Confusion as APC shifts convention to March 26
• Nabena insists Buni c’ttee can’t be stampeded
• Rebirth group cries foul, urges Buhari to wade in
• Ex-PGF DG blames scramble by govs, wants CECPC reorganised
The last is yet to be heard on the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following the shift of its national convention to March 26.
Within 24 hours, the party had announced different dates for the convention and zonal congresses, pointing to the fact that critical APC stakeholders might not have reached a consensus on time.
Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, told reporters at the national secretariat in Abuja that sale of forms to prospective aspirants vying for positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) would take place between March 9 and 11, 2022.
He said the inauguration of newly elected NWC members would take place on March 31 and that zonal congresses have been fixed for March 12.
“After deliberation and agreement with the CECPC, we have agreed and approved that activities of the national convention commence from March 24 and terminate on March 26. The convention activities commence on February 24 and will terminate at Eagles Square on March 26. In between the convention, we have agreed to have zonal congresses,” he said.
The shift in the convention, earlier billed to hold on Saturday, came to the fore after the party had, earlier in the day, notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its resolve to conduct zonal congresses on March 26.
In a correspondence addressed to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, and jointly signed by CECPC chairman, Mai Mala Buni, and Akpanudoedehe, the party argued that the decision was in furtherance to Article 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and in compliance with Section 12:6 of its Constitution.
The party in the correspondence, however, failed to specify when it would conduct the national convention of the party.
The development came against the backdrop of the proposed parley between President Muhammadu Buhari and APC governors on the zoning of party positions and possible agreement on the date for the convention.
The latest stance by the party, widely seen as part of a calculated attempt by the Buni-led committee to hold on to their position, has split party stakeholders.
APC chieftain, Mr. Yekini Nabena, threw his weight behind the position taken by the caretaker committee.
He maintained that Buni should not be stampeded into taking an action that will serve the interest of self-centred individuals in the party.
He, therefore, warned some party stalwarts he described as “fifth columnists” bent on undermining the national leadership.
Condemning what he termed insubordination, Nabena frowned at those sponsoring campaigns of calumny against the national leadership.
He claimed the APC leadership has already identified some governors and ministers allegedly behind unwarranted media attacks against the Buni-led committee.
The Bayelsa-born politician said: “I appeal to our leaders at all levels to trust the CECPC leadership and eschew every form of action that will portray APC in a bad light.
“Those sponsoring fifth columnists against the APC chairman and the party leadership are like political vultures who feed on dead meat but currently there are no dead meats for them to eat.
“The party leadership knows them and at the appropriate time, actions will be taken against them according to APC constitution.”
A chairmanship aspirant, Mr. Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe, said he has no option but to accept the decision of the party. He noted: “As long as the party leadership carries all the critical stakeholders along, I don’t have any objections.”
But the APC Rebirth Group described the decision to conduct zonal congresses as alien to the party’s constitution.
The group, led by Comrade Aliyu Audu, said the decision was part of a calculated attempt by the caretaker committee to elongate its tenure.
“It is a clear case of abuse of power and blatant reign of impunity. Buni will stop at nothing until he ruins the party,” he said.
The group called on Buhari to wade into the issue and save the party from destruction.
It said: “Buni and his CECPC have shown unpardonable deceit, incompetence, disregard for the President, disrespect for the party constitution and blatant abuse of power and privileges. It is, therefore, time for the committee to be disbanded immediately to salvage the party and our hard-earned democracy.
“If, for whatever reason, Buni and his CECPC are allowed to continue to run the party, in accordance with the dictates of their personal interests and hidden agenda, then the APC would have betrayed the sacrifices all party members and other well-meaning Nigerians made to entrench progressive governance and democracy in the country.
“We plead with President Buhari to rescue the APC and our nascent democracy from Mai Mala Buni and his co-travellers hell-bent on making nonsense of all of our sacrifices. Any further delay could spell doom, not only for APC as a party but also for democracy and the country as a whole. A stitch in time saves nine.”
Former director-general of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, also frowned at the caretaker committee.
In a statement, titled: ‘APC Convention: Mutiny by Yahoo Yahoo Politicians’, he blamed members of Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu-led PGF for the development.
Lukman, who was recently relieved of his duty as PGF DG in controversial circumstances, stressed that the APC must come out very strongly against dishonest conduct by political leaders, no matter the positions they hold.
He said: “It is clear that Mai Mala Buni as opposed to organising the APC national convention on February 26, 2022, or any time soon. Consequently, he is working with other dishonest leaders, notably, Yahaya Bello, Hope Uzodimma, Dapo Abiodun and a few others.
“For all that matters, as far as Buni, Bello, Uzodimma and Abiodun are concerned, even if there is the decision to postpone the convention by another two weeks or any time soon, they will do everything to sabotage it and ensure another postponement.
“It is a mutiny against the authority of the party and all its designated leaders, especially President Buhari, being carried by very dishonest people who can best be described as Yahoo Yahoo politicians. They are busy recruiting more dishonest and questionable leaders such as Uzor Kalu and they are moving to recruit some state party leaders into their fold.
“Everything must be done to rescue APC from the hands of these Yahoo Yahoo politicians represented by Buni, Bello, Uzodimma, Abiodun, Kalu and their associates.
“All committed leaders and members of the APC must initiate the process of disciplinary enquiry against these dishonest leaders. If there was any doubt about the reprehensible conduct of these and the fact that they are working to destroy the APC because of their selfish interest, by now, it should be very clear to all discerning leaders and members.
“ Both PGF, its leadership, President Buhari and all leaders of the party should take every step to re-organise the leadership of the CECPC. Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary, John James Akpanudoedehe should, as a matter of urgency and in the overall interest of saving the APC, be replaced and removed as members of the CECPC.
“The CECPC has very good, competent and trustworthy leaders among the other 11 members to pilot affairs of the party and organise a successful national convention immediately.
“In addition, all collaborators in this Buni-led Yahoo Yahoo political fraud, aimed at undermining the party and its leadership, which, if not arrested, will destroy the APC, involving Buni, Bello, Uzodimma, Abiodun, Kalu, Akpanudoedehe, should be sanctioned.
“Steps should be taken to disqualify them from all electoral contests, as well as holding any leadership position, both within the party and in governments controlled by the party. APC must have zero tolerance for dishonest politicians.”
Also, the South African chapter of the party warned against the postponement of the convention, saying the development might spell doom for the party ahead of the 2023 polls.
Chairman of the chapter, Mr. Bola Babarinde, in a statement in Lagos, stressed the need to go ahead with the process since stakeholders had already put in a lot of preparations for the event.
According to him, members of diaspora chapters are already arriving in Nigeria, hoping to be part of the convention.
Recounting circumstances that led to the removal of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC, he argued that the Buni-led committee has no business with staying put in office.
He said: “The rumour of the postponement of the APC convention is fast becoming a reality. The interest of the survival of the party, which is almost in disarray, must be a priority.
“Postponing the national convention is going to be the most miscalculated idea that could be conceived by anyone at a leadership cadre within the party structure.
“Friends and foes of the party are on the watch. We are all waiting for an elected chairman to emerge on February 26. Postponement of this august event will kill the morale of party members and our supporters through the width and breadth of the country.
“The Buni-led committee has a six-month mandate to hold a convention and hand over to elected executives. This caretaker committee has outlived its usefulness and any further delay in conducting a convention and handing over to an elected NWC will spell doom for the party in the 2023 polls and beyond.”
The APC chieftain decried the fallouts of state congresses and conduct of parallel congresses.
Meanwhile, an APC chieftain expressed shock over the indefinite postponement of the convention.
Speaking with The Guardian, Olawale Oshun noted that party members were already expecting the event to hold on Saturday but the announcement came as a surprise.
He, however, said party executives might have considered the timeframe of the general election.
According to him, “It’s the party’s prerogative to fix the date of the convention. They must have reasons for postponing it. The party executive must have taken into consideration the period between the convention and the general election.
“Most of the time, it’s INEC that establishes the deadline and they must have seen that they can still work within the timeframe.
“The party executives must have seen that they can conform to the statutory requirement of INEC. Party members have been looking forward to the convention.
“But providing candidates for election is the prerogative of the party. And once they are able to conduct it within the timeframe of INEC, there should be nothing to worry about. It came as a rude shock. But then, the party leadership must have its way.”