After days of speculation on where he stands on the crisis confronting his All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari has declared his position, saying the ‘suspended’ Victor Giadom remains the party’s acting national chairman.
He also expressed his readiness to attend the party’s virtual National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting summoned by Giadom and slated for Thursday.
The Presidency announced this in a statement Wednesday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu in Abuja.
“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 he will always act in accordance with the law, the President will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our Governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” he said.
The president’s position few day after his meeting with APC governors, led by Kebbi state Governor Atiku Bagudu, who assured that Buhari would stand by the rule of law in resolving the crisis.
Buhari not aware –Eta
However, the Prince Hilliard Eta-led National Working Committee of the party has faulted the presidency, saying Buhari was not aware of the invitation to the NEC meeting.
In a statement signed Thursday in Abuja by the APC Acting National Secretary, Arch Waziri Bulama, they said the convener of the meeting had been suspended by the Rivers state chapter and the NWC duly communicated June 21, 2020.
Bulama said Giadom cannot summon a meeting on that date because under the party’s constitution only the national secretary can do so pursuant to Article 14.3 of the APC constitution.
“We are constrained to once again react to a purported invitation to a National Executive Committee meeting of our great party; the All Progressives Congress (“APC”) issued by one Victor Giadom, who until the last general elections in 2019 held the position the Deputy National Secretary of the Party.
“Our esteem members are advised to disregard this invitation because the author and sole signatory of the said invitation is not member of the National Working Committee (“NWC”) of our party, talk more of being an Acting National Chairman as claimed.
“He had voluntarily resigned in compliance with Article 31(1)(i) of our Constitution to contest the position of Deputy Governor in Rivers state during the last general elections and has not been re-nominated by his zone to return to that office.
“Further, his non-membership of the NWC has been affirmed by the Courts and an Order restraining him from parading himself as a member of the NWC was granted against him on June 22, 2020 in the case of DELE MOSES & ANOR V APC (SUIT NO: PHC/360/2020) where the Court said inter alia:
‘That an Order of interim injunction be and is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd 4th and 5th Defendants, acting by themselves or through any of their officers, agents, or privies from recognising or regarding the 3rd Defendant/Respondent as the National Chairman or Acting National Chairman or Deputy National Secretary of the 1st Defendant/Respondent or member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the 1st Defendant/Responde1it pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.’
“More instructive is the fact that the said invitation copiously references the NEC meeting he illegally sought to convene on March 17, 2020 with a view to resurrecting same to hold on June 25, 2020. Regrettably, this proposed NEC meeting is also infected by the same bug that render the former void which is Article 25 (B) of our Constitution which provides:
‘i. The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that less than 14 days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“ii. Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution the National Working Committee may summon meeting at any time, provided that on an at emergency least seven National (7) days Executive notice of the Committee meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
“It is clear that even a legitimate Chairman is only invested with powers to fix/announce a date for NEC meetings to hold every quarter and nothing more. He cannot summon a meeting on that date because under our Constitution, only the National Secretary can do so pursuant to Article 14.3 of our Constitution which provides:
‘14.3. The National Secretary shall: ii. Cause to be issued as directed, notices of meetings of the National Convention, the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the Party.’
Indeed two-thirds of the members of NEC may also summon a meeting, but it shall be required that the National Secretary gives 14-day notice to all persons entitled to attend.
“In this case, the purported invitation was illegally issued on June 23, 2020 and the meeting fixed for June 25, 2020 which gives notice for only 2 days. We concede that a shorter Notice period of 7 days is allowed under our Constitution as stated in 25(b) (ii) above. However, a majority of the members of NWC must have voted to summon such a NEC meeting and that was not the case in this instance.
“Our leader, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is renowned for insisting on compliance with our constitution and rule of law. It can therefore not be true that Mr. President supports the convening of such an illegal NEC by a non-member of APC’s NWC. We urge all to disregard the said Notice as neither the NWC nor the NEC has called for such meeting.”
PGF rallies support
Meanwhile,Director General Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) Salihu Lukman has called on committed APC members and leaders to rally behind President Buhari on the NEC meeting to return it to its 2013 orientation of inclusive and participatory politics.
He said this in a statement issued Wednesday in Abuja.
In the statement, the PGF boss said: “With all the confusion as to who is our presiding officer, coupled with the fact that the most important structure that is saddled with the responsibility of convening meetings of all organs of the party is fractured and entangled in webs of legal cases, it is either the confusion is allowed to continue and eventual end with the demise of the party, or our leaders find a way to save the party,” he said.
Lukman said the while the party’s constitution continues to gather dust somewhere in the archive of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), courts and judges continued to entertain themselves with cases requiring all manners of judicial pronouncements.
The PGF DG also said a national newspaper owned by a leader of the party had dismissed a meeting the president held with governors elected on the party’s platform as ‘Anti-Oshiomhole governors submit position to Buhari’.
Lukman queried: “Is this headline a reflection of the position of the leader? Is the message underlining this headline going to serve as the basis of opposition against the initiative by the President to ensure that a NEC meeting hold? With the way the President’s name is presented using just his first name, isn’t that already indicative of some measure of rebellion?
“All committed party members and leaders should rally behind President Buhari in support of the scheduled NEC to hold so that we are able to reset the APC back to its 2013 orientation of inclusive and participatory politics. To achieve that, the public debate should be about proposals to ensure that the NEC succeed rather than attempting to throw up legal blockades!”
While lamenting the current situation in the party, Lukman said: “Today, even something as basic as who is the presiding officer of the APC is in courts to the extent that we lost count of the number of cases involving more litigants, far more than the number of party members that aspired for the position at our last National Convention.
“To demonstrate the irony of the kind of leaderless situation we found ourselves or we impose on ourselves, we are being told that our constitution disqualifies a Deputy National Chairman from acting as National Chairman with reference to the section of the country he comes from. Yet, we call ourselves progressives. No need to look for anybody who is a reactionary with some of progressive leaders we have in APC. Our leaders have degenerated to pseudo-ethnic champions. Are we heading for a merger with Arewa, Afeniferi, Biafra and all the known ethnic groups?”
Continuing, Lukman said: “It is such a mess that almost every passing day, we just keep descending lower and lower. Not only that members get more and more frustrated, but also that Nigerians become more and more disappointed and some of our leaders with mandate to govern the country are daily being distracted. Instead of facing the business of government and strengthening the capacity of APC governments at federal and states levels to deliver on their campaign promises, it is a case of leadership conflicts all over the place.
“Rather than have party leadership making efforts to resolve these conflicts, they become the major disputants and litigants. If the dispute turns out to be between these party leaders and elected functionaries of government, once the circle of election come, these functionaries should be ready to be thrown out no matter their records in government. Professors and all manner of clownish supporters will be recruited to defend and present actions of these party leaders as decisions of party structures and therefore reflective of the supremacy of the party.
“With the NEC meeting scheduled to hold in less than 48 hours, if it is reflective of rebellion, both the newspaper, the television station owned by the leader and all his support base may be activated to attempt to block the NEC meeting, including boycotting the NEC.
“How could such a strategy help the leader? Without any debate, this is one leader that certainly enjoys high measure of respect across the party and is perhaps a leading contender to succeed President Buhari. If such a leader works for or tolerated his media companies and supporters to inadvertently work for the demise of the party, how does that serve him? Could it be that he has decided to work against any possibility of succeeding President Buhari?
“Be that as it may, how will leaders or blacklegs relate with the NEC and the decisions it will take? Will they seek to take advantage of the NEC to reset the process of party building back to the point whereby it become possible for meetings of party organs to hold and through those meetings seek to resolve all our internal problems, including reconciling all our leaders and repositioning it for undisputed electoral victories? The days ahead will confirm whether we have party leaders or blacklegs.”