As the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), decides today on the tenure elongation it earlier proposed for the National Working Committee (NWC)-led by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on February 27, the question is what are the concern of those in support of the extension, if it is eventually reversed?
Although, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was present at the meeting where the tenure extension was decided, made a u-turn on March 27, members remain divided on the subject.
The President cited legal implications as his reason for changing his mind, agreeing with others who think the decision did only contradict the APC Constitution, but also the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He reasoned that the outcome of the decision might destroy the party, if allowed to stay.
The argument that the party does not have sufficient time to manage congresses between now and next general election was dismissed on the basis that it is not the business of law if any political party fails to manage its time appropriately. “The law would not take that as an excuse.”
He, therefore, urged the NEC to reconsider the decision, which already has started generating controversies among the party leaders.
Some stakeholders, including governors, had bought into Buhari’s suggestion, which led to the setting up of a technical committee, headed by the Governor of Plateau State, Simenon Lalong.
The committee was mandated to offer advise on the decision. On Friday, the committed submitted the report, which is scheduled for presentation today.
From feelers, it appears the group has suggested that the congresses should be organized instead of extending the tenure of the present executives.
Notwithstanding, some members remain convinced that tenure extension is a wiser decision.
This group holds the views that the party may not be able to handle the fallout of crises that will follow the congress, and that the time may be too short to manage it.
Apart from timing, The Guardian also gathered that the ‘apostles of tenure extension’ were also concerned about their political future in the party, particularly those governors nursing re-election ambition in 2019 and the outgoing ones, who have chosen their successors in office. Some of these governors are also nursing ambition of running for the senate.
These ‘apostles tenure of extension’ might wear two colors today during the NEC meeting, The Guardian learnt.
One, they may not want to be seen as opposing President Buhari’s position on the matter due to the respect they have for him, though they are jittery over the outcome of election should the party holds the congress.
Part of the fears is that loyalist of Tinubu, whom they consider dangerous to their personal ambition, may emerge as executives that would midwife the party’s primaries for the coming elections.
The group is not persuaded by the explanation that the extension of tenure for Odigie-Oyegun and other NWC members has nothing to do with the subtle war between the incumbent national chairman and Tinubu.
A party insider revealed that if Tinubu by error of omission or commission allow the tenure extension to scale through, “he is bound to experience worse things in the party than what he faced in the last three years under the leadership of Odigie-Oyegun.”
According to the source, “If you follow the arguments, you will understand where those that were against the tenure extension belong and the other faction, who have chosen to maintain silence since Buhari voiced out belong.”
The source also said that Mr. Buhari must have realized his mistake of nonchalant attitude to take control of the party machinery from day one and his error of not showing interest in who controls the leadership of the National Assembly. The consequences of his action are the series of face-off between the presidency and the legislative arms since the beginning of this administration.
If the party eventually opted for congresses, fresh executive members emerge and this would subsequently allow the true ownership of the APC take control of the party and the machinery of government. With this development, some of the governors seeking reelection, members of the State Executive Council, lawmakers and others may not make it beyond next year in government if fresh executive comes up after the congress.
The source said the intention of President Buhari’s wife; Aisha should be scrutinized when she said that those who helped her husband to become president have been sidelined.
Tinubu’s wife, Senator Oluremi also made similar outburst recently when she said her husband was “trashed” after the party won the 2015 election.
The deciding factor would definitely be the congress as it is near certain the NEC would reverse itself on extension of tenure today.
However would the newfound romance between Buhari and Tinubu and their loyalists be able to distabilise the machinery of the rival faction at the congress to bring in new executives with godfathers? Or will the NEC come out today with a different alternative? Clues to the answer may emerge today.