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TIMELINE: Six dramatic moments in the buildup to APC convention

Barring any last minute change, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will hold its much-awaited convention on Saturday, March 26.

Barring any last minute change, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will hold its much-awaited convention on Saturday, March 26.

The event will hold on the heels of political intrigues and internal crisis that have rocked the party lately, leading to the postponement of the convention earlier slated for February 26.

As the countdown to March 26 intensifies, Daily Trust examines six dramatic events that have played out in the ranks of the party in recent months.

Parallel congresses

The APC internal wrangling first came to the limelight during the congresses held at ward, local government and state levels a few months ago. The exercise polarised the party into two factions in many states – one controlled by governors and another led by party stalwarts/political appointees at the federal level. During the congresses and beyond, political tantrums between the two factions dominated the public space. Notable among such instances were accusations and counter-accusations between Minister of Information and Culture, who leads an APC faction in Kwara State and the state Governor, Alhaji Abdurrahman Abdurrazaq, who heads the other group verbal.

There was also verbal war between the factions led by the Minister of Interior and former Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the state’s incumbent governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. In Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led faction and that of a former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, have been enmeshed in a running legal battle over the leadership of the party in the state.

In the end, the results of congresses held by the faction loyal to state governors or the most senior political office holders in states where APC do not have governors were recognised by the party’s Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under the chairmanship of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

Reconciliation committee  

Following the fallout of the congresses, the APC caretaker committee in October inaugurated a National Reconciliation Committee to calm frayed nerves in the party.

Buni while inaugurating the committee in Abuja explained that it was set up to reconcile members who were aggrieved by the outcome of the party’s congresses.

“The task before this committee is very important and crucial. It is to reconcile, harmonise, integrate and unite members of the party.

“The committee is also expected to resolve real or seeming differences and to cement all cracks for us to approach the National Convention with a united front,” Buni had said.

Postponement of February 26 convention

Amidst unhealed wounds in the APC, a national convention was fixed for February 26 but was later postponed to further mend the cracks in the party. The party consequently announced March 26 for the national convention in Abuja, the sa,e day it will hold zonal congress.

Buni, Bello theatrics  

Last week was one of the most intriguing moments in the affairs of the APC. It all started last Monday when Governor Sani Bello of Niger State took over the leadership of the party in style.

Buni, who is in Dubai on medical vacation, was reportedly sacked on the order of President Muhammadu Buhari, leading to the taking over by Bello as the acting chairman of the party. He presided over a NEC meeting that day during which he administered oath office on the state chairmen of the party.

In the heat of the development, it was rumoured that the national secretary of the party, John Akpanudoedehe, has resigned. He however debunked the claim, saying that “I’m waiting for the chairman (Buni). If we have directives from Mr President that we should resign, we are not bigger than the president; we would do so.”

Governors’ outburst

While featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, disclosed that the President gave them a directive to remove Buni as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the APC.

According to him, no fewer than 19 governors of the party and one deputy governor unanimously agreed to carry out the directive of the president, saying the remaining three governors are the ones dishing out “fake news” that Buni has not been removed.

On Thursday, the Ondo State Governor also lauded the takeover of the party leadership by Bello, describing his colleagues who back Buni as “yahoo yahoo politicians.

“Without necessarily dwelling on details that are known to critical stakeholders, the path taken lately by Governor Mai Mala Buni, the immediate past head of the CECPC and an indivisible few, is an unenviable trajectory undeserving of our dear party. It is a disdainful narrative,” Akeredolu had said in a statement.

INEC, Buhari’s intervention

But in a dramatic turn of event, the Independent National Electoral Commission said it still recognised Buni as the party chairman and that the commission was not informed of Bello’s takeover.

INEC premised its argument on the Section 82 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which requires any political party that wants to effect alterations or change in its governance structure in any meeting, congress or convention must give the commission 21 days notice of its intention or else such a change will be rendered “null and void.” On this note, the APC was constrained to revert to the status quo and retain Buni as the chairman as the convention draws near.

On Sunday, Buhari, who had allegedly ordered Buni’s sacking, urged party members to “remain steadfast and maintain unity” ahead of March 26 convention.

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