable members test their popularity, certain paper tigers in our midst who lack active grassroots support connive with their friends in the other party to file frivolous cases.
“In the meantime, we urge our members to remain calm. We wish to assure the people of Rivers State, particularly our supporters, that no matter how long it takes to obtain justice, our party shall secure legal reliefs, which would guarantee the right of our members to pursue their legitimate aspirations. This is our promise.”
Group begs ex-senate president, Nnamani, to save Enugu APC
A group in Enugu State, APC Grassroots Vanguards, yesterday appealed to former Senate president, Dr. Ken Nnamani, to use his position to save the party from collapse in the state.
The group, which said it was not satisfied with the situation of things in the party in the state, appealed to Nnamani to ensure “a total shift to more result oriented individuals who are willing to pay the supreme price of not compromising the party faithful’s aspirations”.
Chairman of the group, Hon Nsude Oguejiofor, said: “It’s time to say no to impositions and planting of fake people as APC leaders who are APC in the morning but PDP during the night. We’re optimistic that a new dawn will be here in Enugu APC and with the team on board, including the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama our leader, the ugly rhetoric in the activities of the party will be a thing of the past”.
Akwa Ibom APC elders kick against consensus
Elders of the APC in Akwa Ibom State kicked against consensus arrangement for the planned congresses.
The APC elders said the consensus arrangement was unpopular and not in the best interest of the party.
They said only an elective congress would unite and strengthen the party ahead of the 2023 elections in the state.
In a communique at the end of a meeting in Uyo, the APC Elders accused the Acting National Secretary of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, of manipulating the activities of the party in the state for his own personal benefit.