President Muhammadu Buhari says the recent elongation of the tenure of John Odigie-Oyegun, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is illegal and unconstitutional.
Buhari said this during Tuesday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of APC, held at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
He said the tenure elongation “is against the party’s constitution and the Nigerian constitution”, and urged the party to avoid any issue capable of causing a legal battle that could dampen its chances in the 2019 general election.
At its meeting of February 27, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) had resolved to extend the tenure of the party’s national executive, which is due to expire in June, by one year.
“All officers will continue in acting capacity for another period of 12 months after the expiration of their current term,” the resolution read.
But Buhari said he took time to review and seek advice on the resolution “and what I have found is that it contravenes our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
“While the APC constitution article 17, in bracket 1 and 13 on two bracket 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 prescribes periodic election for party executives at regular intervals, which must not exceed four years,” Buhari said.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our party constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another election 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 election once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end.
“Furthermore, I think if we go against the constitutional provisions, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party. If the tenure of our party executive can be legally faulted then it means that any nomination and primary election can also be faulted.
“This is not to talk of the issues that will arise and are already arising within the party when some of our members felt that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions [or that] internal democracy is not explained within the party.
“I am therefore of the firm belief that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and national constitution rather than put APC and its activities at grave risk. Fortunately, we have already approved a timetable for the holding of congresses and elections. I think this should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should now be geared towards making them a great success.”
The decision of the APC NEC to elongate the tenure of the party’s executive was vehemently opposed by the Lagos chapter of the party.
Citing Section 223 of the 1999 constitution, Tajudeen Olusi, leader of the APC in Lagos State Central Senatorial District, said they had “considered the issue of extension of tenure and we are of the firm belief that the decision is a breach of the constitution of our party and of the country”.
“We are against the elongation of tenure. We shall continue to make our decision known to the party and to the president,” he said at the time.
“Section 223 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, as amended, specifically states that the constitution and rules of a political party shall make elections periodical on a democratic basis.”