The All Progressives Congress, APC, is in a dilemma over the imminent vacancy being created by the departure of its veteran spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Officials of the party are said to be in quandary over the ill-defined succession procedures as laid in its constitution that could make Mohammed’s present deputy, Comrade Timi Frank, to succeed him.
Frank, an associate of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, had in the past openly called for the resignation of the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and also, severally contradicted official party spokesman, Alhaji Mohammed.
Mohammed was penultimate week confirmed as a minister and by the provisions of the constitution no officer of the party can at the same time serve in the government.
Mohammed is one of three officers who are exiting or have exited to the executive branch of government. The others are Engr. Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, who was the national vice chairman, Northeast, and Alhaji Umar Raddah, the national welfare secretary who is now the chief of staff to Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State.
However, Mohammed’s imminent exit, Vanguard gathered, is said to be posing a strong challenge to party officials as many in the party hierarchy are uncomfortable with Frank who had in the past viciously rebelled against the mainstream of the party.
At the height of the party’s crisis over the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly, Frank had called for the resignation of Odigie-Oyegun for supposedly mishandling the affair and also slammed Lai Mohammed.
He had said “The party’s national chairman caused it because times out of number, some of the leaders told him to come up with a zoning formula from the beginning. He was asked to take a decision and let people follow that but he didn’t do that. They were playing hide and seek with the issue until the last minute when they saw the danger, and they wanted to play hanky-panky, which led us to lose one position at the Senate.
“In my own view, If Lai Mohammed that is my direct boss could come up to tell Nigerians that the President is only a product of the party and not the national leader of the party, then he should have been able to tell us who the leader of the party is.”
Upon this and other antecedents, Vanguard gathered that membersof the NWC are finding it difficult to admit him into their fold.
The other option opened to the party, a high level source said at the weekend, is to have a mini-convention where Mohammed’s position and other vacant offices would be filled.
However, the source said that the party is constrained by the fact that it is limited by the number of mini-conventions it can conduct within the lifetime of an executive given the fact that the party conducted a special mini-convention just before the presidential convention last November.
Party sources disclosed that the National Working Committee, NWC had recently confirmed that deputies could in the absence of substantive officers act until the offices are filled.
Vanguard, however, gathered that the case of Frank succeeding Mohammed has sent shudders down the spine of almost all NWC members as they fear that he could rock the boat.
One option that could come under contemplation is a provision of the APC constitution under Article 17 which gives the NWC and other organs of the party the power to remove a member of that organ of the party upon a vote of no confidence endorsed by two-thirds of the officials of that organ.
The provision states:
Subject to ratification by the National Convention or Congress an Officer shall be relieved of his post at any time if a vote of “No Confidence” is passed on him by two-thirds of members of the relevant Party organ.
Pursuant to this Constitution, where a vote of “No Confidence” has been passed on an Officer, the relevant Party organ shall appoint another person to act in his place pending ratification by the National Convention or Congress.