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APC shifts, fixes convention dates in hours

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The Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has made a giant decision to indefinitely postpone the party’s February 26 national convention, and fixed March 26, a few hours later, for the exercise has been dogged by a wave of controversies.

Some governors elected on the platform of the party were at press time, last night, brainstorming on the issue to avert implosion in the APC.

They are expected to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, today, to brief him on the matter and take a collective position on the way forward for the ruling party.

Yesterday morning, the CECPC notified the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of its decision to conduct zonal congresses on Saturday, March 26,  2022.

That decision erased its earlier time-table, which fixed the convention for this Saturday.

The letter dated February 21 was addressed to the INEC Chairman and jointly signed by Governor Buni and the National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe.

In the letter, the CECPC said: “This notice supersedes our earlier notice for National Convention referenced APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/22/14. This is predicated on the evaluation of our party constitution.

“In furtherance to Article 85 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and compliance with Section 12:6 of our party constitution, we hereby write to notify the Commission that our great Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has scheduled to hold its Zonal Congresses on Saturday 26th March, 2022.

“Kindly arrange for your officials to monitor the exercise accordingly.”

CECPC reverses self

However, a few hours later, the CECPC reversed its earlier decision postponing the national convention indefinitely and said it will now hold on March 26, the date earlier slated for the conduct of its zonal congresses. It also fixed zonal congresses of the party for March 12, 2022.

Addressing journalists after a meeting of the CECPC, the National Secretary of the committee, Senator Akpanudoedehe said: “After deliberation and agreement with the CECPC, we have agreed and approved that the activities for the national convention will commence from the 24th of March and terminate on the 26th of March.

“The convention activities commence on the 24th of March and it will terminate at Eagles Square on the 26th of March. In between the convention, we have agreed to have zonal congresses.”

Schedule of activities for zonal congresses, natl convention

According to a schedule of activities for zonal congresses released in accordance with Article 12.6 of the APC constitution zonal committees will be published on February 24; Meeting of Zonal Stakeholders,  Saturday February 26; Sales of forms for Zonal positions, Monday February 28 – Thursday March 3,2022; Screening of Zonal Aspirants,  Saturday March 5, 2022; Screening Appeal,  Sunday March 6, 2022; Adoption of Screening Report, Tuesday March 8, 2022; Zonal Congresses, Saturday March 12, 2022; Zonal Congresses Appeal, Monday, March 14, 2022; and Adoption of Appeal Report, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

For the national exercise the National Convention Sub-Committees will be published on Monday February 28, 2022; Sales of Forms, Wednesday 9th- Friday March 11, 2022; Screening of Aspirants, Tuesday 15 – Thursday March 17, 2022; Screening Appeal, Saturday March 19, 2022; Adoption of Appeal Report, Monday March 21, 2022; Accreditation, Thursday 24 – Friday March 25, 2022; Convention, Saturday March 26, 2022; Convention Appeal, Tuesday March 29, 2022;

Adoption of Appeal Report, Wednesday, March 30, 2022; and Inauguration, Thursday March 31, 2022.

Why national convention was postponed 

Before the CECPC came out with a definite date for the convention the polity was awash with allegations of the committee plotting to sit-tight and hold the convention alongside the presidential primaries in May or June. The argument was that with the zonal congresses holding on March 26, it would require at least two weeks to resolve issues that would emanate from the exercise. Since the Muslim Ramadan fast will take the whole of April, the only possibility was to conduct the convention between May and June alongside presidential primaries.

However, a source in the CECPC told Vanguard that the CECPC wants to stabilise the APC and hold a rancour-free convention.

“The committee wants the ruling party to get it right. There will be six bye-elections on February 26. We don’t want to disenfranchise members and leaders of the APC taking part in the bye-elections. The committee has fulfilled eight of the nine promises it made at inauguration. It has rescued and stabilised the party. It is building peace that attracted more lawmakers and governors raising the number of APC governors from 19 to 22 and giving the party two-third majority in the National Assembly. It did membership registration which gave the party 41 million members, making it the largest party in Africa. The national convention is the last task before the CECPC and it wants to get it right first time by carrying all stakeholders along. Going to the convention with a divided front will not augur well for the party,” the source said.

Controversies

However, former Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman described the action of the CECPC as mutiny by fraudulent politicians.

According to him, “it is no longer questionable that our party, APC, is being held captive by a small group of dishonest leaders, whose only interest is to impose themselves as either presidential or vice-presidential candidates for 2023 elections”.

He said majority of the 13-member CECPC have sadly been reduced to observers as meetings hardly take place and even when meetings hold, decisions are hardly implemented.

‘4 govs working against convention’

According to Lukman, beyond members of the CECPC, the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF is being disrespected and its decisions and leadership are now being snubbed.

He said: “His Excellency Mai Mala Buni, in flagrant disregard to every known procedure of managing affairs of the party relates only with His Excellency Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, His Excellency Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and His Excellency Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State based on the plot to retain His Excellency Mai Mala Buni as chairman of the party up to the time of conducting the primary that will produce candidates for 2023 elections. The other person, who is also active in this political Ponzi scheme is the CECPC Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, who is also aspiring to emerge as the Akwa Ibom governorship candidate of the APC for 2023 elections.

“Interestingly, perhaps except for His Excellency Dapo Abiodun, three of them – His Excellency Mai Mala Buni, His Excellency Yahaya Bello and His Excellency Hope Uzodinma – are all aspiring to become either presidential or vice-presidential candidates. Although His Excellency Mai Mala Buni is not open about his ambition, some of the speculation promoted by people very close to him is that once he is the one to organise the primary to produce candidates for 2023 elections, he stands a good chance to emerge as the vice-presidential candidate, or even the presidential candidate, if the North is to produce the presidential candidate. In the case of His Excellency Hope Uzodinma, he is being alleged to be aspiring to emerge as a Vice-presidential candidate to a Northern candidate. Already, His Excellency Yahaya Bello has declared his aspiration to emerge as the 2023 presidential candidate of the party.

“As for His Excellency Dapo Abiodun, he is being guaranteed a second term ticket to emerge as the Ogun State Governorship candidate for 2023 election, which is to block any potential contest given the strong opposition he faces from the former Governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Beyond guaranteeing His Excellency Dapo Abiodun second term ticket, His Excellency Mai Mala Buni has attempted to make similar offers to all first-term governors of APC. Some of these stories flying around are almost like tales by moonlight, but from every indication, they are true scripts being acted by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni and his associates.

“It is clear that Mai Mala Buni is opposed to organising the APC National Convention on February 26, 2022 or any time soon. Even if there is decision to postpone the convention by another two weeks, or any time soon, they will do everything to sabotage it and ensure another postponement. It is a mutiny against the authority of the party and all its designated leaders, especially President Buhari, being carried by very dishonest people who can best be described as Yahoo Yahoo politicians.

Respect party supremacy — Nabena

Meanwhile, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Yekini Nabena, has sounded a note of caution to some members he described as “fifth columnists and their sponsors” to stop working against the national leadership of the ruling party.

While condemning what he described as acts of insubordination against the party leadership, Nabena said those sponsoring campaigns of calumny on national televisions and on other media platforms should know that the national convention will come and go but the damage they would have done the party’s image will remain.

According to him, the APC leadership has already identified some governors and ministers, who are allegedly behind unwarranted media attacks against the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC.

The Bayelsa born politician said his intervention became necessary because the APC belongs to all, including him and those causing the damage.

According to Nabena, there is no specific time the party must hold the said National Convention.

He added that the CECPC under Mai Mala Buni cannot be stampeded into taking actions to please few people but inimical to the interest of large members of the party.

Nabena said; “I appeal to our leaders at all levels to trust the CECPC leadership and eschew every form of action that will portray APC in bad light.

“Those sponsoring fifth columnists against the APC Chairman and the party leadership are like political vultures who feed on dead meat but presently there are no dead meat for them to eat.

“The party leadership knows them and at the appropriate time, actions will be taken against them according to the APC constitution.”

One of the national Chairmanship aspirants in the party, Chief Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe on his part said he had no issues with the postponement in so far as all stakeholders are carried along. “So long as the party leadership carries all stakeholders along, I do not have any objections”, he stated.

In its reaction, the APC Rebirth group faulted the decision to conduct the zonal congresses, saying it is alien to the party constitution.

Convener of the group, Engr. Aliyu Audu said the decision was part of calculated attempts by the Buni-led caretaker committee to elongate its tenure in office.

He said: “It is a clear case of abuse of power and blatant reign of impunity. Buni will not stop at nothing until he ruins the party.”

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SANWO-OLU PRESENTS SCORECARD AT RE-ELECTION RALLY

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…APC Flags Off Governorship Campaign In Lagos

A mammoth crowd of Lagos State residents, on Saturday, converged on Onikan – a cultured neighbourhood in the heart of Lagos Island – for an All Progressives Congress (APC) rally.

Clad in branded yellow shirts and Ankara brocade, the crowd dominated the city centre with pockets of political carnival. Thousands of ordinary citizens and party stalwarts trooped to Mobolaji Johnson Pavilion, the venue of the inaugural rally flagging off the party’s governorship campaign in Lagos.

The 10,000-capacity stadium brimmed with APC supporters. They carried banners and chanted slogans to receive the party chieftains and members of the Governorship Campaign Council.

APC standard bearer, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made a grand entry into the venue, animating the crowd, which chorused: “Greater Lagos Rising” – the Governor’s re-election campaign slogan.

Reacting to the massive turnout, Sanwo-Olu said the vast attendance further confirmed the strength of APC as the only party of choice in Lagos.

The Governor mounted the rostrum to seek the mandate of Lagosians for another term in office, saying the “Greater Lagos” he promised at the inception of his government could now be visualised, given the achievements recorded during his first term.

Sanwo-Olu said the last three and half years had been challenging for his administration, pointing out that his Government traversed difficult terrains to deliver on its development objectives.

He said: “It has been an interesting and challenging journey for us in the last three and half years. Our administration has traversed difficult terrains and witnessed major disruption occasioned by global pandemic. Lagos had its fair share in the attendant socio-economic meltdown, but we provided strong leadership that protected the people and made the State come out better and stronger.

“Now, we can say ‘Greater Lagos Rising’ because our State is rising on all of our modest achievements through the THEMES agenda. In Transportation and Traffic Management, Lagosians are now living with the reality of the delivery of two intracity Rail Mass Transit projects that are on the verge of completion. These projects will be handed over in the coming weeks.

“We have also scaled up infrastructure in public transportation services by improving BRT services, injecting new taxi scheme and energizing traffic management agency for efficiency. People have seen the construction and commission of Lekki Deep Seaport, and massive road construction projects in the Eti Osa and Epe corridors. We have delivered and are still constructing more new roads in Ikorodu, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Alimosho, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Somolu and other areas.”

Sanwo-Olu said activities of his administration, since inception, had been about purposeful governance. He added that his Government had delivered new hospitals in Badagry, Epe, and Eti-Osa, pointing out that construction of new hospitals were currently being undertaken in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Island.

In the environment, the Governor said the State was currently constructing 210 new drainage channels to address the issue of flooding in vulnerable communities. He said his Government had also raised the level of infrastructure in emergency response agencies, mentioning the recently completed four fire stations, recruitment of new fire fighters and provision of fire fighting equipment.

The Governor said: “Lagosians can testify to our feats in education. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools and we completed over 1,097 projects in schools. We trained our teachers in modern teaching techniques through Eko EXCEL and handed over tablets to them for teaching. Overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has improved from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.”

Sanwo-Olu said there had been laudable progress recorded across his Government’s development blueprint, noting that the State had become a model for good governance and development.

The Governor thanked residents for standing by his administration, pledging that he would not take their support for granted.

He urged party members to take back the Government’s achievements back to their communities and engage in door-to-door campaign to ensure APC candidates are elected in the general elections.

Director General of Lagos APC Campaign Council, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, said the party would have no problem taking its campaign to the electorate, given the “exceptional” performance of the party’s governorship candidate.

Solomon said the second coming of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat would bring the State to new heights of development and prosperity.

Leader of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said: “The combination of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are the best a democratic society can get in delivering results of good governance. Anyone who wants the development of Lagos to continue, Sanwo-Olu must be allowed to continue the good work he started.”

Sanwo-Olu, assisted by APC chairman, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, presented flags to party candidates running for legislative seats in the House of Assembly and National Assembly.

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Osun Tribunal Admits Adeleke’s Certificates as Exhibits

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Ademola Adeleke

— As Oyetola, APC Close Case

The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday admitted in evidence the file with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) containing the secondary school certificate and testimonial of Governor Ademola Adeleke of the State.

This is just as the Petitioners, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC), closed the prosecution of the matter, leaving respondents to state their defence.

The admission of the documents followed the appearance of INEC representative, Mrs. Joan Arabs, who brought Adeleke’s original files containing the certificate he submitted to the Commission in 2018.

It will be recalled that during the last sitting of the panel, the Commission had submitted blank document as the secondary school certificate of the governor, a situation that compelled the panel to order that the original file be brought, and to threaten to invoke Coercive Power if it fails to do so.

At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday, Counsel for Oyetola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the hearing for the day was basically meant for the appearance of INEC representative to produce the Adeleke’s file in line with the court order.

Counsel for INEC, in his response, said that INEC representative was already in court with the files containing a clearer and legible certificate and testimonial in question, saying he would be willing to apply for the return of the documents to INEC, when the tribunal is done looking at it.

After the production of the documents, the tribunal, while discharging the INEC official, said, “You can now go if you wish to. No policeman will accost you again.”

Subsequently, Oyetola’s counsel sought to tender the documents which contain form CFO01 and its attachments, including Adeleke’s credentials, saying the original file brought to court is a primary evidence and he was comfortable with it.

Counsel for INEC, Chief Henry Agunedo (SAN), said he would be objecting to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the basis for the production of the whole file was because only two pages of the earlier-produced Certified True Copies were in contention, saying tendering the whole documents was out of place.

Counsel for Adeleke and PDP, Niyi Owolade and Alex Izinyon (SAN) respectively, said they have objection to the tendering of the said documents, but they would reserve their objections till final address stage.

Izinyon also observed that the only documents in contention were only two pages which are Adeleke’s certificate and testimonial, saying the CTC earlier produced has not been tendered before the court.

Responding, Fagbemi said the practice everywhere is that INEC can only apply and get back the files after the dispensation of the cases, saying, “We asked for CTC and now that they brought this. We are fine, we will take it”.

Ruling on the documents tendered, the tribunal led by Tertsea Kume admitted the credentials and the Adeleke’s nomination form as exhibit ‘FILE D’ and taken as read.

It was after the tribunal admitted the documents that Fagbemi informed the panel that he had decided to close his case, saying, “My Lord, we rest our case”.

When the tribunal asked INEC to open his defence, Chief Agunedo said, it would be difficult for him to open his case on Monday, saying non-availability of his witnesses would make it practically impossible.

The panel then asked the counsel to meet and agree on adjournment date after which Counsel for INEC briefed the panel the outcome of the meeting.

Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the case till December 20 for the respondents to open their defence, saying the adjournment was based on another engagement by the tribunal somewhere else between 12th and 19th December 2022.

Earlier, Oyetola’s counsel had informed the panel that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had reverted the judgement of a Federal High Court which disqualified Oyetola from contesting the election.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the sitting excited the members of the APC who witnessed the hearing, as jubilations erupted after the sitting of the panel. They chanted songs to eulogise Oyetola and the APC.

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TINUBU WON’T SUCCUMB TO ARISE NEWS BLACKMAIL

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We find it shocking and downright anomalous that Arise News continues to broadcast the participation of All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its Presidential Town Hall meeting scheduled to hold on 4 December, 2022 despite our earlier statement that our candidate will not be available.

We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.

While it is trite that the media has clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and the section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.

The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC Presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country.

We want to make it abundantly clear again that Asiwaju Tinubu will not participate and will not attend the Arise News Town Hall meeting slated for Sunday, 4 December, 2022 and any other ones it may plan before the February 2023 presidential election.

The APC Presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such events is his scheduled event for Monday , December 5, 2022 at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy.

Asiwaju Tinubu travelled to United Kingdom early today (Saturday) for this earlier scheduled engagement. We want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and media bully and innuendos by the owner and management of Arise News will change the position our campaign has taken on this matter.

Bayo Onanuga
Director, Media & Publicity
APC Presidential Campaign Council
December 3, 2022

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