THISDAY: We Were Not Expecting Full Support, Says Oyegun on Opposition to Tenure Elongation

As the air of uncertainty continues to pervade the declaration of tenure extension for the elected and appointed officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at all levels, the National Chairman of the ruling party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the party was not expecting everyone to tag along with the National Executive Committee (NEC), saying people were entitled to support any cause they believed in.

During the meeting of the NEC of the APC on Tuesday, its members had, without an amendment of the party’s constitution, voted in favour of the tenure elongation by 12 months for all the executives of the party at all levels.

Citing Article 13 of the APC constitution, which empowers the NEC to carry out the functions of the convention, the party said NEC decided to extend the tenure of the current NWC members and other executive committees at various levels for another 12 months, starting from June 30, 2018.

However, by Tuesday night, in realisation that it may have goofed at the NEC meeting by announcing the tenure extension in contravention of the constitution, APC leaders were scrambling to point out the anomaly in the extension.

The constitution of the party provides for a four-year tenure for its executives.
The current executives were elected in June 2014 for a four-year mandate, which is expected to lapse on June 30, 2018.

Giving fillip to the anomaly, a statement issued by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said the decision reached at the NEC meeting was a “mere expression of interest”, adding that it is only at the National Convention of the APC that a constitutional amendment can be carried out to extend the tenure of the executives.

According to Yari, “What has been done is a mere expression of interest. The power of the convention to extend tenure is exercised only by way of a constitution amendment.
“The power of the National Executive Committee of our party cannot go beyond doing so by way of constitution amendment.

“Article 30 of the APC constitution states that the ‘constitution and the schedules hereto can be amended only by the National Convention of the party’.

“The process of amending the constitution is also expressly provided in Article 30 Sub-section 2.
“What was done today (Tuesday) was only an expression of a desire to extend the tenure of the Chief Oyegun-led national executive.”

Yari’s position was supported by other members of the party who warned that the absence of a constitutional amendment by the National Convention of the APC could lead to litigation and further crisis in the party.
But reacting to the turn of events, Oyegun, during a brief interaction with journalists Wednesday in Abuja, dismissed the position of Yari and others on the basis that this was not new in APC, noting that it was natural for people to speak against the one-year tenure elongation granted to him and other executives.
He added that expecting 100 per cent support for the decision was impossible.

He said: “Well, I don’t want to talk on this sensitive political issue. Suffice it to say that whatever is happening, naturally, there will be contrary views.

“So, it will be so difficult if you come out with total, one hundred per cent unanimity, but I think the reasons for not wanting to hold some of these elective congresses this year are very clear: we have such mighty work to do in this one year and each one has the potential of causing a crisis.

“We are going to have the first set of party elections, second set of elections for governorship aspirants, and others for the state Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, and so on.

“So, we just felt we could defer some of these issues, or the party felt some of these challenges can be deferred for one year for us to concentrate on the serious task before us which is the national election, and people gave the good examples of Ekiti and Osun States, where because of this same issue of elections looming in those two states, the filling of party offices had to be deferred.”

A party insider also told THISDAY that the motion for the tenure extension was moved by the Plateau State APC chairman and supported by his Ebonyi State counterpart.

The insider added that when put to the vote, those in support scored 104 votes, while those against – led by Governor Roachas Okoroacha of Imo State — got four votes, saying that Yari voted for the tenure extension at the NEC meeting.

PDP Turns the Screw

Also reacting to the opposition to the tenure extension for the executives of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday, having reviewed the outcome of the NEC meeting of the APC, surmised that the ruling party has finally collapsed.

The PDP also noted that the confusion, impunity and lawlessness in the APC further exposed the failure of the Buhari-led presidency, adding that this accounts for its rejection by Nigerians ahead of the 2019 polls.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement Wednesday, said the APC has ultimately lost its soul and can no longer be reckoned with as a political party, having been hijacked by the cabal in the presidency.
The main opposition party stated that the cabal in the presidency has overthrown the APC constitution, suppressed dissenting voices, and was now imposing a dictatorial regime within its ranks, reminiscent of a military coup.
The PDP said the development in the APC further exposed the desperation by the Buhari presidency to seize the political space, even within its party.

“Nigerians watched with rude shock as President Muhammadu Buhari, the African Union anti-corruption champion, directly superintended over the worst kind of corruption in a political party by overthrowing its constitution and democratic processes, all in the bid to shut out other contenders in the presidential race, a development which further confirms that the president has lost popularity even in his own party,” the main opposition party stated.

“We invite all to note that whereas the APC constitution provides for a four-year tenure for officials of its organs and enshrined a re-election or reappointment at the expiration of the said tenure, the Buhari presidency muzzled the APC NEC and imposed an illegal one-year tenure extension for the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee, a fiat that is not provided for in the party’s constitution.

“The APC is so dysfunctional that under the grip of the presidential cabal, the party in contravention of its own constitution does not have a Board of Trustees (BOT), which explains the reason it lacks a conscience and has failed completely in delivering good governance to the nation,” PDP added.

PDP observed that while the APC constitution provides for quarterly NEC meetings, the party has only held five since its formation in 2014.

“From the outcome of Tuesday’s APC NEC meeting,” PDP added, “It is clear that the party has finally collapsed, lost all democratic credentials and can no longer provide a level playing field for its members or even other Nigerians to freely aspire to any position of their choice, particularly, the presidency, governorship and National Assembly positions in the 2019 general election.”

The party continued: “It is now certain that the APC is no longer a credible platform but an appropriated one, where only those anointed by the presidential cabal can have the opportunity to aspire to any position within its ranks. The APC has been seized and is irredeemably damaged ahead of the 2019 general election.

“Furthermore, the confusion and lawlessness that were the hallmarks of the outcome of the APC Caucus and NEC meetings signposts the failures inherent in the incompetent, blundering and corrupt Buhari-led administration, which has brought so much hardship and violence to our dear nation.

“This gives strong insight into why the APC government was not able to adequately aggregate the issues, assemble the right economic team and muster the desired expertise, with appropriate programmes and policies to run the much desired productive government in almost three years.”

PDP urged all Nigerians of good faith still in the APC to note that their platform has lost it and “as such should take the bold steps to save our nation’s democracy”.

According to the PDP, “On our own part, the repositioned and rebranded PDP remains open as the only credible platform for the much desired new national political engagement where all Nigerians can freely and democratically aspire to any position of their choice, be it the highest in the country without any let or hindrance.”
It called on the APC to accept its self-inflicted doom and be ready to accept the inevitable defeat come 2019.
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