In several consummate, dodgy moves last week, the conservative Congress for Progressive Change, a block (led by President Muhammadu Buhari) centralised itself as the key power block within the ruling All Progressives Congress out of the party’s four foundational political entities, leaving ambitious heavyweights like Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other tendencies in the lurch. Louis Achi reports
Last week’s successful meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and the appointment of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State as acting party chairman effectively centralises the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a block belonging to President Muhammadu Buhari out of the four political entities that merged to form the ruling APC, as the main force calling the shots.
At press time, powerful foundational arrowheads of the ruling APC like Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other founding political blocks have apparently been adroitly and effectively swept aside. Although the NWC that was dissolved at the NEC was supposedly dominated by loyalists of Tinubu and the ousted party chair, Adams Oshiomhole. There is more.
With the ruling party in a tail spin amidst crises in many states it controls and at its center, it was perhaps obvious that something needed to be done to restore sanity. The interminable head-on collision in Edo State between former national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole and his erstwhile protégé, Governor Godwin Obaseki was just one of the crisis epicenters. But apparently restoration of sanity meant different things to different tendencies within the party.
In the thick of the unseemly national chair/acting national chair tsunami, with each tendency striving to gain advantage, erstwhile APC National Deputy Secretary, Victor Giadom seemingly emerged the anointed figure after receiving the blessings of the president. This was against the background of the Oshiomhole choreographing the announcement of Ex-Governor Ajimobi (now late) as the acting national chair.
APC was to later haul in Hilliard Eta to stand in for the then sick Ajimobi. However, with Ogiadom’s ‘emergence’ as acting national chair, his next assignment was to convene the party’s NEC meeting. Cut to the bone, it simply turned out that Giadom was used and dumped.
When APC emerged after the historic mergers with CPC, ACN, ANPP, APGA and the nPDP, the ACN and CPC components of the party – behemoths in their rights – supposedly had an understanding. This was that should the new party win, the CPC would concentrate on the presidency while ACN would control the party machinery.
And this had largely remained the operational template until last Thursday’s APC NEC meeting in Aso Villa. The conservative Northern hawks had decided that the best option was to recognise Giadom; give him the impression that they were going to ratify his appointment as acting chairman in the light of the court order, which said he could act. There was also another court order ordering him to stop parading himself a member of APC and could not act.
Between the two orders, the Buhari tendency was thinking which was the best way forward. They couldn’t get the Oshiomhole faction on board to convene the NEC meeting, because of a subsisting court order. They knew what could happen in the next meeting. The party constitution made it clear that only the national chairman could convene a NEC meeting.
They settled on recognising Giadom, who was desperate to be the acting chair. They capitalised on his desperation and assured him that he was their man. With Garba Shehu’s statement openly conveying President Buhari’s position, Giadom felt bolstered. He went ahead to convene the NEC meeting.
He didn’t understand that a coup was afoot – not so much against Oshiohmole, who had been suspended by a High Court, a ruling later upheld by the Appeal Court – but against him.
After declaring the meeting open, the president’s speech and a brief deliberation, the first item of the meeting was to dissolve the old NWC. After that, Giadom wanted to speak but was told he couldn’t address the NEC again as he was no longer a member of the NWC.
It was the House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila that raised the point of order. The point of order was sustained and a shocked Giadom was escorted out of the hall. And that was how Giadom’s quirky reign ended abruptly.
Subsequently, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, a dyed-in-the-wool CPC member was appointed caretaker party chairman, meaning the presidency and the party machinery is now in the hands of the CPC block. This means the ACN has been left in the lurch – not controlling anything. The APC NEC meeting appointed a 13-member caretaker committee to run the party.
The caretaker committee is to conduct the party National Convention to elect new leadership for the APC within six months. The NEC also ratified the APC governorship primary in Edo State, which produced Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the party’s governorship candidate. Apart from President Buhari, others at the NEC meeting included the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, state governors and some members of the NWC.
Tinubu didn’t attend the meeting, because he was not a NEC member. He has been left in the lurch, totally left out of the picture. Yet, Tinubu, seen as the real founder of the APC was the real driver in the formation of APC. His ACN component has lost control of the party machinery, which was what was agreed on, way back.
A faction of the party, which is loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has been engaged in an intense and devastating power-tussle with a faction loyal to the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who is regarded as the national leader of the party. This tendency within the APC, which Giadom was representing and which thought it had matters under wraps has lost out.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu, last Friday, said the NEC of APC did no wrong by dissolving the party’s National Working Committee and putting in place a caretaker committee. He said Buhari, who is the leader of the party, would never do anything that is contrary to the provisions of the party’s constitution.
But 18 members of the dissolved NWC loyal to Oshiomhole, insisted that the NEC meeting where the decision was taken was illegal. They said they were consulting their lawyers and other stakeholders on the dissolution and other decisions taken at the meeting. They have since kowtowed.
After President Buhari’s controversial dissolution of the NWC of the party last Thursday, he is making moves to break the ranks of the sacked NWC members, who have rejected the party’s action. The Hilliard Eta-led NWC, in a statement on Thursday, said the NEC meeting, where the decision was taken violated the APC constitution.
His words: “Article 25(B) of the Constitution of the APC is explicit that only the National Chairman or the National Working Committee (NWC) is given the prerogative of summoning meetings of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party either for statutory quarterly meetings or for emergency meetings.
“The same provision of the constitution makes it compulsory for a notice of a minimum of 14 days in respect of statutory quarterly meetings and 7 days in respect of an emergency meeting.”
The statement signed by Eta and the party’s acting national secretary, Waziri Bulama, earlier stated they were “studying the unfolding drama” and would be “consulting with stakeholders and a team of lawyers on the next line of action”.
In 2018, the PDP leading lights led by folks like Waziri Adamawa and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki; House of Representatives Speaker (now Sokoto Governor) Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; former Governor, Senator and minister, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Egnr Buba Galadima and Kawu Baraje etc walked away from the 2014 coalition aheasd of the 2019 elections.
The pulling away of nPDP with its savvy heavyweights combined with the recent repositioning in APC squarely hands absolute control of the party to the CPC block.
Thus, the emerging consensus now is that all that is playing out points to a strategic gaming ahead of 2023 presidential election.