By Alex Olise
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris has ordered tight security around the conference vicinity where the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress will today hold its meeting to take a final decision on the tenure of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee.
Ahead of the meeting, which from all indications will be stormy, governors and state chairmen of the party arrived in Abuja on Sunday.
NEC will review the decision it took in February, when it said the tenure of the party’s officials had been extended.
The tenure of Oyegun and other NWC members will come to an end on June 28, 2018.
But NEC, at its meeting on February 27, 2018, approved a one-year tenure extension for the party’s officials.
However, at its meeting on March 27, President Muhammadu Buhari opposed the tenure extension, saying it was illegal.
Following the President’s objection, the party set up a 10-member committee to advise it on the issue.
Last week, the APC governors, who initially supported the tenure extension, backed Buhari’s call for fresh congresses.
On Sunday in Abuja, it was gathered that members of the NEC, including governors and state chairmen, who were opposed to tenure elongation for the Oyegun-led NWC, met to perfect their strategies ahead of the Monday meeting.
Also, Oyegun’s supporters, including the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had reportedly been mobilising support for the chairman.
It was gathered that some governors, who on February 28 backed tenure elongation, had changed their position.
It was learnt on Sunday that the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; and his Kogi State counterpart, Yaya Bello, had started pushing for fresh congresses.
Apart from Amosun, governors in the anti-tenure elongation group are Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa State, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and Abubakar Badru of Jigawa State.
Besides El-Rufai, it was gathered that Governor Abdullahi Mohammed (Bauchi) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) were in the pro-Oyegun group.
A chieftain of the APC in Ogun State, who declined to be identified, said it was not true that Amosun was still backing tenure elongation for Oyegun.
He said although the governor was one of those that ensured victory for the tenure elongation group on February 27, he had changed his position after listening to the President’s argument on March 28.
The pro-tenure elongation group had on February 27 emerged victorious with 104 votes against four recorded by opponents of tenure elongation.
The party chieftain said the Ogun State governor changed his position when he realised that the President would not support tenure elongation.
He stated, “When it became obvious that the President is against tenure elongation, Amosun as a loyalist of Buhari is duty bound to support him to realise his vision for the party and the country.”
Efforts made to speak with the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Otunba Dayo Adeleneye proved abortive.
However, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Sola Lawal, said the party was not aware that anyone was supporting tenure elongation for the Odigie-Oyegun-led executive.
He said, “The party is not aware of any support by anyone in the state for tenure elongation for the Chief Oyegun-led executive.”
It was, however, learnt that Akeredolu was still in support of Oyegun as of Sunday.
Sources close to the governor told one of our correspondents that Akeredolu was not keen on holding any state congress due to the division in the state.
One of the sources, who is a chieftain of the APC in the state, stated further that the governor was wary of a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who could put his own loyalists in key positions in the state.
The APC chieftain, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “As of now, Governor Akeredolu is still in support of Oyegun. This is because Oyegun supported him during the APC primary against Tinubu’s candidate.
“Another reason is that the governor is still embroiled in a legal battle with Segun Abraham who was Tinubu’s candidate in the governorship primary in 2016 and he believes Tinubu may want to hijack the party structure if the congress takes place.”
The Ondo State chapter of the APC confirmed that Akeredolu supported the elongation in line with the position of the party.
According to the state chairman of the party, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, the position of the party is that there should be tenure elongation for Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the national executive of the party.
Adetimehin said Akeredolu could not go against the position of the party, describing him as a loyal party man.
He said, “The decision of the National Executive Committee of the party is that there is tenure elongation and until that decision is reversed, it binds on all members of the party. We are meeting tomorrow (today). So as of today (Sunday), there is still tenure elongation and Akeredolu, being a loyal party man, supports the decision.
“Akeredolu is a loyal party man to the core; he always goes to where the party goes. He believes in the supremacy of the party. The issue we have on the ground is tenure elongation until tomorrow’s meeting. He (Akeredolu) supports the elongation.”
All efforts to reach the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, on the telephone were unsuccessful as the calls rang out and did not return the calls. He also failed to reply to a text message sent to him on the telephone.
Also, attempts to speak with the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Tambuwal proved abortive on Sunday as he neither answered his calls nor reply to a text message.
When contacted for reaction, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, could not be reached. The reply to a text message sent to his mobile phone is being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
However, a source close to the governor, said that El-Rufai was not insisting on the current executive staying in office.
The source said el-Rufai was only interested in the stability of the APC ahead of the 2019 election.
He said El-Rufai was interested in any move that would favour the President in the 2019 presidential election.
The source said, “It is not true that the governor is insisting on Chief John Oyegun. What the governor is interested is the stability and unity of the party as we enter the election year.
“He is interested is seeing what will favour the President. He wants things done according to the constitution of the party and that of the country. You know, some people are out to distabilise the polity and as a founding member of the party, the governor or any other genuine founding member won’t allow that to happen.”
Forum of non-NWC members dump Odigie-Oyegun
The hope of Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the party to get tenure elongation received another blow on Sunday as some members of the National Executive Committee of the party said tenure elongation would not be supported.
Meeting under the Forum of APC Non-NWC members who are NEC members, they said that they would align with President Muhammadu Buhari on fresh congresses.
Some members of the forum in Abuja on Sunday said they had agreed to support Buhari and the position would be canvassed at the NEC meeting on Monday (today).
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Nasir Danu, while Jock Alamba read its communique.
He said elections must hold into all party offices across the country.
Alamba said, “We wish to state clearly that we stand with our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari, on his position that elections into to party offices in wards, local government areas and states and national be conducted.
“We share Mr. President’s unalloyed commitment to the rule of law and fine tenets of internal democracy.
“He has in different forums demonstrated his commitment to democracy as exemplified in the gubernatorial and senatorial elections which opposition political parties won in states like Anambra and the Rivers under his watch.”
He added that Buhari’s concern for due process was legendary, adding that the party should not underrate his concern “since the law is an ass, our most likely 2019 presidential and other electoral victories should not be toyed or placed in jeopardy with legal niceties or put in the way of fortune hunters.”
He said more than 99 per cent of the entire membership of the party, as well as governors in the party, are in support President’s second term bid.
Meanwhile, our correspondent gathered on Sunday that there were three items listed for discussion at the party’s NEC meeting today.
The items, according to sources in the party, are the proposed amendment to the party’s constitution, the report of the Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s committee on constitutional reform and the report of technical committee on tenure elongation headed by Governor Simeon Lalong of Plateau State.
The spokesman for the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, confirmed the items listed for discussion at the meeting in an interview with our correspondent.
He said, “Basically, there are three items listed for discussion at the NEC meeting. We will discuss constitutional amendments, the El-Rufai committee report and that of Governor Lalong.
“As far as we are concerned and as far and as far as the party is concerned, we have not foreclosed the issue of tenure extension. Only NEC can take another decision on the matter.”