FastNews gathered that with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) national convention set for February 2022, opponents of Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni’s continued tenure as the party’s National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) chairman have increased their efforts to ensure he does not preside over the process.
According to one anti-Buni group, the national secretariat of the party, located at Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, will witness the “mother of protests and lockdowns” in the coming days.
A former member of the House of the Representatives from Zamfara State, who is one of the arrowheads of the ‘Buni must go rally’, said any true lover of the party should not allow Buni to preside over the national convention based on the judgment of the Supreme Court on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, challenging the victory of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC.
However, the Supreme Court in a split decision of four to three affirmed the election of Akeredolu as governor of Ondo State.
The majority decision, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, upheld Akeredolu’s election on the grounds that the appeal by Jegede and the PDP lacked merit since the appellants failed to include Mai Mala Buni, a party in the suit, which was fatal to their case.
While questioning the eligibility of Governor Buni to sign the nomination form of Akeredolu, the trio of Justices Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko and Ibrahim Saulawa in the minority judgment had declared that Akeredolu’s election should have been nullified, while the appellants (PDP and Jegede) declared winner of the election.
Justice Eko, further maintained that Buni violated the constitution, when as a sitting governor, still acted as chairman of the APC by submitting Akeredolu’s name to INEC for purposes of the governorship poll.
Despite the ruling which sharply divided the APC, its governors, under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, have repeatedly passed a vote of confidence on the Buni-led CECPC, while insisting that he is eligible to combine both the office of governor and acting national chairman of the party.
Speaking with Daily Independent on the possibility of Buni presiding over the convention, our source said they have mobilised youths across the country to stage protests aimed at forcing Buni to hand off his role as the acting national chairman and focus on his elective role as Yobe governor.
“We are not relenting on our efforts to ensure Governor Buni resigns as the caretaker committee chairman. But now that the convention has been fixed for February next year, we will mount serious efforts on him and we are hopeful of getting the needed results before the end of this year.
“Let him continue to barricade the national secretariat with policemen. We will prove to him that no individual is greater than the party. The APC governors are not helping matters. We observed that they have been supporting Buni because he is one of them and always take sides with the governors whenever they are having any leadership struggle in their states.
“If you look at the judgment of the Ondo governorship election, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that Buni is ineligible to continue in office as APC chairman. For three Supreme Court justices out of seven to have said Akeredolu was not validly nominated because Buni signed his nomination form speaks volume.
“That Supreme Court ruling on Ondo election is just too close. Look at it this way. What if any of the four judges that ruled on the Ondo governorship election retires tomorrow? And the judges that replaced them believe that Buni is not eligible to function as APC chairman. If that case is brought before them, what ruling do you think they will give? What then happens to our convention?”.
Also speaking with Daily Independent, Omoba Tunde Ajibulu, a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 general elections, said only the National Executive Committee (NEC) or convention can determine the fate of the Buni-led caretaker committee.
“The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party in their own wisdom put up this committee which was meant to be for six months ab initio. I believe that tenure has been extended twice. So, it is not up to me but up to the NEC or a national convention that can determine when they should leave”.