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More hurdles as Ganduje moves to weather storms in APC

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, a former Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has temporarily put a stop to the fresh move to…

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, a former Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has temporarily put a stop to the fresh move to oust him as the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ganduje, who is not a stranger to controversy, had to wade through the initial push by stakeholders from the North Central for the chairmanship of the party to remain in the zone after the ouster of his predecessor and former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

Although the agitations by North Central stakeholders have only taken the back seat in recent months, the onslaught against Ganduje from not just his home state but also by some “members” of the ward executive in Ganduje town of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area has caught many by surprise.

Recall that one Haladu Gwanjo, who identified himself as the APC legal adviser in Ganduje ward, announced the suspension of the former governor at a press conference in Kano on Monday.

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Gwanjo said Ganduje was suspended from the party on the ground that he was facing corruption charges levelled against him by the Kano State Government. But the ward, local government and state executives of the party swiftly nullified the “suspension” and alleged that the New Nigeria Peoples Party-led Kano government was behind the plot, an allegation the government denied.

And with the two conflicting orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction that followed the Monday development, many observers believe the last has not been heard of the issue.

A Kano State High Court, presided over by Justice Usman Na’Abba, on Wednesday granted an ex parte order affirming Ganduje’s suspension and restraining him from parading as a member of the party and presiding over the affairs of the National Working Committee (NWC), while a Federal High Court in Kano, presided over by Justice Abdullahi Muhammad Liman, a day later, directed all respondents to refrain from implementing or giving effect to the suspension pending the hearing and determination of the fundamental right of fair hearing filed by Ganduje before the court. Justice Liman fixed April 30 for a hearing in the matter.

As a sequel to this, Ganduje inaugurated the Ondo State primary election and appeal committees. The national secretary, Ajibola Bashiru, clarified that the inauguration of the committee was not illegal since Ganduje had secured an order from a Federal High Court, setting aside his suspension.

Earlier, the Ganduje ward executive stormed the APC national secretariat in Abuja, where they passed a vote of confidence on Ganduje, saying they didn’t suspend him and insisted that the act was carried out by impersonators. They also demanded a probe into the matter, insisting that perpetrators should be brought to justice.

While the events were unfolding, the North Central APC Forum asked the party to “return” the national chairmanship to the North Central zone.

The chairperson of the forum, Sale Zazzaga, said at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja that the region of the embattled national chairman (North West) occupied several positions at the detriment of the North Central, which he said was suffering political neglect.

While members of the North Central APC Forum were demanding that the region retained the chairmanship, a group of protesters stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja with placards and banners with different inscriptions demanding Ganduje to quit office.

The protesters, who claimed to be APC youths, also demanded that all actions taken by the embattled national chairman during his “controversial” stay in office be interpreted as invalid.

The protesters, in a petition addressed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and signed by co-conveners, Denesi Momoh, Abdulkadir Shuaibu and Adeyeye Olugbenga, said Ganduje’s continuous actions in office were a threat to the outcome of Saturday’s primary election in Ondo State.

Ward executive lacks power to suspend Ganduje – APC Constitution Committee member

A member of the APC Constitution Repeal Committee (2022), Bashir Maidugu, a lawyer, told Daily Trust on Sunday in a phone chat that Article 21 of the party’s new constitution provides that only the National Executive Committee (NEC) has the power to suspend a NEC member like Ganduje.

He argued that Ganduje being a NEC member, his ward lacked the power to suspend him, stressing that only the NEC can do so if he commits any offence.

He quoted Article 21.1(i), which states that, “Subject to the provisions of this article and the right to fair hearing, the party shall have power to discipline its members.”

He also quoted Article 21.1(ii) of the APC constitution, which states, “The power shall be exercised on behalf of the party by the respective executive committee in line with the provisions hereunder.”

Interpreting Article 21.1(ii), he stated, “What it means is that if the person is a member of the ward executive committee, it is that committee that will discipline him. If he is a member of the local government executive committee, it is the committee that will discipline him. If he is a member of the state executive committee, it is the state executive committee that will discipline him. If he is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), it is the NEC that will discipline him.

“In Ganduje’s case, he is a member of the NEC, so only the NEC has the power to discipline him. The ward can only discipline ordinary party members who are not members of the NEC.

“And there are procedures for discipline, which include setting up a disciplinary committee, usually headed by the deputy national chairman, deputy state chairman, deputy local government chairman or deputy ward chairman, as the case may be. And this committee will comprise members of proven integrity, and they will investigate the allegation against such a member.

“After the investigation, the report will be submitted to the executive committee concerned, which will now take disciplinary action.”

In a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday, Sam Nkire, a member of the APC National Caucus, who reacted to a question on whether there was a grand plan to oust Ganduje like his predecessors, said only President Bola Tinubu could remove him if he is no longer in his good books.

Nkire, a former national chairman of the defunct Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), told Daily Trust on Sunday that the ward has no power to suspend the party’s national chairman, stressing that if the ward has such powers, it would one day suspend the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and make mockery of the country’s democracy.

He said, “If our laws are still in place, Ganduje remains the national chairman; he can’t be pushed out. It can be tested. It is not a fight that Ganduje will lose. No grand plan can be beyond the leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He influenced Ganduje’s coming to power as national chairman.

“So, no power can remove Ganduje, except the president, and if leaders of the party don’t want him. So far, I have not seen any sign leading to that conclusion.”

But the spokesman of the APC in Kano State, Ahmed Aruwa, accused the presidency of having a hand in the fresh plot against the party chairman.

In a short viral video, Aruwa claimed that some forces within the presidency had decided to push for the exit of Ganduje, warning that this could lead to a major political crisis that may consume the party.

Ganduje, however, put this line of thought to rest when he told party supporters that he had the backing of President Tinubu to remain the national chairman.

History of past party chairmen’s end indicates worrisome pattern

Ganduje’s emergence as the 6th national chairman of the APC had raised dust due to the fact that he was not elected at a national convention, which is the highest decision-making organ of the party. He was announced the chairman at the party’s 12th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on August 3, 2023. The NEC is the second-highest decision-making organ of the party.

While some party chieftains questioned the legality of his becoming the party’s helmsman, others said it was in line with the provisions of its constitution (as amended in 2022).

Our correspondent reports that the NEC relied on Article 13:3(ii) of the APC constitution to make Ganduje the national chairman. The article states: “The NEC has the powers to discharge all functions of the national convention in between national conventions.”

Recall that since 2013 when the APC was formed, it has had six national chairmen, with the majority of them exiting their positions in crisis-ridden and controversial circumstances.

The six APC national chairmen since 2013 are Bisi Akande (2013-2014); John Oyegun (2014-2018); Adams Oshiomhole (2018-2020); Mai Mala Buni (2020-22); Senator Abdullahi Adamu (2022-2023) and Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (2023 till date).

Among the past chairman, Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, had lost the top seat following the onslaught from his ward executives, who had also suspended him and secured a court order to give effect to the suspension. But many believe the circumstances surrounding Ganduje’s current travails differ from what led to the removal of Oshiomhole as party chairman.

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