Again, President Muhammadu Buhari has pulled rank on the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in his capacity as the party’s leader.
This time around, the president has insisted that aggrieved aspirants and members of the party have the right to seek redress in court if they feel deprived of their rights.
The president, who made his stance known yesterday in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, was reacting to APC’s directive last week to all its aggrieved members, especially aspirants who lost in the primaries, to use the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanism to seek redress, rather that dragging the party to court.
Last Tuesday reported that with the party’s warning to such aggrieved aspirants and members, who might test the will of the party on the matter, that severe penalties await them, the APC may have dumped its carrot approach in resolving the crises that arose from its primary elections across the country.
Specifically, the National Working Committee (NWC) had warned that full compliance to the directive was not optional, stressing that aggrieved members who took the party or any of its officers to court without exhausting the available channels of redress had already breached the spirit and the intendment of the APC constitution.
But in the statement issued by Adesina yesterday in Abuja, President Buhari overruled the party, saying if anyone is displeased with the way and manner anything has been done, and feels deprived of his or her rights, such a person is at liberty to approach the courts for redress.
Buhari said, “We can’t deliberately deny people their rights. We agreed that party primaries should be conducted either through direct, indirect or consensus methods, and if anyone feels unjustly treated in the process, such a person can go to court.
“The court should always be the last resort for the dissatisfied. For the party to outlaw the court process is not acceptable to me.”
This is not the first time the president has used his position as APC national leader to override the decision of the party.
Buhari had in March this year stunned the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party when he declared that the one-year tenure extension granted the John Odigie-Oyegun National Working Committee (NWC) and state chairmen of the party was unlawful.
Accordingly, the president, who apparently took the NEC members unawares with the sudden about-turn in his decision, asked the party to hold a national convention to elect its national leader as proceeding with the tenure extension would give opposition parties the opportunity to attack the party.
In the same vein, Buhari yesterday overturned the decision ascribed to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC last week in which it threatened to punish members across the country who had dragged the party to court over sundry issues.
Issuing the directive in statement issued last week by its national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC had said, “The party intends to activate constitutional provisions to penalise such members as their action is capable of undermining the party and hurt the party’s interest.
“We hereby strongly advise such members to withdraw all court cases, while approaching the appropriate party organs with a view to resolving any outstanding disputes. In addition to this, aggrieved members are urged to take full advantage of the reconciliation committees the party has put in place.
“APC members should understand that, as a progressive party that operates on the principle of change, it is not a matter of choice to keep to the rules.”
In a related development, President Buhari has advised party members to work with the reconciliation committees empanelled for the six geo-political zones by the APC, and not a purported presidential committee on reconciliation, stressing that the party is the only body authorised to constitute such committees.