By Muhammad Bala Jibrin
We have followed President’s Buhari political career since 2003, and the biggest he confronted and fought was impunity, manipulation of elections and rigging and injustice. President Buhari himself was a victim of all these. Now, here we are, Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of his Party is engaged in not only abuse of office but is trampling on the APC Constitution simply to perpetuate impunity and injustice just because he holds the office of National Chairman.
We provide some instances. The APC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) not the National Working Committee (NWC) has the final say on the mode of the primary election. Article 20 (IV) – Procedure for Nomination of Candidates (E) states: “Without prejudice to Article 20(u) and (iii) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee shall subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee make Rules and Regulations for the nomination of candidates through primary elections”.
This shows that the powers to determine the mode/type of election to be used for the nomination of candidates rests with NEC and not NWC, or at least MUST get the approval of NEC. So, the truth is that Edo State APC chapter was correct to say that only the NEC has the final say on the matter and not the NWC.
We would recall that on August 29, 2018, the APC’s NEC delegated this function to NWC and the State Chapters of the Party only for the purpose of Osun and Ekiti primary elections and not in perpetuity. Its resolution on this was: “That the State Executive Committee (SEC) shall in consultation with critical Stakeholders in each state identify and agree among themselves the mode of the primary election to be applied in their state”.
Therefore, when we take the constitutional provision, and the decision of NEC together, it is evident that the NWC has no power whatsoever on these matters until they go back to NEC. However, both were flagrantly disregarded and disobeyed by the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
RIGGING AND MANIPULATION OF INTERNAL PARTY ELECTION PROCESSES:
In his bid to continue with illegalities and acts of impunity, which he perpetrated on a large scale during the November 2018 APC primary elections, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, without conscience and sense of fairness and justice wrote a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the APC had decided to adopt Direct Primary for the Edo State APC Governorship. He did this three day ahead of the meeting of NWC that was supposed to decide on the matter. Under normal circumstance, this immoral action is enough to remove him from office because it is not just an infraction but a desecration of anything just and fair. The NWC members are also culpable on that.
It is important to note that the APC Constitution did not define or explain the meaning of a direct primary election. Article 20 ii(a) stated that direct primary would be used in the nomination of councillorship election.
The provision stated: “Nomination of Candidates for Councillorship shall be by a direct primary election conducted at the Ward level. For the purpose of this primary election, Party members in every Ward shall vote by open-secret ballot for the candidates of their choice where there is no consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” should be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”
Therefore, we can say that the contemplation of the drafters of the APC Constitution is that direct primary means allowing all card-carrying party members to vote in a primary election. However, there are two issues that unless addressed the whole exercise will be subjected to abuse and manipulation, which is the clear intention of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
First, not every party member can vote or be voted for. Article 9.3 (i) states that:
“Only fully registered and financially up-to- date members of the Party shall have the right to vote and be voted for into any of the elective positions, subject to the provisions made for such elections pursuant to this Constitution or other Laws or Regulations. Consequently, non-financial members shall not enjoy the above rights.” How do you verify, under this situation, who is a financial member or not?
Given this clear provision, only the NEC can decide on who is a fully registered and financially up-to-date member of the Party that is qualified to vote or be voted for, including the mode of the election of candidates during the primary election. Therefore, it is only proper for the National Working Committee (NWC) and Adams Oshiomhole to subject themselves to the NEC, as the only constitutional body that has the final say on the issue. This means that to ensure checks and balances and roll back the creeping improprieties and lawlessness of the National Chairman, NEC should summon an emergency meeting and thrash out the issues once and for all.
Second, to conduct a direct primary, the most elementary requirement is an authentic register of party members. Article 9.4 (i) states that: “…the party shall update its membership records every six months and remit updated copies to appropriate Secretariats…”As we speak, the National Secretariat of the APC has no up to date Register of members. The last time the register was updated was in 2017, and since then much water has passed under the bridge with the defection of some APC leaders, like Atiku, Kwankwaso, Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, etc. to PDP, and the decamping of some PDP leaders to APC. As the lawyers say, you can’t build something on nothing.
While the absence of up-to-date official Register of Members is a clear dereliction of duty on the part of the NWC, the insistence of adopting a direct primary without a Register of members smacks of sinister motive to cause confusion and violence and manipulate the process to serve the whims and caprices of Adams Oshiomhole.
We saw Pastor Ize-Iyamu, the person Comrade Oshiomhole want to impose by all means as the Governorship candidate of APC in the 2020 Edo elections, announcing on live program on AIT that he has registered as member of APC online. When did the APC develop online platform for membership registration? Where is the registration portal domicile and who manage it? When has the APC announce such development? Has it been advertised? Has the party extended the online registration of members to Kano, Kwara, Taraba, Cross River, Ogun and other states where we have exodus of members in and out of the party shortly before the 2019 general elections?
FUELLING CRISIS WITHIN THE APC:
Unless Adams Oshiomhole has an agenda to weaken APC and lowers its esteem before millions of Nigerians, it is inexplicable that he remains at the centre of all the party’s crisis that has engulfed the state chapters of the Party since November 2018. From Zamfara to Ogun, from Imo to Rivers, from Bauchi, Adamawa to now Edo, you can see his hands and his self-centred tendencies visibly.
Rather than become a unifying factor, Adams Oshiomhole has become the most divisive party chairman in the history of party politics in Nigeria. Because of the flagrant violation of the Party’s Constitution by Adams Oshiomhole, the APC has now become a shadow of its former self. Its 2013-2018 format, in which party members feel at home and have a say in the affairs of the Party is no more. The APC is at risk of losing its core if it has not lost it already. Because of Adams Oshiomhole’s ways, the APC is now at the crossroads.
All well-meaning Nigerians will like to see President Buhari complete his term peacefully and leave behind a legacy of robust party politics, real democracy, democratic institution and popular participation of citizens. However, it seems, Adams Oshiomhole will not allow that. He has not learned one lesson and is digging deeper. All well-meaning party leaders should reflect on this and take the necessary action before the APC scatters. If the APC is to survive and institutionalize itself, as President Buhari envisioned during the last NEC meeting, party leaders must wake up. We cannot continue to allow an Adams Oshiomhole to taint a worthy legacy of anti-corruption, good governance and infrastructural development put in place by our beloved President Muhammdu Buhari.
I hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all other well-meaning leaders of APC. To come out and condemn these acts of impunity by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and save the party from imminent collapse. A word is enough for the wise.