By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has said All Progressives Congress(APC) governors discovered a grand conspiracy between the lawyers of the ousted chairman of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee(CECPC), Mai Mala Buni; and some fifth columnists to postpone the national convention of the party through a court injunction.
El-Rufai, who spoke on Channels Television programme, ‘Politics Today’ also revealed that after the governors discovered the plan, they informed President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, who ordered the immediate removal of Buni and the installment of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State as the acting chairman.
The Kaduna State Governor added that the plan was to postpone the convention till May which coincides with the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) for all political parties to conduct their presidential primaries.
He said the court injunction which was obtained in November last year, was never challenged by Buni. Rather, Buni’s lawyers agreed with the position of those who instituted the suit.
“We got to know of a court order last year. It was obtained in November. A member of the party went to court to say there must not be a convention until his case against the party is disposed of which can take months or years and the lawyers of Buni went to court and agreed with the person and nobody knew about this order.
“It was a hidden nuclear weapon to destroy the convention which further made us believe that there are fifth columnists in the party that want to bring this party down because if we don’t have (convention) and we go ahead with the primaries we might likely have our candidates lose all their seats as the case in Zamfara.
“We reported to the President that no action had been taken on the order. He said the Niger State Governor must take over on Monday and we should use whatever legal means necessary to make sure that the convention is delivered,” El-Rufai said.
El-Rufai stated that at least 19 out of the 23 APC governors as well as the President were firmly behind Bello as the new caretaker chairman of the party.
He said there were about two governors who were still backing Buni, adding that they were the ones sponsoring fake news.
“Bello has the President’s full backing and the backing of at least 19 of the 23 progressive governors and deputy governors. There are some governors not fully on board and are the ones planting fake stories. Since Monday he took over, we have substantial progress,” the governor said.
El-Rufai disclosed that the President had signed off on some recommendations including the issue of zoning but the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, refused to take instructions from Governor Bello who is the acting chairman.
The Kaduna governor said Udoedehe, who has continued to issue statements insisting that Buni remained chairman, would be dealt with when the time is right.
He added that the National Executive Council meeting, which is the highest decision-making body of the party, would be meeting next week along with the 23 APC governors, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Buhari who would be joining the meeting virtually.
“I can assure you that even when he (Buni) returns to the country, he will handle no position. The national secretary, I believe, the CECPC has taken action against him already. The CECPC has taken a decision on him. The CECPC will explain this decision in due time,” El-Rufai added.
The governor said all the APC governors had relocated to Abuja and would continue to work round the clock to ensure that the convention holds on March 26.
APC governors stabbing sick Buni in the back- Udoedehe
But in a swift reaction, Udoedehe denied the allegations levelled against the Buni-led committee.
Udoedehe, in an interview with Channels Television, described the action of the APC governors as treacherous, accusing them of stabbing Buni in the back because he was out of the country on medical treatment and was not in a position to defend himself.
Udoedehe also dismissed El-Rufai’s threat to remove him, adding that no man should elevate himself above God.
He said it was unfortunate that the likes of El-Rufai were badmouthing Buni before the President despite the many achievements he had attained in the APC since he took over in 2020.
The secretary argued that all the decisions taken by Buni were backed by the governors, wondering why they were throwing him under the bus.
“The only advantage they have is that they can smooth-talk. Buni does not talk much. Why didn’t they refuse when the party handed the structures to the governors? Why did they not come to the national secretariat then to complain?
“Now, almost all the states the governors are controlling are in court seeking that the convention should be stopped because they need to settle their cases, that is not my concern but I want you to close your eyes and see a brother of yours lying on a sick bed being operated upon and you see your follow governors holding knife and stabbed you on your bed; you would understand this kind of person these people are.
“It is like the case of Caesar and Brutus. After working so hard for the party, they stuck their knives in him. If you have love, why did you take the issue to the President? Their aim was to paint him black before the President. They know this President loves Buni. This is the only person that is loyal to the President. None of them loves the President like Buni. They are agents of destruction, Nigerians should disregard these people. They are playing to the gallery,” Udoedehe said.