Dark clouds are gathering over the possibility of an all-inclusive national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), expected to hold this year.
There is palpable tension, considering that the reconciliation among party leaders and state chapters is yet to yield total fruition.
Pundits say the party may be heading for a constitutional crisis if the issue of convention is not handled meticulously.
The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) had in June, 2020, dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) over an alleged abuse of office.
The NEC also constituted a 13-member Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee headed by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni to administer the party’s affairs and within six months, organise a national convention where a new crop of NWC members would emerge.
Governor Buni told newsmen recently in Abuja that the committee had recorded significant milestones in the areas of membership drive and reconciliation, among others.
The governor also said the committee had within the period resolved life-threatening challenges in the party in 11 states across the country.
But our correspondent reports that four months into the committee’s timeframe, it has not officially communicated its plans for the convention, giving room for speculation of a possible tenure extension.
Sequel to this, there is uproar in the ruling party over an alleged plot to extend the tenure of the caretaker committee and shift the party’s national convention to the first quarter of 2021.
Credible sources told our reporter that some party stalwarts were planning to revolt if the decision to shift the convention later than December 2020 was considered.
Already, a group under the umbrella of Concerned APC Members, led by the spokesman, Abdullahi Dauda, had on October 12, 2020, given the caretaker a 14-day ultimatum to roll out a convention programme for the party.
The group specifically asked the committee to, within 14 days, constitute a convention planning committee to kick off the process that would lead to an elective national convention.
“We are aware that the composition of the committee is illegal and alien to our party’s constitution, and we are aware that some members are in court already as regards that anomaly.
“We are giving the caretaker committee a 14-day ultimatum to roll out a plan of action/timetable for the party’s December elective convention or face mass demonstration of party members nationwide,’’ Dauda said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
But the party seemed unperturbed as its deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a swift reaction in a statement noted that the group had no right to issue such an ultimatum.
The party’s image maker said the ultimatum would not help in resolving the issue of convention.
He added that if they had a solution on how to fast-track the processes leading to the convention, they should present it officially to the party’s national secretariat for consideration.
However, the Buni-led caretaker committee has started meeting with some NEC members and other stakeholders ahead of the expiration of its tenure in December.
The caretaker had on Wednesday met with all the APC chairmen in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in what analysts said looked like a form of lobby for the extension of its tenure.
The committee also on Thursday met with the non-NWC NEC members at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to discuss issues concerning the soul of the party.
It is imperative to note that the state chairmen are also members of the NEC, which is the second highest decision-making organ of the party, after the convention, which is the first organ.
Credible sources at the APC headquarters told our correspondent that the committee would meet with other stakeholders on how to reposition the party.
However, the meetings are generating furore as some party stalwarts are alleging that the committee had resorted to lobbying various stakeholders to secure tenure elongation.
An APC stalwart from the North told our reporter in a telephone chat yesterday that, “If care is not taken, fresh crisis would erupt and there will be serious implosion in the APC.
“All these are threats to APC’s chances of retaining power beyond 2023.
“If issues like these are not handled with caution and wisdom, APC will collapse at the expiration of President Buhari’s tenure.’’
But when contacted for a reaction, Nabena told our reporter that there was no discussion on tenure extension for the caretaker committee.
“What does the caretaker committee members stand to gain if their tenure is extended?
“What will the committee benefit by lobbying stakeholders in the party for an extension of their tenure?
“They are doing reconciliation and you know the state chairmen and other stakeholders are also involved.
“So the committee is meeting with different stakeholders as part of the reconciliation process,’’ he said.
On the issue of convention he said, “When we get to that point we will let the public and our teaming supporters know.’’
A member of the caretaker committee who earlier declined comment on the matter but was further pressed by our reporter, said in confidence, “Let me assure all party members that adequate preparations will be made for the convention when the time comes.
“We are never intimidated by the kind of things people are talking about.
“This party needs to be strong, and that is what we are doing now so that it will be in the saddle beyond 2023.
“We must avoid incidents of crisis.
“We must avoid decisions that will further divide our members or bring more problems for our party.
“We must take decisions that will unite us.’’
There are concerns that apart from not having the NWC, the APC also does not have a Board of Trustees (BoT) in place.
Tongues are wagging, especially as some key stakeholders are predicting doom if President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure elapses in 2023.
Buhari made key decisions that led to the resolution of the intense crisis that characterised the party.
The crescendo was the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC this year by the NEC.
A former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, recently said Buhari was the only force keeping the APC alive.
Okorocha, a former chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), said at a press conference in Abuja that the crisis rocking the party was part of the consequences of relegating the founding members.
He said, “The APC died the day the leadership abandoned the progressive and democratic ideals on which it was founded.”
Similarly, the director-general of the PGF, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, told newsmen recently in Abuja that the party must advance ways to stay afloat.
If elected at the next convention, the new NWC members would lead the party into the 2023 general elections.