By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Barely 24 hours after the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abuja, ended in deadlock on Tuesday, the governors appeared to have had a change of mind and agreed to conduct fresh congresses for officers in the three tiers of government.
Consequently, the 24 governors of the party threw their weight behind President Buhari’s decision to end the tenure of the incumbent National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the party’s executive.
President Buhari had met with APC governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday over tenure elongation of the National Working Committee, NWC, in which majority of the governors had insisted on having tenure elongation for the NWC.
This new development came on a day the 10-man committee set up Tuesday by Chief Odigie-Oyegun, to resolve the tenure elongation logjam, promised to submit its report today, though it was given till Friday to do same.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting with President Buhari, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, explained that the meeting on Tuesday at the State House was extended to yesterday for more consultations, adding that they all accepted to be on the same page with the President.
Governor Yari also said the governors will meet with the National Working Committee later in the day to come up with names of the members of the convention team as well as the time-table for the convention.
We are on same page with Buhari — Govs
He said: “Gentlemen of the press, you know yesterday (Tuesday), we left you in the dark after the meeting and today we have seen so many captions that there is disagreement among the governors over the issue of party chairman or about the party leadership.
“No. We had a meeting with Mr. President yesterday (Tuesday), and we extended the meeting till night and we followed up with the consultations with the President now.
“We consulted and all the 24 governors of the APC are on the same page with Mr. President — that we are going to respect our party’s constitution; we are going to respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, we collectively agreed that we will have congresses at all levels, local, state and national.
“The committee set up by the National Secretariat of our party, headed by governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, is presenting its report later today (yesterday). The governors are also meeting with the working committee today (yesterday) so that we come up with convention committee names as well as time-table of the election.
“So, there is no deadlock in our meeting; we have progressed and very soon, you will have the names of the convention committee members as well as the time-table.”
Also speaking, chairman of APC Governors Forum and governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, said: “I just want to let you know that there is no crisis in the APC at all. And we want to use this opportunity to advise media operatives to stop spreading rumours of crisis in APC. There is no single crisis in APC.
“The issue was one of people who believe that we did not have enough time to organize a party congress and run election. Some people felt that it was a good idea but the most important thing is that, if we do that, we will be contravening both our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is the major issue that we have that they call crisis. We do not have virus.
“This morning (yesterday), we met with Mr. President to fine-tune issues. One, regarding the congress and we have resolved that the congresses at all levels will hold and the chairman of the elongation committee is also fine-tuning the arrangement in the same line. To this effect, the convention committee will be set out, it will be announced.
“But let me correct one impression, the issue of congress and convention does not mean that the previous people who have served the party have done badly, and it does not mean that they cannot come back or that they cannot re-contest. That is not it.
“We are simply saying that their tenure has ended and those who wish to re-contest can re-contest and can be elected into our party structure. So we are all one as a family and we are set to go for 2019 elections in victory.”
The five governors that briefed journalists were Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara, Simon Lalong, Plateau, his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.
Meanwhile, Governor Lalong whose committee was inaugurated on Tuesday by the National Chairman of APC, Chief Oyegun, to resolve the tenure elongation logjam, said the committee would submit its report yesterday.
He said the technical committee to recommend a way out of the imbroglio over the tenure extension started work immediately after inauguration.
Recall that the APC governors had maintained sealed lips after their meeting with President Buhari at the State House, with some fuming that they were not ready to allow someone hijack the party machinery.
After the meeting with the President, the governors met the National Working Committee, NWC, led by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, where the leadership of the party agreed in principle to conduct its national convention as the tenure of the National Working Committee draws to an end.
This was as the party has hurriedly scheduled another meeting of its National Executive Committee, NEC, to discuss the report of its 10-man technical committee set up in the wake of the crisis generated by its earlier decision recommending that members of the National Working Committee of the party be allowed to continue to work in acting capacity for one year when their current four year tenure lapses in June.
Govs had nocturnal meeting with Oyegun
Vanguard learned that the APC governors on Tuesday night met with Chief Odigie-Oyegun at his private residence, prevailing on him to align with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue of tenure elongation, while assuring him of their unflinching support at all times. Both parties had agreed in principle to a convention, subject to ratification of NEC and adoption of the report of its 10-member technical committee which was learned, has recommended congresses and convention. A source at the meeting, who declined to be named however disclosed that the tenure extension issue did not emanate from Chief Oyegun.
“You know that the tenure extension thing was never the idea of the NWC or Oyegun as a person. The idea was sold to the party by the governors and we felt it was a win-win proposal for all stakeholders in the party.
“After the volte face by the President, the governors had to respect the President’s position as the leader of the party and the nation”, said the source.
According to him, while Oyegun accepted the stance of the governors, he, however, gave a caveat that the NWC be allowed a free hand to set up structures to conduct the national convention and congresses. “The chairman told the governors that as long as he remained the chairman of the party, he will continue to discharge his mandate accordingly and that no one should be allowed to interfere in the choices of headship and membership of the convention and congresses planning committees,” the source added.
One of the participants at the meeting had reportedly tipped Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, to chair the convention committee, while an NWC member had reportedly urged the governors to correct the impression that the tenure elongation issue was the idea of the NWC.
Meanwhile, hours after their second meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, the governors of the party had made straight for the national secretariat where they held a closed-door meeting with the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee.
At the meeting, the NWC submitted a proposed budget of about N1.5 billion for the national convention and the process leading to it. This, the governors resolved to sponsor.
The governors had earlier in the day aligned with the president to jettison the decision of the 4th National Executive Committee NEC meeting of the party in February which asked the NWC to continue to work in acting capacity for the next one year.
All issues now resolved — Oyegun
At the end of yesterday’s meeting, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said all issues had now been resolved.
He said: “Today, the governors and the National Working Committee of the party decided to sit and look at the issues seemingly dividing us. I want to say to you with absolute satisfaction and pride that all the issues you have been commenting about in the last two days have been completely and totally resolved.
“We are back in business as one united and happy family. I want to say also that yesterday (Tuesday), we set up a technical committee as ordered by NEC. From the very first minute that we called them to section, they have worked non-stop because I emphasized when I was inaugurating them that their report was time-sensitive.
“It is sensitive because we have already sent out notices for the meeting of NEC which will hold on Monday. I am glad to say that the chairman of the technical committee has reported that his report will be ready this evening (yesteday) or tomorrow morning (today).
“This report will be placed before NEC on Monday, April 9, and appropriate decisions will be taken. Thereafter, we will announce to you the further steps that we are going to take resulting from NEC consideration on the recommendations when we receive them.
“The bottom line is that the APC leadership is back as one happy, united and focused party, strongly behind our President and strongly behind our governors in all the states.’’
His position was also corroborated by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
APC in pre-election trauma — PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said yesterday that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was already passing through death throes and pre-election trauma as its leaders were now in a frenzy over the baggage of an extremely unpopular Presidential candidate, ahead of the 2019 general election.
The PDP said the confusion, backstabbing and vicious scheming in the APC was a sad testimony of a party that had “become politically decapitated by the evident dishonesty, greed, selfishness and lust for power by its incompetent leaders.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said it was now clear that the APC was an ideologically shallow movement and a special purpose vehicle put together by egoistic strange bedfellows just for the purpose of grabbing political power without knowledge in the use of same.
“The APC is stewing in its own venomous broth. The nation can now see why, even with a sitting President, the party is still finding it difficult to agree on simple issues, but always attempts to circumvent and violate the laws to push desperate agenda of their selfish leaders.
“We call on Nigerians not to be deceived by the sudden law-abiding stance of the APC, as it is merely cosmetic and meant to cloak their hidden but soon-to-be manifested plots to manipulate the laws to push a self-succession plan of their incompetent candidate.
“It is evident that APC has never had anything to offer Nigerians other than confusion, disagreements, economic recession, bad national image and painful bloodletting.
“Nigerians must, therefore, remain alert and very wary of all activities of power mongers in the APC, who are so mortally afraid of elections that they are ready to destroy our democratic institution to achieve their selfish agenda of perpetuating themselves in power to the peril of our dear nation,” the statement read.