President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, threw his weight behind the anti-Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp in the All Progressives Congress (APC) with his recognition of Chief Victor Giadom as acting national chairman of the party.
But the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Prince Hilliard Eta kicked, saying President Buhari was misled.
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The NWC members also said they will not attend the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party slated for today.
Daily Trust reports that this is the first time the NWC of the party openly disagreed with President Buhari.
Buhari’s recognition of Giadom, who is of the camp of some Governors including Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, among others, has unsettled the Tinubu’s bloc in the party.
Suspended National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, other governors and 17 out of the 21 members of the NWC are of the camp of Tinubu, the national leader of the party.
The battle for the soul of APC, according to top party sources has been between the two main blocs in the party, even though smaller camps also exist.
The machinations are all geared towards the 2023 politicking.
Why Buhari backed Giadom – Presidency
President Buhari has explained why he backed Giadom as acting national chairman, saying the law was on the side of the Rivers State born politician.
Responding to enquiry, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said: “The President has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman.
“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the president will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow (today) afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” Shehu said.
Daily Trust gathered that the virtual NEC, to be held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, would be physically attended by 40 members, including the president, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.
The meeting was fixed after President Buhari had listened to the fence mending views from Senate president and the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) represented by their Chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Jigawa, Mohammed Abubakar Badaru, and Plateau, Simon Lalong.
Giadom and Fayemi were also at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
Daily Trust reports that it was after his visit to the presidency that Giadom summoned a meeting of NEC of the party.
Recalled that in March when Giadom convened a NEC meeting, Tinubu and other members of his camp protested.
It is expected that the fate of Oshiomhole would be decided at the NEC meeting today.
According to article 12.3 of the APC Constitution, the NEC members include the president, vice president, Senate president, deputy Senate president, speaker, deputy speaker, governors, principal officers of the National Assembly, two serving senators from each geo-political zone, three members of the House of Representatives from each of the geo-political zone, party leaders among others.
The NEC exercise control and take disciplinary actions on all organs, officers and members of the party.
‘NEC meeting illegal’
However, the National Working Committee (NWC) in a statement signed yesterday by the embattled acting National Chairman, Prince Hilliard Eta, and acting National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama turned down the invitation to the NEC meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom, saying Buhari was misled.
The statement read: “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the Party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom bothers on illegality and criminality.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional National Executive Committee (NEC) convened by Chief Victor Giadom.
“We believe that attending such a meeting will amount to embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the Constitution of our great Party.”
Shock, disbelief in Tinubu’s camp
The decision taken by President Buhari to recognize Giadom was received with shock and disbelief in the camp of Tinubu, Daily Trust can report.
Many chieftains of APC in Lagos who spoke with Daily Trust in confidence, On Wednesday, however, said they would remain calm and unperturbed with the turn of events.
Some analysts see the decision of the president as a “technical knockout for Tinubu”, who is widely believed to be in support of Oshiomhole and nursing a presidential ambition.
One of the APC leaders in the state, who initially declined comment, however, agreed to talk on condition of anonymity.
“There is a conspiracy to weaken the influence of Tinubu in APC,” he said.
“We remain solidly behind our leader, Tinubu.
“He remains our leader and we are very much behind him.
“He is our boss and we pray God to guide him right,” he said.
Another APC chieftain said: “Let’s wait until tomorrow (today) before jumping the gun.
“Tinubu is our leader.
“The President is also our leader and the leader of the party.
“If the president is on the point of law, when he takes a stand like that, we follow him.
“We don’t want to jump the gun.”
When contacted, spokesman of the APC in Lagos, Mr. Seye Oladejo said; “no comment for now.”
But a chieftain of the APC in Lagos, Hon. Kunle Okunola, said there was the need for the party to resolve the multifarious challenges confronting it before the 2023 general election.
Okunola, one of the followers of Tinubu and National Coordinator of Tinubu2023 Not Negotiable (TNN), however, said the current skirmishes in the APC cannot stop the push by his group to convince Tinubu to bid for the 2023 presidency.
Okunola expressed dismay that Oshiomhole failed to put in place a succession plan.
What president’s decision signifies – Political scientists
A senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Dr. Hassan Muhammad Daiyabu, said if President Buhari pitches his tent with Giadom’s faction, the party may end up in disarray.
He said for the fact that in this dispensation, party politics is not guided by any ideology than struggle to grasp or retain power at all cost.
Daiyabu said: “There is no loyalty to any ideology in the Nigerian politics of today.
“When you go back to history, you would find out that ruling parties often have problems in Nigeria, especially during transition from one administration to another.
“You remember in 2015, PDP had similar problem, as the party broke into two because some people felt that they have been cheated.”
Buhari’s endorsement a game-changer
An Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr. Abubakar Umar Kari, has described Buhari’s decision as a huge setback for Tinubu and Oshiomhole.
In an interview with Daily Trust, Kari said the decision was shocking, saying it has altered any permutation or Buhari’s rumoured support for Tinubu.
He said: “First and foremost, let me observe that the statement from the villa was quite shocking and unexpected.
“In terms of effect, I believe it is heft-shaking and it is a possible game-changer because up till that moment, an impression had been created that Buhari was solidly supporting the rumoured presidential aspiration of Tinubu.
“In fact, some people believed that there are some kinds of deal between the two political leaders and that the Tinubu’s tendency in the APC which is being represented by Oshiomhole has been having an easy-ride or has been able to withstand all the pressures, all the plots, all the intrigues, because supposedly, it enjoyed the direct or indirect support of the presidency.
This press statement, obviously has put an end to this line of thinking.
“Secondly, the statement also represents a huge propaganda boost for the other side – the sides that are against Oshiomhole and Tinubu.
“What has been happening within the APC has been a kind of war of nerves.
“Each has been trying to create and dissimulate a kind of perception that they are the ones in charge, that they are the ones enjoying the support of the presidency.
“So, for the presidency to come out and say he recognised Giadom, it is something that will be taken to town by Giadom’s side which it is believed to comprise some State governors, some ministers, within the Buhari-led Presidency,” he said.
The university don said there could be other reasons beyond the legal advice the presidency hinged its decision, saying Buhari might have succumbed to pressure by governors.
“One of them is that the anti-Oshiomhole and anti-Tinubu must have persuaded the president to back them and that is quite possible because not long ago, some four governors met the president at villa, and the stories coming out was that their major mission was to prevail on him to intervene,” he said.
Meanwhile, the APC chairman in Kaduna, Emmanuel Jekada, told Daily Trust that the state party chapter will make its decision known on whether to recognise the Giadom camp as the acting national chairman or not after the NEC.
Also in Yobe, sources in the party said their position would be taken after the NEC meeting.
Similarly, Malam Salihu Tanko Yalasai, the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said they are “studying the development.”
He, however, added that a position on the next line of action would be taken after today ‘s NEC meeting of the party.
Edo/Ondo: INEC to decide on party primary over leadership crisis in APC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it would soon meet to take decision on the fate of primaries for the APC over the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr. Festus Okoye, told Daily Trust in Abuja that the commission would meet and take a decision.
He was asked on the fate of the Edo State primary conducted after the timetable issued by the NWC led by the suspended National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the coming Ondo State primaries with the present development leading to the recognition of the Assistant National Secretary, Mr. Giadom as the acting National Chairman of the APC.
“As this is a judicial pronouncement, and INEC being a law abiding institution, will work with the legal department on the way forward and take appropriate decision,” Okoye said.