Convention: APC battles consensus crisis as Buhari, governors meet Tuesday


• Chairmanship aspirant laments planned postponement

The All Progressives Congress governors and the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), will this week pick a new date for APC national convention, which was earlier slated for February 26.

The APC, which had invited the Independent National Electoral Commission to monitor its convention at the Eagle Square in Abuja, has failed to sell forms to any aspirant with less than six days to go.

This came to the fore on Sunday as the party was battling to resolve crisis caused by its move to choose its next national working committee members through consensus.

Also on Sunday, a top source in the Presidency disclosed that the President would meet the APC governors on Tuesday.

The source, who spoke anonymously, said, “The meeting is holding on Tuesday. That’s the plan for now.”

The party, which has been shifting its convention since December 2020, is set to postpone it for the fourth time following the inability of the 22 APC governors to agree on issues involving zoning and the mode of election.

While the initial plan was to zone the chairmanship seat to the North-Central and let those qualified to slug it out, there are now plans to endorse one individual who will be unanimously affirmed by delegates to the convention on the instruction of the governors. However, the governors are looking to Buhari for direction on who to endorse, a move the President has failed to make.

A chairmanship aspirant, Sunny Moniedafe, lamented that the party was planning on postponing the convention yet again.

Moniedafe told The PUNCH that he had already booked hotel rooms and flights for his friends and supporters that would be coming into Abuja for the convention.

Moniedafe stated, “Honestly speaking, I am disappointed with the situation. These things could have been handled differently. Everyone knows that we have just six days left so it is nearly impossible, definitely, this convention will not hold on February 26 and this could have been avoided.

“There is nothing wrong in telling us early enough that the convention would not hold. Personally, I have been waiting for this convention for the last 20 months. I started (campaigning) in June 2020. I was thinking they would do it in December 2020 but they moved it and I continued. In June 2021, they shifted it again but I continued. It has been traumatic for me and Nigerians. This is unfair.

“They should let us know on time whether they will be holding the convention on the 26th or not because people are coming from all over. Tickets have been bought. Let them tell us on time so we can reschedule. I have also reserved hotel rooms. Let us know so we can rebook the rooms.”

He said some persons in the party were trying to play God, adding that this would not augur well for the APC. Moniedafe, however, refused to reveal the identities of those he accused.

The former Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria FCT chapter, said no one had reached out to any of the aspirants for a consensus.

He added, “Some people are trying to play, attempting to foist someone as chairman. Whoever is doing this is wrong. This thing must stop. Nobody should play God. They are considering putting someone who is not even interested in the chairmanship seat. They should stop playing God.”

Another chairmanship aspirant, Alhaji Saliu Mustapha, told The PUNCH that no aspirant in the race is withdrawing as a result of a consensus arrangement.

He said, “There is nothing like that, in fact, I am not aware of anything like withdrawal of aspirants and I do not think any of them has been asked to withdraw from the race. Nobody has spoken to anybody on a consensus arrangement and the aspirants have never met to sit down to make these decisions yet.

“Of course time will come that they might call us or we might even sit ourselves down, but it has not happened yet. We look forward to a successful convention and we hope one of us will definitely emerge as a winner and we will not take it as a do or die affair, but nobody has called us yet on that matter.”

An aide of a governor in the South-West, who confided in one of our correspondents, stated, “Issues such as consensus, unity list and zoning will be on the agenda when the governors meet on Monday.  May boss is already in Abuja There is no way the convention will hold on Saturday. March 12 is being considered.”

Party battles consensus crisis

But there were strong indications on Sunday that the APC was facing a tough task pushing the consensus arrangement for choosing its national chairman and other members of the National Working Committee.

The PUNCH gathered that the party leaders and some governors on Friday almost succeeded in convincing other chieftains to accept the immediate past Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura as the consensus chairman but some others raised an objection and expressed preference for Senator Sani Musa.

A governor in the North-West, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, stated,” The national convention is likely to be shifted by another two weeks at least to allow for more consultations and fence mending among our party leaders and stakeholders.

“Many of our party leaders opted for consensus and it was almost scaled through until last Friday when another set of party leaders kicked against it.

“Presently, the party leaders are reaching out to those against consensus arrangement with a view to wooing them to support the strategy. The convention will hold after the ongoing consultation.”

State chapters confirm readiness, await Buni’s signal

However, the APC leaders in the state have expressed readiness for the February 26 convention, adding that they were waiting for the APC caretaker committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni to update them on the state of things.

The Gombe State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Moses Kyari, told The PUNCH that there are indications that the convention may be postponed by two weeks.

Kyari disclosed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent, stressing that the chapter would support any one with the interest of the party at heart.

He noted that preparation until the recent possible postponement was in top gear, stressing that he was currently in Abuja.

Kyari said, “It may be postponed by two weeks. Although there is no official paper to that effect, there are such indications. We in Gombe APC will support anyone that has the interest of the party at heart.

“We are ready in Gombe, our delegates are all set for whatever the set date may be, as I talk to you now I’m in Abuja.”

The Abia State chapter of the party also told The PUNCH that it was ready and prepared for the party’s national convention.

The state Deputy Chairman of the party, Goldie Nwabara, said the party had concluded plans on how delegates would attend the convention, adding that the party had not said anything to the contrary.

He said that when the delegates get to Abuja, “they will take decision” on how and whom to vote, adding “leaders from our state will tell us” what to do.

In Zamfara State, the APC Publicity Secretary, Yusuf Idris, said arrangements have been concluded by the state chapter of the party to go to Abuja for the forthcoming national convention in Abuja.

Speaking to The PUNCH on Sunday, Idris said the party would be responsible for the transportation of all the delegates from Zamfara to Abuja.

Idris expressed optimism that the convention would hold at the stipulated time stressing that they had yet to receive any information to the contrary.

“I am sure that the convention will hold next week because up to this time that I am talking to you, we have not received any message from the national headquarters regarding postponement of the convention,” said Idris.

On the issue of the aspirant the state was going to support, Idris said, “We have not yet discussed this”.

Regarding the states’ chairmen meeting ahead of the convention, Idris said he was not aware of it adding however that, “they must attend a pre-convention meeting.

In Ondo State, a chieftain of the APC who craved anonymity told our correspondent that the forthcoming convention might not hold as, according to him, the national leadership of the party was not making any serious preparation towards ensuring that the convention would hold on February 26.

“I am not sure the convention will hold next Saturday because I don’t see any preparation on the ground. By now we ought to have had a series of meetings on how the positions would be allocated to each zone but nothing is on ground now. Last time the President wanted to meet with all the APC governors over the convention, but suddenly he called off the meeting and traveled to Belgium,” he said.

The Ondo State chairman of the APC, Mr Ade Adetimehin, told one of our correspondents that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu would decide the chairmanship aspirants the state chapter would support.

The Chairman of the APC in Delta State, Omeni Sobotie, said the state chapter was ready for Saturday’s convention in Abuja.

Responding to a question by The PUNCH, he said, “Yes, we are preparing for the convention, and there are all indications that the convention will hold. We are going there to support the best candidate among those who have indicated interest”

On how members will be transported, Sobotie said “It is not your business and there is no challenges in transportation every arrangement had been made”

Similarly, the Rivers State chapter of the APC said it was prepared to attend the convention.

The state APC spokesman, Chris Fynebone, stated this during a telephone interview with The PUNCH.

“We are preparing for the convention except there is information to the contrary. But for now we are prepared,” Fynebone stated.

On how members would be transported to the venue, he said,” We will do exactly how we’ve been doing it over the years. People go by air, some by road and all that. This year won’t be different.”

“So far we believe that the conversation will hold. But like one of our governors said. If it becomes extremely necessary that it be shifted, of course it would be shifted. Laws are made for man and not man for laws.”

On whether the state chairmen would meet and decide on who to support, Fynebone stated that the respective state party chairmen usually meet before the national convention, but added that he didn’t know the exact date.

In a related development, some youth members of the APC on Sunday declared their readiness to hold the party’s national convention slated for February 26.

This is as they said the current uncertainties around zoning of national offices is not enough to postpone the convention.

In a statement he signed on Sunday, Leader of the Progressive Youth Movement, Mustapha Audu, said, “Mr. President, we want to inform you that prior to your departure for Belgium, the youth wing of the APC, which according to the records are 35,000,000 strong have come together as one indivisible entity.

“One of the conditions stated for the reconciliation was the date of the APC National convention, which has been slated for February 26, 2022. As we write this letter, the schedule released by the CECPC for planning towards the conduct of the convention has all been violated.”

The schedule released on January 19 slated February 14 for sale of forms, the release of zoning arrangements and February 19 for return of forms deadline.

The PYM said, “The task at hand is enormous and far supersedes the personal interests of any interest group. The country is watching, and Mr President has promised February 26, 2022, for the APC National Convention.

“Any attempt to move this date shows that there is no regard for honesty or integrity, and this dents our image in the eyes of all Nigerians. It is worth noting that this date was decided over two months ago, and the CECPC has had more than enough time to put its house in order.”

The youth movement also decried the silence of the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee on the preparations for the convention.

This communication vacuum, it said, creates room for rampant speculations, further polarising the party.

Also, the immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Dr Salihu Lukman, accused the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of repeatedly disregarding agreed dates for the national convention, insisting that the February 26 date must be honoured; else, the CECPC must step down.

According to a statement he signed on Sunday titled ‘APC vs PDP: a comparative review of performances in government,’ the former DG described himself as a “Freelance APC Campaigner”.

He said the party was not having a crisis but an internal contest, adding that some people don’t want the contest to be resolved.

“And my position is simple. So long as due process is going to be followed, this contest will be resolved in favour of the emergence of new leadership,” he said.

“Consultations took place. A new decision was taken on February 5. Nothing happened! Now, there is a decision for February 26. A few days ago, forms were supposed to be sold. They said forms could not be sold on zoning issues that have been resolved.

“Who is responsible for sorting out zoning? Is it Buhari? Why do we have the leadership of the party? If Buhari is supposed to be involved, we don’t need a secretariat. The CECPC is to facilitate every decision. Today committees have not been announced. As far as I’m concerned, between now and February 26 this must be resolved. And this caretaker committee must go. That is my position,” he added.

Attempts to get a reaction from the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, John Akpanudoedehe, proved abortive as he neither responded to calls nor text messages. (Punch)

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