Finally, APC Holds National Convention in November
…NEC, Caucus Meetings, next month
…Allays fears over NWC wielding more powers Constitutional amendment proposals
…NWC to have powers to discipline members
…Advisory Council to replace Board of Trustees, BoT
…Defectors no more eligible to contest elections until after 1 yr membership
After its repeated inability to convene its mid-term non elective national convention, the ruling All Progressives Congress APC is now set to hold the all-important meeting in November, Saturday Vanguard can authoritatively report.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party had continued to draw flaks from some party chieftains following its inability to hold the convention in April, but party leaders had attributed the delay to the health challenge of President Muhammadu Buhari, a situation that saw him out of the country for long. Oyegun, Tinubu and Buhari Asked when exactly the party would hold its convention, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun told Saturday Vanguard in an exclusive interview that while plans have been concluded to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC and that of the Caucus in October, the APC would hold its non-elective convention the following month. “We hope in November. There is no tentative date yet, but we are certain. The NEC and Caucus will hold next month, that is, October”, said Chief Odigie-Oyegun.
Article 25 (A)(i) of the current APC constitution stipulates that the National Convention of the Party shall be held once in two (2) years at a date, venue and time to be recommended by the National Working Committee and approved by the National Executive Committee subject to the giving of the statutory notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission and at least fourteen (14) days notice given to members eligible to attend.
The Convention is used to ratify policies and programmes of the Party; Elect or remove the national officers of the Party; Elect the Presidential Candidate of the Party; Amend the Constitution of the Party from time to time as the need may arise among other issues. Since the last convention of the party in October 2014, it has been difficult holding another convention.
The party’s effort to hold the convention in April and later in August were futile especially as a result of the ill-health of President Buhari and the actions of some political strategists who did not want the then acting President Yemi Osinbajo to chair the all important meetings of NEC, the Caucus and the national convention in the absence of the president as critical decisions that could subtly affect the president’s chances of re-election could be taken at such meetings.
Allays fears over Constitutional Review
With the APC Constitution already reviewed and awaiting ratification by the convention, there were concerns that the National Working Committee NWC would be granted too much powers if the document sails through.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun allays such fears. “I cannot remember any such thing. No, not at all. The highest organ of the party is the convention. In the absence of the convention, the highest decision-making body is the National Executive Committee NEC and not the NWC who are just managers of the party. And that is the way it is going to be. I do not think anybody can change that. So, it is not true.”
Inaugurated on January 25, the Muiz Banire-led CRC had on July 28 submitted its report to Chief Odigie-Oyegun, with 85 proposals for amendment. A copy of the report which was exclusively obtained by Saturday Vanguard shows that on the issue of discipline, the Odigie-Oyegun led NWC now has the power to discipline any member of the party no matter his status.
The party is also proposing to replace its moribund “Board of Trustees” BOT with an “Advisory Council”, the implication of which is that when ratified, the council would merely play an advisory role as its decision does not carry a force of law and the party’s national chairman is not bound to accept its advice.
“The party is (a) corporate entity hence corporate entities do not require Board of Trustees”, the CRC said, explaining its rationale for the alteration. “The Advisory Council does not give directives.” On the composition of the State Executive Councils SEC of the party, the CRC also proposed that, “There shall be for each State Chapter of the Party, a State Executive Committee SEC consisting of National and Officers/Zonal officers of the Party from the State”. In the order of hierarchy, they also now come before other SEC members.
Defectors can’t fly ticket until after Probation
The party is also proposing to edge out new entrants who merely defect to it in order to clinch its ticket ahead of a major election. The initial provision on Elections and Appointments was that, “All Party posts prescribed or implied by this Constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective National Convention or Congress subject, where possible, to consensus, Provided that where a Candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis”. This initial provision had led to acrimony in many state chapters of the party, like in Benue state where Gov. Samuel Ortom had defected to the APC just weeks before the governorship election and days after he had lost out in the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Consequently, and in order to stave off such incidences, the CRC has added a caveat to the above provision which is that; “Unless and otherwise provided for: (b) Eligibility to contest any political office under the platform of the Party shall require minimum period of one year membership”. However, in order to allow the flexibility to review cases on an individual basis, it has also been proposed that; “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may in special circumstances grant a waiver to a person not otherwise qualified under this constitution if, in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party”.
Saturday Vanguard checks revealed that the APC Constitution or any part thereof shall stand amended if a proposed amendment is supported by at least two thirds of the delegates present and voting at the convention, but before then, the proposed amendments must also have been submitted to the party’s National Executive Committee NEC.