For very obvious reasons, the successes recorded by the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress in repositioning the party and massive defection of prominent figures into the party mean different things to different people.
There are those who celebrated the party bouncing back to life, others didn’t like the giant strides of the committee, while others who feel threatened by the reconciliation and coming of new members also felt bad.
For the opposition party, it was its most trying moment after loosing three serving governors to APC and still counting. The Caretaker committee under Governor Mai Mala Buni, has remained PDP’s most terrible nightmare.
The interpretation of the Supreme Court Judgement on the Ondo state governorship election by the Hon. Minister of state for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo, generated some arguments. However, Keyamo’s postulation now in public court, has attracted a lot of arguments in support and against.
The provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution as amended which forms Keyamo’s arguments, has been defined by other learned gentlemen clearing ambiguities.
Deputy Senate President, Keyamo’s kinsman and legal colleague, Senator Omo Agege, took time to define the said section 183 of the Constitution, making it clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and in explicit terms.
According to Omo-Agege, “From the explicit provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 bars a Governor from being a Chairman or member of a Caretaker Committee set up by his or her political party. More so, the position of the Chairman of a Caretaker Committee cannot by any sense of imagination, logic or simple common sense be classified as being a salaried Executive office.
“There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a Governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on-behalf of his party. How this will amount to holding an Executive office is beyond every stretch of human comprehension.
“In the light of the foregoing exposition, it is humbly and firmly stated that Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) only bars a Governor from holding Executive positions like being a Minister, or any other executive positions for which he shall be paid for. It does not by any scintilla of imagination, render the appointment of Governor Buni as APC Caretaker Committee Chairman incompetent and will not in anyway, affect the legality or competence of the APC scheduled Congresses” he argued.
Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Counsel to APC in a press conference opined “let me make this clear: this isn’t the first time we would be having minority judgements. A minority judgement has no value. You can’t cite it as the authority. It has no effect”
He cited “In 2008, Abubakar Atiku versus Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, there was minority judgements given by Justice George Oguntade, Justice Walter Onoghen and one other justice while Justice Niki Tobi delivered the majority judgement. So, there has always been precedence.
“There is no value attributed to minority judgement. So, what happened yesterday isn’t strange. So we are worried that some lawyers are attaching value to it”.
It is pertinent to note that, the APC constitution is very conscious of such critical circumstances and it made a clear declaration in article 17 (iv) which states
“No officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”. Therefore the party couldn’t have been careless in handling this matter.
However, in a very politicised country like Nigeria, other factors came in to define section 183 of the constitution.
MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION AND REVALIDATION EXERCISE
The membership registration and revalidation exercise of the party which has accommodated new and more members seem to have threatened others who are not comfortable with the new converts and returnees. They feel their positions would be taken over by the new converts. They opposed the registration, attempted sabotaging the process and now fighting the party leadership. The membership registration and revalidation exercise opened the party to many members who were hitherto refused membership. Prominent members who claimed ownership of the party lost the acclaimed ownership of the party.
Local politics between stakeholders who controls the party in the state came into play. The conflict of personalities between Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Ministers and other stakeholders had also manifested in who controls the party in the state. Unfortunately those who lost out are blaming Governor Buni for their trivial and now fighting back. They also define Section 183 to mean “Buni must go”.
For instance, the personality clash between Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege and the Minister of state Labour Barr Festus Keyamo in Delta, Sen. Ngige and Sen. Andy Uba in Anambra, Zamfara state Governor Bello Mutawalli and former Governor Abdul Azeez Yari.
ALLIANCE WITH PDP
Recent discoveries by the party revealed that some desperate party members seeking to contest positions are liaising with the opposition to discredit the leadership, the party structure and all other processes.
It is also worrisome if all the barrage of legal luminaries now interpretering the Supreme court judgement, could not realize any lacuna in the constitution of the Caretaker committee, this all the while except now, 13 months after, then something must be fundamentally wrong with their patriotism and commitment to serve the government and the party, honestly and creditably.
PDP CRYING MORE THAN THE BEREAVED
PDP is crying more than the bereaved. The party seem to have developed more interest than APC members. They have temporarily forgotten their problems to fight on behalf of other members of APC. The reason for this poke nosing into the affairs of others, is not far fetched. The Buni led Caretaker committee in the last 13 months had deflated the PDP, subtracting three governors along with hundreds of thousands of their supporters from PDP. The Buni committee has no doubt made PDP very jittery and vulnerable.
Fatai Olagunju writes from Ibadan and can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org