THE push for leadership change in Nigeria’s two major political parties has fizzled out after stakeholders of both the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) staved off moves to remove national leaders Uche Secondus (PDP) and Mai Mala Buni (APC).
Crucial interventions made on August 10 by major stakeholders paved the way for Secondus and Buni to remain in office to organise national conventions where the next leaders of the two political parties would be elected.
In the PDP, Secondus’ position was on the line after the resignation of seven national officers of the party on August 3 led to stringent calls for his removal.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike was believed to be behind the push for Secondus’ removal. The PDP’s national convention was scheduled to hold in December but the Wike-backed group wanted Secondus to resign and a caretaker committee set up to organise the convention.
Secondus’ opponents claimed he lacked the competence required to lead the national opposition party to dislodge the ruling APC in the 2023 presidential election, but he insisted on staying on as national chairman to organise the convention, where he could seek a second term in office.
The PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) and PDP Governors Forum failed to resolve the crisis at earlier meetings on August 6 and 9 but an enlarged stakeholders meeting on August 10 arrived at a ‘no victor, no vanquished’ resolution as Secondus was allowed to remain in office to organise the convention, which was, however, moved forward, from December to October.
The Wike group appeared to have been placated as Secondus now loses two months of his scheduled tenure in office, and there are unconfirmed reports that the national chairman and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) would not contest for reelection at the convention.
A communique read by Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal explained that the August 10 enlarged stakeholders meeting, which resolved the crisis in the party, was attended by state governors, members of the BOT, former presiding officers and current principal officers and leaders of the National Assembly, former governors, former ministers and others.
Among other resolutions, the stakeholders resolved that the constitution, traditions and practices of the party should be strictly adhered to in finding solutions to any problem.
It was equally agreed that all parties should sheathe their swords in the greater interest of the party and the need to “rescue Nigeria from the avoidable national malaise and drift occasioned by the APC administration.”
The stakeholders further resolved that all processes leading to an early national convention in October be immediately activated by relevant party organs, especially the National Executive Committee (NEC).
The stakeholders also asked the NEC to immediately constitute a zoning committee for party offices and another committee for national elective offices.
It was also agreed that, going forward, the PDP should redouble efforts to provide credible alternative leadership for Nigeria.
In the APC, the Progressive Governors’ Forum -the union of state governors elected on the platform of the party – also on August 10 endorsed Buni’s contentious position as acting national chairman.
Some major stakeholders in the APC initiated moves to remove Buni from his position as interim national leader of the party after the Supreme Court raised concerns over his dual role as chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and governor of Yobe State.
The Supreme Court had, while delivering judgment in the petition filed by PDP candidate Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC on July 28, noted that Buni’s position as party chairman 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 stated: “The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”
A group known as Concerned APC Stakeholders, reportedly backed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who believed that the Supreme Court pronouncement rendered Buni’s leadership illegal, wanted the CECPC disbanded. They also wanted the July 31 ward congresses organised by the caretaker committee nullified.
However, in what amounted to a major reprieve for Buni, governors elected on the platform of the party, under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), backed the CECPC and endorsed the ward congresses organised by the committee.
The APC governors threw their weight behind Buni, who also happens to be one of their own, in a communique signed by their chairman, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu. The communique was released in Abuja on August 10.
“Progressive Governors Forum reviewed progress being made by the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) in the effort to rebuild structures of the party at all levels and commends members of the caretaker committee, led by Mai Mala Buni, for the successful conduct of the ward congresses across the country.
“Accordingly, Forum reaffirmed its support for the Caretaker Committee to proceed to conduct Local Government, State Congresses, and National Convention, in line with the mandate of the National Executive Committee (NEC),” the communique said.
The APC governors urged members of the party to support the Buni-led committee, stressing that, contrary to fears among some stakeholders in the party, the full judgment of the Supreme Court in the Ondo governorship election petition had authenticated the legality of the CECPC.
“Forum was further briefed on the July 28, 2021, judgement of the Supreme Court on Ondo State 2020 governorship election and recognised that the legal status of both the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) as well as its composition has been legally settled,” the communique added.
Sedondus and Buni have survived, but it remains to be seen whether Nigeria’s two major political parties would avoid fresh crises when the time comes to elect new leaders in a few months.