By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
When Aldous Leonard Huxley, the English writer, and philosopher noted in one of his works thus; “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history”, he perhaps had Nigeria’s troubled ruling All Progressives Congress APC in mind.
It is no longer news that the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the APC is currently enmeshed in a crisis of confidence, following the palace coup-like take over of its affairs by one of its members and Niger state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello.
President Buhari was reported to have last Sunday sacked Gov. Buni and ordered that Gov. Bello be sworn in.
Although, it has now emerged that the substantive National Chairman of the CECPC, Gov. Mai Mala Buni had transmitted powers to Gov. Bello while embarking on a medical trip to Dubai, Bello and his supporters within the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF say Buni has been eased out following a presidential approval to that effect.
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state had in a Television interview disclosed of how he and some of his colleagues persuaded President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Gov. Buni as Chairman of the CECPC and pave way for the emergence of Gov. Bello who is expected to conduct the March 26 national convention, which itself is now shaky.
What is disturbing in such assertion is that the national chairman (whether in caretaker capacity or not) is not an appointee of the President and so cannot be sacked by a mere verbal or written pronouncement of Mr President! Those who are mouthing this are even doing a disservice to the president by casting him in the mold of a dictator.
History repeating itself
When the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC was eased out in June 2020, it was not by a mere pronouncement of the president, who of course had been convinced of the need to sack Oshiomhole.
The then-acting National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom was able to secure a court order naming him as acting chairman of the party following the suspension of Oshiomhole by his ward executives.
It was in that capacity that he called for a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee NEC and it was on that basis that President Buhari decided to attend the said meeting.
It was at that meeting that a resolution was passed dissolving the Oshiomhole-led NWC and replacing it with the Gov. Buni-led CECPC.
With Gov. Buni reportedly on sick bed, the now beleaguered CECPC is in a legal fix over its decision to convene an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee NEC.
This is because only the national chairman of the party and or a two-third majority of NEC members can convene such a meeting.
NEC meeting shaky
Party sources who are in the know of ongoing high-wire intrigues at the top echelon of the party said the CECPC now being led by Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello as acting national chairman is tinkering with two options to convene the NEC.
The two options are: relying on Article 25(B)1, getting two thirds of NEC members to append their signatures to a document calling for a NEC meeting. The challenge with this is that the current composition of NEC is vague, while its members are scattered around the country and would take at least two days to mobilize them to Abuja to sign any document calling for a meeting.
The second option is that the CECPC members, with the exception of its substantive National Chairman, Gov. Mai Mala Buni and National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe are said to have resolved to sign up for a NEC meeting. Their resolution will thereafter be forwarded to the presidency for necessary input and ratification. The challenge with this is that although, as presently constituted, members of the CECPC are automatic members of NEC, they do not however constitute a two-third of NEC members whose signatures are needed to convene the all-important meeting.
The Bello-led CECPC indeed went for the second option and wrote INEC on March 8, inviting it to monitor the NEC.
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But the electoral umpire has now raised issues with the invitation, saying according to the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the commission’s regulations and guidelines for political party operations, the invitation letter was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC.
According to the commission, it would also require a 21-day notice to monitor the exercise and asked the CECPC to note the issues raised for compliance.
“The easiest way out is to get Gov. Buni to come back, ask him to convene a NEC meeting and then remove him and adopt Gov. Bello. But the fear is whether Buni will actually call for a NEC meeting if he is allowed to take charge of the CECPC now.
“Unfortunately, the party is in a fix because you cannot invoke any doctrine of necessity on this issue and time is running. Article 25 (B) 1 of our constitution states 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’.
“So, it means without Buni or two-third of NEC members, that we cannot have the said NEC meeting”, a party source said.
What it means is that with Gov. Buni and the CECPC National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, the APC might be in a fix as to how to go forward.
Meanwhile, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Yekini Nabena has called on the Niger state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello to stop his plan to call for a National Executive Committee NEC meeting without the authorization of Governor Mai Mala Buni.
Gov. Bello is a member of the Buni-led CECPC and represents the North Central.
Nabena said that Governor Bello is just an ordinary member of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and not the Chairman or Secretary. “I am using this medium to call on our leaders across the states to caution Governor Sani Bello of Niger state.
The Presidency should also call him to order to immediately drop the plan to convey a NEC meeting without the knowledge of Governor Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary of the CECPC.
“Governor Sani Bello is neither the Chairman nor Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee. So, where did he get the powers to convey such meeting?
“Governor Bello should not destroy the ruling APC because of his personal political ambition of becoming Vice President or whatever in 2023.”
According to Nabena, the large interest of the majority should be bigger than personal ambition of Governor Sani Bello.
Why PMB can’t sack Buni
Although the party has dismissed reports of Gov. Buni’s sack by the president, the president’s silence on the matter is not golden. Even if he is out of the country, as he presently is, his spokespersons could still speak on his behalf.
Against the background of the above, it needs to be stated without equivocation that President Muhammadu Buhari has no power whatsoever to unilaterally sack Governor Buni as the caretaker chairman of the party.
The only organ of the party that can remove Buni as the chairman of the party is the National Executive Committee which is the highest decision-making organ of the party. And President Buhari is not the NEC of the party!
Assuming without conceding the fact that President Buhari no longer wants Buni as the chairman of the party for whatever reasons, the highest he can do, being the person with the highest commanding influence in the party, because of the position he occupies, is to covertly lobby those in NEC to find a way to remove Buni.
According to Article 13.3(v) of the APC Constitution 2014, only the NEC of the party can exercise such control and take such disciplinary actions on Buni or his committee, if there is any allegation of infraction against him or any other member of the party.
Also, Article 13.2(vi) of the same Constitution quoted in the preceding paragraph explicitly emphasizes that it is the same NEC that can appoint Niger State Governor and his committee or any other person it may deem fit and assign powers and functions to them accordingly. As of now, the NEC decision that appointed Buni and his Committee is binding on all organs and members except the National Convention according to Article 13.3(iii) and it is until the same NEC decides otherwise.
However, since according to Karl Max, the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, a troubled ruling APC is a troubled Nigeria. Therefore, it is high time the party put its acts together and save Nigerians unnecessary headaches. We can’t be battling with power outages plus crippling fuel crisis and still be thinking of a rudderless ruling party.