Ahead of the February 26 convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), there are many unresolved issues including litigations dogging the ruling party, Daily Trust reports.
After intense plots to get the convention postponed, the chairman of the APC caretaker committee and Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, on Tuesday, formally announced that the exercise would hold on February 26.
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The date was fixed after consultations by the governors who are members of the APC. It was gathered that the resolution of the governors’ meeting was conveyed to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.
For 18 months, the affairs of the ruling party were being run by a caretaker committee. There are pending court cases over the legality of the committee.
Buni, who announced the convention date yesterday in Abuja, at the National Progressive Women Conference, expressed optimism that the APC would retain power in 2023.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi asked the Buni-led caretaker committee to organise a “policy convention.”
“I would like to plead with the chairman, that we should make this a policy convention where we can specifically take one by one all those aspects of life that our people want to know what we have done in the last six years, what we are still going to do in the next roughly 17 months left to our government and how we will consolidate on that by ensuring that we elect another APC president in 2023,” he said.
The First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari said, “Nigeria’s future is entirely dependent on actualising the potentials of women.
“I, therefore, wish to call upon the APC to double its efforts promoting women. This I believe should serve as one of the objectives of this conference.”
Rough road to convention
With 38 days to the convention date, the party is still battling to unite members, bury internal crises in many state chapters and reach key decisions on the issue of zoning.
Daily Trust reports that the caretaker committee has not yet constituted any of the convention sub-committees that would help in planning and executing various tasks ahead of the exercise.
Before the announcement of the date for the exercise, there had been acrimony and bickering in the party over alleged plots by some bigwigs to get the timeline of the caretaker committee extended and shift the exercise to a later date.
Despite the announcement, there are still concerns that the committee will still have to grapple with an avalanche of challenges as it faces a herculean task ahead of the National Working Committee (NWC) election.
This is despite its giant strides in the membership drive, membership registration and revalidation exercise, reconciliation efforts and constitution review among others.
State chapters’ crises may undermine convention
Some state chapters of the APC are neck-deep in crises despite efforts by the party’s national reconciliation committee headed by a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to resolve them.
Party chieftains said with the way the party was going into the convention, without resolving the crisis in many of its state chapters, there would be issues over the delegate list for the convention.
For instance in Rivers State, factions led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe elected different executive councils.
While Abe’s faction has as its chairman a former member of the state House of Assembly, Golden Chioma, the Amaechi faction elected Emeka Beke as chairman.
In Kwara State, the party is divided into factions led by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Paul Omotoso, and the state chairman, South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023, a pro-Bola Tinubu group, Senator Tony Adeniyi, had disagreed over the suit filed by aggrieved party members challenging the conduct of ward congresses in the state.
In Kano State, two factions exist – the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau/Senator Jibrin Barau camps.
Three factions are in existence in Zamfara State – Governor Bello Matawalle, former governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa’s camps.
In Gombe, the fortune of the party is being threatened by the feud between Governor Inuwa Yahaya and Senator Danjuma Goje.
The situation in Delta is not different as the state chapter of the APC has been embroiled in leadership crisis with different factions arising from the camps of Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President and Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment.
The party is also factionalised in Ogun State, with some members loyal to Governor Dapo Abiodun and others loyal to a former governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
In Osun State, factions loyal to Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, produced parallel state executives.
Agitations for zoning of party offices as well as the 2023 elective offices to various zones in the country are also generating tension in the APC.
There is anxiety among top party leaders over which zone produces the chairman and which takes the presidential slot, among others.
While some APC bigwigs have argued that there was a gentleman’s pact among APC stakeholders prior to the 2015 general elections that the South should have it at the expiration of President Buhari’s tenure in 2023, others have debunked the claim saying there was no such agreement.
The development has triggered the emergence of many presidential aspirants from both the North and South with each of them claiming legitimacy.
Pundits say this issue must be meticulously handled to avoid worsening crisis in the ruling party.
Another issue the party’s national leadership would have to contend with is that of litigations.
There are litigations pending in courts against the party as many of its chieftains have sued its caretaker committee despite the resolution by the National Executive Committee (NEC) that no member should take the party to court and that pending cases be withdrawn.
Chairmanship aspirants divided over consensus
A sharp crack has been created among the chairmanship aspirants as governors and other top shots of the party are pushing for consensus.
Top contenders for the chairmanship seat include former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura; former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff; former governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume (a former governor of Benue State).
Others are former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha; Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); Sunny Moniedafe and Mohammed Saidu Etsu.
When contacted, Akume through his aide, Simon Shango, said he is not deterred. The minister said he is the one to emerge through consensus because of his pedigree and political credentials.
“Whatever the party decides, we will abide by it. But looking at his pedigree, his credentials, he will be the one to emerge through such a consensus arrangement God willing. So we are not deterred,” the spokesman said.
Similarly, a chairmanship contender from Adamawa State, Sunny Moniedafe, said consensus is in the party’s constitution but should be done carefully.
He said if the consensus option is to be adopted, the top echelon of the party should summon all aspirants contesting for the office of chairman for proper briefing before putting it to work.
Another chairmanship contestant who does not want to be quoted said he would abide by whatever option the party adopts for the emergence of a new national chairman, but cautioned that imposition should not be used in the name of consensus.
But another aspirant from the North Central said he would not withdraw from the race. He said the party should allow all party delegates to vote during the convention to pick the best.
All eyes on Buhari
Against earlier belief, sources in the villa said President Buhari is now showing interest in who becomes the national chairman of the party. Thus, aspirants and interested party stalwarts are lobbying around the president.
One of the sources said, “Everything is now riding on the president who for the first time is interested in the party affairs, especially as he believes that APC needs to go into the 2023 elections strong.
“This is why he dropped that subtle hint, in his recent interview on the need for the party to put its house in order.”
The source said the consensus option was still on ground even though some of the former governors are refusing to step down.
A former governor told Daily Trust that the president would play a key role in the emergence of the chairman and other positions.
“In 2018, when Adams Oshiomhole was picked, it was based on the endorsement of the president. Same thing will happen this time around. Our party chairmen have been emerging through consensus,” he said.