Loyalists of the suspended National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, seemed to have drawn a battle line with President Muhammadu Buhari over his endorsement Wednesday of a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), slated for today at the State House, Abuja.
But despite the endorsement of the NEC meeting by Buhari, the National Secretary of APC, Mr. Waziri Bulama, has described the NEC meeting as illegal.
The Oshiomhole loyalists, comprising no fewer than nine governors, about 15 members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and chairmen of the party in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have vowed to boycott the meeting.
The NEC meeting was convened by the court-installed acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, whom many members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) members have insisted lacks the power to proclaim such a gathering because he has been suspended from the party and is no longer a NWC member.
The leadership tussle in the party since the June 16 judgment of the Court of Appeal that affirmed Oshiomhole’s suspension riven the party further yesterday when the president, earlier in the day, broke his silence, saying that based on advice, he would attend the NEC meeting. His decision was widely regarded as an endorsement of Giadom’s leadership of the party.
Few hours later, the NWC, rising from a meeting yesterday night, chaired by another acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Hilliard Eta, said its members would boycott the meeting.
Buhari Backs Giadom, Endorses NEC Meeting
The presidential endorsement for Giadom, who is a sworn opponent of Oshiomhole, literally implies a loss of confidence in the Oshiomhole-led NWC of the party, which has rejected Giadom and chosen one of Oshiomhole’s zonal deputies, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to act as the chairman following Oshiomhole’s suspension.
With Ajimobi in hospital where he is said to be recuperating from COVID-19, the APC NWC had chosen Eta, the national vice chairman, South-south, to hold the fort for him.
Reacting to inquiries by State House correspondents on the position of the president on the party crisis, which has witnessed the emergence of three members of the NWC, laying claims to the acting national chairmanship of the party, presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the president opted to support Giadom because the law weighs heavily in his favour.
Giadom had twice obtained court injunctions authorising him to act as the national chairman of the party in the absence of Oshiomhole while another injunction also stopped him from parading himself as acting national chairman.
A statement by Shehu yesterday said the president, whom he said took the decision to back Giadom following advice he had received, would consequently attend the NEC meeting called by Giadom in the State House today.
Shehu explained that the president took the decision because he would always be guided by the law and urged the media to avoid promoting controversies that could further fuel the crisis.
He added that the president would attend Giadom’s virtual NEC meeting today along with governors and members of the National Assembly.
“The president has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman.
“Because the president will always act in accordance with the law, the president will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.
“In addition to the president, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” the statement said.