Reprieve for Buni as INEC steps into APC’s crisis

*It confirms APC's ineligibility for 2023 elections, PDP insists

By Joshua Omoloye, Abuja

Respite came for the embattled governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, as the ruling party at the weekend made u- turn, saying he remains the chairman of the APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning
Committee (CECPC).

The declaration by the party’s spokesperson came after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to acknowledge a letter informing the electoral body of APC emergency NEC meeting slated for next week on the ground that signatories to the letter were not known to INEC.

INEC said it cannot attend the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of APC next week because the party was yet to comply with relevant laws and regulations.

According to INEC, the party could only remove the National Chairman of Caretaker /Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Governor Mai Mala Buni, and other officers after a 21-day notice to the electoral body.

It faulted the party for notifying it of its NEC meeting without the signatures of Buni and the Secretary of CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedohe.

Obviously trying to avoid the sledge harmer of the law, the ruling party quickly declared that Buni is still in charge of APC.

Spokesman of the CECPC, Ismaeel Ahmed, told journalists said Buni remains chairman while Niger State governor, Sani Bello is acting for ailing Buni who is on medical vacation in Dubai.

“Somebody asked, what is the position of Governor Mai Mala Buni in the party, I think it’s pretty simple. I don’t know why this is a complicated process for a lot of people not to understand. Since the inception of this CECPC on June 25, 2020, whenever the chairman is not around and Governor Sani Bello is around, he acts on behalf of all as the Chairman.

“It has always been the case that has never changed. It has always been the case. Now, we have a Convention on March 26. The chairman wrote a letter and transmitted power to Governor Bello to enable him go for medical treatment. Those are two emergencies. He has a medical emergency, that cannot wait for Convention. We have a Convention that cannot wait for him to be healthy.

“So, one has to leave for the other, whichever, he has transmitted a letter and Governor Sani Bello has been acting appropriately. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that? Why is it so difficult for people to simply understand? I cannot understand why people are making this allegation.

“So, Governor Sani Bello is acting the full authority of the Caretaker Committee and with the full authority of the stakeholders and with the full consent of Governor Mai Mala Buni. It is very clear and simple. If anybody has issues with any of our decisions, he can head to court. For now, we are doing it with the full backing of the law. So, there is no ambiguity on this, absolutely none.

“On the issue of Senator John James Akpanudodehe, what is the position because I spelt others out the other members of the committee, but I didn’t say anything about other people as well, we just talked about members of the committee. I didn’t talk about their positions, whether secretary or chairman, since they have their responsibilities spelt out for them.

“The other members are the ones told to come back to handle specific departments and that is what we are doing. At the full course of time, once all these are over, I will be able to brief you. But for now, these are the responsibilities of every member.

“As part of efforts towards the hitch-free conduct of the March 26th National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) stepped up preparations this week.

“Convened a meeting chaired by the Acting Chairman and Governor of Niger State, H.E. Abubakar Sani Bello, where strategies were adopted to fast-track the process towards conducting a National Convention.

“The CECPC committee chaired by His Excellency the Governor of Niger State has issued a notice for a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party on March 17, 2022. As usual, a number of important issues will be discussed at the meeting.

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However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has mocking the ruling party said with the latest development, APC might be heading for the rocks and may be ineligible to field candidates in the 2023 election.

The party alerted that the non-recognition of the activities of the APC by INEC further confirms PDP’s position that APC lacks the legitimacy and statutory requisites to participate in the 2023 general elections.

The PDP emphasized that INEC’s refusal to honour APC’s invitation to attend its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting as well as the Commission’s disapproval of APC’s National Convention scheduled for March 26, 2022 further authenticates PDP’s stand that the APC “is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in liquidation, preparatory to winding up, that cannot legally produce candidates for the elections”.

National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba in stated that this decision by INEC is therefore another unmistaken ‘red flag’ to intending aspirants on the platform of the APC in the 2023 general elections that the APC has become “defunct and cannot validly, legally and constitutionally field candidates” in the 2023 general elections.

The PDP said “our party draws attention to the grave import of INEC’s letter to the APC, dated March 9, 2022 to the effect that APC’s NEC meeting scheduled for Thursday March 17, 2022 will not be recognized by the Commission due to invalid notice; a development that will invalidate any decision reached at such meeting.

“Furthermore, INEC’s reference to the failure of the APC to give the required 21-day notice for its National Convention confirms the invalidity and unconstitutionality of any National Convention conducted by the APC’s illegal Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

“As it stands today, regardless of the boldface escapist excuses, the Sword of Damocles hangs precariously on the status of the contraption called CECPC and the APC itself. This signals an existential threat to the soulless, precipice-bound bunch of pretenders masquerading as a political party.

“The PDP had earlier informed Nigerians, especially intending aspirants on the platform of the APC that the APC became legally non-operational when in December 8, 2020 it dissolved its National, State as well as Local Government structures and handed its affairs over to an illegal body.

“Moreover, the PDP informs such aspirants that the widespread intractable infighting for the soul of the defunct APC by ferocious ‘political warlords’ is not for election purposes but in desperation for the control of APC structures as pedestals to further pillage public fund before and during the elections”.

The PDP called on Nigerians to note that the APC by its actions has commenced “an inevitable descent into self-inflicted political extinction”.

It urged Nigerians to remain at alert and hopeful as PDP takes decisive steps to democratically take over governance in 2023.

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