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All now set for APC national convention

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Politics Editor), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Tina Abeku, Terhemba Daka, Abuja
25 March 2022   |   4:30 am
After two postponements and horse-trading that almost derailed the process, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now set to hold its national convention.

Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari (left); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila during a meeting with All Progressives Congress (APC) National Assembly leadership, ahead of the party’s National Convention, at State House, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA 

• Eagle Square agog for 12,000 delegates
• Keep your eyes on the ball, Buhari tells APC leaders
• Adamu, Akume, Al-Makura, others meet on consensus
• Party bars political appointees from voting at convention
• PDP charges INEC not to monitor APC convention

After two postponements and horse-trading that almost derailed the process, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now set to hold its national convention.

The Eagle Square, venue of the party’s convention is agog, as party leaders and delegates gather to elect new members of the National Working Committee (NWC) that will pilot its affairs for the next four years.

The Square, which wears a new look, will host no fewer than 12,000 delegates that will participate in the elective convention, where sixty-six party officials, including 21 NWC members would be elected.

Itinerant traders were seen yesterday, positioning themselves to make brisk business while there was heavy presence of security personnel, monitoring entry and exit posts.

The convention, which is a precursor to the conduct of primaries for candidates of the party, has a direct bearing on the fortunes of the party in the 2023 general election.

Members of the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje-led protocols subcommittee were sighted putting finishing touches at the settings.

As at 4.00 p.m. yesterday some delegates across Nigeria arrived Abuja in their aso ebi, holding APC souvenirs. The party on Thursday also barred political appointees from voting as delegates at the convention.

In a statement the party said: “The CECPC has declared that all political appointees, who were elected as delegates to the National Convention slated for March 26 shall not vote in view of the controversy surrounding Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“However, political appointees can still attend as observers.”The race for the chairmanship seat promises to be hotly contested by seven aspirants, comprising Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Tanko Al-Makura, George Akume, Sani Musa, Saliu Mustapha, Abdulaziz Yari and Mohammed Etsu.

As at 5:00pm yesterday, the aspirants, who were at a closed-door meeting at an unknown location in Abuja, could not agree on a consensus deal.

A party source disclosed that a formal statement would be made available to newsmen on the outcome of the parley. Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, who chairs the media sub committee expressed optimism that the aspirants would heed to the call by President Muhammadu Buhari to settle for a consensus candidate.

Adamu, who governed Nasarawa State between 1999 and 2007, is believed to be the favourite candidate of President Buhari.

Asked if the aspirants have shown signs of conceding to the consensus idea based on President Buhari’s request on Wednesday, Sule said: “They have not made it public to us yet. What our party has that others don’t have is the fact that we have a political leader and father that everyone, who is truly a member of this party respects and that is President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong during an interview on Channels Television, yesterday, confirmed Adamu as the choice of the President for the national chairmanship position.

He also disclosed that the much awaited unity list would not be released until Saturday.
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has urged leaders and members of APC to channel their energies into improving fortunes of the party in the forthcoming elections, and avoid distractions and disharmony.

Receiving APC National Assembly leadership at the State House yesterday in Abuja, the President reminded members of the proximity of the election dates set by INEC, admonishing that positions should be harmonised with a bigger picture of winning elections and providing good governance.

“As you all know, the National Convention of our party, which we have committed to, is holding on March 26, 2022. And we cannot afford to do anything that will jeopardise the chances of the party in the 2023 General Elections. The limited time frame of the INEC timetable does not permit us any room for delay or further squabbling. We must therefore in the light of this reality consistently keep our eyes on the ball and refuse any distraction.

The President said he met with the governors and the party national chairmanship aspirants on Wednesday, to reiterate the need to go into the convention with a united front.

He said, “It is the same reason why I invited you today. We should all do our part to ensure the success of this convention. This will fortify us for the campaigns ahead of us.’ ’

Fielding questions, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan said notwithstanding the decision of the party hierarchy to go consensus, the party will not bar any member from contesting for any position.

Senator Lawan spoke following concerns over why the party allowed candidates to spend money to secure application forms only to be forced into consensus arrangement.

“On the issue of why allow other people to buy forms, I think democracy does not prevent anybody from buying forms, what democracy does is to provide opportunity for everyone having some guiding principles. If a position is zoned, until a consensus is reached, everybody who thinks he or she has something to offer can go and buy the form and also throw his or her hat in the ring,” he said.

“I think that question shouldn’t be put to us because we are not the party. But because you asked and we are in your territory we will make some effort to say something to it.

“The essence of this engagements is for the party to achieve consensus, and consensus is a process. It doesn’t just happen like that. So, I believe that before we go into the convention square on Saturday, by the grace of God, we would have a lot of consensus reached and maybe the sort of document that we call or refer to as Unity List should have taken place!

In his remarks, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who described the meeting as productive, explained that the idea was to encourage all stakeholders to unite and have a peaceful and very successful convention.

Some of the principal officers on the delegation from the Senate were, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya; Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu; Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi;
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Dogowa; Chief Whip, Mohammed Tahir Monguno; Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, among others.

HOWEVER, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to attend, monitor or supervise the Saturday, March 26, 2022 National Convention of the APC.

The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, warned that INEC would be going outside its statutory mandate under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as emended) and the Electoral Act 2022 by attending or monitoring the APC National Convention.

According to the opposition party, “INEC, being a government agency set up by law, that also draws from the budgetary allocation of the country with respect to superintending over electoral processes and management of political parties, can only superintend over and monitor bodies over which it has mandate to supervise. This presupposes that any such body must be legally operating as a political party under INEC rules and guidelines.”

The PDP claimed that “the APC, having been defunct on December 8, 2020 when it dissolved its National, States as well as Local Government structures ceases, in the eyes of the law, to be a political party and as such cannot be subject of INEC’s regulations with particular reference to its supposed National Convention.”

“For emphasis, the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) was established for the singular purpose of organising the APC National Convention in 2020. The Committee violated the Constitution and the Electoral Act by engaging in party administration, conducting congresses to produce officers at the various state chapters as well as delegates for APC National Convention,” the PDP explained.

It stated that, “the CECPC by its composition with a state governor, Mai Mala Buni as Chairman is illegal and unconstitutional by reason of Section 183 of the Nigerian Constitution, which bars a sitting governor from holding “any other executive office in any capacity whatsoever.”

PDP said that if APC had listened to one of its members, the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, SAN, who had cautioned that the “competence of Governor Mai Mala Buni to organise the congresses has been called to question by the Supreme Court”, it would not have been in this quagmire.”

The Party for the umpteenth time cautioned Nigerians, who intend to participate in the electoral process under the APC to be guided, as they are on a voyage that leads to nowhere.