President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, declared the tenure elongation handed to the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and other executive committees at all levels, illegal and unacceptable.
The party’s National Executice Council (NEC) at its meeting on February 27, extended the tenure of the party’s NWC led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun by one year.
But while Buhari may have dumped Odigie-Oyegun as he described his tenure elongation illegal and demanded a fresh election, the party members seemed to have overridden the president by insisting that the decision taken during the last NEC meeting still stands.
Buhari, in his opening remarks during the NEC meeting at the party’s national headquarters, yesterday in Abuja, had noted that after seeking legal advice from the Ministry of Justice, he concluded that the extension contravened both the party’s and Nigeria’s constitution.
He further noted that though he was part of the resolution to extend the tenure, he has, however, realised that the action might ruin the chances of the party in the 2019 general elections, insisting that the national officers must resign a month to the expiration of their tenure and fresh elections conducted into the positions.
“While the APC constitution in article 17(1) and 13.2 (b) limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in section 223 also prescribed periodic election for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.
“Further more, article 31 of our great party’s constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to recontest or contest for another post must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.
“In this circumstance, what is expected of us is to conduct fresh elections once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end. A caretaker committee cannot remedy this situation and cannot validly act in place of elected officers. Furthermore, I think if we deviate from the constitution and provisions, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party.
“If the tenure of our party executive can be legally faulted, then, it means any nomination and primary election that they will conduct can also be faulted….,” he noted.
However, addressing newsmen after the NEC meeting, the duo of the National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, announced that NEC agreed to set up committee to look into the issue.
Bello, who explicitly claimed that the party did not violate either the constitution of the party or the constitution of Nigeria, warned that the crisis that will trail the conduct of fresh election might be unimaginable.
“I think that we should not be misunderstood. First, the last decision was not to elongate the tenure of the NWC or any other executive committee at all levels. What we sought to cure was to ensure that in view of certain crisis within the rank and file of the party and considering the time limit between now and when we will be facing the general elections, it is expedient that we ask the current NWC and current executives committees at all levels to continue to act in that capacity for a period of 12 months.
“That decision did not negate any provision or provisions of our party or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Remember that when the tenure of a particular executive or organ comes to an end, nature abhors vacuum.
“That is why we are saying that in view of the crisis that would have been generated from the congresses and primaries before the election, we should allow them to continue to act in that capacity,” he noted.
The party’s spokesperson, who said the February 27 decision subsists, announced a decision to set up a committee to look into the tenure elongation crisis.