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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”.

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BREAKING : APC Takes Over Imo House of Assembly As Speaker, 7 Other Lawmakers Dump PDP

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At the plenary today in Imo State Assembly, 8 PDP House Members defected to the ruling party APC, thus enabling it to take control of the House leadership.

They are:

1. Hon. Dominic Ezerioha
Oru West State Constituency

2. Hon. Chigozie Nwaneri
Oru East State Constituency

3. Hon. Kanayo Onyemechi
Owerri West State Constituency

4. Hon. Kennedy Ibe
Obowo State Constituency

5. Hon. Uche Ogbuagu
Ikeduru State Constituency

6. Hon. Crown Micheal
Ihitte Uboma State Constituency

7. Hon. Eddy Obinna
Aboh Mbaise State Constituency

8. Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins
Isiala Mbano State Constituency (Speaker, Imo state house of Assembly).

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Bode George Joins 2023 Presidential Race

Peter Okunoren

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Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George, has joined the 2023 presidential race.

Freedom Online learned that the former governor of old Ondo State joined the race after three meetings held in Lagos, London in UK and Berlin, Germany.

George, the Director-General (D-G) of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Campaign Organisation in 2006/2007, is still in London “strategizing and meeting some prominent Nigerians on how to actualize the ambition”, said a source.

Although he is still a member of PDP, it is still not clear on which political platform George, the Atona Odua of Yorubaland, will launch the ambition.

Before leaving Nigeria for the London and Berlin meetings, Freedom Online learned that a former President and former Head of State had already endorsed the move to make George succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

This move is based on the partisan calculation that the presidency will move to the South-West.

Some members of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization led by nonagenarian Reuben Fasoranti, are also believed to be backing George’s ambition.

Freedom Online learned that present at the London and Berlin meetings were a former Senate President, a former Chief of Naval Staff, a retired General who had issues with President Muhammadu Buhari when he was Head of State between December 31, 1983, and August 26, 1985, a prominent power broker during the administration of a former president, a former governor of a state in the North-East and two ministers during the Yar’Adua administration.

Freedom Online learned that George, an experienced administrator, orator, and politician, will unveil his presidential plans in the middle of 2020 and “the real fireworks will start in 2021”.

A source disclosed that three committees – Finance, Strategy, and Contact – had already been set up, headed by the former Chief of Naval Staff, a former Minister, and a former South-South governor.

George is a prominent Lagosian, very close to the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.

A prominent Lagos Prince, Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu, who also confirmed the development, declared that “people may believe it is a joke now but when reality dawns on them, they will wake up.

The truth is that some prominent Nigerians have resolved to back Chief Bode George in the race for 2023. This is real and authoritative. In fact, a group, The Pathfinder Consortium, is already working underground as a foundation for a bigger and more robust national platform to actualize this presidential ambition.

“We can say 2023 is still far away but at the same time, it is not too far. Many stakeholders want real change in the country, politically and economically. This is not about PDP or APC. This is about Nigeria.

“I only attended the Lagos meeting. I was not part of the ones held outside the country so, I can’t really give you details of what happened there. But, I can only tell you that this is a pan-Nigerian movement”.

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APC Disclaims Suit to Foist Third Term On Buhari

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed a suit seeking an amendment to the 1999 Constitution to allow President Muhammadu Buhari to run for a third term in office, which was filed by one Charles Enya, whom it described as a self-proclaimed member of the party.

APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement yesterday said the party had initially chosen to ignore him but decided to disavow the suit to send a clear message to Enya and other troublemakers like him.

According to him, the president has said history would not be fair to party members if the APC collapses after his second term, stressing that what better proof is required of the president’s resolve to abide by the constitution on term limit than such a statement.

He said at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party, Buhari had assured party members that he would abide by the constitution and uphold the oath of office he took.

“The party is, however, by this statement sending a strong signal to such other busybodies like Charles Enya who may be contemplating testing the resolve of our government on our mission to work for the best for our country to be ready to face the law.

“We would follow this new enemy of our country, who is most likely being sponsored by the desperate and misguided opposition, every step of the way, using all legal means to thwart his devilish efforts to create chaos in our country.

“As a party, we would not take kindly to anyone or group causing an unnecessary distraction for this administration through anti-democratic actions. As a country, we are several years behind where we ought to be,” he added.

The party spokesman noted that the Buhari-led administration is focused on the onerous responsibility of delivering good governance, revamping moribund infrastructure, growing the economy, fighting corruption, creating the right environment for teeming youths to deploy their creative energies and providing adequate security for all.

“We have tried to find out the status of this character claiming to be a member of our party. If he turns out to be our member, we would ensure the party organ that has the responsibility to act on this matter promptly commence the process of expelling him,” he stated.

Issa-Onilu said APC as a progressive party would not tolerate anti-democratic forces and charlatans.

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