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.
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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