There was confusion in Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, on Wednesday as it produced two acting national chairmen within a period of 12 hours.
Amid the confusion in the APC, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was disqualified by the party from contesting its June 22 governorship primary met with the governors of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja on Wednesday night.
It was learnt that Obaseki met the PDP governors to perfect his defection to the opposition party following his resignation from the APC.
The APC leadership problem began on Tuesday when the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja suspended its National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
Following Oshiomhole’s suspension, the APC National Working Committee, during an emergency meeting, appointed a former Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as the acting national chairman.
But the APC’s Deputy National Secretary, Victor Gaidom, during a press conference at the party’s national secretariat at 11am on Wednesday declared himself as the acting national chairman and went ahead to nullify the screening conducted last week for Edo State governorship aspirants.
He was accompanied to the press conference by other two members of the party’s NWC; the Deputy Organising Secretary, Muhammadu Ibrahim, and the National Vice Chairman, North East, Mustapha Salihu.
A few minutes after Gaidom and the two NWC members left the national secretariat, the National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, led 15 other national officers of the party into the building to address a press conference at 11:22am.
Eta, on behalf of others, disowned Giadom and affirmed Ajimobi as acting chairman.
The APC NWC, had in a statement after its meeting on Tuesday evening, justified the appointment of Ajimobi with provisions of Section 14.2 (iii) of its constitution.
According to the provisions, in the absence of a chairman, the deputy national chairman shall be appointed as acting national chairman.
But on Tuesday, there were fears that the former Oyo State governor might not be able to act as national chairman as he was reported to be receiving treatment for COVID-19 in a Lagos hospital.
Surprisingly, Ajimobi issued a statement through his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji, on Wednesday morning.
According to the statement, Ajimobi said the National Executive Committee meeting, which is one of the key demands of some aggrieved members of the party, would soon be called to address all outstanding issues.
Ajimobi took over as the deputy national chairman in March 2020 when the NWC wrote a letter to the South-West to nominate a candidate for the vacant position of the deputy national chairman (South). The position became vacant, when the former occupant, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, was made a minister.
The appointment of Ajimobi received the support of five of the six South-West states of Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos with Ekiti alone protesting the nomination.
Giadom, at the press conference, addressed himself as the acting national chairman based on a subsisting court order which earlier empowered him to act as the head of the party when Oshiomhole was first suspended in March.
Giadom said, “Yesterday, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, in a unanimous judgment, affirmed the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress.
“Consequently, I bring to your notice that on the 16th of March 2020, Hon Justice S.U. Bature in suit number FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 had ordered that, with the earlier suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, I, Chief Hon. Victor Giadom, should act as National Chairman of our great party.
“That order could not be immediately effected at the time because of the temporary reprieve Adams Oshiomhole got from the Court of Appeal on the same date.”
He further said, “As your acting National Chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we therefore cancel the decision of the screening and appeal committees of the former chairman of the party on the Edo primary. This is in strict compliance with provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that forbids anyone who is interested in a case to be a judge in the same case.”
Giadom directed all aspirants in the governorship primary to report for fresh screening between Wednesday and today (Thursday).
Eta, who addressed journalists later, said Giadom had ceased to be a member of the APC NWC when he resigned to contest the position of the deputy governor of Rivers State.
He said, “He (Giadom) ceased to be a member of the NWC when he resigned to contest the position of the deputy governor of Rivers State on the platform of our party. I am the National Vice-Chairman in charge of the South-South where he comes from and there is no record that he has returned to his former position.”
Eta further explained that the NWC under the leadership of Ajimobi, had set up committees for the Edo State governorship primary scheduled for June 22 and the election appeal scheduled for June 24.
For the primary election committee, the NWC named Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, as Chairman and Senator Ajibola Bashiru as Secretary. Other members are Alhaji Abdullahi Abass, Ibrahim Sabo, Ocho Obioma, Hajia Amina Lantana Muhammed and Gbenga Elegbeleye.
Those appointed for the primary election appeal were Prof Mustapha Bello – Chairman and Dr Kayode Ajulo as Secretary. Other members are Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Ibrahim Junju and Rasaq Mahmud Bamu.
The party also said in obedience to a recent ruling of a High Court which declared Igo Aguma as the party’s acting chairman in Rivers State, the NWC said it henceforth recognised Aguma as the APC acting Chairman until new congresses are held to elect party executive members at the ward, local government and state levels.
Members who pledged allegiance to the Ajimobi-led NWC are Waziri Bulama(National Secretary); Hilliard Eta(National Vice Chairman, South-South); Emman Eneukwu( National Vice-Chairman, South-East); Pastor Bankole Oluwajana(National Vice-Chairman(South-West); Alh. Inuwa Abdulkadir(National Vice-Chairman, North-West); Alh. Suleiman Umar Wambai(National Vice -Chairman, North-Central); Hon. Emma Ibediro (National Organizing Secretary); and Babatunde Ogala(National Legal Adviser);
Others are Alhaji Ibrahim Kabir Masari(National Welfare Secretary); Alhaji Adamu Fanda (National Treasurer); Lanre Isa-Onilu (National Publicity Secretary); Alhaji Tajudeen Bello(National Financial Secretary); Paul Chukwuma (National Auditor); Hajiya Salamatu Balwa Umar-Eluma( National Women Leader); Alhaji Sadiq S. Abubakar (National Youth Leader) and Misbahu Lawal Didi (National Physically Challenged Leader).
Out of 16 members, 13 were physically present during the NWC meeting, with most of them attending Wednesday’s briefing which Eta addressed. Three others joined via a virtual platform
Giadom faces expulsion
There were indications on Wednesday that the Ajimobi-led NWC was considering disciplinary actions against Giadom and two others.
It was learnt that the deputy national secretary would face a disciplinary committee and if found guilty his expulsion would be recommended to the party’s NEC.
A party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We have processes and procedures for disciplining errant members. When there are serious breaches and a complaint are received, an errant member or members will be made to face our disciplinary committee and if found guilty, sanctions will be applied. Go and read Article 21 “D (of the party’s constitution), they are all there.”
According to Article 21 D, such sanctions include reprimand, explusion, censure and debarment from contesting on the platform of the party.
Attempts to get a response from Gaidom were futile. He did not pick or return calls made to his telephone number. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
The crisis in the APC worsened on Friday when its screening committee disqualified the Edo State governor, from Monday primary on the grounds that his credentials were contradictory.
The governor after his visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday announced his resignation from the APC.His deputy, Philip Shaibu, has also left the party
Obaseki meets Tambuwal, Secondus
Obaseki, on Wednesday met with the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal and the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus.
Our correspondent gathered that the meeting was held at the Abuja residence of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike, in Asokoro.
Although details were still sketchy as of the time of filing this report late on Wednesday, it was gathered that the two PDP leaders and some others in attendance, gave the Edo State governor assurances of their support.
A source privy to the meeting said, “The meeting held after a virtual meeting with PDP governors in their various locations. That is the much I can say.”
It was gathered that issues discussed included the fate of Obaseki’s deputy and others who would join the PDP with him.
The meeting came barely one week to the Edo State PDP Primary scheduled for June 23 June 24.