- Heineken Lokpobiri named among likely successors
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress took a new twist on Saturday as the governors opposed to the embattled National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, began the search for his replacement.
It was learnt that consultations had been going on in the states, with meetings scheduled to take place next week on how to pick his successor.
Ex-Zamfara State governor Abdulaziz Yari, a one-time Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum; ex-Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; and Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, are among those being touted as the new APC National Chairman.
But the pro-Oshiomhole governors and members of the party’s National Working Committee who are unhappy with the former Edo State governor’s problems have reportedly gone on the offensive.
It was learnt that they had scheduled a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), early this week to plead his case.
One of Oshiomhole’s sympathisers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, stated, “Because some of us have been quiet some people think we don’t know they are doing all of these because of their 2023 agenda.
“We will be meeting the President this week to ask him if he is aware of a letter being bandied about by some of these people seeking to force our chairman out. They are claiming that he consented to attending the illegal NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting they called for the March 17.
“We will also want to find out if he is aware that this whole thing is a plot to destabilise his government, because these people don’t mean well for our party.
“We want to tell the President that enough is enough, we will not allow the ambition of individuals who don’t mean well for our party to destroy us. These are the people telling the President lies about Oshiomhole.
“We want to tell the President that these people do not love him, because he needs to concentrate on his work.”
The source further said from his interaction with some of the anti-Oshiomhole governors, their grouse with him were largely personal.
The source said, “Some of them say he doesn’t refer to them on matters affecting their states and that he doesn’t listen to them; these are not party issues, they are personal.
“Removing Oshiomhole is an attempt to destabilise the party and the President.
“Some of these people talking now almost lost the last elections in their states if not for the tough stance Oshiomhole took.
“He was also able to work hard to ensure that those the President would be comfortable working with emerge as leaders of the National Assembly. Today, the party is enjoying the dividends of this arrangement. Our bills are being passed with ease. If we allow this problem to fester, it will get to the National Assembly and we will lose the advantage we enjoy. This bullying must stop.”
Meanwhile, members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole have distanced themselves from the NEC meeting scheduled for March 17.
In a statement by the party’s National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala, and the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, on Saturday, the pro-Oshiomhole NWC members in the statement dissociated themselves from the APC Emergency National Executive Committee meeting, “which invitation is credited to Chief Victor Giadom, Deputy National Secretary of the party”.
Ogala and Issa-Onilu said the “constitution of the party had provided the process and procedure to be followed to convene such a meeting as stipulated in Article 25 (B) (i) and (ii).”
The article states, “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than 14 days’ notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“ii. Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an Emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
They argued that “neither the National Chairman nor the resolution of two-thirds of members of the National Executive Committee has directed nor made any request to summon a National Executive Committee Meeting of the party”.
According to them, Giadom is not vested with any constitutional powers to convene any NEC meeting. They also said he was not directed by Oshiomhole to call the meeting.
However, the APC National Vice-Chairman (North-East) Mustapha Salihu, dismissed Ogala and Onilu’s statement, describing it as “a hatchet job”.
Salihu is a member of the Giadom faction which signed the statement that fixed NEC meeting for March 17.
He said, “Why are they (the Oshiomhole group) not operating from the party’s national secretariat? They are not. They are using the style of Radio Biafra; we are in the secretariat working tirelessly towards a successful NEC meeting as you can see. These people are hiding somewhere trying to confuse the public.”
Asked whether they would attend the emergency NEC meeting, Salihu said, “Yes, as you can see from the announcement we’ve made, we have written to the President and he duly responded and we have a date fixed for the meeting.
“This is an emergency meeting; the main issue is the state of our party in the light of the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole, and you know the agenda of such a meeting is a collective one.”
Our correspondent reported that armed security men were still guarding the secretariat of the party when he visited the premises on Saturday.
The security men took over the secretariat on Friday following the conflicting court pronouncements on the crises rocking the ruling party.
Recall that a judge of the Abuja High Court, Justice Danlami Senchi, on Wednesday granted an interlocutory injunction retraining Oshiomhole from functioning as national chairman of the party.
A day later, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, presided over by Justice A. Lewis-Allgoa, which is a court of equal jurisdiction with the Abuja High Court, gave a contradictory order.