A memo has surfaced showing how the interim national secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), John Akpanudoedehe, was removed by his colleagues in the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
As revealed by the memo dated March 8 and seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, the interim secretary was removed through motion of no confidence during a meeting of the committee at the national secretariat in Abuja.
With the exception of the Yobe State governor, Mala Buni, who was at the time on medical leave, 10 of the 12-member committee, led by the controversially-appointed chairman of the party, Abubakar Bello of Niger State, voted for his removal.
According to the memo in which Mr Akpanudoedehe’s removal was documented, members present at the meeting unanimously agreed that the secretary should step aside and stop forthwith all activities and duties associated with the office.
“We, the members of the CECPC of the All Progressives Congress as duly constituted or the 25th of June, 2020 by the National Executive Committee of our great party, and sitting in our regular meeting on the 8th Day of March 2022, hereby unanimously resolved and adopt a motion of NO CONFIDENCE on the Secretary of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress, and direct that from today henceforth, he steps aside as the Secretary of the Committee and stops forthwith all activities and duties associated with the office.
“The undersigned are a full quorum of the Committee of the 2/3rd required,” the memo reads.
Opposition to leadership change
While no reason was given for Mr Akpanudoedehe’s removal, this newspaper reported the strong stance of the secretary against the process that facilitated the takeover of Mr Bello over his ally, Mr Buni, last week.
The secretary had dismissed reports of Mr Buni’s removal even as the Niger State governor dramatically entered the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on March 7 to assume the role meant for Mr Buni.
Mr Akpanudoedehe, who also perceived his job was on the line, said the party had a process for removing its leader and not through anonymous sources.
“The media report is fake news and should be disregarded,” he said.
“The APC is a progressive political party guided by rules. Leadership changes are not announced by ‘sources’ through name dropping in the media.
“We urge our teeming supporters, members and indeed the general public to remain calm and support the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC conduct a rancour-free and credible National Convention deserving of our great party.”
However, after stating his stance, Mr Akpanudoedehe went missing in action.
For days, the secretary didn’t report for duty, apparently prompting the Bello-led committee to appoint one of its members to interface with journalists, a role previously played by the embattled secretary.
The interim National Youth Leader, Ismaeel Ahmed, took over the role of interacting with journalists at the secretariat.
In between the in-house struggle and power play, the secretary returned to the national secretariat briefly last Tuesday to perform his duties.
Addressing journalists upon his return, Mr Akanudoedehe said that the party’s leadership was “intact and functional as originally constituted.”
He also said Mr Buni was on his way from London to resume duties as chairman.
Mr Akpanudoedehe was to actively resume his duties on Wednesday after President Muhammadu Buhari cautioned the APC governors against removing Mr Buni and making utterances that could cause disunity in the party ahead of its March 26 National Convention.
“First, the issue of the leadership of the Caretaker Extra Ordinary Convention Committee (CECOC) should immediately return to status quo ante;
“Second, all members of the Governors’ Forum and their followers should desist from any behaviour or utterance that will likely lead to disunity in the ranks of the party, and ultimately jeopardise the transition to the convention;
“Third, the Mai Mala Buni-led CECC should, accordingly, be allowed to proceed with all necessary preparations to hold the convention as planned- unfailingly, on 26 March, 2022,” the letter issued by Mr Buhari directed to the party’s governors.
With the return of Mr Buni to his interim role, as instructed by Mr Buhari on Wednesday, Mr Akpanudoedehe’s position as well as other members of the CECPC can be said to remain secure until the conduct of the party’s convention.
On the day the president wrote the letter, Mr Akpanudoedehe issued a press statement cancelling the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting fixed for Thursday by Mr Bello.
Besides, the governorship ambition of the secretary in his native Akwa Ibom may have been rekindled.
In June 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed the 12-member Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) headed with Mr Buni as chairman to steer the affairs of the party.
Mr Akpanudoedehe, former senator and junior minister at the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was appointed as secretary.
The committee was also mandated to organise a national convention to elect new members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party within six months. However, it has not been able to do so.
Some party members have alleged that While Mr Buni is using his position to negotiate for the vice presidential slot of the party in the 2023 election, Mr Akpanudoedehe is using his to promote his ambition to pick the party’s ticket in his native Akwa Ibom State.
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