The All Progressives Congress (APC) made a mess of its constitution on Tuesday afternoon.
After a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC), with Pres. Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in attendance, the party announced that it had granted a one-year tenure elongation to the John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee (NWC) as well as the state executives of the party in all 36 states and Abuja.
The governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, in the company of a few other governors and members of the party’s executive made the disclosure to the press.
“At the end of the National Executive Council meeting today, a major decision was taken in line with the constitution of our party. We are all aware that the tenure of the current NWC and the executive members of this party both elected and appointed comes to an end in June this year.
“Considering the time left for the party to conduct all the congresses and convention, and considering that our leader, Senator Tinubu has been charged with the responsibility of reconciling all aggrieved members of our party, we cannot afford to approach the general election with more disputes and crises.
“So, relying on Article 13 of our constitution, which empowers the NEC to carry out the function of the convention, the NEC has decided to extend the tenure of the current NWC and other executive committees at various levels for another twelve months, starting from June 30th.”
The position was echoed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi.
“It was generally agreed by members to extend the tenure of all elected and appointed officers of the party in the 36 states, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and at the national level,” Abdullahi said in the statement.
He said the current tenure will end on June 30, but all affected officers will continue in their acting capacity for another period of 12 months after the expiration of their current term.
Against the constitution
The APC soon found out that the pronouncement of tenure elongation for its executive was unconstitutional.
By law, the tenure of the party’s executive lasts for four years. According to Article 30 of the party’s constitution, only the National convention of the party can change that or any other schedule in the constitution. Yet the party’s NEC unilaterally decided to effect the amendment.
Realising its goof, some party chieftains began to backtrack.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said last night that the announcement is not conclusive. What has been done, he said, “is a mere expression of interest. The power of the Convention to extend tenure is exercised only by way of a constitution amendment. The power of the National Executive Committee of our party cannot go beyond doing so by way of constitution amendment.”
Even party spokesman, Bolaji Abdullahi, who had earlier declared that the tenure of NWC members had been extended, made an about-turn. He said what was agreed at the NEC was the intention to extend the tenure of the NWC and the state executives.
According to him, it is only after an amendment of the constitution which will be effected before the expiration of the tenure of the NWC that the extension can be binding.
Those who attended the NEC meeting where the decision was taken include: Governors Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Sani Bello (Niger), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Nasir El Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Ibrahim (Bauchi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) Samuel Ortom (Benue), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).
Others are: Senate Leader Ahmed Lawal, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachukwu, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Deputy Senate Whip Francis Alimikhena, Senator Magnus Abe, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Senator Andy Uba, Senator Sani Yarima, House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, House Whip Ado Dogowa, state chairmen among others.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who had to attend his Code of Conduct Tribunal hearing, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Digara, were however absent.