APC Probes Deputy Spokesperson Critical of Chairman Oyegun
The All Progressives Congress on Wednesday set up an ad-hoc disciplinary committee to investigate "activities" of the deputy publicity secretary, Timi Frank, who has been relentless in his harsh criticisms of chairman John Oyegun.
The party's vice chairman for south-south, Hilliard Eta, inaugurated the committee chaired by Solomon Edoja.
"It is a disciplinary committee because there is a petition lying in front of us in respect of the activities of Mr. Timi Frank who is the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party," Mr. Edoja said on Wednesday.
"We've just been inaugurated. We will soon invite him to state his own side of the story. We are also going to invite the petitioner because the legal procedure is that you have to hear from both sides before you can reach the decision. We are going to subject our recommendation to the zonal executive committee for ratification."
But Mr. Frank, speaking with PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning, said he believed the committee was set up to punish him.
"I am aware of the strategies and the gimmicks," said Mr. Frank, "but I'll not be distracted. I am just going to face my course. I am not worried about it."
"It is not easy to suspend me. There is a process. And I am not going to appear before any committee. The committee lacks the credibility to invite me."
Mr. Frank has persistently criticised Mr. Oyegun as incapable of leading the party.
Trouble started when Mr. Frank unilaterally opposed the party leadership during National Assembly's leadership elections last year.
The party endorsed Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for the positions of Senate President and Speaker respectively; but Mr. Frank backed the eventual winners - Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara.
Also, after the party's publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, was made a minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Frank expected he would by virtue of his position emerge as the party's spokesperson.
That was not to be as Mr. Oyegun and the national secretary, Mala Buni, said only they could henceforth speak for the ruling party.
Mr. Frank also recently backed former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, in asking Mr. Oyegun to resign over alleged fraud in the September 3 Ondo APC governorship primaries.
Asked what he ultimately had in view to be firing blistering remarks at Mr. Oyegun, he said the chairman "has failed in his capacity to run the party."
There have been insinuations Mr. Oyegun is pushing for a former minister and Mr. Saraki's loyalist, Bolaji Abdullahi, to replace Lai Mohammed as party spokesperson.
Against this background, Mr. Frank, also an ally of Mr. Saraki, was asked if conflict would not arise between him and the Senate President.
"I am loyal to the Senate President," he said. "I have no conflict with him. If the Senate President takes any decision, I'll support it."
"But I know the Senate President will not support illegality. I respect Bolaji Abdullahi.
because we are still loyal to one boss. Bolaji Abdullahi is not the issue. In truth, the position of publicity secretary belongs to the North Central, Kwara State. So, I don't have problem with it if they want to bring Bolaji Abdlullahi but there is a process to follow.
"The Chairman does not have the power to appoint. This is not a Ministry. Oyegun fails to understand he's no longer permanent secretary. This is why he's not able to manage the party effectively.
"The process is to convene NEC and then go to convention. Oyegun should not put this party to shame. This is a battle I must fight to finish."
Mr. Frank said he had the capacity to form a strong splinter party from APC, the way Julius Malema did in South Africa.
The committee asked to investigate Mr. Frank said it received a petition from a member of the party in Akwa-Ibom State, Aneka Akpabio, against the deputy publicity secretary.
Other members of the committee are Utufam Etah, Ben Opute (Secretary) Wilson Samuel, Dan Akpan and Tony Odey.
"Be that as it may, the APC wants to tell the world that the party is supreme, our constitution is supreme, and if there are infractions, we have to follow due process to attain whatever petition that comes before us," Mr. Edoja said.
He said his committee, which has two weeks to work, will be fair and transparent in its operations.