The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has warned the All Progressives Congress (APC) of impending legal battles if Yobe State Governor Mala Buni remains the party’s temporary leader.
In a leaked memo released on Wednesday, the minister, who is also a member of the party, indicated that if the party goes ahead with its scheduled congresses under Mr Buni’s leadership, the “unity” in the party may be short-lived.
On Saturday, the planned congresses will take place across the country.
The minister based his reasoning on the Supreme Court’s split decision to uphold Rotimi Akeredolu as Governor of Ondo State earlier on Wednesday, saying the APC avoided a potential defeat due to a “minor technicality” that may not be applicable in future court decisions.
The petition of Eyitayo Jegede, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Ondo in October 2020, to remove Mr Akeredolu as the elected state governor was dismissed by four of the seven-member bench of the top court.
Mr Keyamo added that if Mr Jegede had joined Mr Buni in the lawsuit, the ruling party would have lost.
“The little technical point that saved Gov AKEREDOLU was that Jegede failed to join GOV. Mai Mala Buni in the suit. Jegede was challenging the competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni as a sitting Governor to run the affairs of the APC as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
“He contends that this is against Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution which states that a sitting Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever. In other words, had Buni been joined in the suit, the story may have been different today as we would have lost Ondo State to the PDP,” he noted.
Mr Keyamo stated that the technicality cited in the judgment may result in a series of lawsuits from APC members questioning the legitimacy of Mr Buni’s interim leadership, which has been in place for 13 months, to organize congresses and national conventions.
He described the governor of Yobe State’s continued leadership as a violation of Article 17 of the APC Constitution, warning that the party must stop holding proposed congresses under his leadership or face imminent disintegration.
“The planned Congresses across the country slated for this weekend must immediately be suspended because it will be an exercise in futility as analysed above. The competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni to organise the congresses has been called to question by the Supreme Court,” he said, calling for an urgent NEC meeting to appoint new interim leadership, anyone holding any executive position in any government establishment.
“Alternatively, the Board of Trustees of the Party, which includes Mr. President, can be activated to organise a National Convention in line with Article 13 of the APC Constitution where it is given such powers. Those powers can be delegated at the meeting to a Committee in line with the APC Constitution which will run the Party and plan the Convention. The new Exco can then plan for Congresses,” he added.
Other incumbent governors selected for the 13-member caretaker committee include Isiaka Oyetola of Osun State and Sani Bello of Niger State, who represent the South-west and North-central zones, respectively.
The committee was formed in June 2020 following the controversial departure of Adam Oshiomhole’s executive team.
Mr Keyamo’s leaked document, on the other hand, was received by PREMIUM TIMES a few hours after the APC congress committees for all of the federal states were inaugurated at the party’s headquarters in Abuja.
At the event expected to set in motion plans for its July 31 Wards Congresses, the party’s congress committees were represented by their respective State Committee Chairmen while Mr Buni was represented by the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe.
In his address, Mr Akpanudoedehe said the outcome of party unity depends on the outcome of the congress and urged the committees to encourage consensus candidates.
“The unity of our party also depends on the outcome; and the outcome essentially depends on your supervision of the issues and the overall conduct of the Exercise.
“Do not forget that the CECPC reserves the power to recall the team, or any of its members whose conduct is below expectation; afterall, he who hires, can also fire.
“You’ve been urged to encourage consensus arrangements, where possible,” he said at the inauguration ceremony earlier on Wednesday.