President Muhammadu Buhari has informed members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress wishing to retain their positions or aspire for another to resign and re-contest in line with the party’s constitution.
Buhari gave the advice in his opening remarks during the 5th National Executive Council meeting of the APC in Abuja on Tuesday.
He also opposed tenure elongation for the NWC members, faulting earlier decision of the party’s NEC to grant one year extension to party executives at all levels, citing a breach of relevant sections of the party’s constitution, as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), as a reason for his action.
Buhari asked the party’s NEC to rescind its earlier decision so as not to give the opposition the grounds on which to reap from the crisis which is likely to result from the constitutional breaches.
The President said his position was informed by the legal advice he received from the Ministry of Justice.
Buhari said, “I think it is important for me to speak on the contentious issues of the tenure of our national and state executive officers.
“As we all know, a motion was moved in the last National Executive Committee meeting of February 27 to the effect that when the tenure of the current executives expires in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year.
“This motion was duly carried by the majority of members present at the last NEC meeting, even though some of our party members have since spoken up vehemently against it; others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my own part, I have taken time to review and seek advice on the resolution and what I found is that it contravenes both our party’s constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC constitution in Article 17(1) and 13.2 (b) limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in Section 223 proscribes periodic elections for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our great party’s constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest, or contest for another post, must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.
“In this circumstance, what is expected of us is to conduct fresh elections once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end.
“A caretaker committee cannot remedy this situation and cannot validly act in place of elected officers.
“Furthermore, I think if we deviate from the constitution and provisions, we might be endangering the fortunes of our party.
“If the tenure of our party executive can be legally faulted, then, it means any nomination and primary election that they will conduct can also be faulted.”
“I am therefore of the firm belief that it is better to follow strictly the dictates of our party and the constitutions rather than put the APC and its activities at risk.
“Fortunately, we have approved a timetable for the order of congresses and the elections. I think this should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should be geared towards making the timetable a great success.
“We should not allow our party to be vulnerable and susceptible to the opposition.
“They can delay or divide us further within the party when they quote appropriate portion of the party constitution and that of the country.”
Those who attended the meeting include Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; state Governors Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe; Aminu Masari of Katsina; Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi; Yahaya Bello of Kogi; Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; Godwin Obaseki of Edo; Rochas Okorocha of Imo; Sani Bello of Niger; Samuel Ortom of Benue; Tanko AlMakura of Nasarawa; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa.
Others are Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi) and Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa.
The deputy governors of Kwara, Osun, Oyo, Zamfara and Borno states, as well as members of the National Assembly, were also in attendance.