Despite the purported ouster of the Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, by his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Bello, there may still be respite for Buni.
This is as the Independent National Electoral Commission rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the governing party where Bello’s chairmanship, among other things, is to be ratified.
INEC’s position is contained in a letter dated March 9, 2022, signed by the Secretary to INEC, Rose Anthony, entitled, ‘Re: Invitation to the Emergency Meeting of the National Executive Committee.’ The letter is addressed to the National Chairman, APC CECPC.
The commission duly informed 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.
It said this was contrary to the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
Faulting the letter further, INEC reminded the signatories to the letter 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.”
It, therefore, urged the APC to note the issues raised and ensure immediate compliance. INEC’s letter read, “Please refer to your letter Ref.APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/022/32, dated 8th March 2022.
“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
“Furthermore, the APC is reminded 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.
“While hoping these issues are noted for compliance, please accept the assurance of the Commission’s warm regards.”
With the intrigues of the past few days, INEC’s letter has dealt a major blow to plans to replace Buni, who, according to a letter leaked on Thursday dated February 28, 2022, duly transferred power to Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State, to allow him to attend to his health.
It could be recalled that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, had asserted in a television interview midweek that Buni was ousted because he was discovered to be a fifth columnist in the party; working against the success of the March 26 National Convention, an assertion which Buni’s leaked letter had refuted.