President Muhammadu Buhari’s made an about-turn on Tuesday when he called for a reversal of the tenure elongation granted to the APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and other members of the party’s National Working COmmittee (NWC).
Just last month, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had voted to extend Oyegun’s tenure for one year when his tenure expires in June this year. But that decision was strongly rejected by certain sections of the party including a wing loyal to the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.
At today’s NEC meeting in Abuja, Pres. Buhari reversed himself. “I have taken some time to review and seek advise on the resolution [to extend the tenure],” Buhari said. “And what I found is that it contravenes both our party constitution and the constitution of the federal republic.”
He told the APC faithful that fresh elections should be conducted once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end. “A caretaker committee cannot remedy the situation and cannot validly act in place of elected officers,” the president said.
Sections of the law cited by the president:
- Article 17(1) and 13.2(B) of APC constitution which limits tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election.
- Section 223 of Nigerian constitution which prescribes periodic elections for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years
- Article 31 of APC constitution which provides that any principal officer who wishes to re-contest or contest for another post must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.
Oyegun who has served just one term has the option of vying for reelection, but it is unclear if that is an option he would be willing to take.
Why Buhari changed his mind:
- Divisions in the party as a result of the elongation. Already that friction was noticed when Tinubu and his allies like former chairman Bisi Akande and Osun governor, Rauf Aregbesola, boycotted the party’s caucus meeting last night. Buhari mentioned it in his speech, saying the party ought to hold the elections because of “divisions that would arise, and is already arising within the party when some of our members feel that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions, or that internal democracy is not at play in the party.”
- He also said if the party sticks to the elongation plan and deviates from the constitutional provisions, “we might be endangering the fortunes of the party.” IMPORTANT POINT: “If the tenure of our party executives can be legally faulted, then it means that any nominations and primary elections that they may conduct can also be faulted.”
What next? Why it matters
According to the president, since the party had previously approved a timetable for holding congresses and elections it should proceed as planned.
The president’s about-turn is expected to assuage influential members of the party who were opposed Oyegun. However it places the APC in a precarious position of conduction an elective congress for both its national executive and later this year its flag-bearers for 2019 elections. How the party navigates those issues will determine its standing in time for the 2019 polls.