Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said on Wednesday that there was no basis for the one year tenure extension given to the John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC).
His reason: tenure extension violates the constitution of Nigeria and the APC.
The Lagos State chapter of the party, which Tinubu belongs, had on Tuesday rejected the extension, saying it was against the constitution of the party.
Speaking with DAILY INDEPENDENT on whether Tinubu was privy to the meeting and gave his backing, Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, said while he could not confirm if his principal was privy to the meeting where the decision was taken by the Lagos APC elders, Tinubu did not, in any way, support the extension of the tenure of the NWC because it was against Nigeria’s and APC’s constitution.
While insisting that the NWC and all those who benefitted from the extension should seek re-election when their tenure expires, Tinubu said the APC should always strive to do things in accordance with the constitution, noting that that was the only thing that separated the APC from other political parties.
According to Rahman, “I don’t know if Asiwaju Tinubu was privy to the meeting or whether he was consulted or not before the decision was reached.
“But I do know that he has always spoken in support of doing things constitutionally.
“Did the so-called elongation of tenure of the party executives follow the country’s constitution, and even the APC’s constitution?
“Section 223 of the 1999 constitution talks about election of executives of political parties periodically.
“And the section further explains that the election of the party executives will be deemed to be periodical if done every four years.
“What is the fear of those behind the elongation? The executives can contest for re-election and if they are re-elected, so be it.
“No one can deny them that right, but why circumvent due process? Why thwart constitutional process?
“Asiwaju Tinubu would wish that due constitutional process was followed because that’s what has always made the difference between the APC and the other parties.”
On the claim by the NEC that it decided to extend the tenure of the current executives because of the various crises in several chapters of the party, Tinubu argued that three conventions were conducted by the party in 2014 yet heaven did not fall.
“In 2014, three conventions were done in a space of seven months, including the election of new party executives, presidential primaries, and even amendment of some aspects of the party’s constitution, and heaven did not fall,” he said.
Also speaking, Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information, said there was nothing wrong in the decision taken by the Lagos State chapter of the party which kicked against the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) which extended the tenure of the John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee (NWC) by a year.
In a chat with DAILY INDEPENDENT, Momoh, who is a national leader of the party, said the action taken by the Lagos State chapter of the party was normal in a democracy where there would be divergent opinions but minority would have their say while the majority would have their way.
“What is wrong in the action taken by the Lagos State chapter of the party rejecting the tenure extension?
“I don’t see anything wrong in that because they are free to express their feelings on what they believe in.
“It is expected in a democracy where the minority will have their say and the majority will have their way,” he said.
Also, a chieftain of the APC in Lagos, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said there was no crack in the state’s chapter over its opposition to the tenure elongation.
Olusi and other party elders in the state met in Lagos on Tuesday to take a position on the Oyegun-led executive’s extended tenure.
The state chairman of the party, Chief Henry Ajomale, had on February 27 attended a National Executive Council meeting of the party in Abuja where tenure extension for Oyegun-led executive was ratified by one year.
The party‘s NEC also approved a year extension for state executives of the party.
Ajomale is the chairman of the Forum of APC state chairmen.
Olusi, who spoke with reporters in Lagos, said the state chapter’s position on the issue, despite the fact that Ajomale was present at the Abuja NEC meeting, did not mean a crack in Lagos APC.
Olusi said: “There is no crack in Lagos APC. Nothing like that, at all. Our opposition to the tenure elongation should not be misinterpreted.
“Yes, Chief Ajomale was in Abuja where the tenure of the National Working Committee was extended by one year. That was in Abuja.
“He came back home to Lagos and submitted his report to the party here for deliberations and consideration.
“The elders of the party in the state met yesterday on the issue and we took the state position, which is that we are opposed to the tenure elongation.
“We based our position on the party’s constitution which was clear about tenure of executive officers.
“It is normal in a democracy to have different people having different positions on issues.
“What we did was just an expression of our democratic right.”
Asked if Ajomale was present at the Lagos meeting where the position was taken, Olusi gave an affirmative response.
He said the position was the consensus of everyone present, including Ajomale himself.
He said the atmosphere after the meeting was lively, indicating that Lagos APC was one house.
“Chief Ajomale was at the meeting as well as other elders. The atmosphere was lively.
“We took photographs and exchanged pleasantries. There is no problem in Lagos APC,” he said.
Efforts to speak with Ajomale on the issue proved abortive as he did not respond to phone calls.