By Ali Alkali
Even though All Progressives Congress (APC) had been unable to constitute a Board of Trustees (BoT) over the years, a model which is being used by many political parties in Nigeria, the National caucus of the party yesterday has approved the constitution of an Elders’ Council to replace the Board of Trustees (BoT) model.
Board of Trustees (BoT) consists of top party members constitutionally-mandated to provided advice and counsel to the leadership of the National Working Committee and staff.
But the decision to have an Elders’ Council may not be unconnected with the inability of the ruling party (APC) to constitute a Board of Trustees over the years.
The new Elders’s Council will have 50 members.
It was learnt that the approval of the Elders’ Council was part of the decisions taken at the Caucus meeting of the party held at the Presidential villa on Monday night.
Modalities for selecting members of the Council is expected to be worked out before the National Convention scheduled for June.
The party had encountered some developments this week.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared as illegal the tenure elongation of the National Working Committee headed by Odigie Oyegun, and asked National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to consider reversing the decision.
Speaking at the party’s National Secretariat, Buhari said he had received legal advice from the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice on the legality of the matter, and has found out that the extension was against the constitution of the party.
He said he wanted to avoid a legal battle that could jeopardize the party’s cohesion before the 2019 general election.
“In particular, I think it is important to talk on the contentious issues of the tenure of our national and state executive officers. As we all know, the motion was moved at the last NEC meeting February 27, 2018, to the effect that when the tenure of the current executive expires in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year.
“This motion was moved by majority of members present at the last NEC meeting. Even though some of our party members have since spoken very vehemently against it, others have even taken the matter to court,” he said.
“On my own part, I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution; and what I have found is that it contravenes our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC constitution article 17, in bracket 1 and 13 on two bracket b, limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended, in section 223, also prescribes periodic election for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, article 31 of our party constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another election must resign from his current post at least one month before the election.
“In this circumstance, what is expected of us is to conduct fresh election once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end,” Buhari said.
However, the party leadership said, after the meeting, that the extension of the tenure of the party’s national working committee (NWC) led by its chairman John Odigie-Oyegun still stands, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection.
National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi told reporters that President Buhari only expressed a personal opinion which cannot be considered the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) which approved the extension in the first place. He insisted that the decision still stands until the NEC reverses itself.
“The president’s position has not changed the position of NEC. NEC has not reversed itself on the tenure extension. The decision of the NEC on the one-year tenure extension still stands.
“The president is not NEC. The NEC will have to reverse itself; but right now, it has not done that. So, the tenure extension still stands,” Abdullahi said.