In a show of solidarity, governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have moved against attempt by the national leadership of the party to sanction some aggrieved governors who are embittered over the outcome of the party primaries.
We had exclusively reported last week that some governors who may come under the party’s big stick are Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo.
The party has resolved to take the actions after exhausting all means to placate the aggrieved stakeholders who have rebuffed all entreaties including setting up a reconciliation committee in all the six geo-political zones.
It was also gathered that the issue has polarised the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party because while some members are favourably disposed to punishing them, others felt the party should tarry a little.
To register their displeasure, majority of the governors last weekend boycotted a meeting called by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the party’s NWC.
Oshiomhole had said 20 new governorship candidates of the party and nine sitting governors were expected at the meeting, which, he said, was being held to get to know the governorship candidates.
Only two governors, Sani Bello of Niger State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State were at the meeting.
Though the party did not give any reason why the governors stayed away, a credible source in the party said the governors who operate under the aegis of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) were showing solidarity with their colleagues and will not support any move by the party to wield the big stick on them.
“Yes, it is true that the party may discipline recalcitrant members, no matter how highly placed and from the feelers we are getting some of the governors are not happy about this. This may be the reason why they stayed away from the meeting. I know a particular governor from the South-West who admonished the party to suspend any disciplinary actions till after the elections. His argument was that any actions made to punish anyone now may have negative effects on the party’s chances.
“I also know some of the governors who also believe that injustice to one is injustice to all. So, they have chosen to rally behind their colleagues especially in Ogun, Imo and Zamfara. These ones believe that the governors have been humiliated enough by the party leadership and as such don’t deserve any further punishment”, he said.
He said aside suspension or expulsion, the party can also discipline the governors by dissolving the state exco loyal to them.
“Once the state exco is dissolved and a new one that is not loyal to the governors is constituted, they will be powerless and the party will win the elections”, he said.
Also speaking, a member of the NWC said the party leadership will not be blackmailed by the governors but will do everything within its means to instill discipline in the party.
“The party has done everything possible to mend fences and pacify aggrieved members, especially the governors who are the leaders of the party in their respective states but it seems these ones have resolved not to listen to the voice of reason.
“Daily, they keep abusing the national chairman. In fact, there is a viral video of a governor saying publicly that if the national chairman is the true son of his father and mother, he should come and campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari in his state. Another one also threatened the reconciliation committee not to come into his state. I think the party has had enough.
“One of the complaints against the former national chairman was his inability to instill discipline in the party. Under him, the party lost focus and impunity became the order of the day. That was the major reason why President Buhari threw his weight behind Oshiomhole. He knows him as a no-nonsense labour leader and politician who will bring his wealth of experience to bear in sanitising the party.
“I will advise the governors to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign. Their actions and utterances are inimical to the progress of the party. They should realise that no individual is greater than the party and they are products of the party too”, he noted.
In a related development, the APC has described as untrue reports that it cancelled a planned rally in Kano State to herald the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.
There were reports that the rally which was to be held to herald the campaign of President Buhari was called off after security reports that several APC chieftains will be attacked in Kano.
However, speaking with Daily Independent, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Oniru said he only heard about the rally on social media like other Nigerians.
According to him, the APC will first come out with a timetable for its campaigns and will also inaugurate a campaign council before any rally can take place.
“The APC did not plan any rally for Kano State. We didn’t issue any statement to that effect. I am hearing it just the way you heard it too.
“Before any rally, we will come out with a timetable on our programme of activities and we will also inaugurate a campaign council. So, the rumour of a rally in Kano at last weekend is a surprise to me”, he said.
APC Senators Vow To Block Veto Of Electoral Bill
Meanwhile, senators elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have vowed to resist any attempt to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018.
There were strong indications that the Senate would begin the process to override the president’s decision to withhold assent to the bill this week.
It would be recalled that the president had, on Friday, for the fourth time, declined to give his assent to the Amendment Bill, citing the closeness to the 2019 elections as the reason for his final refusal.
The president’s latest decision came in a letter dated December 6, 2018 and addressed to both chambers of the National Assembly.
However, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, lawmaker representing Lagos East, has stated that the APC lawmakers – known as progressive senators – would stand against any plan by the National Assembly to veto President Buhari’s refusal to once again sign the recent amendments to the Electoral Act.
Ashafa made this assertion while addressing the press after a stakeholders’ meeting of the Lagos East chapter of the APC which took place in Epe, on Saturday, December 8, 2018.
Responding to questions on the next line of action for his colleagues in the Senate after the refusal of the president to assent to the Bill, Ashafa said: “I have had the opportunity of looking through the well thought out reasons adduced by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for not assenting to the version of the Bill which has been forwarded to him, and I am quite in agreement with him.
“Both the president and the National Assembly have shown good faith in the back and forth caused principally by drafting inconsistencies that have delayed the bill till now.
“We must all understand that both sides must be dispassionately and painstakingly disposed to ensuring that there is no loophole in the final result of the proposed amendments, considering the sensitive nature of the Electoral Act and overarching effect of same on national security and stability of the polity.
“It cannot be in tandem with any standard democratic ethos to introduce new rules to the field of politics less than two months to a general election, we must be fair to all concerned.”
Commenting specifically on the possibility of a veto of the president’s decision by his colleagues, the lawmaker stated: “It is a game of numbers and to conduct a successful veto of the president’s position, the National Assembly would require a vote by two thirds of both houses. I am certain that the progressive bloc of senators who have already seen reason with the president would not be in support of such a veto.”
Ashafa also used the opportunity to express his confidence in the capacity of the electoral umpire, INEC, to conduct a hitch-free general election while stating his belief in INEC’s neutrality.
He cited the several commitments of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, to the international community, civil society, and all stakeholders in the electoral process, as well as the recently concluded elections as basis for his belief.