ABUJA— The face-off between National Working Committee, NWC, of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, could assume a new dimension this week, following remarks by the governor that the NWC cannot be a judge in its case. The issue in question is the settling of issues arising from screening of aspirants for the June 23 national convention of the party. Speaking with journalists, weekend, in Abuja, the governor, who is the chairman of the party’s National Convention Screening Appeal Committee, had said the committee was in receipt of petitions against the NWC, and that the committee was the last bus stop for all aggrieved aspirants.
He said the decision of his committee was final, adding that the committee had the powers to disqualify an aspirant that had hitherto been cleared by the Governor Aminu Masari-led screening committee. “If you don’t make the appeal screening, then you are disqualified because there is no other appeal after this,” he told journalists in Abuja. He also said there was a general petition as to whether members of the NWC of the party could be judges in their own cases, “having supervised the congresses and now coming to present themselves for election; we are also looking at that.” He said if his committee upheld the position of the screening committee on the 19 persons, “it means they have been disqualified from contesting the election. ‘’If there is anybody who has been screened and there is a petition against him, we have power to uphold his qualification or disqualify him based on the merits of the petition. “The screening appeal is the final appeal in this case. After this appeal committee, the next appeal will be after election, which will come after the convention.’’ However, in an telephone interview with Vanguard, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the NWC had the final say on the activities of the committee set up by it. He said: “The NWC will still be the final arbiter just like in all cases. It is still a committee set up by the party. It is just like in the case of the congresses, you know we set up appeal committees. ‘’So, when they bring their reports, it is the NWC that will still take the final decision on those issues.” Tenure war resurfaces Meanwhile, Vanguard checks revealed that some forces who are uncomfortable with the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC have been perfecting plans to ensure that the committee was ousted before its tenure lapses. Top party sources told Vanguard that the forces are asking the Presidency to send the NWC packing because they were elected on June 13, 2014. However, Vanguard gathered that when the issue came up at last Wednesday’s NWC meeting, members opined that their tenure could not have ended on the day they were elected but on the day they were inaugurated. “Even if it was to have ended on that day, nature abhors a vacuum. So, somebody has to steer the ship to the harbour,” the source stated. When contacted, Abdullahi said the tenure of the NWC would end in July. “Of course, it is when you are inaugurated. For example, President Buhari’s election was in March but he was no t inaugurated until May. ‘’So, his tenure did not start counting until May 29 when he was sworn in. So, it is the day that the NWC took the oath of office that their tenure will start counting and I think they did not take the oath of office until around July,” he said.