Oyegun loses extension bid as Buhari stays firm

Advocates of extended tenure for All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman John Odigie-Oyegun and others have lost their battle.

John Oyegun
John Oyegun

President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on due process and the failure to get more governors into the pro-extension plot forced its few supporters to back down, it was learnt yesterday.

At a meeting with President Buhari at the Villa, some of the governors, including Plateau State’s Simon Lalong, who was appointed by Oyegun to head the technical committee on the matter, were making a case for tenure extension. But the President reportedly insisted that there would be no room for illegality.

The governors met on Tuesday night and agreed to back the President’s position, leading to the collapse of the Lalong technical panel. It had to hurriedly wind up with a report in favour of an elective convention in June.

The governors sent a five-man delegation to the Villa yesterday to convey their new position to the President. They also went to the party’s secretariat to meet with the National Working Committee (NWC).

The governors nominated Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru as the Convention Committee chairman with a promise to send recommended names of members.

A source at the meeting of the governors with the NWC members, said: “The governors met with Oyegun and other members to convey their decisions after Tuesdaynight session and yesterday’s audience with the President at the Villa.

“Bothe Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz Yari and the Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, addressed the NWC on behalf of their colleagues. They said they had agreed to abide by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the APC. They asked Oyegun to accept their recommendations.

“They also said in line with their agreement, they have appointed Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State as the chairman of the National Convention Committee. They submitted a list of other members of the committee.

“But the NWC told the governors that it is its prerogative to constitute the convention committee and make recommendation to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

“We said we won’t allow the governors to foist any list on us because the power to raise Convention Committee rests with the NWC.”

Another source said the governors’ session with the NWC was not without drama by the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, in a submission, to add value to Yari’s and Okorocha’s messages, said: “They are saying that I have problem with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; that is why I supported tenure elongation.

“I have no problem with Asiwaju, he is my leader. And President Buhari is the leader of all. I was supporting you (Oyegun and NWC) but we have to hold National Convention.

“I am an ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has said that we must stick to the 1999 Constitution and APC Constitution. If Buhari asks me to jump into fire, I will not hesitate to jump into it.”

The pro-tenure extension governors backed out when they discovered that the President would not change his mind.

On why the pro-extension governors surrendered, a governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “When we met with the President on Wednesday, he maintained his position that it is illegal to go into 2019 poll with nominations by a Caretaker Committee.

“The President asked: ‘I cannot understand this tenure extension thing. When we were not the ruling party, we had a successful national convention; why are we changing the rules at a time our party is supposed to be a symbol of democracy and electoral model?’

“The President felt there was more to it and, at this point, some of his ardent loyalists backing Oyegun decided to chicken out of the plot.”

Another governor said: “Go and find out, those deceiving Oyegun and the NWC members do not have the number to push their agenda through. As at Tuesday night session, out of 24 APC governors, they could not boast of eight in favour of tenure extension.

“So, even if we had put everything into vote, there was no way tenure elongation could have sailed through. What makes Oyegun and the NWC indispensable?

“We are ready to meet at the next NEC meeting to ratify the composition of the National Convention Committee (NCC). We have already chosen the Jigawa governor as the chairman and we will stand by it.”

The NWC will meet today to compile the list of the Convention Committee members, it was learnt.

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