There is growing anxiety in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as its National Working Committee (NWC) rose from a meeting Monday without announcing a new date for the screening of its presidential aspirants.
The meeting, chaired by the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, lasted for several hours but the party leaders left without addressing the press.
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It was gathered that the meeting was convened to review the preparation for the party’s primaries. The screening of the presidential aspirants slated for Monday was postponed.
The aspirants, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; former minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and many others, have been waiting for the screening exercise.
Expectations were high that a new date would be fixed for the screening of the presidential aspirants.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Muhammad Argungu, had announced that the party would screen its presidential aspirants on May 23.
His announcement was sequel to the screening of governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives aspirants which was held on May 14 and 15.
But the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka, in a statement on Sunday, said the exercise was postponed, adding that a new date for the screening would be announced in due course.
The screening is to be done ahead of the party’s presidential primaries slated for May 29 and 30, where its presidential candidate for the 2023 poll would emerge.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Senator Ali Ndume, however, said there was no cause for alarm.
“The screening can be done any time. It is purely party affairs. It can be done 24 hours to the primary,” Ndume, who is leading the campaign of the former Transportation minister, Amaechi, said.
But a former governor said the challenges being faced by the NWC in organising the primaries were a result of lack of familiarity with the nitty-gritty of the party’s electoral processes.
“There is the issue of familiarity with the nitty-gritty of the processes. The current corps of the party leadership is all new to party governance. Apart from Emma Eneukwu and Comrade Mustapha Salihu, all other members of the NWC are new to party administration.
“They have suspended all the heads of the directorates in the party headquarters. They are the people with the institutional knowledge of party electoral processes and governance,” he said.
Also, a member of the APC Constitution Amendment Committee, Barr Bashir Maidugu, told Daily Trust in a telephone interview, Monday, that the postponement has no harm to the process.
“The NWC has powers delegated to it by the NEC of the party at the last meeting of the NEC for 90 days. So on behalf of the party, they can decide.
“It doesn’t take days to set up a screening committee; it doesn’t take days to announce a new date for the screening of aspirants.
“And for strategic reasons, the NWC has the authority of NEC to postpone or to shift or to bring forth any date on behalf of the party as far as it relates to the affairs of the party. So that should not raise any eyebrow. After all, the electoral act is being complied with.
“It has not violated the electoral act. You can only complain when the electoral act is violated. So let’s stop raising eyebrows as to what happened,” he said.
On speculations that the postponement was aimed at re-strategising to scuttle the ambition of some of the aspirants in the race, Maidugu said, “The APC is a fair party; it’s a very democratic party so nobody will be pushed out. Everybody that bought the form is in the race and our party won’t be unfair to anybody.”
Some sources at the national secretariat of the party said the screening was put on hold to allow room for horse-trading or negotiations among the aspirants ahead of the primaries.
Others said it was to sanitise the process that would lead to the emergence of the party’s candidate.
A party official at the national headquarters told Daily Trust last night that the NWC had adjusted the timetable and schedule of activities for the primaries. He, however, declined to give details.
Aisha Buhari visits APC HQ
Meanwhile, the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, yesterday visited the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja to lobby for slots for women ahead of the 2023 general elections.
She arrived at the secretariat when a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) was going on.
The NWC meeting was put on hold to welcome the nation’s first lady, after which she spent a little time with the party’s top echelon and left.
Aisha told newsmen that her visit to the APC headquarters was to congratulate a former governor of Nasarawa State and current National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Adamu emerged as APC helmsman at the February 26 national convention of the party held in Abuja.
Aisha said, “We are here to congratulate the party chairman and to thank the whole party stewards for the work they are doing and to also seek support for women; they should not be forgotten.”
Similarly, Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen said, “The First Lady is here with her team to congratulate the national chairman for the opportunity God has given him to head the party and to thank him for the good work he has started doing and finally not to forget women.”