The sudden resignation of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, was spurred by the manner they handled the contentious audit report of the party’s account, The PUNCH has learnt.

This is as indications emerged that President Bola Tinubu and governors elected on the platform of the party have started shopping for a replacement for the departed officials.

Adamu and Omisore handed over their resignation letters on Sunday amid controversies about the reason for their actions.

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Their resignation letters were officially confirmed at an emergency meeting held by the National Working Committee at the party headquarters in Abuja on Monday.

The announcement was made by Adamu’s successor, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who has taken over the mantle of leadership in acting capacity in line with the party’s constitution.

Omisore’s attempt to join the NWC meeting was thwarted as he was prevented from accessing the venue.

Aggrieved NWC members told our correspondent on Monday that the contention over the manner the two men handled the audit of the party’s account, refusal to render party account for one year, lack of transparency, violation of the party constitution and running a one-man show without the contribution of the National Working Committee, were responsible for their downfall.

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, an NWC member stated, “The final straw that broke the camel’s back was the manner they (Adamu and Omisore) contracted the audit account to an external auditor without the consent of the NWC or NEC.

“When the audit was completed, rather than extend it to members of the committee for scrutiny, Adamu and Omisore both signed and forwarded it to INEC. That aroused suspicions and further made the NWC to inform President Bola Tinubu and the APC governors of an imminent implosion if the tension is not doused on time.”

A party chieftain at the secretariat, who also craved anonymity, also gave a similar narration.

The NWC member stated that the process for rendering the party’s account should have been followed, including the use of the party’s internal audit department.

He said, “Before you send anything to the regulator (INEC), you must allow the management of a company to finish its work. When the board looks at it, they will take it to the general meeting. It is even after that the company can consider sending it to the regulator.

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“In this case, the management has not even looked at it. The audit report was signed primarily by the secretary and the chairman. Yet, we have rules and regulations that guide how things should be done.”

On why Omisore was humiliated and barred from joining the NWC meeting, the source said the former secretary no longer had any business in the secretariat.

“I am not making excuses for him. But if I were him, I wouldn’t have bothered turning up at the secretariat instead of allowing it to get to this level. Unlike the chairman, who was given a ‘dignified exit’ in the sense that he didn’t bother to show up for the meeting,” he stated.

Addressing journalists after the NWC parley, Kyari confirmed that Omisore has been officially replaced with the Deputy National Secretary of the party, Festus Fuanter.

Fuanter, who hails from Plateau State, officially assumed his new position as the acting national secretary on Monday.

Kyari stated, “We are here to address the happenings and recent developments regarding the party. The NWC wishes to inform you about the resignation of the National Chairman Senator Abdullahi Adamu and that of the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore.

“According to the Constitution of the APC, it is now in tandem with my humble self as the Deputy National Chairman (North) to assume the office of the Acting National Chairman. Consequently too, the Deputy National Secretary, Barrister Festus Fuanter, will now assume the office of Acting National Secretary of All Progressives Congress.’’

Continuing, Kyari also used the opportunity to disclose that the proposed National Caucus and National Executive Committee meetings slated for July 18 and 19 have been shelved.

“With the recent development, we implore everybody here that the proposed National Caucus and National Executive Committee meetings slated for July 18 and 19, 2023 are hereby postponed. This postponement is not indefinite. A new date will be communicated in the nearest future,” he stated.

When quizzed on what led to their resignation, the acting chairman declined to give further information, saying the development would be disclosed at a future date.

The session, which started at about 11.00am, had in attendance the National Organising Secretary of the party, Suleiman Arugungu; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Nze Duru; National Leader of APC Persons with Disability, Tolu Bankole; Deputy National Chairman (South), Emma Eneukwu; National Vice-Chairman (North-East), Salihu Mustapha; National Vice-Chairman, North-west, Dr. Salihu Lukman.

Asked if the party would invite the anti-graft agencies to probe Adamu’s tenure, Kyari stated that it wasn’t an important option the party is considering at the moment.

According to him, the APC is not interested in sending anti-graft operatives after Adamu and Omisore.

“There are no allegations against them. Both of them resigned voluntarily and that is what is available at this moment. But the details of their resignation will be made known to you in the nearest future,” he reassured.

In a related development, the Deputy National Organising Secretary, Nze Chidi Duru also frowned at the idea of inviting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe Adamu.

Duru, however, admitted that a committee has been set up to look into the audit report.

“We are presently studying the audit sent to INEC. In truth, before the idea of sending such an audit to the commission can be conceived, it is the duty of NEC to first review it. After that, the audit department of the NWC will also look at it. Once that is done, it will be submitted to the NEC for approval and it is circulated to the regulator.

“But in Adamu’s case, the audit was not even brought up for discussion. The next thing we heard was that it had gone to INEC. That was the worst infraction.”

When asked what the ruling party plans to do if Kyari, who was said to be a ministerial nominee takes up the appointment, Duru explained that an emergency convention would have to be held before he quits the office.

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He also allayed fear that the exit of Adamu and Omisore may have left the leadership of the APC in the hands of two NWC members from the North.

“I agree with you that the new leadership may be a short one, knowing that he is one of those being considered for ministerial post. So an emergency convention will need to be summoned to elect their replacements.

“Secondly, this exigency has led to the emergence of two northerners at the leadership of the party. My understanding of this is, it is not a circumstance that was not expected. It has happened and the APC will begin the process of involving the party and the organs to meet immediately to quickly address it,” he stated.

The deputy national organizing secretary, however, confessed that the NWC has not discussed on a definite date for the convention to choose new leaders to occupy the vacant positions.

He said, “No date has been chosen for the convention yet. But I am sure in the coming days, you will get to hear more about it. I may not be too sure. But since the unveiling of ministers and screening may be concluded in the next three weeks or thereabout, Kyari will still be in charge in acting capacity until a substantive chairman emerges.”

Aside from the offices of the National Chairman and secretary, other positions that are presently vacant includes Deputy National Publicity Secretary, formerly occupied by Murtala Ajaka, who is running for the office of Kogi governor on the platform of Social Democratic Party and National Welfare Officer, which was previously occupied by the late Friday Nwosu.

Nwosu died in March after battling an undisclosed illness in a hospital in Abuja.

Prior to the announcement of new officers, Omisore had breezed into the national secretariat and made a futile attempt to join the NWC members midway through the session.

The senator, who arrived at about 11.20 am, was however barred from entering the conference hall where the meeting was being held.

He was said to have entered his office to pick some things before storming out of the party headquarters.

Efforts to reach Adamu and Omisore were unsuccessful as both politicians rejected calls to their phone.

But a lawyer to Omisore, Kayode Ajulo, said he had yet to be briefed by his client on the issue, noting that Omisore has not asked him to take any legal action on the development in the party.

He said, “He has not resigned. At 11:30am, he called me that he was on his way to the secretariat and he emphatically told me that he had not resigned. And I said but some people said there is a letter. He said if there is any letter, it is a memo on another issue, that it’s not resignation.”

Replacement plan begins
Meanwhile, following the exit of Adamu and Omisore, President Bola Tinubu and the APC governors have begun the process of getting suitable replacements for the duo.

Top party chieftains confirmed to The PUNCH on Monday that the APC governors and the President had begun wide consultations with a view to coming up with competent candidates that would replace the ousted party chieftains.

One of the APC governors told one of our correspondents that the govs elected on the party platform would come up with a list of possible candidates and consult with the President before reaching a final conclusion on the matter.

The governor also claimed that Adamu’s exit was not unconnected with his decision to openly criticise decisions made by the President and the party.

He said, “Tinubu’men have been watching Adamu since the conclusion of the poll but his cup became full when he criticised the recent emergence of the National Assembly principal officers. Remember that Adamu did not support the President during the primaries. He was the one that announced Senate President Lawan Ahmed as the party choice.

“He openly criticised decisions made by the president and the party. He did not initially support the emergence of Opeyemi Bamidele, Ali Ndume and others as principal officers. Also, when the Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker emerged, he spoke as if he didn’t agree with the zoning arrangement.”

On Omisore, the governor said, “Omisore fell out with Tinubu’s men during the Osun elections. They actually gave him the job because they felt he would deliver during the Osun governorship poll. Remember he was also accused by Lukman of mismanaging some party funds.’’

Meanwhile, a former National Legal Adviser of the APC, Muiz Banire, has said that disgruntled members of the NWC worried over the misappropriation, maladministration and highhandedness of Adamu, may have forced him to resign his position as the party’s National Chairman.

This was as he refuted claims that President Tinubu forced the national chairman to drop his resignation letter over his perceived rifts during the party primaries and general elections.

Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria revealed that the party constitution doesn’t have provisions on resignations, noting that the former national chairman didn’t resign voluntarily and was probably forced out of office.

Speaking on ChannelsTV PoliticsToday on Monday, the learned silk said, “Well certainly, the resignation of the national chairman is not ordinary, I believe that there must be some intrigues behind it, which is yet to be known to the people but am sure that the National Working Committee members are fully aware.

“The National Vice Chairman of North-West, Salihu Lukman has been raising many issues, particularly on the maladministration of the party and fund misappropriation. That could be part of it because I know that in the NWC, those are issues that usually come up or challenge the organ.

“So it is not unlikely as a result of those issues that have been in the public space for some time. It has reached its peak and could not be absolved again. I am not sure the resignation is voluntary, I might be wrong but I believe that the pressure of the other colleagues forced them to tender their resignation.’’