*Bello’s camp counters Buni over the transfer of power
*Yahoo Yahoo govs backing Buni – Akeredolu
*APC must not become like other parties — Tinubu
*My doors open for advice, constructive engagements – Governor Bello
*Anti-Buni forces working to frustrate March 26 Convention; Govs betrayed Buni, stabbed him on sick bed — Akpanudoedehe
By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Omeiza Ajayi, AKURE
The leadership crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, assumed another twist, yesterday, following indications that the embattled National Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State officially transmitted a letter handing over power to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.
This came as Bello hinted that the National Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, might be replaced soon, even though he said the matter had not been tabled for discussion.
This is even as chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday accused Governor Mai Mala Buni and his supporters of trying to supplant President Muhammadu Buhari’s will to salvage the APC from internal scavengers.
Vanguard had on Monday, exclusively reported details of how Governor Bello emerged as acting national chairman, stating how Buni was persuaded to transfer power to him rather than to Akpanudoedehe or Senator Ken Nnamani.
Vanguard had also reported that Buni had earlier wanted to hand over to Akpanudoedehe or a former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani but that some forces within the party, especially state governors, wanted a “neutral” person to steer the affairs of the party in the interim.
“Last week, Governor Mai Mala Buni travelled overseas on a private visit and appointed Governor Sani Bello via a letter to acting in his absence,” a source in Buni’s office told Vanguard, dispelling assertions that President Muhammadu Buhari had sacked Buni as the chairman of the APC CECPC and appointed Governor Sani Bello.
“Governor Buni usually handed over to Senator Akpanudoedehe and on few occasions, to Senator Ken Nnamani. Before he jetted out of the country, he wanted to hand over to either of the two but some vested interests prevailed on him to hand over to Governor Bello, which he did. It is surprising that some people are now spinning very dangerous narratives to the effect that Buni has been sacked and to the ridiculous extent of some characters saying a sole administrator has been named, implying that the CECPC has been disbanded. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said a party source.
However, on Wednesday, the said letter was leaked to the public, showing how Governor Buni handed it over to Governor Bello.
‘Buni’s letter an afterthought’
While the Niger State government has denied receipt of the said letter, one of his close allies said Buni’s letter was an afterthought.
“Buni initially transmitted powers to Akpanudoedehe, the secretary but on Monday when they saw how the pendulum was swinging and how Governor Bello was widely supported to take over the reins of the party, the Buni camp decided to hurriedly put together another letter and transmitted powers to Bello. So, it was an afterthought and that was why even though they backdated the letter, they couldn’t send it to us because we know when they typed it and why they did that,” said Bello’s ally.
Asked if Bello had received any letter, he simply said no, but added that the “letter for National Convention has been sent” to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, had on Wednesday night, said Governor Buni was sacked and that he did not willingly transmit power to anyone.
However, in the letter dated February 28, Buni directed Governor Bello to act in his absence as the chairman of CECPC because he would be away on a medical trip to Dubai.
The letter was also copied to INEC and all members of CECPC.
The letter read: “This is to please inform you that I will be embarking on a medical trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from today, 28th February 2022.
“In my absence, I hereby transmit the functions of my office as the National Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to you.
“This is to enable the committee to conclude all arrangements leading to the National Convention slated for March 26th, 2022 and other duties that may be required of the office.
“I invite all members to cooperate with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello by extending to him all the support that I have enjoyed from you.”
I haven’t seen any letter — Gov Bello
But when confronted after a meeting of the CECPC at the national secretariat of APC yesterday, Governor Sani-Bello told newsmen that he had not seen the said letter.
“The letter? I haven’t seen it. Did you say on social media? I have not seen it,” he said.
Asked to confirm whether or not the CECPC has appointed another national secretary, Governor Bello said: “It has not been discussed. It wasn’t on the agenda in today (yesterday)’s meeting.”
Probed further on whether another national secretary will be appointed, the Niger governor said: “Probably. But it has not been discussed yet.”
Reacting to Buni’s sack yesterday, Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, accused Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and his supporters of trying to supplant President Muhammadu Buhari’s will to salvage the APC from internal scavengers.
Akeredolu, in a statement, said that the party “indeed, survived a civilian coup, largely inspired by mischief and incurable lust for power through artificial barricades, and described some governors sympathetic to Governor Buni as “Yahoo Yahoo governors.”
However, the embattled National Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, alleged that the forces working to oust Governor Mai Mala Buni from the CECPC were surreptitiously planning a shift of the March 26 national convention.
Picking holes in the allegations of Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, against the Governor Buni-led committee, he said those who accused Buni of taking unilateral decisions were the same people who egged him on in taking such decisions.
Last Monday, with the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and some APC governors, the APC had a change of guards with Niger State Governor, Sani Bello, taking over as acting chairman of the CECPC.
Buni is still in Dubai where he went for medication penultimate week.
According to Akpanudoedehe, all decisions taken by Buni were backed by APC governors, wondering how convenient it is for some of them to stab Buni in the back and now seek to throw the Yobe governor under the bus.
Buni didn’t procure a court order to stop convention – Akpandudoedehe
In an interview with Vanguard, Akpanudoedehe also dismissed the allegation that he, alongside Buni and a North-Central governor had procured a court injunction since November 2021 to frustrate the party from going ahead with its national convention on March 26.
“God forbid. We didn’t do anything like that. We inherited a lot of court cases which we even reduced. This allegation is not true. You can check with the legal department and pose this same question to them. Ask them who sent them to court to procure such injunction. It is not true.
“Let us say it is even true, couldn’t they have called Governor Buni or any of us to say, my brother, this is wrong, retrace your steps?
“We are prepared for the convention. We released the first list and people were shouting that they were not recognized, that their names were not there and then we expanded the membership. It is a voluntary service. We were not going to pay them, they just wanted to be recognized as members of the party. They clamoured for inclusion and we listened to them.
“Why don’t you ask yourself the question, you have two weeks to the convention, why do you want to change the chairman? Nigerians should not be carried away. It means some people don’t want the Convention to hold because, with a new chairman, you are going to ask for more days to do certain things,” he stated.
Akpanudoedehe also pooh-poohed threats by Governor El-Rufai to remove him as CECPC National Secretary and advised the governor to stop playing God.
“No man should elevate himself above God,” Akpanudoedehe told journalists, yesterday.
Noting that none of the governors loves President Buhari as Buni, Akpanudoedehe said: “The only advantage they have is that they can smooth-talk. Buni does not talk much. Why didn’t they refuse when the party handed the structures to the governors? Why did they not come to the National Secretariat then to complain?
“Now, almost all the states the governors are controlling are in court seeking that the convention should be stopped because they need to settle their cases. That is not my concern but I want you to close your eyes and see a brother of yours lying on a sickbed being operated upon and you see your fellow governors holding a knife and stabbing you on your bed, you would understand the kind of persons these people are.
“It is like the case of Caesar and Brutus. After working so hard for the party, they stuck their knives on him. If you have love, why did you take the issue to the President? Their aim was to paint him black before the President. They know this President loves Buni. This is the only person that is loyal to the President. None of them loves the President like Buni.
They are agents of destruction, Nigerians should disregard these people. They are playing to the gallery,” he declared.
APC must not become like other parties — Tinubu
Speaking in Lagos in the wake of the controversial leadership change in the APC, Tinubu in a statement commended the president for still having faith in the ruling party.
He said while party members were free to pursue their political goals, they must always keep the “greater collective purpose in mind.”
Tinubu said: “Recently, President Buhari made a characteristically concise and important statement regarding the strength and purpose of our political party, APC. He underscored the need for the party to perfect its internal processes so that it keeps faith in the progressive purpose for which it was founded: to bring forth a better society through just and compassionate good governance.
“Our party came into being to answer the call of reform so that progressive governance for the good of all Nigerians could be established in the land. President Buhari won the 2015 election and was re-elected. But the essential task of fundamental reform and improvement of society has not been completed.
“We still have vital work to do. But the work can only be done by a party which is democratic and fair in governing itself as well as in governing the nation.
“This means that while people pursue their political goals they must also and always keep the greater collective purpose in mind. Let us be guided by the progressive and enlightened reason for the party.”
Tinubu said many progressive leaders invested time, energy, ideas and resources in forming the APC, with a view to providing a better Nigeria.
“The president is a founder of this party. I too have lent my humble bit. As founding fathers of this party, we must continue to guard its purpose.
“Let not the APC descend into the ways and rank of the other parties. Instead, may we strive to be an exemplar for a caring and democratic society,” he said.
My doors open for advice — Gov Bello
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when he received Senator Sani Musa, the acting CECPC chairman,, Governor Bello said that constructive criticisms and engagements with party members would help move the party forward.
He stressed the need for all party members to work together for a successful national convention even as he thanked Senator Musa for the visit and his commitment to the success of the APC as a party.
Senator Musa, who was on a solidarity visit to Bello congratulated the Niger State Governor on his “well-deserved appointment as the acting chairman” of the APC Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee.
Senator Musa expressed his support and wished the Governor a successful assignment.
At the closed-door meeting with his governor, Senator Sani Musa and his host brainstormed on very salient and germane issues bordering on ways to reposition the party by ensuring that the APC remains a strong, progressive and united political party working in synergy and support of APC governments at all levels ahead of its March 26 national convention and the 2023 general elections.
Yahoo Yahoo govs in support of Buni — Akeredolu
Akeredolu in a personal statement in Akure, the Ondo State capital said that most of the APC governors are behind Bello.
His words: “We, the governors are for the party except for the few “YahooYahoo” governors (apologies to Salihu, former D-G of the Progressive Governors’ Forum), who were hands-in-glove with Buni to circumvent the will of the majority of our party (APC) members.
“Progressive Governors in the true name, mostly all of us, are determined to see our party through these patchy parts at all cost.
“With nostalgia, one can recall the moments of our struggle as compatriots from all walks of life enunciated and berthed Nigeria’s most ingeniously successful political network.
“Without being immodest, APC’s birth was a novel instance. The party’s philosophical beacon woven around its ideological leaning was alluring.
“Undoubtedly, the firm leadership, candour and honesty exemplified by Mr President who heads the administration that is the product of the APC deserve no less support and complementary responsibilities from all stakeholders.
“The installation of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC was beyond a call to service.
“It was a child of necessity moulded to one, instil discipline in leadership and engender coherence among stakeholders and more importantly, to deepen the Rule of Law in our party.
“However, the insidious and appalling happenings within our party in the last few months, especially under the immediate-past leadership clearly posit a huge embarrassment.
“Without necessarily dwelling on details that are known to critical stakeholders, the path taken lately by Governor Mai Mala Buni, the immediate past head of the CECPC and an indivisible few, is an unenviable trajectory undeserving of our dear party. It is a disdainful narrative.
“Nevertheless, the courage and determination, as well as shrewd sincerity of purpose demonstrated by most of the APC Governors, remain a delight.
“Significantly, the swift response and prompt action taken by Mr President have, in no small means, salvaged our great party from internal scavengers.
“We indeed survived a civilian coup largely inspired by mischief and incurable lust for power through artificial barricades.
“Succinctly, aside from feeling very delighted as a major stakeholder in the latest successful Rescue Mission, I express my confidence in the ability and capacity of Governor Sanni Bello(ABU LOLO) to take APC through.
“None of the scanty numbers has the guts to carry out their imaginary threats as reported in sponsored stories. We dare them to leave the party.
“Their short-lived antics in arm-twisting Governor Buni and probably, some pocket-filling elements within the corridors of power to supplant the President’s will through fake letters, endorsements as well as ‘Black Market’ injunction (procured since November 2021) are despicable.
“Now that the clear motive aimed at frustrating our national convention has been botched, our dear party is on the track to greatness.
“Governor Sanni Bello, ABU LOLO, carry on; you have the backing of the majority of us. You shall see our full backing come Thursday, 17th March 2022 at the National Executive Committee meeting.
Akeredolu however noted that “but as you know, this is only for the conduct of the National Convention.”
Our convention critical to winning 2023 presidential election —Nkire
A National Caucus member of the APC, Chief Sam Nkire has urged the Sani Bello to ensure that the national convention of the party holds as scheduled.
In a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, Nkire, who was reacting to the developments in APC said the convention was critical to winning the 2023 presidential election.
He said: “Except the National Convention comes and goes, the party cannot move forward to reach its destination of retaining power in 2023. Our President, Muhammadu Buhari is leading from the front and there is no reason whatsoever, why the ruling party should not be leading from the front.
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