There are fresh indications emerging that the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have concluded plans to amend the party’s constitution at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for later this month.
The move, Naija News learnt is to validate the tenure extension of its principal officers at all levels.
However, the plan seems not to sit well with certain members in the leadership of the party who have vowed to resist the planned amendment, which in their views, violates Article 13(3-4) of the APC Constitution and Section 223(1-2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The APC, at its last NEC meeting on February 27, citing Article 13 of the APC constitution, had announced a 12-month extension for its national chairman, Chief John Oyegun and other elected and appointed executives at all levels of the party.
The twelve months extension, which is expected to commence from June 30, 2018, is expected to prevent discord among party members in events leading to the 2019 general elections.
However, the NEC decision was challenged and described as a “mere expression of interest” by the Alh. Abdulaziz Yari, the Zamfara State governor and some other leaders of the party.
Yari had cautioned that the tenure extension could only be achieved through an amendment of the party’s constitution by the National Convention of the APC.
However, one of the aggrieved party leaders, who granted an interview to THISDAY in confidence, warned that the decision to amend the party constitution would promote the reign of illegality and impunity in the ranks of the APC.
He also faulted the process by which the National Working Committee (NWC) under the chairmanship of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun had set up the Constitution Amendment Committee led by the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Mr. Muiz Banire on January 25, 2017, noting that the process did not comply with Article 13(3-4) of the party’s constitution.
He argued that; Article 13(4) of the APC Constitution empowers the NWC “to establish ad-hoc and/or standing committees of the party and appoint members to such committees”.
While Article 13(3) empowers the NEC “to ratify the type, nature and membership of the ad-hoc and/or standing committees to be set up by the National Working Committee.”
Contingent on these provisions, the APC leader faulted the process that set up the constitution amendment committee in January last year, noting that the NWC constituted the committee without NEC’s ratification as provided in Article 13(3).
He noted that: “That is why the national leadership is planning to convene another NEC meeting. The meeting may hold between 10 and 15 days from now. The national officials want to use the meeting to correct their errors.
“The plan is to tell the world that the NEC only issued a notice of extension and not an extension,” he explained
“The power to amend the party’s constitution can only be exercised by the National Convention. Even if the NEC can exercise the party’s constitution, it cannot amend it to deviate from the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“Section 223(1-2) of the 1999 Constitution is clear about the conduct of national conventions and congresses. The section states clearly how the officials of parties at all levels can emerge at the end of their tenure.
“It never made provisions for tenure extension. Also, it does not give any organ of the party – except at the National Convention – the power to amend the constitution,” he said,
He also warned that the decision may come to haunt the APC in the future as opposition may find technicalities in it to challenge election results in court.
“The implication is huge for the future of the APC. First, it is a dangerous precedent for a party that promised change. Second, any person produced from that process can be removed if challenged at the court.
“Besides, opposition parties can take advantage of this to challenge the APC in court after the general election. So, the mandate of any political official produced from this process will be under threat,” he warned.
Naija News also earlier reported the stance of the Lagos chapter of the APC who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the tenure extension and said they were prepared to go to court to challenge the validity of the decision.