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While tenure elongation is still haunting the All Progressives Congress (APC). Some of its members yesterday cried out over the content of a memo presented to the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Monday by Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun. They claimed that a portion of the memo was aimed at achieving tenure extension through the backdoor. But the party leadership denied having any hidden plan to extend its tenure.

The NEC rejected tenure elongation for Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC). It, however, granted them waivers to recontest at the party’s congresses and convention for which no dates have been fixed. President Muhammadu Buhari was at the NEC meeting to, according to him, nail the coffin of tenure elongation and also declare my re-election bid”.

But in his memo, Oyegun said the Simon Lalong Technical Committee recommended, among others, that: “if for reasons of inability to fulfil constitutional and or legal conditions requisite for the conduct of a valid elective congress or convention, then, the party may as a last resort leverage on the NEC resolution of February 27, 2018, which in our view is lawful in the circumstances.” The NEC, on February 27, approved tenure extension for Oyegun and his team, but reversed itself following the President’s intervention on March 27.

Referring to the committee’s report, Oyegun insisted that the February 27 decision of NEC neither violated APC constitution nor the 1999 Constitution. Sources said yesterday that the adopted memo may “trigger problems”, especially if the proposed congresses and convention are not held.“I suspect a plot to frustrate and subvert the congresses and convention, especially since waivers have been given to the NEC to supervise the exercise and recontest in the intra-party elections. There may be no commitment to successful congresses and convention. The exercise can be programmed to fail to achieve tenure elongation through the backdoor.”

Other recommendations approved by the NEC include a 21 days statutory notice for the holding of elective congresses and convention to be given to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) immediately; the current zoning formula for party offices be retained; requirements of Article 31 (111) be waived in line with the provisions of Article 13.4 (xv) to avoid disruptions in the management of party affairs at all levels; and all pending suits in respect of this matter be withdrawn.

Oyegun recalled that on February 27, the NEC voted to authorise all elected officials to continue in acting capacities for a period not exceeding 12 months after the expiration of their tenure. He said the President observed that the NEC’s decision might have contravened the party constitution and the 1999 Constitution. The chairman noted that, following the President’s observation, the NEC authorised him to set up the Lalong committee to advise the party on the way forward.

The 10-man committee, he said, was mandated to examine the President’s position and recommendations. Oyegun said the committee affirmed the “constitutionality and legality of the NEC Resolution of February 27” and the “need for elective congresses and convention.”Quoting the committee’s report, Oyegun said: “After citing relevant statutes and authorities, the committee concluded that the decision taken by the NEC at its meeting of February 27 did not violate either the constitution of the party and that of the federation.

“In essence, APC is competent through its relevant organs, to constitute caretaker committees to run the affairs of the party upon the expiration of the tenure of its elected party officials where, for some reasons, it is impracticable to hold elections before the requisite effluxion of time.“The committee is of the view that it is the requirement of the constitution that the party should hold democratic congresses and convention every four years. The issue however, is whether or not this requirement accommodates certain exigencies or circumstances that might prevent or make the holding of the congresses and convention impracticable.”

Oyegun said the Lalong committee recommended as follows: “That although the decision taken by NEC on February 27 is legal and constitutional, and violated neither the party constitution nor that of the federation, it is still in the best interest of the party to conduct congresses and convention. “However, in doing so, all reasonable measures should be taken to minimise opportunity for acrimony or rancour while ensuring that all prescribed constitutional and legal conditions are met.”

Dispelling fears of the NWC extending its tenure, APC spokesman Bolaji Abdullahi said the party was already preparing for its congresses and convention. He described the NEC’s decisions as a stop gap measure, pointing out that there is nothing constitutional about them. Abdullahi dismissed insinuations that the party leadership may leverage on that not to hold congresses and convention. He said: “I can assure you that we are preparing for congresses and convention. The congresses and convention will hold and so, there is nothing like anybody leveraging on that to ensure that congresses do not hold so that some people will remain in office”.

POLITICS

Ogun 2019: Adebutu Emerges Sole Governorship Aspirant Of PDP

Peter Okunoren

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The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development, Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu has emerged the sole governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Ogun State.

Adebutu, who represents Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo North Federal Constituency, was screened with other governorship aspirants from the South-West zone in Ibadan last weekend by the Honourable Austin Opara-led screening committee.

The scion of the billionaire business tycoon, Sir Kensington Adebutu had been the leading contender for the governorship seat in the state in the last three years and a major financier of the party.

Signposting the development as a sign on unity in Ogun PDP, he said “this is a phase in the journey to making life meaningful to our people in Ogun State, a journey that will lead to good governance of our dear state”

The screening exercise also had aspirants from Lagos and Oyo states in attendance, including the PDP candidate in the 2015 election in Lagos, Chief Jimi Agbaje and Chief Deji Doherty; Senator Ayo Adeseun and Seyi Makinde who are aspirants from Oyo State.

The PDP primary is scheduled to hold on Friday, 28th September, across the states of the federation.

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BIG STORY

Osun 2019: Omisore ‘Agrees’ To Work With PDP, Adeleke

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Senate President and the Peoples Democratic Party’s Chairman, campaign council for the Osun State governorship election, Bukola Saraki has disclosed that the 2018 Osun governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Senator Iyiola Omisore has agreed to work with the PDP and its governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke in the rerun election billed for Thursday, 27th September 2018.

Saraki disclosed this after he met with Omisore in Ile-Ife.

The Independent National Electoral Commission declared the governorship election in Osun state “inconclusive” after a thin margin between scores for two main contenders.

Rerun elections slated for September 27 in Osun are to hold in seven polling unit across four local government areas.

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POLITICS

2019 Presidency: PDP Set To Drop Aspirants With Corruption Cases; Screens Saraki, Atiku, Tambuwal, Others

Peter Okunoren

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There are indications that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would bar some of its presidential aspirants, who have graft cases from participating in the primary scheduled for October 5-6.

According to The Sun, some top shots in the PDP are strongly canvassing that anyone with graft case or any criminal charge should not be allowed to fly the PDP presidential flag in 2019.

A former member of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, reiterated the party is desirous of fielding a candidate without blemish in 2019.

“There are some of these aspirants who have cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and other anti-corruption agencies.

“Some cases bordering on graft, embezzlement, money laundering and all of that. We want a presidential candidate from the PDP that will be as white as snow so that the issue of blackmail and all of that will not arise.

“So, we should be looking at someone who has credibility, integrity and the rest of that because the APC government is out to run down anybody that has a skeleton in its cupboards. We must try to avoid those pitfalls.”

Similarly, another leader of the PDP in Adamawa State, who also declined to be named, told Daily Sun that it is in the interest of the opposition party not to field any candidate with any encumbrances in 2019.

“The PDP should stop anybody who has a charge against him. Either corruption or any criminal matter. PDP should not field him for two reasons. One, because of image. The image the public has of the PDP today is that it is a corrupt party. If we field people who are standing trial for corruption, then, we are going ahead to admit or indicate to the Nigerian people that our party that we are not ready to change.

“Yes, the Constitution says until you are found guilty, you are innocent. We understand. But, the fact that you have a corruption case, and you have been charged in a court of law, and you pleaded not guilty; there is a possibility that you can be convicted.

“There is a moral burden on the party to prove that it is not what people think it is. We, therefore, said we must make sure that it does not field anybody with corruption charge. PDP must secure its participation in the election. If you field somebody standing trial in court, you finish nomination in October, finish substitution in November; you still have November, December, January and February before the presidential election.

“Supposing he is convicted within these three months, that means the PDP will not contest the election. There is no point going into an election if you cannot guarantee your participation. And, the fact that you are fielding a person with exuberance, there is a possibility of him being convicted. So, we must, under no circumstances, field anybody that is standing criminal charges.”

When contacted for his reaction, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party will not choose its candidate on the basis of whether or not they have graft cases.

Ologbondiyan also said no member can canvass for the opposition party to drop aspirants with corruption cases, and that the party would be guided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as well as its rules in screening presidential aspirants.

He said the Supreme Court had ruled in the past that anyone who has not been convicted in the court cannot be barred from participating in an election.

“Please, don’t bring that to us, it is not in our party. Nobody in our party told you that. Once you are a member of our party and you have satisfied the provisions of the constitution, and you have complied with the provisions of our own constitution, as well as our guidelines, you are free to contest (the presidential primary),” Ologbondiyan noted.

This was against the backdrop of commencement of screening of presidential aspirants.

The PDP Presidential Screening Committee has screened some aspirants who obtained the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms for the presidential primary.

Among those who appeared before the screening panel, headed by former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, yesterday, were former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, David Mark and former national chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

Others were former Sokoto governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; former minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki; former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang and founder of Baze University, Abuja, senator Datti Baba-Ahmed.

Supporters of former Kano governor, senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and those of former Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido were seen around the Legacy House, Abuja, venue of the exercise.

Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, and Stanley Osifo, who also obtained the PDP presidential nomination forms were not at the screening venue, yesterday.

Most of the aspirants described the screening process as transparent and noted that they would work together, irrespective of who clinches the PDP presidential ticket.

Jang insisted “the process was beautiful. Absolutely I stand a chance to win the ticket. I am optimistic because I believe in God and I believe that God is going to give it to me. I am also impressed that there is no bitterness in the ongoing campaign by the presidential aspirants.”

On his part, Turaki reiterated that “we must work together. There must be a synergy to ensure that PDP saves Nigeria from imminent collapse. Only one person can be president at a given time and whosoever gets it, by the special grace of God, we have agreed to support that person.

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