The good, bad, ugly sides of Buni’s 21 months in APC | Dailytrust

The good, bad, ugly sides of Buni’s 21 months in APC

The internal crisis that engulfed the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the tenure of a former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, as the...

Mai Mala Buni, Yobe State Governor
Mai Mala Buni, Yobe State Governor

The internal crisis that engulfed the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the tenure of a former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, as the party’s national chairman had triggered the emergence of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

Being a child of necessity, the caretaker committee which pundits say was alien to the APC Constitution was inaugurated on June 25, 2020 with specific mandate to among other things reconcile aggrieved party members and organise a national convention for the emergence of a new National Working Committee (NWC) within six months.

This followed the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC by the National Executive Committee (NEC) over alleged abuse of office.  

Pundits say the party under Oshiomhole was gradually going into extinction following the crisis that enveloped and tore it apart.

The committee’s timeline was later extended by the NEC on December 8, 2020 for another six months to enable it accomplish its mandate.

The committee, on assumption of office, commenced the process of reconciling members nationwide and recorded significant milestones in the process.

On August 23, 2020, the Buni-led committee summoned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, to the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, where they were reconciled and asked to work together for the party.

Similarly, the committee received some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bigwigs who jumped ship into the APC following moves by the ruling party to whittle down the structures of opposition parties ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The Buni-led committee harvested three serving governors of the leading opposition PDP; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) into the APC fold.

In the same vein, the APC had within the period, moved other PDP bigwigs, including a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former national chairman of the PDP, Chief Barnabas Gemade, a former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Senators, members of the House of Representatives and members of state Houses of Assembly to its fold. 

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the APC had not renewed its membership register since the initial registration exercise of 2014 despite the surge in its membership.

Sequel to this, the caretaker committee, during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Villa got his nod to embark on nationwide membership registration and revalidation exercise which ended on March 31, 2021.

The party had registered over 40 million members nationwide with the aim of retaining power in 2023. 

The caretaker committee had pushed for the establishment of a tripartite committee to be saddled with the responsibility of enhancing communication and relationship between the executive, legislature and the ruling APC, with a view to ensuring smooth and effective service delivery to Nigerians.

This was done and President Buhari had appointed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as the chairman of the tripartite committee.

The president had said an amicable resolution of conflicts in the party through regular consultations would create more understanding.

The Buni-led committee had also led the party to victory in the Ondo State governorship election.

Under the Buni-led committee, the APC had amended its Constitution, ratified and adopted it at the March 26 national convention of the party held at the Eagle Square in Abuja. 

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the new constitution clarifies ambiguities in the old constitution; filled gaps that became apparent; recognises and expands platforms for participation of critical groups such as women, youth and persons with disabilities.

Similarly, the APC new constitution replaces the Board of Trustees (BoT) under a new title called National Advisory Council with streamlined membership and clear powers and functions.

It equally creates zonal congresses; clarifies powers of NEC and NWC; provides for fair distribution of income between national and sub-national organs and clarifies disciplinary procedures and powers.  

The caretaker committee equally completed payment for the national secretariat building of the party making it the authentic property of the ruling party. This was in addition to settlement of outstanding legal fee it inherited. 

The bad/ugly

Despite the giant strides recorded by the caretaker committee, the Buni administration at the Buhari House in Abuja was characterised by criticisms and bickering among stakeholders and members.

The committee was accused of plots to sit tight and strategise to benefit from slots in the 2023 general polls. Buni in particular was accused of having vice presidential ambition; an allegation he rebuffed through his Director General, Media and Press Affairs, Mamman Mohammed. 

Protests were allegedly sponsored against the committee while some party chieftains even went to court to challenge the legality of its existence. 

Sequel to the diverse interests among the political bigwigs in the party, there was a plot to oust Buni as chairman of the caretaker committee. 

Plot to oust Buni 

The battle to oust Buni thickened during his medical trip abroad. El-Rufai had announced that President Muhammadu Buhari directed them to remove Buni and anoint Niger State governor Bello to take charge of the affairs of the party. 

Governors El-Rufai, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Sani Bello of Niger State were said to be among other governors who worked assiduously to remove Buni from office. 

Featuring on Channels TV’s ‘Politics Today’, El-Rufai disclosed that President Buhari had given them a clear directive to remove Buni as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the APC.

The governor said governors elected on the party’s platform allowed things to degenerate in the party by taking the back seat.

El-Rufai claimed that no fewer than 19 governors of the party and one deputy governor unanimously agreed to carry out the directive of the president, saying the remaining three governors were the ones dishing out “fake news” that Buni has not been removed.

The governor said, “The president held a meeting with us (APC governors) and gave us a clear directive and responsibilities and went into his waiting chopper at the airport. The president in his wisdom knew that we have the capacity.

“It is just that some of us decided to take the back seat and allow things to even get to this point because we believe that once we were elected, we should focus on governance, and leave the party administration to those who are better at it.

“But clearly, it got to a point that something was going to go wrong. The party was being placed at great risk, and we had to do something.”

Similarly, Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State described his counterparts who were on the side of Governor Buni as “Yahoo, Yahoo Governors.”

But some governors in Buni’s camp equally reacted. Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, countered El-Rufai, saying that Buni had not been removed as the chairman of the caretaker committee.

He insisted that the governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, was only detailed by his counterpart in Yobe to hold brief while he left for medical leave abroad.

Buni had also issued a statement saying he would return from his medical trip and continue running the party from where he stopped, revealing that he transmitted a letter to Sani Bello to act in his absence.

In the letter dated February 28, 2022, and obtained by our correspondent, Buni willingly transmitted power to Bello.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that Governors David Umahi of Ebonyi State; Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Hope Uzodinma of Imo State were behind their Yobe counterpart. 

Buni escapes 

Buni escaped the hurdles and onslaughts against him following the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

The plot by powerful forces to oust Buni hit the rocks when the INEC rejected Bello’s letter notifying it of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC. 

Bello had written a letter to INEC requesting that the commission attends the APC’s NEC meeting scheduled for last Thursday.

Sources within the party told Daily Trust Saturday that the clandestine plot was to remove Buni and Senator John Akpanudoedehe as chairman and secretary of the caretaker committee. 

But INEC rejected the letter of invitation because it was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC, Buni and Akpanudoedehe respectively. 

INEC’s letter dated March 9, 2022, which was addressed to the CECPC National Chairman, was signed by the Commission’s Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony. 

Buni hands over to Adamu

Governor Buni had penultimate Wednesday handed over the mantle of leadership to a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, at the APC national secretariat in Abuja. 

Adamu, who was President Buhari’s preferred candidate for the office of national chairman, emerged through a consensus at the party’s national convention held on March 26, 2022.

During the handover ceremony, Buni told the new leadership of the party of the herculean task before it ahead of the 2023 general elections. 

Senator Adamu however promised to work day and night with his team to ensure victory for the party, saying President Buhari would not tolerate failure. 

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