There are indications that the Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (NCECPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not have its tenure extended after all.
An emergency meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has been fixed for Tuesday where the issue of tenure extension is expected to feature prominently.
The current uncertainty over the fate of Buni, The Nation gathered, may not be unconnected with growing concern over the court case instituted against the caretaker leadership by a former National Vice Chairman, South-South, Chief Hillard Etta, and some other members of the dissolved National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Party sources said there are concerns over the possible outcome of the litigation and its likely effect on the caretaker national leadership as currently constituted.
Etta and others want the court to sack the Buni committee for allegedly infringing on the APC Constitution as well as well as the 1999 Constitution.
Sources close to the group told The Nation that the resolve to approach the court arose from fears that Buni and his backers might have plans to hijack the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, contrary to its terms of operation.
The court case is said to have come as a huge shock to the NCECPC and its promoters.
One source said: “Coming at a time when the party appears to be making progress in its effort to reconcile its warring groups and uniting the party ahead of an elective convention expected to give the APC a substantive NWC, the litigation by Etta and others threw spanners in the works for those working hard towards getting an extension for Buni’s team.
“Chief among the worries within the party now is that the court case is capable of returning the APC to the dark days of multiple leaderships.
“Should the court grant the prayers sought by the litigants, a serious leadership crisis will hit the party and this may not be easy to resolve.
“Truth be told, not many people saw this coming, and it has really created fresh anxiety within the party ahead of Tuesday’s NEC meeting. There is concern for the caretaker committee’s continued stay now.
“Don’t forget that issues were raised by the litigants on the composition of the caretaker committee.
“It is difficult to predict what the outcome of the case will be but there are worries that should it go the other way, a leadership crisis of a serious proportion may rock the party.
“Of course as we speak, efforts are on to get the litigants to discontinue the case in line with the directives of both President Muhammadu Buhari and the party.”
The Nation gathered that despite appeals and overtures by many stakeholders during the week, Etta and his group are unwilling to back down as they insist that the Buni-led committee should not be allowed to preside over a convention of the party to avoid another leadership crisis in future.
According to reliable sources, it may not be possible to get the litigants to backtrack in their quest for legal reprieve.
“It is true that pressure is being mounted on the litigants to discontinue the case but not much has been achieved in that regard.
“Etta and his people appear very determined in their quest to see through their case in the court of law. And their argument that Governor Buni and some other members of his committee should not be holding party offices is a source of concern within the party. So is their prayer that they should be returned to office.
“Should the court grant any of these, APC will return to the era of multiple leaderships.
“Some people are now saying to avoid that, the party should elect substantive officials as soon as possible.
“The idea is that with elected officials in position, it may be easier to either convince the litigants to soft-pedal or win the case on technical grounds.
“Such considerations are now threatening initial plans to get the tenure of the caretaker committee extended,” a source said.
Findings made by The Nation also suggests a possibility of the NEC meeting being postponed if promoters of Buni’s team fail to get assurance of enough support for their bid before Tuesday.
“A lot of our leaders still believe the caretaker committee should be given more time to unite the party and improve its fortune through programmes like the new membership registration.
“They are still struggling to get enough support for their plan before Tuesday.”