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APC Avoidable Quagmire: The Danger Ahead – DR ABUBAKAR ALKALI

APC Avoidable Quagmire: The Danger Ahead – DR ABUBAKAR ALKALI

STILL ON THE APEX (SUPREME) COURT VERDICT OF THE 2020 ONDO GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION:

DR ABUBAKAR ALKALI alkalizai@yahoo.com

In my first article few days ago on this subject, I recommended the immediate stepping down of Governor Mai Mala Buni as chairman of the caretaker and extraordinary convention committee (CECPC). My recommendation stemmed from the verdict of the principal court (I rather call it so because only God is supreme) in Akeredolu V Jegede where it relied on section 183 of the 1999 constitution (as altered) and section 17 (1V) of the APC constitution to deal a technical knockout (TKO) to the APC CECPC with Governor Buni as the point of reference.

A cloud of uncertainty is now hovering over ALL decisions taken by the APC CECPC under Governor Buni In this article, I will attempt to justify my recommendation and answer questions 1-3 below because these are the contentious issues in section 183 of the 1999 constitution.

1. Does Governor Mai Mala Buni Enjoy EXECUTIVE Powers as Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)?

2. Is the role of chairman CECPC that of a PAID EMPLOYMENT (Salary, Allowances and Other forms of Payment) and does Governor Buni Collects such payments as Chairman APC CECPC?

3. Is it advisable for the APC to risk it and go ahead to conduct its congresses and to behave as usual and as if ‘nothing has changed’ in the light of the legal implications of the principal (Supreme) court verdict on Ondo Guber election 2020? Though far from being a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), not even a lawyer (only by inheritance, if you will), i will present these issues the way I understand them.For the avoidance of doubt, my main motive for persistently calling for reforms in the APC is for the good of the party and our dear country Nigeria. The principal (supreme) court has discountenanced the legality of Governor Mai Mala Buni as chairman CECPC based on section 183 which is unequivocal that: The governor (of a state) shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other EXECUTIVE office or PAID EMPLOYMENT in any capacity. Indeed, the APC constitution was even more precise in disqualifying Governor Mai Mala Buni from being the chairman of the APC CECPC as contained in section 17(1V) where it is unambiguous that:No officer in ANY organ of the Party shall hold EXECUTIVE position (and) office in government concurrently.For me, section 17(1V) of the APC constitution is enough ground to have opened the eyes of APC leaders and legal experts at the onset to see the light and not make such avoidable blunders as to allow a sitting Governor to serve as chairman of the party’s CECPC.

This relevant section 17(1V) of the APC constitution also contradicts the current norm of making sitting Governors, chairmen of committees to conduct APC primary elections, chairmen of ceremonies to welcome new members etc.

It is not by coincidence that these sections 183 of the 1999 constitution and 17(1V) of the APC constitution were inserted. For if a Governor should serve as chair of a caretaker committee (which is a full time job) where will he find time to attend to state matters for which he was elected in the first place?

Is there nobody in the country who can serve as chairman of a CARETAKER COMMITTEE in the APC except a state governor? Clearly some powerful forces within the APC saw an opportunity to benefit from Governor Mai Mala Buni’s heading the APC CECPC so they cashed on and pushed it to get him selected for the role using his CV as a two-term national secretary ‘back-to-back’ who stood neutral in the APC crisis during comrade Oshiomhole’s crisis-ridden tenure.

These powerful forces in the APC certainly placed their personal interests over that of the APC. The result is the avoidable quagmire the APC finds itself today. Question 1. Does Governor Buni has EXECUTIVE powers as chairman of the CECPC?Answer: The Oxford dictionary defines the word EXECUTIVE as:‘relating to or having the power to put plans or actions into effect.Based on this definition, it can be easily argued in a court of law that Governor Mai Mala Buni has executive powers as the chairman APC CECPC because unarguably, he is the de-factor chairman of the APC and is often addressed as such. It is not a matter for debate that the CECPC controls the day-to-day administrative activities of the APC in an executive manner from its aboard at the APC national secretariat Abuja.

The APC CECPC was constituted by the NEC of the party with a mandate to:

A. RUN THE AFFAIRS OF THE APC in caretaker capacity

B. Organise a NATIONAL CONVENTION to elect principal officers/national executive committee (EXCO) of the party. This includes organising party congresses to elect EXCOs at the ward, local government and state levels.

Governor Mai Mala Buni and the caretaker national secretary, Sen.John Akpanudoedehe sign all correspondence emanating from the APC national secretariat.

Governor Mai Mala Buni as chair CECPC is running everything in the APC including possibly the finances (because administration cannot go smoothly without a control of the finance). He may be giving out approvals for contracts, payments, purchases etc. All these can be argued in a court of law as

EXECUTIVE POWERS.

Question 2.

Is the role of chairman CECPC a paid employment and does Governor Mai Mala Buni Enjoy Payment (Salaries, Allowances and Other forms of Payment) as Chairman of the APC CECPC?Answer:Recall that Section 183 also included ‘PAID EMPLOYMENT’ which brings to question as to whether or not Governor Mai Mala Buni as chairman of the CECPC is receiving any salaries/allowances/remunerations in either CASH or KIND. This is to be proven with verifiable evidence in a court of law. We must however, be wary that the paid employment may not necessarily be CASH, it could be in KIND.

The three forms of PAYMENT are cash, credit, payment-in-kind otherwise known as battering. In this case. payment of hotel accommodation or rent or other expenses could be admissible in a court of law as PAID EMPLOYMENT. It is difficult to believe that Governor Buni was using funds from his own pocket to work for the APC as chairman CECPC.

The chairman CECPC doesn’t need to receive salary in CASH for the oppositions to use this tool against the APC. They are certainly getting all the pieces of evidence and documents they need and will use them in court at the appropriate time.

Question 3.

Is it advisable for the APC to risk it and go ahead and conduct its congresses as they have? Answer:Despite this technical knockout (TKO) by the apex court, the APC has gone ahead to conduct the congresses. This is very surprising particularly when juxtaposed with the acclaimed position of the APC as a party that respects the ‘rule of law. The principal (supreme) court verdict was timely as it came just before the start of the congresses. It is a way of politely telling the APC ‘your roof is leaking, stop and put your house in order before it is too late. Contrary to all these, the CECPC rather boldly issued a dissenting statement against the apex court verdict to confirm that it will GO-AHEAD to conduct its congresses. This is a way of telling the apex court that ‘we don’t agree with you and your verdict’. Remember, the verdict of the principal (supreme) court is FINAL without option of appeal except you want to appeal on the pages of newspapers.

For the APC CECPC to behave as if ‘nothing has changed’ and continued ‘business as usual’ in the light of the legal implications of the principal (Supreme) court verdict on Ondo Guber election smarks of a design to knowingly or unknowingly cripple the party on the alter of personal interest.

THE WAY OUT

His excellency Governor Mai Maia Buni is N.O.T looking for a job. He is a contented person who should be too busy attending to security and welfare of the good people of Yobe state so why not replace him and save our great party? Is the interest of one individual greater than that of the party? Governor Mai Mala Buni is better suited to leave the APC caretaker committee and head to Yobe where he is most needed especially when juxtaposed with the following reasons:

A. Yobe state has the second highest rate of Boko haram attacks after Borno (in fact it is alleged that Yobe is the spiritual headquarters of Boko haram while Borno only serves as the capital)

B. Yobe state is the 7th poorest state in Nigeria with a poverty rate of 72.35%

C. UNESCO listed Yobe state 4th from bottom as one of the educationally backward states and among the states with the least literacy rates in Nigeria (26.6%).

D. Yobe state has one of the highest infant mortality rates for under-5s at 102 deaths per 1000 live births

E. Yobe state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Nigeria with 1,549 deaths per 100,000 live births

CONCLUSION:

Another angle to this issue is that the APC may not want to remove Governor Buni now because it will tantamount to admission of guilt. So the party will think ‘it is better we bottle it up’ and continue rather than change cause and risk the annulment of all decisions taking by the APC CECPC under Governor Buni’s leadership. Some will argue that if you remove Governor Buni now, the APC stands to lose any past election victories as everyone will head to court to challenge the APC regarding ALL decisions taking by the party from June 25 2020 when Governor Buni was sworn in as chairman APC CECPC. Nonetheless, this is a make or break decision for the APC. It is a tough one but it is very easy if there is the political will to save the party. The interest of one man cannot override the interest of the party because the party is greater than any individual or group. There is no amplifying the fact that Governor Buni has been able to record some positives during his tenure as chairman CECPC including getting some PDP governors to decamp to the APC but that is not enough to justify his continued stay as chairman CECPC against the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 and the APC constitution. The APC should explore all legal options as to what steps to take to remedy the situation. After dissolving the Governor Mai Mala Buni led APC CECPC, the national executive committee (NEC) should immediately reschedule and organise the congresses and national convention to elect a brand new executive committee (National EXCO) to save the APC and reposition the party for victory in the 2023 elections and beyond.

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