By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has urged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) “to end the confusion in the party and be an example of due process and high regard for laws of the land in effecting leadership change at all levels of the party.”
Speaking in its reaction to the current APC leadership uncertainties, the CNPP commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), “for standing up to its constitutionally guaranteed regulatory and enforcement roles while dealing with the APC national leadership change.”
In a statement signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the CNPP noted that the leadership crisis “simply resulted from the arbitrary removal of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State as the National Chairman of the national chairman of the APC’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) based on the reported directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The CNPP therefore warned that “if APC is not adequately checked by both INEC and the judiciary, the party will definitely derail the country’s democracy through its many procedural pitfalls in the operations and administration of the party.
“The arbitrary and obviously unconstitutional move to remove Governor Mai Mala Buni as the National Chairman of the APC’s CECPC is capable of leading to a major crisis in the party, which can jeopardize the country’s democracy in view of the timetable released by INEC for the 2023 general elections.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to learn to jettison any advice urging him to interfere with his party’s internal democracy without recourse to the rule of law.
“As a ruling party, APC ought to be a good example in internal party democracy in Nigeria for other political parties to emolate. But, in this matter, the reverse is the case.
“Therefore, the CNPP in strong terms condemns the reported initial directive of President Buhari to sack Governor Buni as chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee.
“The reported initial presidential order was undemocratic, an attack on internal party democracy in APC, and capable causing unprecedented party crisis in the country’s history, with costly consequences on smooth general elections in 2023”, the CNPP observed.
While commending INEC’s position as contained in its letter turning down an invitation to the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee where a new leadership of the APC was to be ratified, the CNPP said “the commission was in order to have drawn the attention of the CECPC that the letter of invitation was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC, Buni and Dr John Akpanudoedehe, respectively.
“We also agree with the commission that the invitation was ran fowl of the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018) and that of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires ‘at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of merger and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective office.
“With this move by INEC, the CNPP is further convinced that the leadership of INEC can be trusted to conduct free and fair elections in Osun and Ekiti States as well as the general elections in 2023.
“INEC literally foiled the coup against Governor Buni’s leadership resulting in the inevitable u-turn by the presidency and this must be highly commended by lovers of democracy all over the world”, CNPP concluded.