Ahead of tomorrow’s emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, threw his weight behind the embattled National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Tinubu’s position came hours after the chairman of the party’s reconciliation committee, Chief Bisi Akande, urged all the feuding camps to withdraw court cases for peace to reign.
Pundits believe that except President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes and made his position known on what should happen to Oshiomhole ahead of tomorrow’s NEC meeting, the party might come out weaker after the meeting.
A source in the party said the APC might split into two camps if those for and against Oshiomhole did not shift their positions. “The president as the overall leader of the party has a key role to play to keep the party one.
Tinubu has made his position known, the president should also make his position known,” he said.
‘PARTY ON THE VERGE OF SPLITTING’
Daily Trust reports that the crisis rocking the APC over Oshiomhole’s fate has polarised key organs of the party, including the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Forum of State Chairmen of the party.
It would be recalled that there have been series of court orders secured by both pro and anti-Oshiomhole’s camp since March 4 when an Abuja High Court granted an order suspending the former labour leader.
Since then, the clash, which started from Edo State following Governor Godwin Obaseki’s feud with his predecessor, Oshiomhole has snowballed and become a national crisis that is threatening the foundation of the ruling party.
For about two weeks, the party has been without a national chairman, thus grounding all activities of the party that produced the ruling government.
WHAT TINUBU SAID IN HIS LETTER TO APC LEADERS
Tinubu, in a statement he signed, said removing the national chairman whom he said had toiled hard for the party would be an act of “ingratitude.”
The former Lagos State governor also lashed out at those fuelling the crisis, saying they were doing so because of their 2023 ambitions.
He said the plotters had been afflicted with malady worse than the raging coronavirus.
Though some said Tinubu is solidly behind Oshiomhole because of his ambition to become Nigeria’s president, the national leader for the umpteenth time said discussing about the 2023 race would be a “disservice” to the party and President Buhari who has a four-year mandate and is piloting the affairs of the country on a path of progressive governance. He said while Oshiomhole has his merits and foibles as human, “his humanity cannot be grounds for his dismissal. If so, the position will forever go vacant.”
Tinubu reiterated that Oshiomhole has “been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party.” According to him, “he has steered the party through difficult elections.
His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude,” he said.
He noted that while the dispute between Oshiomhole and Obaseki was unfortunate, efforts to reconcile the duo had been rebuffed by those “motivated by ambitions that have nothing to do with the quality of the chairman’s performance.” He said “self-help attempts” to oust the chairman “are unwarranted.”
According to him, “The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions. People went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures,” he added.
Where 20 APC govs stand Out of the 20 governors who are members of the APC, only two had made their positions known on Oshiomhole.
Aside Obaseki who had on several occasions insisted on getting Oshiomhole out, the other governor who spoke on the matter was Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.
At the weekend, Uzodinma said those plotting Oshiomhole’s removal will fail.
According to him, patriotic forces within the ruling party will not allow the party chairman to be humiliated.
However, credible sources said Babagana Zulum (Borno), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdulrahman Abdulrazak (Kwara), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) are said to be behind the former labour leader.
Those said to be on the other side are; Obaseki (Edo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Badaru Muhammad (Jigawa), Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger) Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
When asked to comment on the matter, some of the spokesmen for the governors said they would not speak on the matter.
“You don’t tell your enemy the route you intend to follow to launch an offensive,” one of the spokesmen said.
“You should wait until the party leaders meet,” another spokesman said. “But you should know that once those against Oshiomhole succeed, it means Tinubu will also most likely go his way because now that he has spoken in favour of the embattled chairman, it is unlikely if he will change his mind,” he added.
The position of Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State is unknown, according to a source close to him. But another source in the party said with Tinubu’s position, more governors, except those secretly nursing presidential ambition may change their position.
Uzodinma’s position was yesterday reaffirmed by Imo State factional chairman of the party, Mr. Marcon Nlemigbo, who said, “It is payback time for Oshiomhole as he stood solidly behind the state during its political travails.
“All the chairmen of the party in the Southeast and South-south are solidly behind him and as you have heard what our governor said, we will support him because he was there for us when we needed him. So we cannot afford to abandon him at this point,” he said.
Appeal court hears Oshiomhole’s appeal today The Court of Appeal in Abuja will today hear the appeal by Oshiomhole over his suspension from office.
A lawyer in the matter informed journalists of the new date over the weekend. Oshiomhole appealed the ruling of an FCT High Court, which suspended him from office.
In a Notice of Appeal number: FCT/HC/CV/837/2020, Oshiomhole asked the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the ruling of the High Court delivered on March 4.
The application, which has four grounds of appeal, joins the following ward members of APC in Edo as respondents: Comrade Mustapha Salihu, Anselm Ojezua, Alhaji Sani Gomina, Fani Wabulari, Evangelist Princewilll Ejogharado, the Inspector General of Police, and the Department of State Service. Oshomhole in the application by his lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN), is contending that the issues determined by the High Court at the interlocutory stage were issues that ought to be decided at the substantive stage.
Camps react to Akande’s appeal on litigations Contacted, the APC Chairman in Lagos, Tunde Balogun, simply asked one of our reporters to get back to him next week, when asked whether he would withdraw his suit or not.
He said the case had been heard and that he was on his way to Abuja. Balogun had last week filed an ex-parte application at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking that the newly appointed members of the NWC of the party including former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi be allowed to attend the NEC meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
A factional chairman of APC in Edo state, Anselm Ojezua, said though they were ready for peace, he said that the committee should listen to all camps before demanding the withdrawal of the suits.
ANTI-OSHIOMHOLE CAMP DARES TINUBU
Those pushing for the removal of Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC are considering the constitution of an interim committee before a national convention to properly fill the vacant positions in the party, Daily Trust learnt yesterday.
The plan, it was gathered, was to activate the provisions of Article 13.3 and Article 20 to address the current difficult situation that had swept away key leaders in the party’s NWC.
Sources said based on the provisions of Article 13.3 (iv), which allows NEC 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 deem fit and proper,” a caretaker committee may be constituted to take over the affairs of the party at tomorrow’s NEC meeting.
The embattled APC National Chairman, Oshiomhole is facing an uphill task in the moves to save his position. It was gathered that most of the petitions submitted before Chief Akande-led national reconciliation committee revolved around him.
The meeting convened by the APC Deputy National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, in an acting capacity, has divided the members of the NWC, the party’s 20 governors, APC members in the National Assembly, and federal cabinet ministers ahead of Edo and Ondo governorship polls and 2023 general elections.
BUHARI GIVES OSHIOMHOLE LIFELINE, MEETS APC GOVERNORS TODAY
Embattled National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, gets a lifeline today as President Muhammadu Buhari meets with the party’s governors in Abuja.
Oshiomhole, who has been battling to retain his position following his suspension by an Abuja High Court, also got a hefty relief yesterday as the party’s National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, threw his weight behind him, dismissing the move to oust the national chairman as a selfish one being organised by those he said saw Oshiomhole as a stumbling block to their 2023 ambitions.
THISDAY was informed last night by reliable presidency sources that the president has decided to intervene in the leadership crisis that has produced multiple court rulings, which threaten to tear the party apart.
Subsequently, said the source, the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for tomorrow would no longer be attended by the President since he intends to use today’s meeting with the governors to douse the crisis.
Oshiomhole’s seat was endangered by an Abuja High Court ruling earlier in the month, which gave teeth to his suspension by his ward in Edo State.
Although he got another ruling from Federal High Court, sitting in Kano restraining the party from implementing the suspension by his ward, he also appealed the Abuja High Court ruling and applied for a stay of execution.
His application for stay comes up today at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
Whatever the outcome of the appeal, the president’s meeting with the party’s governors today holds the ace for the national chairman as it would take the sail out of the wind of his traducers that have been pushing for his ouster.
The rebellion, which has also polarised the National Working Committee (NWC), is believed to be backed by some of the party’s governors who are said to be nursing presidential ambition for 2023.
Buhari, who presidency sources had told THISDAY authorised (tuesday) tomorrow’s meeting, is said to be pulling out of the parley on the ground that it might not be sustained by the provisions of the APC constitution.
THISDAY learnt that the president had sanctioned the meeting in the mistaken belief that the Acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, that signed the letter of request for the date was authorised to do so.
“With the controversy generated, the president directed the Attorney-General to look into the constitutional issues around the meeting and he would appear to have advised caution,” a presidency source told THISDAY.
Tinubu, THISDAY further learnt, was also said to have prevailed on Buhari to reconsider his decision to attend the meeting, warning that the parley could eventually divide the party down the middle, a possible occurrence that would do incurable damage to the president’s legacy.
He was also said to have told the president from faraway London that although everyone, including himself, had issues with the national chairman, but that if he had to be removed the constitution of the party had to be followed.
Tinubu would appear to have persuaded Buhari to back out as THISDAY was told authoritatively last night that tomorrow’s meeting is no longer on the president’s schedule for the week.
Perhaps emboldened by Buhari’s change of mind, Tinubu stood up for Oshiomhole yesterday with a statement, dismissing the efforts to oust the national chairman as a product of ‘old ambition 2023 virus,’ capable of undermining the unity of the APC.
However, the National Vice Chairman North-east of the party, Mr. Salihu Mustapha, at the weekend, dismissed efforts to stop the NEC meeting, saying no court order will stop it.
Speaking against the backdrop of the order of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, that a former Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; Mr. Waziri Bulama and Paul Chukwuma must be allowed to take part in the gathering, he said they would only be allowed to take part in the meeting if they are NEC members.
Ajimobi was at the last meeting of NEC in February named the deputy national chairman of the party (South); Bulama, secretary and Chukwuma as auditor.