The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, will today (Friday) lead state chairmen of the party to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
The visit is coming a day after governors elected on the platform of the party met behind closed doors with the President.
Thursday’s meeting was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari.
However, the national chairman of the APC said to have been expected at the meeting was absent.
A top member of the APC, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “The two meetings are part of efforts to avoid the party’s disintegration after Buhari’s second term.”
The APC is currently battling with crises in Edo, Bayelsa , Anambra, Edo and Ondo states.
Buhari had, at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting last month, urged all members to unite.
The President said history would not be fair to members if the APC collapsed after his second term. He said history would be fair to the APC if the party remained strong, by not only holding the centre but also making gains.
An associate of the APC national chairman said Oshiomhole was not formally invited to the meeting on Thursday and so couldn’t have been expected at the meeting.
He said, “It was a meeting with the APC governors so the national chairman was not supposed to be at the meeting. It is tomorrow (Friday) that he will be leading the state chairmen to see the President.”
Oshiomhole’s Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, did not answer calls to his phone and did not reply a text message on the matter.
The meeting will be the first between the President and the state chairmen after the 2019 general elections.
The Secretary of the Forum of APC State Chairmen and Enugu state chairman of the party, Dr Ben Nwoye, confirmed the scheduled meeting with the President.
“Yes, the national chairman is leading us tomorrow to the President on a courtesy visit,” he said.
Nwoye said the meeting had nothing to do with the call by some aggrieved members for the resignation of the national chairman.
According to him, Oshiomhole enjoys overwhelming support of the state chairmen, adding that the call smacked of irresponsible politicking.
Recall that some members of NEC of the party including a few state chairmen and non-National Working Committee members recently called for the resignation of the former Edo governor for alleged highhandedness in running the party.
Nwoye however said, “An overwhelming majority of the state chairmen have their unalloyed support for the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole, it is unwavering. We believe anyone talking about changing leadership at this time does not mean well for the party.
“We have just won Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections and by-elections in Niger and Katsina states.
“For a chairman doing his work diligently to ensure that everything falls in line…. We are about to make history by ensuring quick passage of the bill. This is because he ensured there is no sharing of principal offices with the opposition.”
Nwoye said the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and the executive was because of the efforts of the party to gain control of principal offices.
According to him, those against Oshiomhole are those opposed to party supremacy and discipline.
Nwoye added, “His stance has always been that people should follow the party’s constitution. He is instilling discipline so they want him out.
“To remove him they need two-thirds majority, they don’t have the number. As I speak with you he has the support of the state chairmen and non-working committee members.”
Edo crisis: Buhari begins troubleshooting
But it was gathered that Thursday’s meeting was part of efforts of the President to personally intervene in the Edo State chapter of the APC.
The Edo APC has been factionalised since after the 2019 elections with one group, Edo Peoples Movement led by Oshiomhole, and the other by the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
The crisis worsened last month when the rival factions suspended Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
The NWC led by Oshiomhole set up a five-member fact-finding committee on the crisis. The committee was headed by the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje. However, there were reports that Obaseki had rejected the committee, which had yet to submit its report.
The agenda of Buhari’s meeting was unknown and none of the governors, who were led by the Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Kebbi State, Mr Atiku Bagudu, agreed to speak with State House correspondents.
The PUNCH reports that the meeting, which started about 3.01pm, ended about 4.40pm.
Speculation at the venue indicated that the deepening political crisis in Edo State might be top on the items in the agenda.
The meeting came barely 24 hours after the Edo State House of Assembly declared the seats of all members loyal to Oshiomhole vacant on account of not meeting the constitutionally-required number of sitting days.
While Oshiomhole was not at the meeting, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, attended the meeting.
The Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai, also attended the meeting. He displayed some drama while arriving for the meeting and also caused a stir while leaving.
The governor was seen running to the meeting with two aides running behind him.
One of the aides tried to hand el-Rufai a document, which the governor hesitated before accepting.
He said, “What is this one? What is this one? What paper is this?” El-Rufai later accepted the document and tucked it into a file he clutched and kept running towards the venue of the meeting.
As the meeting ended, el-Rufai again ran out in top flight, barely acknowledging greetings.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was at the meeting. Fayemi, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, also hurried out of the venue.
All is not well with APC – Party NEC member
A member of the National Executive Committee of the APC who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said, “Much as I will not want to speculate, it will not be out of place to believe the meeting is about the future of our party.”
He said the fact that the patty chairman was not at the meeting was the evidence that all was not well, because according to him, “the chairman is in town.”
The source said, “We can’t pretend, there are issues. Although one or two members of the National Working Committee spoke in defence of Adams Oshiomhole after the DG of the Progressive Governors’ Forum wrote his letter, did any of our governors disown him? It shows the man did not act alone. The chairman has lost our confidence and he knows it.”
Other governors seen leaving the meeting were those of Jigawa (Abubakar Badaru); Plateau (Simon Lalong), Borno (Babagana Zulum); Nasarawa (Abdullahi Sule); Ogun (Dapo Abiodun); Osun (Adegboyega Oyetola); Gombe (Muhammad Yahaya); and Niger (Abubakar Bello).
The Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Mr David Onoja, represented Governor Yahaya Bello at the meeting.