Embattled by the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be a president in rebellion against his own party as he faces an unprecedented challenge to his authority from nine APC governors and the 37 state and FCT party chairmen, including 15 members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who have vowed to boycott the APC National Executive Committee (NEC), meeting scheduled for today, Thursday, June 25, at the presidential villa in Abuja. That's after the President yesterday endorsed the NEC meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom, one of the court-installed factional leaders as acting national chairman of the party. The NWC wrote to Buhari informing him of their decision to boycott what they described as an illegal and unconstitutional meeting, saying Giadom lacked the locus standi to convene a NEC meeting.
APC sources told Huhuonline.com that the nine governors: Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara) and Hope Uzodinma (Imo) will hold a meeting in Abuja early today after which they will formally announce their boycott. Two other governors; Aminu Masari, from Buhari’s home state of Katsina and his Kogi counterpart, Yahaya Bello, are said to be undecided. The 36 state and FCT party chairmen; the largest single power bloc in NEC who remain unflinchingly loyal to the beleaguered suspended APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole will also boycott today’s meeting.
The leadership ruckus in the APC that followed the June 16 judgment of the Court of Appeal that affirmed Oshiomhole’s suspension took another dramatic twist yesterday after Buhari broke his silence, saying he would attend the NEC meeting; and endorsed Giadom, ostensibly based on advice, he reportedly received from Ekiti Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi; his Kebbi State counterpart who chairs the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, who doubles as chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and their Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar. Fayemi, Bagudu and Lalong, according to APC sources, used their positions of power and influence to convince Buhari to back Giadom; a position that was endorsed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who advised the president to back Giadom, based on the point of law.
Buhari’s endorsement of Giadom, a sworn opponent of Oshiomhole, literally implied a loss of confidence in the Oshiomhole-led NWC of the party, which has even suspended Giadom for anti-party activities; and chosen one of Oshiomhole’s zonal deputies, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as acting chairman following Oshiomhole’s suspension. With Ajimobi hospitalized and recovering from Covid-19, the APC NWC had chosen Chief Hilliard Etta, APC national vice chairman, South-south, to hold the fort for him. Rising from a meeting late last night, the NWC under Etta, drew a line in the sand, saying its members would boycott the meeting.
Etta in a statement distributed to journalists, said he believed President Buhari’s decision to attend the Giadom-convened NEC meeting was the product of bad advice. “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the Party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom borders on illegality and criminality. The National Working Committee (NWC) regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional National Executive Committee (NEC) convened by Chief Victor Giadom,” the statement read in part.
President Buhari had Wednesday in a statement by his spokesman Garba Shehu thrown his weight behind Giadom as the acting national chairman of the party and announced his decision to attend today’s NEC meeting convened by Giadom. According to the statement by Shehu, the president, whom he said took the decision to back Giadom following convincing advice, would consequently attend Giadom’s virtual NEC meeting along with governors and members of the National Assembly. “The president has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman. Because the president will always act in accordance with the law, the president will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon. In addition to the president, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” the statement said.
However, Oshiomhole’s loyalists took strong exception to Buhari’s decision to endorse Giadom and made this known in a tersely-worded letter to the president. According to the anti-Giadom camp, the president was misled into supporting the factional leader and accepting to attend a meeting that was convened in utter violation of the APC constitution that mandated a seven-day notice plus an agenda; both of which were not respected by Giadom.
As the nation holds its breadth to see which way the pendulum will swing after today’s planned NEC meeting, the NWC pro-Oshiomhole faction chairman, Hilliard Etta, yesterday alleged that his life was being threatened. In a conference call with journalists, Etta said he got intelligence on background that political thugs were planning to raze the APC national secretariat to frame the NWC members opposed to Giadom’s hostile take-over of the party leadership.
In yet another fallout of the APC leadership fracas, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rejected the party’s notification letter for its primary for the election of its candidate for the Ondo State governorship election. The letter signed by the APC acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, fixed July 20 as date for its primary but INEC, in a reply by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriarari-Anthony, said the letter did not meet the provisions of its guidelines and regulations. The electoral umpire directed the APC to ensure that the notification letter be jointly signed by the APC national chairman and national secretary; and in the current scenario where the post of national chairman is being contested, it appears the chances of APC fielding candidate in the October 10 Ondo State governorship election might be compromised before the deadline.