In what appears a major step to containing the crisis plaguing the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, has allegedly approved the removal of the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, as the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party and in his stead, appointed his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello.
A faction of the APC governors was alleged to have complained bitterly to the president that Buni was not inclined to holding the convention as rescheduled, because there were no preparations on the ground to indicate so.
Apparently miffed by the what he was told, the president was said to have immediately directed that Buni be removed and replaced.
Buni is currently in Dubai for medical reasons and was not around to defend himself. But the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and another top Villa player, were said to have intervened on behalf of Buni, when they got wind of the development, and advised the president to exercise caution against such action.
They were said to have reminded Buhari it was only the NEC of the Party that could convene and remove Buni, and after he must have been given seven days notice of removal. They, however, contended that anything outside the laid down processes, could be challenged in court, with the potential of disrupting the rescheduled March 26 Convention date.
It was not certain, however, whether the intervention changed the President’s mind. But some insiders, who spoke on the development this morning, expressed displeasure that some governors went to ambush the president just before he left the country without their knowledge and created a totally false narrative that Buni did not want to hold the convention.
“They are creating unnecessary crisis in the party, because of their selfish interests. How can they claim there are no preparations to hold the convention, when various convention sub-committees have been announced; the zonal committee is announcing the zoning formula on Monday (today).
“Committees will be inaugurated in a few days. These people are not sincere. Some governors have been scheming to take over the functions of CECPC to further their own interests.
“The immediate way out of this is; if Buni voluntarily resigns, which he had two weeks ago threatened to during the APC governors meeting in Abuja,” they claimed.
However, on the alleged Buni’s removal, a source, who confirmed the development, said last night that, the president did not formerly hint at the news, when leaving the country, because as a process person, he wanted the decision to be tidied up without creating any more grievances, hence, the meeting to be held today at the National Secretariat of the party.
Reiterating that Buni was already gone and the decision long taken, the source held that the relieved caretaker chairman knew of the development hence his forced trip on health grounds, adding that the party needed to move on and desperately too.
To this end, Bello has summoned a meeting of the Caretaker Committee for today.
The meeting, which will take place at the national secretariat of the party by 10am is to be chaired by him (Bello) with members of the caretaker committee expected to be in attendance.
Some APC governors including Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Bello met at the Niger governor’s lodge yesterday in Asokoro, Abuja.
The meeting, it was learnt, was a continuation of the one held on Saturday in Abuja by the governors.
However, it appeared that the Secretary of the committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, had gotten wind of the plan and was already planning to shutdown the secretariat tomorrow, however, against the instruction of the president.
“The resolution is that the members of the CECPC will meet at the party secretariat on Monday by 10a.m. The meeting will be chaired by the Niger State governor, because Buni is out of town. But the secretary is planning to shut down the secretariat tomorrow,” the source said.
The party source also informed THISDAY that though Bello had called a meeting of Caretaker committee members, he however foresee confusion.
“There will be confusion tomorrow. They may not have access to the venue of the meeting. They may be locked out, because there is a problem on ground.
“The Niger governor had called a meeting, but he has also been double crossed, because he won’t have access to the venue of the meeting. So, it is likely that the meeting will not,” he said.
But a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, has warned Bello to stay away from a venture he clearly lacked the powers to undertake.
Nabena insisted that Bello lacked the power to call a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting without the authorisation of the Caretaker Committee Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
Nabena, in a statement last night, said Bello was just an ordinary member of the Caretaker Committee and not the Chairman or Secretary.
His words: “I am using this medium to call on our leaders across the states to caution Governor Sani Bello of Niger State. The presidency should also call him to order to immediately drop the plan to convey a NEC meeting without the knowledge of Governor Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary of the CECPC.
“The likes of Governor Bello are the political vultures working against our party and to cause anarchy in the ruling APC,” stressing that the plot by Bello to destabilise the ruling party, has been on for a while because of his vice presidential ambition in 2023, hence his plan to convey a NEC meeting.
Governor Sani Bello is neither the Chairman nor Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee. So, where did he get the power to convey such meeting? Governor Bello should not destroy the ruling APC, because of his personal political ambition of becoming Vice President or whatever in 2023,” he added.