Intrigues and maneuvering have continued amongst political actors as the fate of the embattled national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, still hangs in the balance.
Some forces within the APC, amongst them, governors, ministers and party stalwarts, have been pulling the strings on how to oust Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party on alleged account of his highhandedness in running the affairs of the party.
Already, there is palpable anxiety within the camp of supporters of the embattled national chairman ahead of the March 17 emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
The deputy national secretary of the APC, Chief Victor Giadom, had announced the convocation of an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) slated for Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
“In line with Article 25 (B) (II) of the constitution of our great party, members of the APC NEC are invited to attend an emergency meeting, which is scheduled to hold on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 3:00 pm prompt”, Giadom said in the statement.
Gaidom had announced that he had taken over the running of the party following the court-ordered suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman.
Already, at the party’s secretariat, preparation for the Tuesday NEC meeting has taken off as renovation of the hall has been going on, as well as distribution of invitation letters and identification tags by the Giadom-led executive.
From the long list of invitees, amongst those expected at the meeting include President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, APC governors and National Assembly leaders from the party, amongst others.
However, a joint statement signed by the party’s spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu; the national legal adviser of the party, Babatunde Ogala, and the newly appointed acting national secretary, Waziri Bulama, enjoined the party members to ignore the statement as it falls outside the party constitution and the jurisdiction of Mr Gaidom.
“Neither the national chairman nor the resolution of two thirds of members of the NEC has directed nor made any request to summon a meeting of the party,” the statement reads.
As the controversy over the NEC meeting rages, there were court orders obtained by both Giadom and Oshiomhole’s camps for and against it.
While a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, has cleared the way for the APC NEC meeting, slated for next week, a Federal High Court in Lagos, however, ordered that the said meeting must not go on without a former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, Waziri Bulama and Paul Chukwuma in attendance.
As the intrigues over Oshiomhole’s position continue, stakeholders from the South-South appear to be divided over the matter.
On Thursday, the South- South caucus of the APC held a meeting in the Edo Government Lodge in Asokoro, where they deliberated and adopted Victor Giadom as their preferred replacement for Oshiomhole.
The meeting was attended by leaders from the six states of the zone, comprising seven ministers, seven members of the National Assembly, members of the zonal executive committee of the party and members of the state executive committee.
But Oshiomhole, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and the APC national vice chairman, South-South, Hilliard Eta, were absent at the meeting, attended by four serving ministers from the zone, namely, Rotimi Amaechi (Transport), Osagie Ehanire (Health), Festus Keyamo (State, Labour) and Goddy Jeddy Agba (State, Power).
Also present at the meeting were former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Nguru Usani; and ex-NIMASA boss, Dakuku Peterside, amongst others.
A communique released at the end of the meeting noted that the leaders recognised the NEC as the only organ to resolve the APC crisis.
It was learnt that while some of the South-South leaders agreed with the resolution that the most senior party officer from the zone, being Chief Victor Giadom, should be confirmed as acting chairman for the time being, others disagreed.
The deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Yekini Nabena, in a statement yesterday, which was made available to journalists, maintained that Giadom had, before now, officially resigned his position in the National Working Committee (NWC) to contest as running mate to the party’s 2019 governorship candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole.
He, therefore, faulted Giadom’s endorsement to replace Adams Oshiomhole, adding that it was “strange and an aberration” that Giadom still attends meetings of the NWC and could call for a NEC meeting.
Also, the national vice chairman, South-South, Hilliard Eta, has disassociated himself from the NEC meeting, saying NWC members should disregard Giadom’s invitation to the Tuesday meeting.
In the same vein, the APC in Edo State is divided over the NEC meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
While the faction loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki believe the meeting will provide sanity and stability in the party, the faction loyal to the embattled national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, described the meeting as illegal.
Speaking with our reporter, a factional chairman, Aslem Ojezua, said the party in the was ready for the NEC meeting.
“I see the meeting as an opportunity to provide sanity and stability in the party, both at the state and the national level.
“The NEC meeting was called as a result of the vacuum that would have been created by the absence of a national chairman. Aside the position of the national chairman, there are others in the NWC that are vacant due to various reasons. And I believe the NEC would deliberate upon that to chart a new course for the party,” he said.
He said the national chairman is an individual and his suspension by his ward throws up challenges in the party; and it has to move forward.
On his part, a member of the faction loyal to Oshiomole, Henry Idhaigbon, said there would not be any APC NEC meeting on Tuesday.
“There will be no NEC meeting because the appropriate person approved by the party’s constitution has not called for it.
“Any meeting called by any other person, and whatever is discussed at such a meeting will be illegal, null and void and unconstitutional.
“A court has ordered that the meeting should not hold, and if the meeting is to be held at all, the party’s national vice chairman, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi must preside. As far as we are concerned, there is no NEC meeting for Tuesday,” he said.
He added that whatever decision taken at the meeting would not be binding on members because it is unconstitutional.
In the meantime, it was learnt that governors and other influential party leaders who are pro and anti-Oshiomhole are already strategising and wooing the support of NEC members in their various states to do their biddings during the meeting.
This is just as Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has said that patriotic forces in the APC would not allow the national chairman of the party to be humiliated out of office.
Uzodimma, who said this while fielding questions from journalists in Owerri, vowed that he would do everything possible to ensure that the plan of those plotting Oshiomhole’s removal was thwarted.
The governor maintained that the national chairman had done nothing wrong to warrant his removal from office, adding that there were clearly spelt out guidelines on how a national officer of the party can be removed.
He said those championing Oshiomhole’s removal wanted to circumvent such laid down procedures by going through the back door to obtain exparte orders from e courts.
According to him, “The plot to remove Oshiomhole was a clear case of witch hunt, otherwise those behind it would have come through the proper channel, which is the NEC of the party, but they have refused to do so because they know they have no genuine case against him”
“Many leaders of the party are aware that those clamoring for the chairman’s removal are working with the PDP to destabilise the party, but they will fail because we will not allow them to humiliate our national chairman out of the party through illegal means, or by dropping the name of Mr. President.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had always made it clear that as the leader and father of the party, he does not interfere with party matters, warning those dropping the name of the president on their wicked plans to desist forthwith.
As it stands, there is still a cloud of uncertainty over the NEC meeting in view of the various court orders already given, as well as the pending case filed at the Court of Appeal by Oshiomhole, challenging his earlier removal by an FCT High Court.
Oshiomhole’s appeal comes up tomorrow (Monday) in Abuja, which is just a day to the planned NEC meeting.
This implies that the outcome of that particular court case could be a determining factor as to whether the NEC meeting would still go ahead or not.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach Victor Giadom and Lanre Issa-Onilu to state their positions on the proposed Tuesday NEC meeting were unsuccessful.