AS the tendencies within the All Progressives Congress (APC) move to London to push their interest before the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari, fresh facts have emerged on why the leadership debacle may not after all be the only hurdle before the party ahead of its convention.
A party source told reporters that two things must be done to make the convention feasible: the Yobe State Governor and Chairman of the APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Mai Mala Buni must be returned to his seat to make the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and convention seamless.
The party leadership must also make efforts to vacate the Order secured to abort the March 26 convention.
The source maintained that Governor Buni has to return to his seat and formally write the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) formally to inform the commission of the meeting of the NEC of the party.
The INEC in a letter dated March 9, 2022 and signed by the Commission Secretary, Rose Oriran Anthony, aside from explaining to Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello that he had no statutory mandate to convene a NEC of the APC, equally noted that by virtue of Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the electoral body must be given 21 days’ notice before the National Convention could be convened. Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 on “Notice of convention, Congress,” reads in part:
“(1) A registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened to elect members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this act.
“( 2) The Commission may, with or without prior notice to the political party monitor and attend any convention, congress, conference or meeting which is convened by a political party for (a) electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies; (b) nominating candidates for an election at any level; and (c) approving a merger with any other registered political party.
“(3) The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of these bodies, shall be conducted democratically and allow for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.
“(4) Notice of any congress, conference or meeting to nominate candidates for Area Council elections shall be given to the commission at least 21 days before such congress, conference or meeting.”
The party source further argued that even if Governor Buni returns to his position as chairman, a meeting of NEC must still be convened for that statutory organ to transfer its power to the convention.
Time as APC albatross
Apart from seeking NEC approval for the conduct of convention, the APC must also vacate the restraining Order secured to abort the scheduled national convention.
Sources said a member of the party, Mr Salisu Umoru had filed a suit against the APC, Governor Buni and the INEC and Governor Buni.
In the case marked FCT/HC/ CV/2958/2021, the applicant obtained an interlocutory injunction “restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants/respondents, their allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from organising, holding or conducting the national convention of the APC in January and February, 2022 or at any other date either before or after pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
While unveiling its schedulFe of activities ahead of the general election, the INEC gave political parties between April 4 and June 3, 2022, for the “conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them.”
The Buni factor
The source argued that given the INEC timetable and warning to parties to stick to its deadline, coupled with its stance to only recognise Governor Buni and Senator John Akpanudoedehe, as national chairman and secretary, respectively of the APC, the anti-Buni forces may have to surrender themselves to his leadership for the party to conduct its convention.
“Given the INEC timetable that parties must conduct their presidential primary by April, the APC may have to stay action on its convention: allow Governor Buni team to preside over the primary while the party conducts its national convention later.
“But governors and presidential aspirants, who have declared open war against his leadership, are wary of an arrangement where Buni will decide their fate.