Immediate-past factional Acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Victor Giadom has defended the appointment of Yobe state Governor Mai Mala Buni as the party’s caretaker/extraordinary convention committee chairman.
He said there was no breach of APC constitution whatsoever in the appointment as Buni was not elected as APC national chairman.
Buni is the chairman of the 13-man committee announced by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to conduct an extraordinary national convention that would usher in a new set of National Working Committee (NWC) members.
There have been criticisms over his appointment as the APC caretaker committee chairman, as some party members believed it violates the constitution of the party, which states that you cannot hold an executive position and be elected into party office.
But in a telephone interview with Blueprint Sunday, Giadom said the appointment did not violate the party’s constitution.
He said this would not be the first time a sitting governor of the party would be nominated to chair a committee under the party.
Giadom further buttressed his position by citing the APC true federalism committee, chaired by Kaduna state Governor Nasir el-Rufai and the national convention committee, chaired by Jigawa state Governor Abubakar Badaru.
He argued that the caretaker committee was more of a Convention Committee, but one with a longer time for planning.
“It is lack of proper understanding of the constitution would make anybody to think that there was a violation. If the constitution is properly internalised and interpreted, nobody would be talking of violation,” Giadom said
He said, instead of party members complaining about Buni’s choice, they should join him to reposition the party for new leadership.
APC slams PDP
Similarly, the APC has described as ignorant a statement credited to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) questioning the constitution of the Buni-led committee.
In a statement signed Sunday in Abuja by the APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, the party said the opposition PDP was acting as if it understood the APC constitution more than its erudite framers.
Nabena said: “We would normally ignore the equally ignorant statement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the 8th resumed meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which constituted a Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee in place of the dissolved National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party.
“But it is necessary to state the facts in line with provisions the APC Constitution because it seems the PDP understands the APC Constitution more than its erudite framers.
“The APC Constitution in Article 17 (iv) states: ‘No officer in any Organ of the Party shall hold executive position office in Government concurrently’
“Also, the Article 11 (A) of the Constitution provides:
“The Party shall have the following fourteen Organs: National Convention, Board of Trustees, National Executive Committee, National Working Committee, Zonal Committee, State Congress, State Executive Committee, State Working Committee, Senatorial District Committee, Local Government Area/ Area Council Congress, The Local Government Area/ Area Council, Executive Committee, the Ward Congress, the Ward Executive Committee and the Polling Unit Committee.”
APC therefore, stated that party constitution’s Article 17 (iv) “which the PDP and their hirelings have laboured to stretch it’s language to the level of the absurd, made specific mention of any officer of the Party’s Organ and Article 11 (A) mentioned above has clearly defined the Organs of the Party.
“Therefore, the Caretaker Committee and Extra Ordinary Convention Committee which is headed by H.E. Governor Mai Mala Buni as Chairman, is not an Organ of the Party hence, their appointment is not in contravention of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress.
“The APC Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee is not different from several other committees that have been previously constituted of deserving party members and empowered to undertake assignments on behalf of the party. These committees include: screening, appeal, fact-finding, reconciliation, primary election and many other committees that are routinely constituted.
“For the records, Article 13.3 (vi.) empowers the National Executive Committee (NEC) as the principal executive body of the party with powers to “create, elect and appoint any committee it may deem necessary, desirable or expedient and assign to them such powers and functions as it may seem fit and proper.”
While reacting to the holding of the APC NEC virtual meeting at the Presidential Villa, the APC spokesman said, “there is no law that says the President cannot hold political meetings in the Presidential Villa.
“Also, on the propriety of the oath of office administered on the caretaker committee, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has rightly stated that being a lawyer, Notary Public and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, there is no law that prohibits him from administering Oath.
“While we are not required to explain to the PDP our lawful internal processes, we find their interest curious and amusing. It is understandable that the PDP is not used to following its rules as enshrined in their constitution. The APC has not copied such ignominious and unlawful practices.”
Presidency on NEC meeting in Villa
In a related development, the Presidency has defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to hold a political meeting in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa last Thursday, saying the decision taken because the meeting was virtual and had the facilities for social distancing.
Critics of the administration said the president took advantage of his position in the State House to deploy national facilities for party affairs, a situation they viewed as abuse of privilege.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, while defending the decision in a statement, said the criticism was borne out of lack of understanding, arguing that no law specifies the type of meeting that should be held in the State House and which should not.
According to him, the meeting was virtual and the council chamber was found suitable for it because the conference hall at the party secretariat was small and would not be conducive for social distancing in view of the necessity to observe COVID-19 regulations.
“It is necessary that we put records in their correct perspective concerning the recent meeting held by the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has, unfortunately drawn criticism due to lack of understanding.
“The stubborn opinion held by the critics of the administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari had called a political meeting in the “hallowed” chamber of the Federal Executive Council, as if there is a law that says the president is barred from holding meetings in certain sections of the vast Presidential Villa.
“Since the president lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings. So, what is wrong in the president presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa?
“Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.
“Why was it a virtual meeting? The idea was to observe social distancing in view of health concerns. Knowing how small the conference hall of the party is, social distancing would only have been observed in the breach,” he said.
Shehu explained that the president was originally billed to address the meeting from any of his offices but eventually settled for the council chambers because the digital facilities for video conferencing were located there.
Admitting that political leaders such as governors and leaders of the National Assembly were physically present at the meeting, the statement said the larger group of people who participated at the meeting got connected through video calls.
It also said these were not normal times in view of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country and hence, saying such decision to use the venue was therefore part of measures aimed at observing safety regulations.