The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Caretaker Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Mai Mala Buni, have been accused of allegedly defying the directive of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to halt the party’s congresses.
It was gathered that following the narrow win of the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, in the Supreme Court, in the suit against him by Eyitayo Jegede, the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (PDP) in the state’s 2019 gubernatorial election, and concerns around the apex court’s ruling regarding Buni, President Muhammadu Buhari, from London, had directed Osinbajo to take charge of the legal issues and come up with a decision in the overall interest of the party.
This was followed by a meeting of all the lawyers in the cabinet, summoned by Osinbajo on Friday, to deliberate on the way forward for the party, as its congresses had been scheduled to hold the following day, Saturday.
According to a THISDAY report, the consensus opinion at the meeting was that the party should halt the congresses before weighing other options However, Malami was said to have objected to the decision, arguing that the exercise could go ahead, regardless.
The report noted that everyone at the meeting, after a heated argument agreed that the first step to addressing the issue was to suspend the congresses.
The majority of those in attendance were said to have shared some of the arguments that followed the Apex Court’s judgment on Ondo, and had maintained that to minimize the damage the party might suffer in the final analysis, it was logical to first suspend the congresses and then, find other possible options.
However, Malami was said to have rejected the submissions of others and insisted that the congresses could go ahead.
It was gathered that the meeting, which was held at the vice president’s office was also attended by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo; and former Director-General of the Nigeria Law School and legal adviser/member of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Professor Tahir Mamman.
According to THISDAY, Osinbajo made efforts to call Buhari on the phone while the debate was ongoing to intimate him of the developments but failed.
Also, the report noted that the vice president had also called Buni on the phone to suspend the congresses after resolving to halt it. However, he was shocked as the governor rejected his directive, insisting like Malami that the congresses would go ahead as planned. Malami and Buni are said to belong to the CPC tendency of the APC.
The report claimed sources said, Malami and Buni’s decision to discard experts’ opinions despite the glaring danger might have been because some people identified as “cabal” in the presidency did not want to lose their grip on the party, especially as they might have a choice presidential candidate in mind, of which a change in the course of the party could hinder.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC is currently facing an existential threat as two major tendencies wrestle for control of the party. These tendencies as represented by the legacy parties that merged to form the ruling party – the Congress for Progressive Change and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“Indeed, there was said to be an understanding at the inception that while the CPC, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, would control the government, how the party is run would be the prerogative of the ACN, a party led by Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“There are insinuations that the fear of what might happen in 2023 could have forced the CPC tendency to not only renege on the initial agreement, but also doing all within its powers to completely take over the party and dominate the other tendencies especially, the ACN.
“While the PDP wing of the merger, led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has since been relegated from exerting any form of control in the party, the CPC tendency has literally taken over the party and is desperately working to consolidate its hold ahead of the 2023 general election,” the report noted.
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