By ABBA MAHMOOD —
What undermined and finally destroyed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), leading to its defeat in the 2015 general elections, was its undemocratic methods and impunity. Sadly, the current ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is fast walking on the same road which may give the same result.
What makes the APC think that it cannot have the same results as that of the PDP if it copies straight from the PDP playbook? The APC national chairman, Chief John Oyegun, ought to know this. After all, he was a seasoned administrator, having risen to the position of federal permanent secretary before retiring into politics. He is also an experienced politician, having been elected governor of his home state of Edo in the aborted Third Republic.
On February 27, 2018, at a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC, the tenures of the party’s executive committee members at all levels were purportedly extended by one year. This is contrary to section 223 (1) (a) and (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended; section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended; and Article 17 of the Constitution of the APC. Section 223 (1) (a) and (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, states as follows: 223 (1) “The Constitution and Rules of a political party shall (a) Provide for the periodical election on democratic basis of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party; and (b) For the purposes of this section (a) the election of the officers or members of the Executive Committee of a political party shall be deemed to be periodical only if it is made at regular intervals not exceeding four (4) years.
Furthermore, the notice required by the provision of section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended in 2014, to serve on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purpose of monitoring election if any of the officers of the party was not complied with. Similarly, by Article 17 of the APC constitution, it is incumbent on the party to organize congresses for the election or re-election of officers after four (4) years leading to the organization of National Convention to elect or re-elect national officers of the party.
The Electoral Act 2010 as amended explicitly directs and mandates political parties to give twenty-one (21) days’ notice to the INEC of any congress, convention, conferences or meetings convened for the purpose of electing its Executive Committee, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of their elective offices specified under the Act. That notice was not given to the Commission before the purported NEC meeting of the party on February 27, 2018.
Thus, if the constitution of the party has not been adhered to; the Electoral Act 2010 that governs all election matters in Nigeria has not been followed; and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is the Supreme law of the land has been violated, then the purported term extension by the APC at the February 27, 2018, NEC meeting of the party has no legal backing. It is therefore unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no legal effect.
By this act, the APC is fast surpassing the PDP in terms of illegality and impunity. A purposeful party leadership would have seen a credible congresses and convention process as a clear way of addressing the crisis bedevilling the party at almost all levels. That opportunity is clearly being wasted. One cannot see how an unstable political party can form and run a stable government. That can be seen as the basis of all the political crises in the country today. And that is why the APC administration is politically too weak at home to take any serious foreign policy moves abroad.
No political crisis is ever welcome, but this one came on a bad issue and at the wrong time; bad issue because: how can a so-called democratic party be afraid of subjecting itself to democratic elections? It is a wrong time because this is happening in an election year. The February 27 NEC meeting of the APC was seemingly barren of immediate political results but it was pregnant with significance for the future of the party.
President Buhari has become at once the necessity and the curse of the party. He is now discovering that moral indignation is a luxury which can only be enjoyed in opposition. He has built up enormous credit balance in the bank of public esteem and prestige; he has been lavishly drawing upon it since he assumed office in 2015 such that he may soon realize that he is going bankrupt.
Nigeria is in dire need of effective leadership to arrest the drift in the party and the polity. Most unfortunately, Buhari has lost enormous goodwill. His government lacks credibility such that on every issue it is not simply being economical with the truth, it is being downright stingy with it. His image now is that he does not seem to care which way he travelled, providing he is in the driver’s seat. The verdict out there in the public is that one of Buhari’s greatest defects as a leader has been his tendency to become insulated from the people and to lose contact with his power base.
History is on the side of the oppressed.