National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress’ Caretaker/Extraordinarily Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Mai Mala Buni, has refuted claims that he has reversed some actions taken by Niger State Governor, Muhammed Bello.
Governor Bello assumed the National Chairman position last week while Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe State, was out of the country for medical treatment.
There had been insinuations that Bello had permanently replaced Buni on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But the speculations have been put to rest after the President on Wednesday backed Buni’s continued role as the CECPC Chairman.
Buni, in a statement on Thursday, reiterated that he had duly transmitted power to Governor Bello who acted on his authority while he was away.
“Therefore all activities that were done in my absence remain valid and binding,” Buni said.
“All party stakeholders and members are hereby advised to disregard the previous statement discarding the activities of the Committee under the leadership of the Acting Chairman.”
Buni also called for “support and understanding to move the party forward to a successful Convention slated for March 26th, 2022.”
What appeared to be a leadership tussle within the APC came as the party’s National Convention becomes imminent.
There had been speculations that Governor Buni was planning to postpone the convention for the umpteenth time.
The APC convention has been postponed more than once since Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe State, was appointed caretaker Chairman.
On March 7, Governor Bello declared himself the acting National Chairman of the CECPC while Buni was away, raising tensions that the latter had been removed.
Amid heavy security at the APC seceteriat in Abuja, Bello swiftly swore in the party’s 36 State Chairmen, part of activities scheduled before the convention.
Meanwhile, the National Secretary of the APC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe was forced to deny reports that he had resigned from his position.
He also alleged that there were plans to remove him from his position.
Reacting to the unravelling situation, Kogi State and APC Senator Smart Adeyemi told Channels Television his colleagues in the National Assembly were not aware that President Muhammadu Buhari had sanctioned Buni’s sack.
“As far as we are concerned in the Senate, we are not aware that Mr President gave a marching order to the acting Chairman to vacate his office,” Mr Adeyemi said.
He added that the controversy was generated by people who have “one interest or the other to protect.”
“It is just a game,” he said. “Mai Mala Buni performed excellently well, he brought in seasoned people, Governors, former Generals, statesmen, he brought them back to the APC. So today the APC is more formidable. In fact we owe him some level of gratitude.
“Buni came when there was crisis in the APC, when the APC was almost collapsing. And he has succeeded to put the party together. And consolidated the party, and we are cruising to victory.”
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma also noted that Buni could not have been removed without due process.
“APC is a very serious party,” he said, while appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “Everything going on at the secretariat now are going on with the knowledge of Mai Mala Buni. And as soon as he comes back, he will also take over the realms of the party.”
To remove Buni, a meeting of the National Executive Committee must be convened, Uzodimma added.
“The right organ of the party to take and implement such decisions is the National Executive Committee. Have we summoned that committee? Because if we do, INEC will be invited to observe. And if they observe, whatever decision taken will be known to them.”
Last Saturday, President Buhari had appeared to wade into the controversy for the first time, although he did not, at the time, state his position on Buni’s status in the party.
The President had called for order in the APC.
In a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu, the President, who is in the United Kingdom for medical treatment, warned APC leaders and members to desist from name calling and backstabbing and avoid the fate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“They failed in 16 years in power and a failure as opposition,” the President said, as quoted in the statement.
“Yes, we are entitled to our own share of dissent and intra-party discord. These are common in all parties, left and right all over the world.
“But parties splintered by competing egos destine themselves to the worst possible fate,” the President warned.
“As the country prepares for the long run up to the 2023 presidential election, we all expect a robust debate on the issues that matter and what is going in the APC should be a reflection of this, not the infighting we are seeing. There must be no more distractions ahead of the convention to choose new leaders.”
He said the APC must remain focused on developing the nation.
“We didn’t start on the note of arrogance of power, nor see government as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement, to be held at all costs, but a vehicle to bring development to all without discrimination-political, ethnic or regional to our dear country made this success possible,” the President said.
“Given all that is at a stake, we can expect contests into offices as we are now faced with to be heated although candidates and their promoters for party offices are not so much debating policy differences but differences of management, personality, character, and suitability for the most important leadership roles in our country and therefore the continent.”