- President Muhammadu Buhari has broken his silence over the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress
- This is coming after the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee was sacked and replaced by Niger state governor, Sani Bello
- The Nigerian leader in a statement insisted that the March 26 date for the party’s national convention remained sacrosanct
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently the cynosure of all eyes at the moment, following the crisis tearing the All Progressives Congress (APC) apart.
It’s generally believed that a nation’s president is the leader of the political party that he belongs to and he takes decisions on issues affecting the party. His body language mostly directs the decision of the party’s leadership.
Legit.ng recalls that the APC has been in a serious crisis over its leadership and convention.
On March 8, 2022, the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee was sacked and Buni was replaced by Niger state governor, Sani Bello.
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It has been speculated that President Buhari actually ordered the sack of the Buni-led party executives.
A source in the party who does not want his name in print told Legit.ng that the president actually ordered the sack of the Yobe state governor from leading the party after he realized that things were getting out of hands regarding the March 26 scheduled convention.
According to the source, Buhari had been shown proof that the Buni-led caretaker committee was not willing to go ahead with the March 26 convention.
Buni approaches Buhari in London
But unsure of the development, the Yobe state governor and other party chieftains ran to President Buhari who has been on vacation in London to confirm his position and discuss the ongoing internal crisis with him.
The Nation reports on March 11, 2022, that Buni, AGF Abubakar Malami and CBN’s Godwin Emefiele had travelled to London. Although they travelled for different reasons, Buni’s trip was to confirm from President Buhari whether he ordered the sack of his caretaker committee.
A source had told the platform that Buni insisted that it won’t be rational enough to depend on third-party information regarding his sack, hence he had to travel to London to personally confirm from Mr president.
It’s yet known the outcome of his meeting with the president. But Buni who travelled to Dubai before his sack had earlier handed over to the Niger state governor, Sani Bello to act on his behalf pending his return from a medical trip.
INEC stands with Buni
Legit.ng reports that considering that Buni handed over to Bello to act on his behalf pending his return, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has refused to recognize the Bello-led caretaker committee after a letter was written to the electoral body intimating it of the date of its National Executive Council meeting to possibly ratify the new party leadership.
Insisting such NEC meeting can only be conveyed by the Buni-led committee, INEC said the letter inviting it to the meeting was not signed by the recognized party leadership in the person of Buni and his secretary, John Akpanudoedehe. INEC insisted that:
“Such was contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission's Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).”
It argued further that Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, holds that at least, a 21-day notice must be given before such a meeting can be convened.
APC trashes INEC position
The Cable quoted APC as saying that it had earlier issued the INEC the required 21 days notice.
The newspaper reported that Ismaeel Ahmed, youth representative and spokesperson of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee (CECPC) made this public during a briefing in Abuja on Friday.
Ahmed, who was responding to a letter addressed to the party by the electoral commission, said it had been officially informed of the convention, arguing that if there would be an adjustment in the date, it’s not to issue a fresh 21 days notice.
Buhari ignores INEC, insists on March 26 convention
But as the arguments continued and it seemed like the crisis had further deepened, with what many had said was INEC’s support for the Buni-led committee, President Buhari broke his silence on the matter, insisting the March 26 convention must hold.
A statement by the president which was signed by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, on Saturday, March 12, 2022, though warned party leaders and governors to desist from issues that can jeopardize the success of the APC ahead of 2023 elections, confirmed that the convention will hold in a matter of weeks.
According to him:
“When precisely the party’s convention is held and who is the party’s chairman is hardly a matter for the average voter: vastly more important is who convention delegates will elect as the party’s flagbearer in the coming weeks to take forward the party’s platform to the people in the general election in February next year.”
INEC’s crucial final decision
With Mr president’s position, it’s yet to be seen whether INEC will insist on its earlier position or have a change of mind on the issue.
Whatever decision INEC takes at this point would likely be viewed from two perspectives. Agreeing with Buhari on the March 26, 2022 convention would mean that INEC is getting involved in politics and not being completely independent. On the other hand, ignoring Buhari's position on the convention date would be calling for the president's wrath as Mr president would see INEC's position as another form of insubordination.
This may become very clear in a matter of days as INEC is yet to respond since President Buhari made his position public.
APC national convention: Party bigwigs move to vacate court order
According to an earlier report by Legit.ng, top members of the party have resolved to vacate the court order stopping the party’s national convention slated for March 26.
Sources within the party on Sunday, March 13, said that the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) as well as other stakeholders in the APC had concluded plans to vacate the suit this week.
The order was made on November 18, 2021, following an ex parte application by an aggrieved member of the party, Hon. Salisu Umoru.