Exchange Of Words At APC NEC Meeting Over Buhari’s Decision

Details have emerged of what transpired behind closed doors at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday. It was gathered on Wednesday that Buhari’s remarks before the meeting went into the closed session generated tension among NEC members.

One of NEC members, who spoke to Punch on condition of anonymity, said: “The session became rowdy at some point when members of NEC shouted down the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, for saying there was no need to debate the issue since the President had spoken.

“The noise was so much that security details of the President stepped into the hall as a precautionary measure. “At this point, the National Chairman (Odigie-Oyegun) stood up and threatened to use his powers to walk out members if they continued to be rowdy.

“He said if anybody had a better argument he should raise his hands and be recognised to speak. He also asked us all to have respect for the President who was at the meeting.” The source explained that earlier, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire (SAN) had “tried to dismiss the constitutional queries raised by the President on the tenure elongation.

He said: “Our legal adviser said NEC relied on powers conferred on it by Section 13.3 of the party’s constitution. He argued that the President’s position was sub judice, because the matter was already in court. “After he spoke, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, aligned himself with the legal position espoused by Banire.”

The source explained that the Ondo State governor added that the decision was subjected to a vote with 104 members voting in favour and four against the decision. After he spoke, Doguwa, asked members of NEC to stop the debate on the matter since the President had made his position known.

“It was at this point that the meeting became rowdy with NEC members shouting him down. This prompted security details attached to the President to rush into the meeting room to prevent a security breach,” the source said.

According to the party source, the President’s decision took everybody by surprise. He said: “I must say, it was a civilian equivalent of a coup. “We attended the National Caucus meeting at the Presidential Villa on Monday and the President did not give us any hint about his new position because he was part of the last NEC meeting where the decision to extend NWC’s tenure was taken.

“Some of us felt betrayed because this is not how to treat party leaders.” The source who is also a member of the party’s NWC, said: “After tempers cooled down, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, spoke. “He made reference to an August 2015 Supreme Court judgment in the case of two Kano State House of Assembly seats won by the APC.

“The VP said we lost that case because the litigants based their argument on the process that produced the candidates not the outcome of the elections.” He said: “Osinbajo essentially spoke in favour of Mr. President. He felt it would be easier to deal with internal crisis arising from party primaries than a crisis emanating from a breach of the constitution.”
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