…To arrogate more powers to NWC
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA —The ruling party, All Progressives Party, APC, has made moves to stop new defectors from other parties from flying the part’s flags in future elections. This is therefore bad news for governors and other public officials elected on the platforms of other political parties who are planning to dump their parties for the ruling party.
The move to checkmate the ambition of the opposition members was part of the 85 proposed amendments to APC’s constitution prepared by a 10-member committee set up to review it. The Muiz Banire-led Constitution Review Committee had on July 28 submitted its report to the Party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, with 85 proposals for amendment.
A copy of the report which was exclusively obtained by Saturday Vanguard showed that the Odigie-Oyegun led NWC now has the power to discipline any member of the party no matter his status.
The party is also proposing to replace its moribund “Board of Trustees” BOT with an “Advisory Council”, which implies that when ratified, the council would merely play an advisory role as its decision does not carry a force of law and the party’s national chairman is not bound to accept its advice.
Explaining its rationale for the alteration, the CRC said, “the party is (a) corporate entity hence corporate entities do not require Board of Trustees”, and that “the Advisory Council does not give directives”.
On the composition of the State Executive Council SEC of the party, the CRC also proposed that, “There shall be for each State Chapter of the Party, a State Executive Committee SEC consisting of National Officers/Zonal officers of the Party from the State”. In the order of hierarchy, they now also come before other SEC members.
Defectors can’t fly ticket until after Probation
The party is proposing to edge out new entrants into the party who merely defect to it in order to clinch its ticket ahead of a major election. The initial provision on Elections and Appointments was that, “all Party posts prescribed or implied by this Constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective National Convention or Congress subject, where possible, to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis”.
This initial provision had led to acrimony in many state chapters of the party, like in Benue state where Gov. Samuel Ortom had defected to the APC just weeks before the governorship election and after he had lost out in the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Consequently, and in order to stave off such incidences, the CRC has added a caveat to the above provision which states that; “Unless and otherwise provided for: (b) Eligibility to contest any political office under the platform of the Party shall require a minimum period of one year membership”.
Already some aspirants in the forthcoming governorship primaries of the APC in Anambra state are said to be working frantically to see the possibility of ratifying these proposed amendments in order to ease out other aspirants who joined the party less than a year ago.
However, in order to allow flexibility to review cases on an individual basis, it has also been proposed that; “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may in special circumstances grant a waiver to a person not otherwise qualified under this constitution if, in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party”.
Saturday Vanguard checks revealed that the APC Constitution or any part thereof shall stand amended if a proposed amendment is supported by at least two thirds of the delegates present and voting at the convention, but before then, the proposed amendments must also have been submitted to the party’s National Executive Committee NEC. No date has however been fixed for the party’s mid-term non elective national convention.
How lack of funds nearly marred exercise
In the course of its work, the committee however encountered some challenges as it could not hold zonal public hearings for members of the party in the six geo-political zones for lack of funding and logistic support.
Legal Adviser now final authority
If the proposed amendments sail through, the National Legal Adviser would then be vested with the final powers to interpret any aspect of the constitution, unlike in the current constitution where such power was vested in the party’s non-existent Board of Trustees.
The powers of final interpretation of any provision of the constitution would now rest with the party’s National Legal Adviser.
“The Legal Adviser’s office shall be the final authority as to the interpretation of any aspect of this Constitution and its Ruling shall be final”, the CRC, itself headed by the National Legal Adviser, proposed. More Powers for the NWC
Some of the proposed powers of the NWC are in the area of prescribing dues and levies as well as capturing and updating membership records. On disciplinary measures the proposed amendments according to the CRC, “grant the National Working Committee power to discipline any member at any level”. The amendments also “grant the National Working Committee power to dissolve or reorganize or take any other measure against any organ of the party that will serve the best interest of the party”. The NWC is also being strengthened to now “organize primary election for the nomination of its presidential candidates, governorship candidates and candidates for election into the National and State Assemblies and local governments/area councils.”
According to the CRC, there has been an abuse of the process at the state level, hence the need to transfer such powers, especially with regards to local government primaries, to the NWC.
Also, if the amendments sail through, “The National Working Committee shall liaise with governments formed by the party at the local government, state and federal levels with a view to ensuring that members of the party are considered for appointments into public offices at the various levels, and shall report same to National Executive Committee periodically.”