There is no doubt that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is at the crossroads as it seemed overwhelmed with crisis from all angles as it battles to meet up with it’s national convention deadline..
Just as the dust raised by the purported sack of the National Chairman of Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) Mai Mala Buni is yet to settle another issue which is very Germaine has cropped up this time from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, had rejected a letter of invitation sent by the interim head of the APC, Abubakar Bello, to attend its emergency meeting.
The APC letter dated March 9, was signed by the controversially appointed chairman of the party, Governor Bello of Niger State, requesting the commission’s presence at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
The INEC, in its response, rejected the invitation on the ground that the letter of invitation was not signed by the dismissed chairman, Mala Buni and the party’s National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, as required by the law.
“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
“Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of merger and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective office,” the commission noted in the letter.
INEC’s posture seem to be to aggravating the crises in the ruling party and puts the much anticipated March 26 National Convention in doubt
Unless Mr Buni returns to take over the mantle of leadership before the fixed date, the APC may have to extend its convention date again.
In a bit to escape from the possible consequences the party may have retraced its earlier position that the National Chairman of Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) Mai Mala Buni has been removed through the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The National Youth Leader of the CECPC, Mr Ismail Ahmed, said while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Friday that Bello took over control of the party in Acting capacity because the chairman was not around.
He stressed that there was nothing wrong with the leadership arrangement within the APC as it had always been the practice for Bello to act in the absence of the Chairman.
He said, “Somebody asks, what is the position of Governor Mai-Mala Buni? I think it’s very simple. I don’t know why this is a complicated process for a lot of people to understand.
“Since the inception of this CECPC on June, 25 2020 whenever the chairman is not around and Governor Sani Bello is around, he acts on behalf of the Chairman. It has always been the case, and it has never changed…
“And now we have a convention on the 26th of March, the chairman wrote a letter and transmitting, for his leave to go for medical treatment.
These are two emergencies: He has a medical emergency that cannot wait for the convention. We have a convention that cannot wait for him to be healthy. So one has to leave for other. The Chairman left, transmitted a letter, and
Governor Sani Bello has been acting appropriately. What is the problem? Why is it difficult for people to simply understand that?
“I just simply don’t understand why people are making this an issue. So Governor Bello is acting with the full authority of the caretaker committee and with the full authority of the stakeholders, and leaders of the party, and with the full consent and knowledge of Governor Mai-Mala Buni. It’s very clear and very simple.
“ If anybody has any issues with any of our decisions, you can take it to court. For now we’re doing it with the full authority and backing of the law. So there is no ambiguity in this. Absolutely none.
The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, had taken over the office of the National Chairman on Monday.
As a fall out of the sudden change of leadership, the Secretary of the CECPC, Sen John Akpanudoedehe, packed his things out of the office of National Secretary on Tuesday thereby giving room for the speculation that he had resigned in the social media.
Akpanudoedehe debunked media reports about his resignation on Wednesday.
However, amidst the doubts and speculations which engulfed the leadership of the APC’s CECPC, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai said President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the immediate removal of Buni.
El Rufai also said that the National Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, was also affected by the Presidential directive.
The Kaduna Governor alleged that the former National Chairman and his people got a court order which they hid to stop the APC National Convention.
El Rufai had said while speaking on Channels Television Politics Today on Wednesday that neither the ousted National Chairman nor the Secretary would return as National officials of the party.