Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai last night explained why the All Progressives Congress (APC) caretaker chairman had to be pushed aside.
According to him, certain actions and inactions of Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni put the ruling party at risk because they were a hindrance to the plan to hold the convention on March 26.
El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television programme, said he had the authority of Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu to explain the action that led to the appointment of Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello as acting chairman of APC.
He said 19 of the 23 governors elected on the ticket of the party were on same page on the mission to prevent the party from collapsing. He did not name the four governors that are not with them.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on two-week medical vacation in London, it was gathered, has rebuffed lobbyists trying to bring back Buni.
Buni and Caretaker Secretary James Akpanudoedehe have been excluded from the revised caretaker committee, inaugurated yesterday by acting Chairman Sani Bello.
The party announced March 17 for the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
El-Rufai said the governors met with President Buhari on Sunday, shortly before his London trip to obtain his approval for the plan to proceed with preparations for the convention and to hold a NEC meeting to ratify critical decision ons way the forward.
He confirmed that an injunction has been obtained following a request from the court by a party member to the effect that the party should not hold its convention until his grievances have been addressed.
El-Rufai, who said Buni was aware and neither informed the party nor did anything on it, said efforts had commenced now to vacate the injunction which he described as “a weapon of mass destruction”, planned to use to scuttle the convention.
He said the fate of caretaker secretary James Akpanudoedehe had been decided after he refused to take instruction from acting Chairman Bello who took over on Monday.
El-Rufai said: “We got a wind of a court process wherein an order had been gotten directing that the convention should not be held until the determination of the case. And it was unfortunate that, our lawyer engaged by Buni-led committee agreed with this in court. If this remains, how can the convention be done?
“We got signals that there were some elements in the party that were bent on scuttling the proposed March 26 convention.
“And if we miss that date, the following Saturday, will be Ramadan and that means we would not be able to have convention until after Ramadan. That means we would have lost another month according to INEC’s timetable.
“Based on this, we met with the president to discuss a number of issues with him like zoning formulae, which the president signed off on.
“We went the second time to inform the president that the zoning formula he signed off on had not been sent back to us.
“Instead, we were hearing about another list, which we knew was not from Mr. President.
“The President agreed with us and directed that with immediate effect, Governor Buni must go and that Governor Bello should take over the headship of the party.
“The president directed that we must do everything possible to ensure the convention holds. I can tell you that Bello has the full backing of the president and at least 19 of the 23 APC governors. Then, you can see that since Monday that Bello took over, we have made a lot of progress.”
Asked if their action was constitutional, El-Rufai said: “We had to intervene when we saw that the party was drifting and we are happy and satisfied with our action, though some didn’t want the party to progress.
“It is unfortunate that some politicians’ ambition was putting the party at risk and the President was not happy when he heard about the sinister motive.
“I can confirm to you that Mai Mala has stepped aside and I can assure you that when he returns to the country, he will not assume any position.
“We do not have any personal disagreement with Mai Mala Buni, as he was also a victim of many of the intrigues that played out.”
On the secretary, he said: “The CECCP has taken action on the secretary and I believe that whatever they do is done in accordance with the law.
“We want to send the message to everyone that the party is no longer at risk and we are already reaching out to all sides and camps within the party.