The year 2020 began for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, with the spill over of the leadership crisis that rocked the party in the build up to the 2019 general elections.

Many of the disgruntled APC stalwarts who felt their interests were not served at the party’s primaries had defected to the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other smaller political parties following conflict of interests that snowballed into a major showdown with the then national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, who insisted the decampees could go take a hike, for all he cared, they had no electoral values.

Notable among the decampees were the former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and his stooge, Sen. Dino Melaye, Former Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Others were Sen. Shehu Sanni, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, among others.

Oshiomhole’s grandstanding and tyrannist leadership style coupled with his perceived connection with the national leader of APC and 2023 presidential election hopeful, Bola Tinubu, trumped up many adversaries within the party  for the former comerade governor, who declared outright war on him.

In a nutshell, the year 2020 began for Oshiomhole, as national chairman of APC with one legal battle after the other leading to his suspension and counter-suspension, and like the proverbial cat with nine lives, he wriggled out of them all until the last straw that broke the back of his camel.

Appeal court suspended Oshiomole and Ajimobi appointed acting National chairman

On June 16, 2020, the national Working Committee, NWC, of APC appointed the Deputy National Chairman South, late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as the acting national chairman following the Appeal Court judgement that upheld the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, by an FCT High Court pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Then National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the decision became imperative to avoid vaccum and in line with Section 14.2. (iii),of the APC constitution which stated that, “the Deputy National Chairman, North/South “Shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.

 

Giadom announced self as Acting Party Chair

Barely 24 hours after the NWC announced Abiola Ajumobi as acting national chairman following an appeal court judgment affirming the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole, a former Deputy National Secretary of APC, Victor Giadom, announced himself as the new Acting National Chairman of the party.

Giadom claimed his decision, which enjoyed the support of the NWC,  was premised on the judgment of an Abuja high court delivered on 16th of March, 2020 by Hon. Justice S.U Bature, who ordered that with the earlier suspension of Adams Oshiomhole, he ( Victor Giadom) should act as the the National Chairman of the party.

According to him, that order could not be immediately effected at that time because of the temporary reprieve Oshiomhole got from the court of appeal on the same date.

He continued that since the temporary reprieve has now been removed by the court of appeal, and considering the fact that a vacuum couldn’t be allowed, he has decided to assume office as acting national chairman of APC.

More confusion as APC NWC announced Hilliard Eta as replacement to Ajimobi as acting national chairman

Barely 30 minutes after Hon. Victor Giadom announced self as acting national chairman of APC, the NWC debunked the claim and instead announced National Vice Chairman South-South, Hillard Etta, as replacement for Sen Abiola Ajimobi, who was reportedly hospitalized due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

The NWC faulted Hon. Victor Giadom’s claim, saying he has seized to be a member of the NWC having resigned long time ago to contest the position of deputy governor of Bayelsa, and as such does not possess the power to announce himself as acting national chairman or nullify any constituted body of the party.

APC NEC sack Oshiomole-led NWC

June 25, 2020 would go down as a watershed in the life of the ruling APC as well as the political career of its embattled national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as the President Muhammadu Buhari-presided emergency National Executive Committee announced the immediate dissolution of the National Working Committee, and followed it with immediate inauguration of a 13-man Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, headed by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni.

Though the dissolution, which came in the peak of the ensuing melee threatening the very soul of the party, was seen by many as a necessary evil to save the soul of APC, that however marked the beginning of hijacking of the party structure and control by a certain cabal who never wished the Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp well in their political ambitions.

Recall that earlier on Monday before the NEC that held on Thursday,  Buhari had received in audience three APC governors, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Simon Lalong of Plateau and Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa. These three governors were part of a larger caucus of cabal that is opposed to the Tinubu-Oshiomhole dominated NWC. Others are Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, andTransportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi.

Though the governors claimed they met with the President to discuss the crisis in the party following the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole by the courts, analysts believed they were simply at Villa to do a hatchet man job that would be detrimental to the fortune of the pro Tinubu-Oshiomhole NWC.

Oshiomole surrenders to Giadom, accepts  Buhari’s dissolution of  NWC 

Having his wings clipped and stripped of political power, Adams Oshiomhole accepted fate and  bowed to pressure saying he has accepted the decision of the NEC in good faith and promised not to contest his removal in court in line with the President’s directive.

Speaking to journalists at his residence in Abuja, Oshiomhole said he had no regret for all the actions he took while in office, adding that he would continue to pledge his support and lotality to President Muhammadu Buhari.

APC National Convention and the dilemma of zoning

No sooner the Buni-led caretaker resumed office than the search for a new national chairman for APC commenced precipitating agitations for the party’s elective national convention.

Aside its immediate primary responsibility of reconciling aggrieved members of the party, one of the enormous task before the Buni-led caretaker/convention planning committee is conducting a credible national convention that will produce new leaders that will pilot the affairs of the party going into 2023 general elections.

However, as the committee geared up to live up to this responsibility, the question of where the APC chairmanship post will be zoned arose. The committee was expected to decide on a zoning formula that would be generally acceptable to all parties and interests in the party because once the zoning was done, the 2023 electioneering game plan would be kick started.

The issue is If the national chairman post is zoned to the north, the southerners in the likes of the Tinubus, and even South-east/Igbo presidency agitators will begin to jostle for presidency. If it is zoned to the South, the likes of El-Rufia and Bagudu, even Yahaya Bello will come out to say they want to be president.  So, the zoning has a lot to do in kick starting the 2023 presidential race. This is because the party’s constitution does not permit for the President and the national chairman of the party to emerge from the same geopolitical zone.

Ali Modu Sheriff surprise visit to APC national secretariat

Former national chairman of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  Senator Ali Modu Sherrif, stormed the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in a move analysts believe may not be unconnected with the contest for the post of next national chairman of APC.

The former governor of Borno state made his first visit to the party secretariat  after a long time since he returned to the ruling party.

The former factional national chairman of the main opposition PDP has been mentioned among those angling for the national chairmanship position of APC.

It was gathered that the former Senator who served as Borno state governor for two consecutive terms between 2003 -2011 is already reaching out to critical stakeholders of the party from the north to actualise the ambition.

Former Lagos governor , Buba Marwa who is also chieftain of the APC from Adamawa state has also been linked to the APC plum job hitherto occupied by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Chief John Odigie -Oyegun respectively.

Ekiti APC Suspended Gov Fayemi

A faction of Ekiti State Executive Committe, SEC, of APC in a communique issued  at the end of its meeting in September announced the suspension of  governor Kayode Fayemi based on alleged anti-party activities.

This came less than twenty-four hours after another faction purpotedly loyal to gov Fayemi suspended Senator Babafemi ojodu, a loyalist of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and nine others.

But in a swift reaction, the National Secretariat of APC said the purported and widely-reported “suspension” of  Fayemi as well as an earlier reported “indefinite suspension” of seven other party members in the state is a nullity as the Party’s National Secretariat is yet to receive communication from the state chapter on the purported “suspensions”.

Party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena in a statement said Governor Kayode Fayemi remains the leader of the party in Ekiti State.

Discordant tunes in APC over 2023 presidency zoning

Though the 2023 general elections is barely three years away, yet the rippling waves generated is already unsettling the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

2020 witnessed visibly discordant tunes in APC apparently connected with zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket of the party.

As regards the 2023 presidential election, the ruling party is presently bulkanized into three poles: there are those who believe power should shift to the South and preferably the Southwest with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as their choice candidate, there are also those rooting for Southeast/Igbo presidency while there are also the Northern apologists who are in support of power continuity in the region. This led to  heated debate on Zoning which some argued was not statutory.

One of those who spoke in favour of the Zoning arrangement was Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola. The former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of APC urged the party to honour the zoning arrangement as regards the 2023 presidential ticket, if there was any such agreement in place.

Fashola, who  spoke at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, said though zoning was not a constitutional matter, but it was important to honour any gentleman aggrement between two parties.

However, contrary to Fashola’s position, another chieftain of APC,  Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, an umbrella body of governors on the platform of APC, Dr. Salihu Mohammed  Lukman, stated that  the party will not zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections.

Lukman stressed that preventing other  individuals from realising their political ambitions due to their geo-political zone was inimical to the growth of democracy, adding that presidential hopefuls should be allowed to galvanise support across geopolitical zones to achieve their dream.

 

Fresh crisis as Buni committee got 14-day ultimatum to set up convention committee

The failure of Buni caretaker committee to convene the much desired national convention of APC coupled with its plan to conduct fresh membership registration/revalidation exercise ignited crisis within the party as some aggrieved concerned members of the party in a press conference gave the committee a 14-day ultimatum to roll out plan of action/timetable for the party’s December elective convention, or face mass demonstration of party members nationwide.

The group also demanded that a time table leading to a hitch free convention be released within the next 14 days while also asking that the Caretaker Committee halt the proposed  registration of fresh members and allow the next  National Working Committee members to carry out such assignments.

But the Buni-led committee was however adamant, and ignored calls for the stoppage of the planned registration as it went ahead to take delivery of materials for the said exercise. Buni, who was accompanied by the Governor of Jigawa, Abubakar Badaru; CECPC Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudodehe among other senior party officials, insisted that the APC membership registration, update and revalidation exercise would be conducted across the country’s 119,973 Polling Units and 57, 000 Voting Points.

The Buni-led committee had earlier in November got the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to proceed with the exercise despite stiff opposition to the idea by some concerned members of the party who argued that it was not part of its original mandate but saw it as a move to illegally extend the tenure of the committee beyond its initial six months.

This created serious  tension in the APC which  heightened when a former acting chairman of the party, Chief Hilliard Eta , asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to nullify the governor Buni-led Caretaker /Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party and declare him as the Acting National Chairman of the party .

Eta, who was appointed acting national chairman of APC following a court ruling suspending the substantive national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, was controversially removed from office when the National Working Committee which he led was dissolved by the extraordinary National Executive Committee of  APC at its meeting held at the Presidential Villa on June 25 , 2020.

 On November 26 , 2020, Eta filed a fresh suit challenging the dissolution of the Oshiomhole – led NWC which he was part of sought various orders of injunction to restrain the Buni- led committee from taking any further steps on behalf of the party which may include planning the party ’ s convention .

APC emergency NEC and its fallouts

Seeing that it was now at sea, the caretaker committee hurriedly scheduled an emergency NEC meeting for Tuesday, 8th December, 2020, less than 48 hours after Hillard Eta went to court.

In the unfolding development, another chieftain of the party, Mr Kalu Kalu Agu, filed a fresh suit at an Abuja Federal High court, seeking to stop the planned NEC meeting. The Plaintiff equally sought an order to restrain the party from embarking on new membership registration and revalidation.

He alleged that the aim of the planned revalidation is to deregister members that instituted court actions against the party. Agu, therefore, prayed the court to order the APC not to take such steps, pending the final resolution of the legal battle on the legality of the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC.

Besides, the Plaintiff, urged the court to void and set aside the notice of NEC meeting that was issued by Senator Akpan Udoedehe, on the ground that he had no power to do so

Unbothered by the litigations instituted by Etta and Kalu, the committee went ahead with the NEC as planned. As fallout of the meeting, the NEC, again presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, wielded the big stick by expelling Chief Hillard Eta for challenging the dissolution of the immediate past NWC by the NEC in the courts against party directives.

The NEC equally announced the immediate dissolution of the party executives at the State, local government, ward and zonal levels while approving the extension of the tenure of the Buni-led caretaker committee for another six months.

 

How 2021 may pan out for APC

The postponed membership Registration, Update and Revalidation Exercise earlier scheduled to commence on Saturday, December 12, 2020 is expected to commence on January 25, 2021.

According to the caretaker committee, this will be followed with the publication of the details of the timetable for its congresses and national convention which is expected to hold later in the year.

Nigerian Pilot reliably gathered that the elective national convention of APC is likely to hold in November, 2021.

Therefore going forward, year 2021 will be a significant year in the life of the ruling party as it is bound to witness litany of massive decamping and cross-carpeting,  serious alignment and realignment that will necessarily lead to betrayals, frictions and conflicts of interests, which if not well managed might precipitate another internal terminal crisis.

QUOTE

Having his wings clipped and stripped of political power, Adams Oshiomhole accepted fate and  bowed to pressure saying he has accepted the decision of the NEC in good faith and promised not to contest his removal in court in line with the President’s directive.


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