President Muhammadu Buhari made a smart,strategic move yesterday,by meeting key leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) “to douse tension” ahead of National Executive Committee Meeting of the party.
The meetings, we learnt, were held by the president to “avert serious confrontation.”
President Buhari first met Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, and then APC leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, the APC Presidential Campaign Council drew its over 3000 members from the legacy parties that formed the APC. They include Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); Buhari’s Congress for Progressives Change (CPC); Atiku and co’s Peoples Democratic Party ( newPDP) and members of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Soon after Buhari won the elections, things turned awry in the APC, with many who believed they contributed to the success of the party crying of being forgotten.
The last time the APC held its NEC meeting was in March and since then, it had postponed several meetings amidst scheming by various party leaders. The meeting, which ought to be held at least three times a year, was convened once in a year since 2015. Article 25 b ( i) provides that “the National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the national chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than fourteen (14) days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned”.
Some of the contentious issues that would come up at today’s meeting include:
Scheming over BoT chair
There is scheming for the position of the party Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman ahead of the forthcoming national convention.
During its last NEC meeting on March 24, 2016, the APC leaders resolved that the party’s constitution needed to be reviewed.
It was also agreed that the BoT, which is the conscience of the party, should be constituted. This is sequel to the fact that the party never had one since its debut over three years ago.
It was reliably gathered that Atiku and Tinubu are the major contenders for the post. This is in addition to Atiku’s open aspiration to go for the presidency in 2019, which is causing unease among Buhari’s loyalists who want a “co-ally” to clinch the BoT seat considering the sensitive nature of the post.
A source said whatever would be discussed at the NEC meeting may have positive or negative implication for 2019.
“You know very well that Buhari would likely contest for a second time, if God leaves us alive till the election time. He therefore needs a less ambitious person as BoT chairman, someone who would be able to talk and be listened to by party faithful,” a source said.
How to awaken party from slumber
Several APC meetings were planned but postponed since last year due to the medical leave of President Buhari. To that effect, many stakeholders became disenchanted and even described the APC as a dead contraption.
“Added to this is the fact that many APC leaders felt marginalized and were therefore waiting for the appropriate time to vent their anger and there is no better time than the NEC meeting.
“While President Buhari was sick, the then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo,, was persuaded several times to direct the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led APC to organise meetings but he was reluctant, apparently for political expediency, another insider said.
“Osinbajo is very smart, he knows the disposition of his boss (Buhari) over party matters …he therefore decided to also maintain some distance from some issues so that he would not be misinterpreted.
“He prefers Buhari to approve the meeting, preside over it and shoulder whatever criticism might come therein,” he added.
Complaints by serving governors
Many APC governors are still nursing grudge over the failure of President Buhari to involve them in making some vital appointments from their states.
Many governors expressed displeasure when President Buhari appointed career ambassadors in October 2016 without recourse to them.
They said though it was the president’s prerogative to choose whoever he pleases, the governors protested that many non-APC members were appointed and in some instances, the appointments were concentrated in one geo-political zone of a state at the detriment of others.
“Though the president made some amends in the appointment of non-career ambassadors, several other appointments did not favour governors; if anything, it was their opponents that were emboldened, the governors would definitely talk to Buhari on this,” another source said.
Meanwhile, protesters under the auspices of Save APC and Democracy Youth Vanguard yesterday staged a demonstration at the national secretariat the APC.
The leader of the group, Peter Oyewole, said their demands included the removal of the APC national chairman.
Oyewole said the APC finances had not been audited and made public as stipulated by the law since the party won the presidential election.