The National Vice Chairman (South South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Hilliard Eta, yesterday, hinted that the party has no choice but to adopt President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of tenure extension for the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
At the recently held National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party, Buhari had described the decision to extend by one year the tenure of Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun and executive officers across the 36 states of the federation as illegal and unconstitutional.
Hilliard in a chat with The Guardian said the President’s decision was akin to an order. He said: “I can assure you that the President’s directive will stand.
My position is predicated on the need to adhere to the provisions of the law.
Until that day, I never knew there was a provision in the national constitution, not even the party’s constitution, that it was illegal to extend our tenure.
“For me, I am always on the side of the law. The President’s position would surely strengthen democracy and internal democracy in the party.
I know that some people will come back, some will not, and that we will have new faces. We need to have our congresses.”
A member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Sani Zorro, also applauded the President’s position, saying it would strengthen APC’s internal democracy.
He said: “The Implications is that if the extension had stood, it would have translated into extension of the tenure of all elected officials comprising the president, governors, and National and State Assembly members, thereby defeating the essence of internal democracy.
“Some of the governors had already gone far, using the party’s mechanism at both state and local council levels to get endorsement for a second term.
There are those who had gone to the ridiculous extent of getting signatures of party officers at ward and state levels to fill forms endorsing them to run for a second term.”
Zorro believes that virtually all members of the NWC and states executive members would be re-elected, as a planned congress might just be mere formality.
He called for the establishment of a standing committee across the states chapters of the APC to reconcile aggrieved members.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, said the President’s position is a subtle call on Oyegun to “honourably resign.”
He said: “I’m telling Chief Oyegun to retire now before he disgraces President Buhari, because it is shameful and disgraceful for the NWC to say Buhari is not the leader of the APC. This is a way of disgracing him before Nigerians and the entire world.
“I remember several times when the party under Chief Oyegun could not hold meetings, not to talk of taking any decision, because the President, who they claimed to be leader of the party, was not available.
So, we want to know what has changed now. When it is time to take a decision in their favour, Buhari is the leader of APC.
But when the President took a certain decision against Oyegun and his NWC, Buhari is no longer the leader. This is an embarrassment to the president.”
Frank said he expected the “National Chairman and APC to go and learn how to run a ruling party from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). There is no crime in learning what you don’t know.”
Commending Buhari for opposing “illegality”, he reiterated his call for the immediate sacking of Oyegun, citing lack of respect for APC’s constitution and acts of impunity.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said he did not know whether the committee to be constituted had already considered Buhari’s position on tenure elongation for the party’s executive members.