By Olaolu Bilau
Although both former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, and the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are not members of APC National Executive Committee (NEC) and may not necessarily attend its meetings, but they did not attend Friday’s NEC meeting in Abuja because they were not properly invited.
WESTERN POST learnt that Baba Akande received his invitation for the meeting around 8 pm on Thursday after he had just broken his fast while Tinubu got his own after some NEC members leaving Lagos for the meeting in Abuja had already boarded the plane.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on his part was in Jaji, Kaduna State on Friday where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the graduation ceremony of the Senior Course 37 of the Command and Staff College.
This is contrary to the belief in some quarters that the trio boycotted the party’s NEC meeting because of the internal infighting and leadership crisis rocking the party.
But Akande’s and Tinubu’s absence from the meeting may not be unconnected with the leadership crisis rocking APC, notwithstanding the late invitation extended to them.
It was learnt that the duo are no longer enamoured about Chief John Oyegun’s leadership of the party because they believed that the leadership had “soiled its hands” over the emergence of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, particularly the emergence of Senate President Bukola Saraki.
“There is the belief that Oyegun had been compromised in allegedly working for Saraki’s election as Senate President,” a source said.
Akande had criticised the elections of Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker, saying their election was sponsored by some northern elites and drug barons, who he said, were out to scuttle President Buhari’s administration.
The APC chairman had repeatedly denied that he collected inducement over the election of leaders of the 8th National Assembly.
Responding to a question as to why Akande and Tinubu were not at the meeting, APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had told journalists in Abuja on Friday night that the duo are not members of NEC and may not have been invited by the National Working Committee (NWC) and NEC whose responsibility it was to extend invitation for meetings.
Mohammed said: “The National Legal Adviser of APC came to seek the approval of NEC as to certain categories of members who should be members of the Board of Trustees.
“The approval motion was moved and it was unanimously adopted.
“Subsequently, the NEC and the governors passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the party.”
Mohammed said the NEC had also provided an enabling platform to look into the National Assembly logjam and that the meeting rose with two firm resolutions.
He said: “The President of the Senate and the Speaker also pledged to find lasting solution to the logjam.
“Two points were unanimously agreed on today. One was the issue of party supremacy. It was agreed that the party should be supreme. Secondly, this government must work. It must deliver on its campaign promises and bring about the change the people of Nigeria want.”
Mohammed admitted that there was a problem but emphasised that the NEC had provided an enabling environment to resolve the party issues.
He said: “We have a problem and we must find the best way to resolve it. This house, which is the APC, must not fall. The less we say about the logjam, the better for the nation. Let us dwell on issues that can move the country forward, bring about cohesion, not just in the party but in the polity.
“I cannot say yes or no that the Senate president and the speaker have been accepted because I will be pre-empting NEC, but the party is working to resolve the crisis.”
At the instance of the party’s governors, the NEC mandated the 22 governors to resolve the National Assembly leadership crisis.
The governors had on Friday night met with the warring parties in the crisis from the Senate and House of Representatives at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, but the peace moves reportedly failed.
The peace moves were reconvened again on Saturday but the discussions were on last night at WP’s press time.