Editor's note: Barrister Benjamin Kolowei, the national coordinator, South-South Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF) writes on the recent crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, describing the recent upheaval in the APC as an attempted coup.
The recent development in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been described as a political coup by the contending forces struggling for the soul of the party ahead of its national convention slated for March 26, and other things being equal.
The internal rumbling is expected especially as it relates to who gets what and how in the politics and politicking of the various lords and principalities in the party as the race to 2023 gathers momentum and acceleration.
Early in the week news broke that President Muhammadu Buhari had given order sacking Governor Mai Bala Buni, as the national caretaker chairman of the party, and that Niger state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, who is a member of the Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC take charge as the caretaker chairperson of the party contrary to the workings of the party, its constitution, and leadership.
But in a swift reaction, Governor Buni-led CECPC through a statement by the national secretary of the party, Senator James Akpanudoedehe dismissed the report as pure fiction, advising the public to ignore it.
PAY ATTENTION: Join Legit.ng Telegram channel! Never miss important updates!
Did Buhari order Buni's removal?
For about 48 hours, the speculation about Buhari's purported order went viral like a whirlwind until Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai gave it a voice to it while speaking on Channel's politics today.
According to El-Rufai, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state cannot return as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party because Governor Bello had the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and 19 governors.
Countering governor El-Rufai, Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi, insisted that Governor Buni, remained the caretaker committee chairman of the APC.
Umahi said that there’s no crisis in the APC and tasked party members to dispel the rumours that the ruling party is divided.
What the party constitution says
Findings revealed that President Buhari has no power whatsoever to unilaterally sack Governor Buni as the caretaker chairman of the party, although the president may influence the sack. Also contrary to Governor El-Rufai's "President said claims," only the National Executive Committee (NEC) can remove a national chairman and not the president.
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 Governor 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.
Implication of Buni's removal
Analysts have, however said the ruling APC will be dancing on the brinks unless the APC NEC ratifies Governor Bello’s appointment or Mai Mala Buni is allowed back to superintend over its affairs, the ruling party may not have a valid national convention as scheduled.
Section 222 of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that only the national chairmen and national secretaries are recognized when parties are registered.
The Electoral Act has also stated the lines of communication between the parties and INEC.
Confirming the legality of the Governor Buni-led CECPC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of its NEC.
The development implies that the electoral body did not recognize the removal of Governor Buni as chairman of the party’s caretaker committee and his subsequent replacement by Governor Bello.
INEC drew the attention of the CECPC to the fact that the letter of invitation was not signed by the national chairman and national secretary of the CECPC, Governor Buni and Senator John Akpanudoedehe, respectively.
This, it said, was contrary to the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
The letter by INEC is considered a big clog in the wheels of a plot by a bloc in the party to stage a coup against Buni, who duly transferred power to Governor Bello of Niger state, to enable him to attend briefly to health issues, according to a leaked letter on Thursday.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Legit.ng.
Your own opinion articles are welcome at email@example.com— drop an email telling us what you want to write about and why. More details in Legit.ng’s step-by-step guide for guest contributors.
Contact us if you have any feedback, suggestions, complaints, or compliments.