Nigeria’s ruling party could face a stormy future ahead of next year’s elections as President Muhammadu Buhari called for the reversal of a one-year tenure extension recently granted the party chief and other top members.
In an address on Tuesday to the All Progressive Congress (APC) National Executive Committee, Buhari said the tenure extension violates the West African country’s Constitution and internal rules guiding party administration.
APC Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun is the major subject of the tenure controversy.
Last month, the committee extended the tenure of all its officials — from the state to national level — by one year, sparking grumblings from within the party. The tenure of the officials was due to end by June.
Some party bigwigs say fresh congresses in an election year may further tear the party apart and harm its chances. Many other prominent party stakeholders, however, reject the extension, calling it illegal.
Buhari seems to side with the latter, although he was privy to the extension in February.
“I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the [recent NEC] resolution and what I have found is that [the tenure extension] contravenes our party constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the president told hundreds of top party chiefs and government officials in the capital city Abuja.
“The APC Constitution Article 17 … limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election,” he argued. “The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria … also prescribes periodic election for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.”
Buhari said the tenure extension opens the party to a legal logjam, as is already happening, and makes the APC seem lawless — things the president said he is unwilling to condone as its national leader.
Buhari’s position represents a serious upset for the party, which is already grappling with costly internal schisms less than a year to the general election in which the president is thought to want another term.
Many party big shots had rebelled against the tenure extension, while a state chapter has already filed a suit to challenge it.
Party spokesman Bolaji Abdullahi said the NEC meeting has set up a committee to discuss Buhari’s position, but added the officials affected remain validly in office until they are officially removed.