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APC crisis gets messier as faction ‘nullifies’ Buni’s committee

By Adamu Abuh and Joke Akanmu (Abuja)
30 November 2021   |   4:25 am
The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened, yesterday, following the emergence of a factional Caretaker Committee of the party led by Prince Mustapha Audu and the purported disbandment of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker...

Buni. Photo/FACEBOOK/Maistrategy/Godowoli

• Audu faction fixes convention for Feb 26, names Lawan, Gbajabiamila into committee
• Buni seeks arrest of sponsors for treasonable felony
• APC denies zoning its chairmanship to North-central
• Defunct CPC bloc in dilemma over Almakura, Mustapha

The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened, yesterday, following the emergence of a factional Caretaker Committee of the party led by Prince Mustapha Audu and the purported disbandment of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) by one of the support groups in the party, the Progressive Youth Movement (PYM).

This is coming one week after the PYM met in Kaduna State and passed a vote of no confidence on the Buni-led CECPC, asking the caretaker committee to vacate office.

The youth group had at the town hall meeting themed, ‘Ready to lead, now or never,’ which attracted youths from the Northwest geo-political zone at the Murtala Square, Kaduna, noted that the caretaker committee had overstayed its welcome to conduct a national convention for the party.

Buni, the Yobe State governor, was appointed chairman of the CECPC in June 2020 following the crisis that led to the exit of the party’s former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

The new CECPC has given itself a mandate to conduct the party’s national convention on February 26.

The party’s national secretariat has been under heavy security in recent weeks after party leaders said there were intelligence reports of a planned forceful takeover.

Audu immediately formed a National Reconciliation Committee, chaired by Mr Hassan Saddiq Arivi, to reconcile aggrieved members before its slated February 26, 2021 convention.

Audu, while charging the youthful factional caretaker committee to carry out their duties with all integrity and honour, also announced a zoning formula for positions in the new National Working Committee (NWC) for its February 26 national convention of the party.

However, Governor Buni immediately fired back, asking for the arrest of Audu and his co-travellers for treasonable felony. Mustapha is the son of a former governor of Kogi and a late chieftain of the party, Prince Abubakar Audu.

The CECPC’s secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, dismissed the action as “the felonious activities of a purported group.”

The scribe’s statement said they are unknown to the party, its structure or as a registered support group and are therefore non-existent.

“However laughable, the criminal attempt of the purported group to usurp the leadership of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC now bothers on treasonable felony.

“Relevant security bodies must now check and address their unscrupulous activities. The attention the purported group seeks will not be given to them by the party.

“We can only advise that the general public completely disregard them. They are not registered members of the APC and are being used by opposition elements and fifth columnists to cause confusion.

AUDU, who spoke during the inaugural meeting of the group in Abuja, explained that the sack of the Buni-led committee was aimed at correcting the ills in the party.

Justifying their emergence, he said: “We are aware of the plethora of issues within the party, our party has had a history of shying away from true reconciliation and in many cases inflicting chastisement on members that should have been rewarded for their effort towards building the APC.

“It is clear that in the last couple of years, the party has been on a regressive course and it is necessary for all well-meaning party members to roll up our sleeves and do the needful to ensure that we correct the mistakes that have been made to ensure victory in 2023 for all stakeholders.

“As we move closer to the election year, let us join hands and strengthen internal democracy in our party and show Nigerians that we have what it takes and we deserve their votes in 2023.”

Members of the factional caretaker committee are: Chairman, Prince Mustapha Audu; Vice Chairmain North, Tukur Tukur Buratai; Vice Chairman South, Busayo Akinnadeju; Southwest representative, Omowunmi Ogungbaibi; Southeast representative, Nonso Nwaebili; South-South representative, Prince Godswill Edward; North-central representative, Dr Ibrahim Abdul; Northeast representative, Ibrahim A Waziri; and Northwest representative, Bello Bala Shagari.

Others are Senate representative, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan; House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila; physically challenged representative, Sajo Xcarfini; youth representative, Dr. Young Piero; women representative, Fatima Lawal Rafindadi and secretary, Tonye Isokariari.

The factional body named as members of its advisory committee President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ex-Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar; Senator Vivian Okadigbo; Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Governor Babagana Umaru Zulum of Borno State; and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State among others.

IN another development, the party’s leadership has denied media reports that the office of national chairman has been zoned to the North-central geo-political zone. Scribe of the party, Akpanudoedehe, made this known while speaking with newsmen yesterday in Abuja.

He maintained that the issue of zoning of national offices was not part of the mandate given to the CECPC when it was inaugurated in June 2020.

“People are just flying what will favour their interest, all I know is that the caretaker committee has not discussed or reached a zoning decision.”

Senator Victor Lar, Media Director, Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff Campaign Organisation, who spoke in the same vein, explained that the report was not only laughable, but a figment of the imagination of those behind it. Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, is one of the aspirants for the APC chairmanship.

MEANWHILE, members of one of its legacy parties, the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are in a dilemma over who to support between a former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Almakura and a former deputy national chairman of CPC, Malam Saliu Mustapha. This dilemma, according to sources who were in the defunct CPC with both Almakura and Mustapha, was as a result of chances and credentials of the two party chieftains.

While the former Nasarawa governor was the only governor CPC had then, Mustapha, Turaki of Ilorin, is also said to have been a long-standing ally of President Buhari, who was the leader of CPC before the merger that birthed APC.

The APC leaders argued that the defunct Bola Tinubu-led Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) had produced both the interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and the two substantive national chairmen, Chief John Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole, hence it is the turn of CPC to produce the next national chairman of the party.

One of the sources who is of the CPC legacy party told our correspondent yesterday in Abuja that “many of us are divided on who to back.

“Al-Makura enjoys the support of some of us who count on his antecedents as a former governor and his clout among his fellow former governors, but Mustapha is a founding CPC member with a strong background in party administration and was a driving force in The Buhari Organisation (TBO).

“His support base among CPC members is one that cannot be dismissed especially as he seems to be a rallying point for many stakeholders within our group and also younger people in the APC,” he added.

According to the source, the reason CPC elements have narrowed it to Al-Makura and Mustapha is because of the belief that the position may be eventually zoned to the North-central.

“The two other contenders from the North-central are former Benue State governor, George Akume and Senator Sani Musa from Niger State, who have their origins in ACN and ANPP respectively. So, we are keen on insisting that it is CPC’s turn to occupy that seat.

“We have good ground for this because the two other legacy parties have previously produced National Chairmen and none of our people is likely to seek the Presidential ticket after President Buhari.”

It is, however, not clear if CPC elements in APC would eventually settle for a consensus candidate between Al-Makura and Mustapha.

Speaking earlier at the weekend in Lagos on his aspiration, Mustapha said his major goal is to ensure the supremacy of the party and not those of members. He said: “I also want to see a party that promotes equity, fairness and justice.

“Among others, we won’t impose candidates for elections, there will be team work and not a one-man show and work with all.”

The Turaki Ilorin said unlike what obtained in some other political parties, he will not dictate to party members, adding: “I will be readily accessible, consult widely and run an all-inclusive administration. I will also ensure that our primaries are devoid of rancour.

“The candidates that will emerge will be those acceptable to all party members. Parties rig when popular candidates don’t emerge through free and fair primaries.”

On his chances, Mustapha said one of it is his youthful age as the clamour is on for the younger generation to take over leadership. He said this comes into play “because 75 per cent of the votes belong to the youths.

“It is against this background that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party made a 25-year old man its National Youth Leader. Now think of the benefits having a youth as the National Chairman of the APC.”