•How unbridled egocentrism pours faeces on the faces of party leaders
•Oyegun’s tenure elongation runs into legal hitch
By Jide Ajani
With scornful disdain, they threw their party constitution out of the window.
Leaders of the the All Progressives Congress, APC, last Tuesday, at its National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting, began its own march down the valley of discontent, just as the now vexed and vexatious leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, did some four years ago, starting from 2014.
Again, just as then President Goodluck Jonathan presided over a NEC meeting of the PDP where he disclosed that beleaguered chairman of the party, Bamaga Tukur, had resigned, but that he did no wrong, President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the APC NEC meeting where it decided to elongate the crises in the party by elongating the tenure of John Odigie Oyegun-led National Working Committee, NWC. The tenure was extended by one year starting from June this year. This was a NEC meeting that did not enjoy the complement of the presence of both Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Caucus after the caucus
Like a carefully orchestrated coup, some right-wing leaders of the party, who had held a national caucus meting the night before, did not as much hint at such a move.
At the caucus meeting the previous night, according to information made available to Sunday Vanguard by usually dependable Aso Rock insiders, President Buhari was said to have played the democrat by calling for congresses which would then lead to a national convention. That was in the open.
However, another caucus after the caucus held and repudiated the earlier position, say, consensus, at the earlier official meeting.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that some leaders of the party, including but not limited to Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State; Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo State; and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State spearheaded the move to extend the tenure of the NWC.
Indeed, some scheming that had been going on behind the scene saw a situation where state chairmen of the APC had endorsed a two-year tenure extension for the Oyegun NWC. The catch in their move was self-preservatory as an extension of the NWC’s tenure would automatically drill down an extension for state chairmen too. That way, perquisites and benefits derivable from and which go along with the prosperity-generating atmosphere of electioneering would be theirs. That is just one leg of it. The other leg would seek to engender an entitlement mentality which would see the NWC members and state chairmen laying claims to whatever success the APC is able to muster at the 2019 general elections. Both ways, the NWC and state chairmen saw victory in the horizon.
Muddying the waters
The flipped, however, is that the crises of many shades presently rocking the party may not be about to abate on account of the further exacerbation of an already poisoned environment.
In fact, those who hailed President Buhari’s appointment of the former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to help reconcile warring leaders of the party, saw in that move the wisdom of the old.
Unfortunately, events immediately after the appointment and commenced,went of reconciliation moves and events immediately before the caucus meeting appear to be tending towards pouring cold water on the peace initiatives. Mind you, as at the last conservative count, the APC has ignominiously generated over more than 27crises in its under three years of taking over as the ruling party [See box: APC CRISES, 2015 – 2017 (Dec)].
For instance, while Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State went on a bulldozing mission, demolishing the building of his opposition leader, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo advanced the cause of nepotism by saying he would endorse his son-in-law to take over from him as state governor.
NEC(k)-deep in crises
It was some of these built-up tension that the NEC meeting was expected to create an ambience of resolution for and not create an environment which would make others dig-in, while some feel betrayed.
But as it turned out, even the NEC meeting insinuated the party neck-deep in crises.
When the motion for the tenure extension was moved, no counter motion was allowed despite the spirited efforts of Governor Yari of Zamfara State and the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawan Shuaibu, to raise objection. As the drama played out, President Buhari, whose position was to be assailed by that motion kept mum. Bola Tinubu, whose job of reconciliation would appear to be in jeopardy, also kept mum.
The elongation of the tenure only seems to point to one fact: That a section of the party leadership appears to be comfortable with Oyegun and the NWC and, therefore, did not want to rock the boat. This appears reasonable. Pursuing the line further, some believe – and rightly so – that going for a national convention before a general election at the door comes with dangerous possibilities that may lead to unintended consequences which may be too grave for the party. But the undemocratic foundation that has been laid by whimsically extending the tenure, in the estimation of right-thinking leaders of the party would only seek to further polarise and has actually further polarised the party because the only signal it has sent out is that the reconciliation may not really be necessary since the party has rewarded one side of the battle with tenure elongation.
Position of the law
Tenure elongation is not backed by APC Constitution and 1999 Constitution.
Tenure extension would have required an amendment to the party’s constitution.
The much-quoted Article 13 of the APC Constitution rightly states that NEC can assume powers of convention in between two conventions.
But the much-sidelined Article 30 says constitution amendment can only be done at convention and states processes for it.
Article 17 talks about 4-year tenure for elected executives, which is renewable. But no where did it envisage tenure extension.
The move also offends Section 223 of the constitution which talks about periodic elections.
Article 13.3(ii) of the constitution empowers NEC to: “Discharge all functions of the National Conventions as constituted in between Conventions”.
Article 30(i) states that: “This Constitution and Schedules hereto can be amended only by the National Convention of the Party
“(ii) Notice of any proposed amendment by any member or organ of the Party shall be given to the National Secretary at least twenty-one (21) days before the date of the National Convention. The notice, which shall be in writing, shall contain a clear statement of the proposed amendment and reasons thereof.
“(iii) Notice of proposed amendment(s) shall be served on the members of the National Convention at least fourteen (14) days before the date of the meeting at which the proposed amendment is to be considered. Publication of the notice of the proposed amendments in a National Newspaper shall be deemed to be sufficient Notice.
“(iv)The 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.
“(v) Where new positions and Offices are created as a result of the amendment of this Constitution, the relevant Executive Committee shall until the next Convention or Congress fill such positions and office in an interim capacity”
Article 17 (i) of the party’s constitution provides for the tenure of office of the party elected or appointed;
“Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all officers of the Party elected or appointed into the Party’s organs shall serve in such organs for a period of four (4) years and shall be eligible for re-election or re-appointment for another period of four years only, provided that an officer elected or appointed to fill a vacancy arising from death, resignation or otherwise shall notwithstanding be eligible for election to the same office for two terms”.
Already, one Okere Uzochukwu, who claims to be a member of the party in Imo State and an aspirant to the chairmanship seat in the state, feels the tenure elongation would injure his aspiration.
Power, wealth and politics
It was Andrew Chua who wrote that “some have said that Wealth is Power. But it is equally well-known that Power brings Wealth. So what is the relationship between these two objects of desire? Which brings which? Which is the chicken and which is the egg?
When we combine the definitions of Wealth and Power, we get the correct perspective to view these two subjects. The truth is, Wealth is ONE TYPE of Power. Wealth itself can also be traded for other types of power. You can use wealth to influence those in positions of authority, through both legitimate lobbying and corruption. So the question of ‘Do you want wealth or power?’ is in itself faulty. Wealth is one type of power. It’s like asking if you prefer apples or fruits. A better question would be ‘Do you prefer Wealth or Authority?’ Maybe this is what people really mean when they ask the afore-mentioned famous question. Now we are correctly asking if you prefer apples or oranges. And of course, like choosing between two different species of fruits, the answer comes down to personal preference”.
For those who own the APC, they want all. And any which way, the one brings the other. But which one first! Both; depending on the status at the point of entry.
And because they want all, they create all manner of confusion in their bid to get all. Even the simple matter of laid down procedure by their own hand is treated with disdain.
Today, intrigues and surfeit of distractive tendencies to good governance have become the hallmarks of APC. Not that the other political parties conform to a modicum of decent conduct in their activities too, the one-chance problem Nigeria has found itself in, and which is the APC vehicle, needs soul searching.
What happens next? If any party member goes to court, anything done by that executives for the period of the extension becomes null and void. This may affect primaries and party decisions.