It appears that the brief moment of respite enjoyed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has come to an end with the recent statement by Lawal Shuaibu, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North) who warned that the party stood the risk of disintegration should Oshiomhole’s alleged arbitrariness was left unchecked.
Shuaibu had in a letter on May 28th, 2019 warned Oshiomhole about the dangerous direction the party was heading and advised him to honourably resign to allow the party reposition itself for the task ahead. Shuaibu’s advice earned him a disputed suspension from the party’s National Working Com¬mittee.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Oshiomhole, in March survived what could be termed the biggest battle in his political career after APC governors under aegis of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) met with President Mu¬hammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villla and agreed at a meeting in the Presidential Villa to suspend the controversial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting sched¬uled for March 17 where many had thought Oshiomhole’s fate would be sealed.
Shortly after he returned to his post, Oshiomhole reinstated Shuaibu to his position. However, upon resumption at the party secretariat, Shuaibu who insisted that nobody suspended him added that Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, is APC’s sure bet for victory in the forthcoming election in Edo state.
“It does not make sense to bring another person to contest against the governor. Governor Obaseki is the strongest candidate of the APC we have in Edo State,” Shuaibu had said.
However, on Wednesday, Shuaibu, who issued a fresh warning in a press statement captioned, “APC and its future, let us exercise caution”, said with the way the party chairman was running the party, it was obvious that lessons had yet to be learnt from the reversal of its electoral fortunes in Zamfara State.
The Supreme Court voided APC’s victory in all elections held in Zamfara State after the court held that the processes enshrined in the APC’s constitution, were ignored in the conduct of primaries which produced its candidates for the 2019 Governorship, National and State Assembly elections.
The party chieftain said many did not take his concerns seriously when he asked Oshiomhole to step down and allow the party refocus and rebuild.
He said the APC which was founded on the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law “is now subject to arbitrary administration, without dictates of the law. The ruling party which ought to be a model for others in the upholding of the rule of law, is now the nest of lawlessness.”
In his latest letter, the deputy national chairman said, “Interestingly, all the issues I raised in my said letter have come to pass. Till date, the party, founded on the principles of constitutionalism and rule of law, is now subject of arbitrary administration, without regard for the dictates of the law.
“The ruling party which ought to be a model for others in the upholding of the rule of law, is now the nest of lawlessness. The entire legal framework governing the party administration in Nigeria today, the Nigerian constitution, the party constitution, the Electoral Act and INEC regulations and guidelines are more honored by the party in breaches than obedience.
“To buttress my above assertion, the following few examples will drive the point home. By (Article 9.1(ii) and 9.4 (i) of the APC Constitution as amended, pages 6 and 8) every member will be registered at his ward when his or her name is entered in the register by the Ward Executives.
“My understanding of this provision is that power in the party is exercised bottom up! What this means is that every member of the party is answerable to his constituency. Being a party member therefore is a constitutional issue embedded in the membership register.
“Also, the constitution of the party stipulates a mandatory meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) every three months (Article 25 B (i) of the APC constitution as amended.). This regular meeting is not only targeted at keeping the members abreast of developments, but ensuring collective responsibility of decision taken by the combined effect of the above provision and Article 18 of the APC Consituation as amended).
“NEC is the main decision-making organ after the convention, and shall meet every three months. The power to set up standing or ad-hoc committees of the party is vested in the same NEC.”
He queried Oshiomhole’s decision to personally constitute both the screening committees for the governorship and senatorial elections, as well as the final appeals committee, all in violation of the extant constitutional provisions of the party vesting the power in NEC.
According to him, to make an already bad situation worse, he violated the rule of natural justice, by appointing himself as chairman of both committees.
“It is this refusal to convene NEC to perform its role that has led the party to the comatose state it is now. My fear is, it is being repeated now for Ondo and Edo,” he added.
On the inauguration of Waziri Bulama as the party’s National Secretary, Shuiabu said, “The APC Constitution in Article 20 (a) made it unambiguously clear, that all party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective convention (in the case of NWC or NEC) or congress (in the case of executive committees at state, local government or ward levels) et tal.
“There is nowhere in that same constitution where it was envisaged that an officer of the party could be appointed by the chairman nor the NWC.
“Not even NEC has the power to appoint any national officer of the party in any capacity. Let me ask this simple question, what is difficult in organising a midterm convention to elect the officers in line with the constitution so that even the officers will have confidence that they are elected like all other officers. The constitution of the party in Article 25 (A) (1) page 89 stipulates that there shall be a convention every two years.
“We had convention in 2018 and another one is due in 2020. What is the hurry in appointing an acting national secretary when we have the duly elected Deputy National Secretary who have been acting in that capacity since December 2018 in line with Article 14.4 of the constitution on page 58?”
The party leader further argued that all national working committee officers had offices of their deputies who were empowered to take charge of that office in the absence of the principal, in consonance with article 14 of the constitution in its entirety.
He wondered why an unconstitutional act was being given the force of law. Shuaibu also noted that by virtue of the illegal means adopted in the appointment of the party’s national secretary any nomination signed by “the acting National Secretary is a nullity and liable to be challenged by the opposition. Are we deaf and blind? Or is the chairman finally out to bury the party?”
Shuaibu also said, “What are the leaders of the party doing in the midst of this anarchy? Are they all equally fed up with the seeming collapsing party in the hands of a politically injured person that seems to be nursing political revenge? The leaders need to take a stand so that the followers know whether the party is now either a jungle or that en¬tity of our collective dream at the inception.
“Majority of the members of the party are already perplexed, disillusioned and some even weighing their options. A stich in time, I believe, saves nine!
“Article 2 of the APC Constitution, provides that subject to the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and any other laws for the time being in force in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of this constitution SHALL be SUPREME PROVIDED that where any rule, regulation or any other enactment shall, to the extent of its inconsistency, be null and void and of no effect whatsoever. This document leaves no room for any form of aberration or brigandage.
He appealed to party leaders to urgently intervene to save the party from collapse noting that he had no personal ambition outside of saving the party which he and others laboured to build.
With regards to Ondo and Edo primary elections, the former lawmaker said, “There is already absence of transparency. The regulations issued that will guide the processes are already in violation of Article 20 (v) on page 76 of the APC constitution as amended where only the National Executive Committee is the only or-gan that SHALL approve such guidelines and regulations which includes the mode of nominating our candidates. I am crying for the APC inside me! Zamfara, here we come again.” (Independent Nigeria)