President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday shocked members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of his party when he called for the cancellation of tenure extension for party officials.
The APC had at its NEC meeting on February 28 extended the tenure of members of National Working Committee (NWC) led by John Odigie-Oyegun by one year.
The decision did not go down well with a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, who had been in conflict with the national chairman of the party.
Speaking shortly before the commencement of NEC meeting Tuesday, Mr. Buhari told a packed hall at the APC national secretariat to consider cancelling the tenure extension decision because “it is against the party constitution and the Nigerian constitution.”
He therefore, presented the matter “for discussion” at the meeting.
Mr. Buhari said he is having a change of heart because he doesn’t want the party’s activities to be faulted by any court of law.
The president’s request was not discussed at the national caucus meeting which held at the Presidential Villa Monday night, Mr. Odigie-Oyegun had said.
Caucus meetings are precursor to what would normally be discussed at NEC.
The president noted that if the decision to extend party executive tenure can be legally faulted, then any nomination and primary election can also be faulted.
“In particular, I think it is important to talk on the contentious issues of the tenure of our national and state executive officers. As we all know, the motion was moved in the last NEC, February 27 2018, to the effect that when the tenure of the current executive expire in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year.
“This motion was moved by majority of members present at the last NEC meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken very vehemently against it, others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my own part I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution and what I have found is that it is contravenes our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to him, while the APC constitution article 17, 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.
“Furthermore, article 31 of our party’s constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another post 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.
“If the tenure of our party executive can be legally faulted then it means that any nomination and primary election can also be faulted”, he said, adding that this is not to talk of the (crisis) that will arise and is already arising within the party when some of its members feel that they are being denied the right to aspire to executive positions.
“I am therefore of the firm believe 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.
“The only thing I feel too strongly about is that we should not allow our party to be vulnerable to the opposition,” he said.
He also revealed that a timetable for congresses and elections has been approved and he hopes everyone will work towards making the timetable useful.
“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,” he said.