For the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the last few weeks has been that of upheavals. But just as the party manages to wriggle itself out a problem, it jumps into another one. Last Monday, precisely on March 16, its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole managed to escape being removed from office by a powerful coalition of party members. Just when all hope seems lost, Oshiomhole, who has been dubbed as the ‘cat with nine lives’, escaped by an hair’s breadth through the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Court of Appeal.
The first relief came after Governors elected under the party’s platform under aegis of the Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, met with President Buhari in the Presidential Villla and agreed at a meeting in the Presidential Villa to suspend the controversial National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting scheduled for March 17 where many had thought Oshiomhole’s fate would be sealed.
At the meeting with the President were the Governors of Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu; Edo, Godwin Obaseki; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Borno, Babagana Zulum; Ogun, Dapo Abiodun; Jigawa, Muhammad Badaru; Kwara, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak; Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule; Niger, Abubakar Sani Bello; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu; Kano, Ibrahim Ganduje; Osun, Gboyega Oyetola; Katsina, Aminu Masari; Imo; Hope Uzodinma and Gombe, Inuwa Yahaya
At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, told reporters that the NEC meeting would hold when the Governors were able to resolve the existing debacle.
“We told the President that the Governors had resolved to work together to resolve all the issues in the party. Also, we seek Mr. President’s support to postpone the NEC meeting that is scheduled for tomorrow until such a time that the Governors are ready to report back. He (Buhari) was so happy that we all agreed to that.”
Shortly after, the Court of Appeal granted his application for stay of execution of the ruling of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, which earlier this month suspended him from office.
The appeal, which was earlier slated for hearing by the Court of Appeal was, however, stood down till evening, following an announcement by a three-man panel of justices of the court headed by Justice Steven Adah that another panel would handle the matter.
And when the court reconvened, the three-man panel headed by Justice Abubakar Dati Yahaya upheld Oshiomhole’s ex-parte application for a stay of execution of the ruling of the High Court.
Oshiomhole has since resumed office, pardoned the National Working Committee, NWC, members he suspended in the spirit of reconciliation but has remained silent on the Governorship elections of Edo and Ondo.
While APC Governors are demanding automatic tickets for Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo and his counterparts in Ondo, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, sources said Oshiomhole is not disposed to the idea.
While many had thought the crisis has been laid to rest for now, trouble reared its ugly head again when Yekini Nabena, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary announced that he has taken over the office of the National Publicity Secretary on acting capacity.
He said the substantive occupant of the office, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu cease to be the party’s Spokesperson until the time he (Onilu) vacates a Court order restraining him from duty.
He hinged his decision on a Sokoto High Court which had last week restrained the party from appointing or electing “Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu or any member” into its top positions except through a National Convention.
In a statement issued in Abuja and signed by Nabena, the Deputy Spokesman said that understanding reached with Onilu, he (Nabena) would act pending the time the substantive National Publicity Secretary will sort out the court matter.
According to Nabena, “APC is a law abiding party and as leaders of the party we must be seen doing the right thing at all time, including respecting the order of the court. In lieu of this, Mallam Onilu has begun the process of vacating the order of the Sokoto High Court restraining him but pending the time this will be done I will act in his position”
However in his reaction, Issa- Onilu dismissed the claim by his Deputy, saying there is no court judgment restraining him.
”There’s no any such court judgement restraining me. He’s chasing shadow. I’ll speak to it soon.”
Yesterday, Nabena in a chat with Journalists insisted that he is the party’s Acting National Publicity Secretary.
He said he is on way to the party Secretariat to chase out Lanre Issa- Onilu, the party’s National Publicity Secretary from office.
”I am the Acting National Publicity Secretary. In fact, I am on my way to the party Secretariat now and I will chase him out from the office. He can’t even come back to the position now. He has to be elected at the convention” he said.
“If he wants to come back, that can only happen when we have a mini-convention. When we are going to have the mini-convention, the Central zone will present a candidate. Whosoever wins the election then will be the national publicity secretary. It is a court order restraining him which he must obey, if he doesn’t, that means the court will give him a bench warrant. I am not one the fighting him. I am only working on the basis of the constitution which says when the publicity secretary is not there, the deputy takes over immediately so there won’t be a vacuum. ”
It was reported that Nabena on arrival at the party’s National Secretariat located at Blantyre Street in Wuse Abuja headed to Issa-Onilu’s office where he chased out his Aides and locked up the office. Issa- Onilu was said to be away at the moment and has failed to answer his calls.