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APC in fresh crisis over position of caretaker chairman

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FRESH crisis has erupted in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the position of chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) – the party’s interim national leadership.

Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello has moved to take over from Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni as chairman of the CECPC, a position which would make him (Bello) the party’s caretaker national chairman.


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Buni has been APC acting national chairman since his emergence in 2020 when the committee was inaugurated, after the removal of former national chairman Adams Oshiomhole.

Speculations that Bello had taken over as interim chairman emerged when he chaired a meeting of the caretaker committee on March 7.

Bello chairs caretaker committee meeting

The Niger State governor had pulled up in the parking lot reserved for the chairman when he arrived for the meeting at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

While the meeting was still going on, Bello released pictures which showed him presiding over the session.

Bello released pictures which showed him presiding over the caretaker committee meeting
Bello released pictures which showed him presiding over the caretaker committee meeting

The caption on the pictures shared by the governor on the social media read: “I am currently presiding over the Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC at the National Secretariat of the Party.”

Buni was not present for the caretaker committee meeting as he is currently away in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he is reportedly receiving medical attention for an undisclosed ailment.

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There were unconfirmed media reports earlier on March 7 that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered Buni’s removal as chairman of the APC caretaker committee.

The reports also said Buhari appointed Bello as Buni’s replacement.

Buhari allegedly took the decision just before traveling to London, where he would be undergoing medical checks for two weeks.

Buni had been under pressure from a faction of APC stakeholders who believe he does not want the party to conduct a national convention before the primaries for the 2023 presidential election.

There were insinuations that the Yobe governor was eyeing the position of vice president on the APC presidential ticket. It is also alleged that he wants to be in office as caretaker chairman when the party holds the primary election for its presidential candidate.

The national convention, where the APC will elect a new national chairman and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC), was postponed from February 26 to March 26 after the party failed to meet up with the schedule of programmes in the timetable.

The development was largely blamed on the Buni-led caretaker committee, which was accused of foot-dragging on the convention.

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Less than three weeks to the rescheduled date for the national convention, there are fewer signs on the ground to indicate that the party is ready for the event.

Feelers are that lack of preparations was responsible for Buhari’s alleged decision to replace Buni with Bello.

The APC has not issued any official statement on the fresh development as at the time of filing this report.

The CECPC meeting being presided by Niger governor Bello was still ongoing as at press time.

Caretaker committee said no change in leadership

Bello’s assumption of the role of caretaker chairman contradicted a statement issued by National Publicity Secretary of the CECPC John James Akpanudoedehe, earlier on March 7.

Akpanudoedehe, APC acting spokesman, had, in the statement, declared that there was no change in the leadership of the caretaker committee.

The statement was a reaction to reports that Buni had been removed as caretaker chairman.

Chairman of APC caretaker committee Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni
Chairman of APC caretaker committee Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni

The CECPC spokesman said the reports, which he described as fake, were sponsored.

The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to sponsored media reports on an imaginary leadership change in the APC-CECPC. The media report is fake news and should be disregarded.

“The APC is a progressive political party guided by rules. Leadership changes are not announced by ‘sources’ through name dropping in the media.

“We urge our teeming supporters, members and indeed the general public to remain calm and support the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC conduct a rancour-free and credible National Convention deserving of our great party.”

The fresh crisis over the position of APC caretaker chairman is the latest episode in the leadership crises that have been rocking Nigeria’s ruling party in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.

The ICIR had reported that Buni’s position as Yobe State governor and equally caretaker party national chairman was at the heart of the leadership crisis, which had resulted in several lawsuits filed by aggrieved members who wanted the CECPC disbanded.

The crisis had ensued after the Supreme Court faulted Buni’s dual role as state governor and caretaker chairman of a political party.

The Supreme Court made the pronouncement on July 28 while delivering judgment in the petition filed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC.

Although the Supreme Court declared Akeredolu winner of the election and dismissed Jegede’s petition, some justices on the panel of the apex court pronounced that the composition of the leadership of the APC was not in compliance with the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution states: “The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

Following the development, the APC was divided into two camps – stakeholders who supported Buni’s leadership, and others who felt the Supreme Court pronouncement signalled impending legal woes for the party and as a result pushed for the governor’s removal from the role of acting national chairman.

Buni, however, survived several court cases that sought his removal from the position of APC caretaker national chairman.

Former Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomhole was the last elected national chairman of the APC.

Oshiomhole was elected at the party’s last national convention on July 23, 2018, but he did not complete his four-year tenure in office as a crisis that emanated from the Edo State governorship election led to his removal on June 16, 2020.

The CECPC has been running the affairs of the party since June 25, 2020, when it was inaugurated to fill the void created by Oshiomhole’s removal.

The CECPC was originally expected to organise a national convention in December 2020, where new national officers of the party, including a national chairman and members of the National Working Committee (NWC), would be elected.

But the CECPC has remained in office since and had its tenure extended three times.

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