Within the All Progressives Congress, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has begun negotiations for a reconciliation between warring parties (APC).
Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling declaring Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu the winner of the state’s recent governorship elections, a schism erupted inside the party.
The top court ruled 4 to 3 in favor of the election, with the former maintaining the validity of the election and the three others faulting it in a minority judgment.
Some APC stakeholders, including Minister of State for Labour and Productivity Festus Keyamo (SAN), Senator Babajide Ojudu, special adviser to the president on political matters, and senior special assistant to the president on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang has warned that Mai Mala Buni’s continuing presence as Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee/National Convention Committee and Governor of Yobe State will spell death for the party.
The ward congresses received their warning only 48 hours later.
They argued that continuing with the party’s congresses (which, of course, took place on Saturday) would result in a deluge of litigation that would negatively impact the party’s political fortunes in the future.
They claimed it was unethical for an elected official to hold the party’s highest leadership post.
Following their lead, certain factions, including the party’s Kwara state faction, came out and declared all Buni committee activities unlawful since they took over 13 months ago.
APC chieftains Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Niyi Akintola (SAN), counsel in the legal squabble, both condemned Keyamo’s position and labeled it as innuendo.
And, in order to break the legal and political impasse, President Buhari has asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to wade in and find a “safe solution” to address the party’s internal political problem.
“The vice president has been conducting meetings with party leaders and governors on a solution that will rescue the party from future legal traps while also being acceptable to all inside the APC,” top party sources told Blueprint Monday night.
“As early as Friday last week, Vice President Osinbajo first conducted a legal review conference with federal cabinet attorneys where the subject was discussed, and later also engaged in wide consultations with APC Governors right before the Ward Congresses on Saturday,” Blueprint reported.
“The caretaker committee chairman was also reported to have visited the Villa with Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello over the weekend to clarify the current party leadership’s viewpoint to the VP after attempts to reach him earlier Friday failed.”
“It is believed that the Vice President, who has been asked by President Buhari to resolve the matter, is determined to ensure that the party benefits from what appears to be a legal warning from the Supreme Court ruling, which had a 4-3 verdict, with the justices questioning the constitutional validity of a sitting Governor holding such an executive post as national party Caretaker Chairman.
“And while a last-minute cancellation of the Congresses was on the table on Friday night, APC Governors explained to the VP that the majority of them would rather go ahead with the Congresses, even though some felt an outright cancellation would be inevitable if they went ahead,” it was also learned.
Another source disputed the notion made in some quarters that Osinbajo commanded Malami on the topic, noting that the AGF is not a party official.
“As for Governor Buni, there was no communication between the VP and him until late Friday night, when he reached out to the VP about midnight,” a high Villa source added. The governors, however, had already pushed for the continuation of the Congresses, despite the fact that certain governors, including one from the North, had firmly opposed the ward congresses.
“The VP believes that the Supreme Court judgement last week is a clear legal quagmire that should be avoided at all costs. And he wants to make sure that the party’s interests come first, expecting that all stakeholders would eventually find a way to work together in the best interests of Nigerians who have placed so much faith and support in the party.”