Recall that the rulling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), retained Ondo State by the whiskers based on the Supreme Court scratching judgement.
Going by that Supreme Court pronouncement, the position of the National Chairman of APC, Mai Mala Buni, had raised concerns over the blank verdict of it’s illegality by the Apex Court.
Hence, it was learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then in London, had directed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to take charge of the legal concerns and come up with a decision in the overall interest of the party.
Osinbajo, wasted no time in summoning a meeting of all the lawyers in the cabinet to deliberate on what to do as the congresses were just a day away, Saturday to be precise.
At the meeting, competent sources said, the consensus of opinions was that the party should pause the congresses slated for last Saturday before weighing other options.
But only Malami objected, arguing that the exercise could go ahead, regardless of the Supreme Court pronouncement.
Those in attendance at the meeting which held at the Vice President’s office were ; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Labour, Mr. Festus Keyamo; and Professor Tahir Mamman, a former Director General of the Nigeria Law School and legal adviser/member of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC.
After what allegedly turned out a heated debate, everyone at the meeting, it was gathered, agreed that the first step to addressing the “elephant in the room” was to suspend the congresses, which unfortunately, held last weekend.
A majority of those in attendance, shared some of the argument that followed the Supreme Court judgment on Ondo and had contended that it was only logical to minimize the damage the APC might suffer in the final analysis, by first suspending the congresses and then, fashion out other possible options.
But Malami would have none of it. “He disagreed with the submissions of others and insisted that the congresses could go ahead.”
“The resolution reached was to suspend the congresses,” a source privy to the meeting stated.
“While debate was still on, Osinbajo was said to have made effort to reach the President by phone to intimate him of developments but failed”.
Having reached the decision to pause the congress, Osinbajo decided to call Governor Buni on the resolution to suspend to congresses scheduled for Saturday.
But to his shock, Buni flatly rejected his directive, insisting like Malami that the congresses would go ahead as planned. Malami and Buni belong to the CPC tendency of the APC.
It was a bemused Osinbajo, who watched helplessly as Buni refused to obey his directive to suspend the congresses.
According to sources, Malami and Buni’s hesitance to discard experts’ opinions despite glaring danger might have been because some people identified as cabal in the presidency did not want to lose their current hold on the party especially, that they were believed to have had a choice presidential candidate in mind, of which a change in the course of the party could undo.
The truth of the matter is that the APC is currently facing an existential threat as two major tendencies wrestle for control of the party.
These tendencies as represented by the legacy parties that merged to form the ruling party – the Congress for Progressive Change and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).