Buhari survives plot to scuttle re-election bid

Unknown to many, the failed attempt to foist a Caretaker Committee on the All Progressives Congress (APC) was actually aimed at creating legal crisis for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 and edge him out of the presidential election.

Those behind the plot were said to have set a booby trap on account of which Buhari’s nomination for re-election would be declared invalid in line with 1999 Constitution and the constitution of the party.

It was learnt yesterday that 10 more governors had shelved support for the extension of the tenure of the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and members of his National Working Committee (NWC), based on Buhari’s opposition to the elongation of their tenure.

There were strong indications yesterday that a former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was on top of the pecking order in the search for the national chairman of APC.

But three APC governors and some members of the National Assembly who have constituted themselves into opposition elements within the party are said to be weighing the option of defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any coalition party.

Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that three traps were set for Buhari by those who were opposed to his second term ambition in APC.

The three hurdles are:

  • Foist a caretaker committee on APC to make Buhari’s nomination invalid and subject him to legal crisis
  • Conspire and defeat Buhari at the APC presidential primaries
  • Create division in APC to prompt the defection of some governors, party leaders and National Assembly members to either PDP or any of the coalition parties.

It was gathered that the plot was long hatched by some leading figures in APC in cahoots with some forces and a few leaders of some opposition parties.

Findings confirmed that at the caucus meeting of the APC in Abuja on Monday, the anti-Buhari elements in APC were happy that their script was playing according to plan.

The outcome of the caucus meeting was said to have buoyed the confidence of Oyegun, NWC members and some leaders of the party.

Those plotting against Buhari were happy that some governors loyal to the President had been innocently coopted into their plot.

But the affected elements were shocked by Buhari’s “joker” bordering on a clear-cut opposition to tenure elongation for Oyegun and others.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The whole idea of raising a Caretaker Committee or converting the Oyegun-led NWC into a Caretaker Committee is a plot to set up legal hurdles for Buhari and other nominees of the party for the 2019 general election.

“Those behind it actually claimed that they do not want the party divided by the fallout of state congresses and the National Convention, but the truth is that they want to box Buhari into a legal corner. That is the larger picture.

“The agenda fits into the design of some elements within APC who believe that Buhari can be stopped internally.

“Some of them, especially some governors, also wanted the status quo to remain in order to hijack the structure of APC in their states and determine 2019 poll nominations in their states.

“They sold a dummy to Buhari without paying attention to constitutional implications. But by being his own man, the President has survived the first plot against him.”

10 more governors back out of tenure elongation agenda

At press time, about 10 governors, who were pro-Oyegun NWC, had allegedly backed out of the plot.

A top party leader said: “Even from the NEC session, some of governors have been saying that they won’t move against the wish of the President.

“At least about eight to 10 of these governors are no longer keen on Oyegun and his team as far as tenure elongation is concerned.

“What some of them are now saying is that we can retain the status quo by bringing Oyegun and his team back at the National Convention since the President has favoured a democratically elected NWC.”

Although some of the governors behind the extension of tenure for Oyegun and others met shortly after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Tuesday, their rank has depleted.

The Tuesday night session was coordinated by a North-Central governor.

A Northern governor, who was invited for the meeting simply said: “I am a Buharist. Since the President has spoken his mind, I will no longer be part of any plot to oppose him on tenure elongation.”

The affected governor shunned the meeting and left for his base without asking for the outcome of the session.

Others weigh options

Notwithstanding, the few governors and some National Assembly members supporting tenure elongation have opted to (a) continue with the pursuit of matters in court and (b)launch a counter-plot to bring back Oyegun and (c) use the National Convention to split APC for an opportunity to defect to either PDP or a coalition party.

Investigation showed that the next plans of the anti-Buhari elements are how to use the matters in court to scuttle the proposed congresses and National Convention or how to split the party through the congresses and the convention.

“There are elements who want to cause crisis in APC before defecting to either PDP or a coalition party.

“These elements had initially collaborated with some forces to form parallel APC executives in eight states, beginning with Kaduna State. But the resistance of Governor Nasir el-Rufai made them to retreat.

“Their next plan is to use the APC National Convention, but we won’t allow them to succeed.

“Rather than causing crisis in APC, we want these elements to work harder for Oyegun-led NWC to return at the convention in line with Article 17 of our party,” a member of the NEC said.

Article 17 says: “(I): Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, all officers of the party elected or appointed into the party’s organs shall serve in such organs for a period of four years and shall be eligible for reelection or reappointment for another period of four years only provided that an officer elected or appointed to fill a vacancy shall notwithstanding be eligible for election to the same office for two terms.

“(ii) No member shall serve in the same office for more than eight years continuously except a member of the Board of Trustees or a person who first came to the office by filling a vacancy.

“(iii) No member can be an officer at the national abs state levels or national organ of the party concurrently other than being an ex-officio member of that organ

Article 20 deals with elections and appointment.

It says: “All party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective national convention or congress subject, where possible to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of yes or no by ballot or voice shall be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”

It was however learnt that the pro-Oyegun-led NWC elements were unsure of the team, especially the National Chairman, coming back through elective process.

Oshiomhole tops pecking order

It was learnt that ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole was topping the search list of potential candidates for the office of APC National Chairman.

“Many party leaders are making a strong case for Oshiomhole. In fact, Edo APC does not support tenure elongation.

“If you begin to have problem from home, then the game might be up,” a party leader said.